Motherwell have kicked their heels for the best part of a month.

This weekend they could only aim the boot at themselves.

They left Rugby Park on Saturday evening having allowed the chance to put a bit of daylight between themselves and Inverness Caledonian Thistle – whom they host next weekend – slip through their fingers.

It was a game that dumbfounded most of those who watched it.

Stuart McCall's side battered Kilmarnock in the first half. They ought to have been out of sight by the time the whistle sounded for the half-time pie and bovrils.

Instead they were looking at a 1-0 deficit after Ross Barbour's shot had taken a wicked deflection off Stevie Hammell to put the Ayrshire side in front.

Most expected Motherwell to right that comfortably in the second period. But they lost their discipline – captain Keith Lasley and youngster Fraser Kerr were shown straight reds – and Killie added a second when William Gros headed home.

It was a miserable return to action for the Fir Park side but McCall was quick to put the defeat down to a bad day at the office rather than look for any malaise in his side.

"It was one of those days," he said. "I can't fault the players because they created so many chances. It is a problem if you aren't creating anything but nine times out of 10 that is a game we would have come through pretty comfortably."

More worrying, though, is the fact that they go into this weekend's game against Inverness without Lasley and Kerr.

Tom Hateley also limped off with a suspected hamstring strain, and, with Motherwell desperate to nail down that second spot this season, this is a massive encounter.

While McCall could understand their frustration, he remained irked at being without the dismissed duo.

"I was sent off only once in my career and it was because I received two bookings," he said. "I never got a red card.

"I do understand their frustration. We've all seen the game, we know how much we dominated and how many chances we created. So I can see just how frustrated they were – because I am going through the same thing on the sidelines.

"But it makes things hard for us for next week. I could do without having people serving bans."