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Page last updated at 16:50 GMT, Saturday, 28 February 2009

Inverness CT 1-2 Motherwell

Cillian Sheridan celebrates his goal against Caley Thistle
Sheridan put Motherwell 2-1 ahead at Caledonian Stadium

Cillian Sheridan's stunning strike ended Caley Thistle's mini-revival as Terry Butcher suffered his first defeat as boss - and against his former club.

A blunder by Inverness goalkeeper Ryan Esson handed Motherwell the lead when he was beaten to the ball outside the box by John Sutton, who slotted home.

Grant Munro slammed in the equaliser following a 39th-minute corner.

But Sheridan's 18-yard drive restored the lead before Inverness's Ian Black struck the bar from the halfway line.

Victory extended Motherwell's unbeaten run in the Scottish Premier League to nine games as they chase a top-six finish.

And Butcher's first defeat in five since taking over at Caledonian Stadium left his side at the bottom of the table, with Falkirk moving two points clear after their draw away to Hibernian.

Inverness had gone into the game full of confidence and boosted by the return of influential midfielders Black and Russell Duncan.

And the home side started positively, although appeals for a penalty when Dougie Imrie took a tumble under a challenge from Mark Reynolds were ignored by referee Mike McCurry.

Motherwell responded and put the hosts under pressure from a Stevie Hammell corner, with Esson pawing the delivery away.

Esson was then called into action when he got down well to clutch a low shot from Stephen Hughes.

Hughes should have done better after 19 minutes when he saw space and fired into the side-netting after being put through by Sheridan, the on-loan Celtic striker having returned to the starting line-up.

Grant Munro celebrates his goal
Munro equalised for Inverness shortly before half-time

It was a rush of blood to the head of Esson that led to Motherwell breaking the deadlock after 26 minutes.

The goalkeeper rushed out of his box to chase a long ball, but he failed to connect as he was beaten to it by Sutton, who fired into the empty net from 20 yards.

It was the first time Inverness had found themselves behind in a game since Butcher took over from Craig Brewster and they responded by equalising seven minutes from the interval.

Captain Munro pounced to score from close range after Black's corner broke to Eric Odhiambo and the striker's shot was charged down.

Caley Thistle took confidence from that and began the second half the brighter of the two sides.

But Motherwell regained the lead with a spectacular drive out of the blue from Sheridan after 53 minutes.

Caley Thistle almost struck back immediately from the restart, with Black striking the crossbar after trying his luck from the halfway line.

Inverness put Motherwell, whose defence contained Brian McLean for the first time since his long-term ligament injury, under pressure for most of the rest of the second half, but the visitors held on for victory.

Inverness manager Terry Butcher:

"If you make mistakes at this level, you invariably get punished.

"We've been lucky in a few games recently, where we have made mistakes and we haven't been punished, so we can't ride our luck all the time, but we didn't do enough at the other end to eradicate those mistakes.

"We got ourselves back into the game and felt at half-time if we could play the way we wanted to play we would have a chance in the second half, but Sheridan scored a great goal and we had to fight against it."

Motherwell manager Mark McGhee:

"It consolidates our position in the top six, putting us four points ahead of Hamilton.

"We're now on the tails of Aberdeen and Dundee United, and I've been saying for a while once we had a fit team, we could attempt that - so we're well on course for that.

"There's no easy games in the SPL for any of us, there wasn't much between us today.

"We managed to get a quality goal to win the game, and it keeps us on a run of nine games unbeaten."

Inverness CT : Esson, Tokely, Mihadjuks, Munro, Djebi-Zadi, Proctor (Rooney 68), Duncan, Black, Foran, Odhiambo (Morais 60), Imrie.
Subs Not Used: Fraser, McBain, Hastings, Duff, Kerr.

Goals : Munro 39.

Motherwell : Graeme Smith, Brian McLean, Reynolds, Craigan, Hammell, Clarkson (Darren Smith 53), Hughes, Klimpl, O'Brien (Fitzpatrick 90), Sutton, Sheridan, Darren Smith (Lasley 90).
Subs Not Used: Krysiak, Malcolm, Murphy, McGarry.

Booked : Klimpl.

Goals : Sutton 26, Sheridan 53.

Att : 3,611

Ref : M McCurry

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Motherwell's Cillian Sheridan 8.00 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
SPL as it happened
28 Feb 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photo gallery
28 Feb 09 |  Scotland

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