Ainsworth strike earns Well point
Lionel Ainsworth struck a glorious first goal for Motherwell to earn a 2-2 draw from an entertaining Scottish Premiership clash against Dundee United at Tannadice.
The on-loan Rotherham winger hit a superb long-range strike in the 76th minute, on his second appearance off the bench, after Dundee United had cancelled out Henri Anier's opener with two goals in four minutes early in the second half.
Anier's well-executed volley had given the visitors a deserved lead on the half-hour mark but United, who were without Gary Mackay-Steven, got going soon after following a slow start and Nadir Ciftci and Andrew Robertson both exploited space down Motherwell's right-hand side.
Each team had come into the match on form with Motherwell on a three-match winning streak and United having hit 11 goals in their previous four games and they both pushed for a winner in an exciting finale.
Motherwell started well and their first real chance came inside eight minutes when Stephen McManus met Iain Vigurs' corner with a diving header, but the defender sent it wide of the far post from 10 yards.
Anier's strength and movement was causing problems for United's defence and he got his first sight of goal when he ran on to Vigurs' pass and struck a vicious left-footed effort on the run which just cleared the bar.
The breakthrough came as a result of a powerful run down the left wing by Zaine Francis-Angol in a move which justified his inclusion ahead of James McFadden, who dropped to the bench as Simon Ramsden returned from suspension.
The left-winger got away from Ryan Dow just inside United's half and got to the penalty box before cutting across John Rankin to cut the ball back.
The delivery was far from easy for Anier to take but the on-loan Viking Stavanger forward chested the ball down and repositioned his body perfectly to fire a powerful left-footed volley beyond Radoslaw Cierzniak's outstretched hand from around the penalty spot.
John Sutton met Ramsden's cross before the near post but could not steer the ball on target before United responded in the latter stages of the half as Ciftci set up two chances with headers.
The first fell for Dow but the midfielder never looked confident and volleyed well over and Stuart Armstrong then dragged a left-footed shot wide of the far post from 15 yards after getting in front of Ramsden.
United stepped up a gear after half-time and equalised in the 53rd minute after Motherwell had defended a series of corners.
With Ramsden breaking down the right, Keith Lasley and then Shaun Hutchinson saw balls forward cut out. Ciftci peeled into the space on the left and collected the pass from John Rankin to fire an angled drive underneath Lee Hollis and into the net.
Motherwell were playing without a wide-right midfielder and United exploited the same space to take the lead. Robertson picked the ball up midway inside his own half and ran unchallenged before unleashing a 25-yard strike that nestled inside the far corner.
Well boss Stuart McCall rectified that situation by bringing on Ainsworth for Vigurs and Lasley came so close to equalising on 65 minutes when he curled a 30-yard free-kick off the inside of the post.
Ciftci set up another chance but Hollis held after Armstrong slid in to stab the ball towards goal.
Anier had a 20-yard curler held before making way for McFadden, but it was the other substitute who immediately stole the show.
Ainsworth controlled a second ball from a Hollis goal kick and fired a powerful 25-yard strike inside Cierzniak's near top corner.
United manager Jackie McNamara made an ambitious double switch as he brought on strikers David Goodwillie and Brian Graham for Dow and Ryan Gauld, while moving Ciftci to wide right.
But Motherwell were not satisfied with a point either and Sutton headed just wide following an up-and-under in the 89th minute before Goodwillie elected to head the ball back to a team-mate when presented with a stoppage-time chance.