Motherwell edged closer to securing a top six place in the Scottish Premier League after beating Dundee United.
Jamie Murphy fired the home side in front, squeezing the ball into the net from a tight angle on 26 minutes.
And Chris Humphrey's deflected shot doubled Motherwell's advantage just before half-time.
United improved after the break and Johnny Russell's header brought them back into the match but Motherwell held on to claim the victory.
The victory moves Motherwell seven points ahead of seventh-placed Inverness, who have two games in hand, to give them the chance to seal a top-half finish on Saturday when they travel to Tynecastle for their last match before the split.
The Fir Park side also enjoyed a third consecutive win for the first time since taking over at the turn of the year.
Little separated the teams in a scrappy opening spell on a poor surface. Russell got the first effort on target after 15 minutes when he turned Stephen Craigan and drove from 25 yards but Randolph comfortably held.
Motherwell were missing the injured Gavin Gunning and Stevie Hammell, who suffered a recurrence of a hamstring strain, and it took them more then 20 minutes to create a chance.
Murphy beat Keith Watson before cutting it back to John Sutton, but Scott Severin diverted the shot wide.
Scott Severin, making his first start since a defeat at Fir Park in October, then blocked a powerful Humphrey effort before Randolph held a long-range strike from David Goodwillie.
Murphy soon opened the scoring out of the blue in the 26th minute when the 21-year-old pounced on a loose ball after a Ross Forbes cutback was blocked and burst past two defenders to the byline, where his options were limited.
However, the forward squeezed the ball inside the near post of Dusan Pernis from the tightest of angles to claim his 11th goal of the season.
In the 41st minute, Humphrey's first touch took him away from Paul Dixon 40 yards out and he ran at the heart of the United defence before evading a challenge and striking a powerful shot that hit Sean Dillon and spun over the head of Pernis.
United came back out fired up and Russell hooked a shot just wide from 16 yards before volleying well off target with Randolph out of his goal after punching clear a long free-kick.
Randolph then made an excellent save when he pushed away Scott Robertson's low drive.
But Motherwell settled down and an uncomfortable looking Pernis palmed away two inswinging free-kicks from Tom Hateley.
United boss Peter Houston made his final switch in the 65th minute when Jon Daly joined earlier substitutes Garry Kenneth and Swanson.
Motherwell were looking comfortable but United got themselves back in the game when Dixon swung in a corner and Russell ran to the near post before glancing a header into the far corner.
United were almost level within 60 seconds when Swanson slipped the ball past Craigan and shot towards the far corner from 16 yards, but Randolph blocked with his legs.
A jaded Motherwell side clung on thanks to a brilliant injury-time save from Randolph, who again blocked with his legs after Swanson had set up Goodwillie 10 yards out.
Live text and stats
Wednesday, 6 April 2011
18 Forbes (Page 90+1)
23 Watson (Kenneth 49)
06 Conway (Daly 65)
12 Robertson (Swanson 59)
Ref: O'ReillyAtt: 3,435
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+3:20 The referee signals the end of the game.
90:00+2:05 David Goodwillie takes a shot. Corner from right by-line taken by Paul Dixon. Darren Randolph makes a save.
90:00+0:20 Inswinging corner taken by Paul Dixon from the right by-line, Jon Daly has a headed effort at goal from close range which
goes wide of the left-hand post.
90:00+0:20 Substitution Jonathan Page replaces Ross Forbes.
89:19 Corner taken right-footed by Daniel Swanson from the right by-line to the near post, Darren Randolph makes a save.
86:06 The offside flag is raised against Johnny Russell. Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
82:41 Daniel Swanson is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
80:24 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Daniel Swanson.
79:59 Shot from 18 yards from Daniel Swanson. Save by Darren Randolph.
78:58 Corner taken by Paul Dixon played to the near post, assist by Paul Dixon.
78:58 GOAL - Johnny Russell:Motherwell 2 - 1 Dundee Utd Johnny Russell scores a headed goal from close range. Motherwell 2-1 Dundee Utd.
75:57 Daniel Swanson has an effort at goal. Darren Randolph makes a save.
72:36 Drilled right-footed shot by David Goodwillie. Save made by Darren Randolph.
69:18 The referee blows for offside against Jon Daly. Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
65:56 Short corner taken by Daniel Swanson.
64:20 Morgaro Gomis fouled by Jamie Murphy, the ref awards a free kick. Sean Dillon restarts play with the free kick.
64:20 Substitution Jon Daly is brought on as a substitute for Craig Conway.
61:41 Free kick awarded for a foul by Scott Severin on Ross Forbes. Ross Forbes produces a strike on goal direct from the free kick.
Correction - 60:16 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jamie Murphy by Morgaro Gomis. Cross/shot by Tom Hateley, save by Dusan Pernis.
60:16 Morgaro Gomis gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jamie Murphy. The ball is swung over by Tom Hateley, Shot
by Craig Conway from 20 yards. Save by Darren Randolph.
58:21 Substitution David Robertson goes off and Daniel Swanson comes on.
56:37 Stephen Craigan fouled by Craig Conway, the ref awards a free kick. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.
55:25 Morgaro Gomis concedes a free kick for a foul on Keith Lasley. Stephen Craigan takes the direct free kick.
54:23 The referee blows for offside against Tom Hateley. Indirect free kick taken by Dusan Pernis.
54:05 Corner taken short by Tom Hateley.
53:05 Jamie Murphy fouled by Sean Dillon, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Tom Hateley, Dusan Pernis
gets a block in.
51:59 Scott Robertson has an effort at goal from 20 yards. Save by Darren Randolph.
49:23 Johnny Russell produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide right of the target.
48:44 Shaun Hutchinson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on David Goodwillie. Paul Dixon restarts play with the free
48:44 Substitution Keith Watson leaves the field to be replaced by Garry Kenneth.
46:32 Johnny Russell produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the goal.
45:01 The referee gets the second half started.
45:00+1:22 The whistle is blown to end the first half.
45:00+0:15 Foul by John Sutton on Scott Severin, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Dusan Pernis.
44:45 Craig Conway challenges Steven Saunders unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
43:24 The referee gives a free kick against Keith Lasley for handball. Craig Conway fires a strike on goal direct from the free
40:21 GOAL - Chris Humphrey:Motherwell 2 - 0 Dundee Utd Chris Humphrey scores a goal from the edge of the area high into the middle of the goal. Motherwell 2-0 Dundee Utd.
38:57 Unfair challenge on Ross Forbes by Keith Watson results in a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Tom Hateley, Keith
Watson gets a block in.
38:05 Unfair challenge on John Sutton by Scott Severin results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Stephen Craigan.
36:44 Steven Saunders concedes a free kick for a foul on Craig Conway. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Craig Conway, Sean
Dillon gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on John Sutton. Darren Randolph takes the free kick.
35:11 Foul by Sean Dillon on John Sutton, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Stephen Craigan.
31:10 The official flags Craig Conway offside. Darren Randolph takes the indirect free kick.
29:45 Foul by David Robertson on Darren Randolph, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
27:20 Morgaro Gomis concedes a free kick for a foul on Jamie Murphy. Tom Hateley crosses the ball in from the free kick, Keith Watson
makes a clearance.
25:26 GOAL - Jamie Murphy:Motherwell 1 - 0 Dundee Utd Jamie Murphy fires in a goal from close range low into the middle of the goal. Motherwell 1-0 Dundee Utd.
24:39 David Goodwillie has an effort at goal from 30 yards. Save made by Darren Randolph.
23:07 Craig Conway is ruled offside. Darren Randolph takes the free kick.
22:53 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Morgaro Gomis by Keith Lasley. Scott Severin restarts play with the free kick.
22:10 Morgaro Gomis gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Tom Hateley. Stephen Craigan takes the direct free kick.
21:21 Corner taken left-footed by Ross Forbes from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by Sean Dillon.
21:02 John Sutton takes a shot. Blocked by Scott Severin.
20:17 The offside flag is raised against John Sutton. Indirect free kick taken by Scott Severin.
18:36 Unfair challenge on Ross Forbes by David Robertson results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Keith Lasley.
16:46 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Steven Saunders by Scott Robertson. Shaun Hutchinson takes the direct free kick.
14:58 Johnny Russell has an effort at goal. Save by Darren Randolph.
14:01 Tom Hateley gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Craig Conway. Free kick crossed right-footed by Craig Conway,
clearance by Ross Forbes.
12:09 Outswinging corner taken by Craig Conway from the right by-line.
11:23 Foul by Tom Hateley on Johnny Russell, free kick awarded. Paul Dixon restarts play with the free kick.
8:16 Stephen Craigan fouled by David Goodwillie, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
7:42 Corner taken by Craig Conway from the left by-line, save by Darren Randolph.
3:42 Handball by Craig Conway. Darren Randolph takes the indirect free kick.
0:00 The ref blows the whistle to begin the match.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
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