'It's going down to the wire' - Motherwell manager Graham Alexander expects nail-biting end to season in battle for European football

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander expects the hot Scottish Premiership battle to clinch a European place – between his side, Dundee United and Ross County – will go right down to the wire.
Motherwell FC boss Graham AlexanderMotherwell FC boss Graham Alexander
Motherwell FC boss Graham Alexander

With two games remaining and Celtic already champions barring a mathematical miracle, Dundee all but relegated and St Johnstone virtually certain to finish second bottom, the remaining excitement in this season’s top flight campaign is in the race to finish fourth or fifth and earn a crack in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Conference League.

United are currently fourth on 44 points, a point ahead of the fifth placed Steelmen, who are a further two points ahead of County.

Alexander, speaking after Kevin van Veen’s second-half penalty secured a crucial 1-0 success over County in Dingwall on Saturday, said: “It is going to go to the last game. It was the same with the top six going into the last seconds – that could happen again but we will just give it our best shot.

“We did great to get into the top six and the opportunity is there for us, Dundee United and Ross County to get European football.

"I think the league table tells you that the teams are evenly matched, most weeks you see really tight results and it comes down to moments.”

Alexander said his team had not played as well in Dingwall as they had during a 1-0 defeat at Tannadice the previous Saturday.

But van Veen came off the bench after struggling all week with illness to win and score a 68th-minute penalty, and the Steelmen held out under intense pressure with the help of keeper Liam Kelly’s brilliant stop from Joseph Hungbo.

The boss added: "I think what the players did in the first half was show great discipline against the ball, we didn't get loose, we controlled the opponent and we knew we had to go for it in the second half.

"The clean sheet has been a long time coming.

"So great credit to the players for that. We felt at half-time that if we kept a clean sheet we'd win the game because we had the quality.”

Alexander was pleased to give a noisy away support a first away win in six months.

“I heard the fans before the game and we mentioned it before – it was great to give them something back,” he said.