IT was a game that was lit up by Jacob’s cracker, but as a showcase of football to make the eyes bleed, it really took the biscuit.

The reputations of Motherwell and Livingston somewhat precede them, and as their managers are keen to point out, not always fairly. But going solely on the evidence of what both sets of players served up at Fir Park yesterday, you could have argued they get too much credit for playing football.

It was truly awful fare, particularly from a home side on the back of four straight defeats, with players shorn of the confidence to attempt much else but hoof the ball up channels and into areas where nine times out of 10, there was nary a claret and amber jersey to be found.

In the end, both sides had a goal apiece to show for their efforts, a few yellow cards, the home side had one red, and everyone could have been doing with a nice lie down in a bath of Arnica cream. Especially the poor black and blue ball. Motherwell’s groundsman deserves great credit for the wonderful condition of the pitch, it’s just a shame that neither side on the day were looking to utilise it.

“It was a tough game,” admitted Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson. “The biggest thing for me was the resilience shown not to get beat.

“I think you can see the nervousness because we had lost our last four games. Yet the only strike they had on target was an absolute wonder strike. Sometimes you just have to give people credit.

“We know we need to be better and we need a bit more composure.

“Of course, certain individuals are not playing as well as last season and that is down to confidence.”

Livingston were looking dangerous in the opening exchanges and went close as Scott Robinson’s shot from the right deflected off Liam Donnelly and flashed just wide.

When Motherwell finally shook themselves out of their slumber though they took the lead with one of their first forays forward.

Allan Campbell got the break of the ball and drove at the heart of the Livi defence, before timing his pass perfectly for Ryan Bowman to find the net with the aid of a deflection off Craig Halkett.

Livingston thought they were level soon after as a corner caused chaos in the home box, with the ball eventually breaking off Rickie Lamie and creeping over the line, but referee Willie Collum spotted an infringement on the keeper and ruled the goal out.

“I didn’t see a foul, but referee’s jobs are harder than mine,” said Livi boss Gary Holt. “One of the things I like about football is having a good moan about decisions.

“We had worked on that set piece, so we’re peeved about the goal not being given. but that’s football.”

Motherwell were then screaming for a penalty as Bowman’s shot came off the arm of Declan Gallagher, but it was their turn to be upset with referee Willie Collum when the whistler waved away their claims.

“I haven’t seen it back, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was blatant,” was the withering verdict of Motherwell manager Robinson.The second half was even more dire than the first, but a foul on Dolly Menga – who must have committed a good 20 of his own - by Peter Hartley at the edge of the area gave Keaghan Jacobs a sight of goal, and boy, did he take full advantage, stepping up to bullet a simply wonderful effort into Trevor Carson’s top left-hand corner. A ray of light, on an otherwise bleak afternoon.

Things would go from bad to worse for the home side as Carl McHugh picked up two yellow cards in quick succession, firstly for an elbow on the back of Gallagher’s head and then for a trip on Menga.

Livi almost won it at the death, as Lamie helped a Jacobs corner on only for Liam Donnelly to hook clear from the line, before perhaps the first ever welcome blast of Collum’s whistle brought mercy upon us all.