GARY Holt has witnessed the indignation of his defensive unit if they lose a goal amid the relative serenity of a training session.

As such, it comes as no surprise to the Livingston manager to see his players protect a clean sheet as if their lives depended on it.

Holt was fulsome in his praise for Liam Kelly – the Lions’ "sponge" between the sticks – as the gifted goalkeeper further enhanced his burgeoning reputation with a truly magnificent save against the Steelmen, defiantly denying young Barry Maguire.

That was the one occasion the visitors enjoyed a clear sight of goal as Livi's towering trio of Declan Gallagher, Alan Lithgow and Craig Halkett proved an impenetrable yellow wall; bullying attackers, heading every hopeful long ball to safety and even proving a threat at the other end.

With Motherwell suitably blunted, strikes from Stevie Lawless – a Fir Park youth product – and Halkett ensured Livi claimed a richly-merited triumph.

“Liam [Kelly] is like a a sponge, he wants information, he wants to learn and improve. He is disappointed in training when he loses a goal!” smiled Holt. “That carries over into games and is a mentality all the defenders have.

“It is pleasing to work with boys with that determination. They hate losing goals, it narks them. We are fortunate to have boys that will put their body on the line, in both boxes.

“We marshalled Motherwell well and, when it was required, my keeper [Kelly] was there with a wonder save. It is outstanding for someone so young to keep pulling out these moments with such regularity.

“The most impressive thing is his concentration levels, because he didn’t have an awful lot to do, but still produces the big save.”

After four games without either a win or a goal, Holt’s side are now back in the top six and back to doing what they do best.

“We have weapons we can use, tools in our toolbox – like Alan Lithgow’s long throw – so let’s utilise them,” added Holt. “We have people prepared to go in there and get hurt. So, just get the ball in the box. On Saturday we got two really good goals from it.”

Indeed, Motherwell had ample warning regarding the dangers of those Lithgow long throws. Goalkeeper Mark Gillespie was forced into a super block to deny Lawless after the big centre-half had found the winger completely free six yards out.

However, Lawless would not be denied minutes later as a case of deja vu played out. Another prodigious toss into the box by Lithgow was flicked on by Gallagher and the former 'Well kid lashed a low drive past Gillespie from around the penalty spot.

As the half-time whistle blew, the Lions could count themselves unlucky not to be further ahead, with Motherwell’s attacking endeavours rather direct and uninspired. Their swathe of aimless long balls were manna from heaven for Lithgow, Gallagher and captain Halkett.

However, the visitors did create a terrific opportunity to equalise when a deep delivery from Alex Rodriguez-Gorrin found Maguire at the far-post, only for Kelly to somehow claw the youngster’s goal-bound effort to safety from under the cross-bar.

It was a remarkable stop after being a spectator for the majority of the contest.

And Livi went on to put the game to bed at the other end when Scott Robinson delivered a sumptuous in-swinging corner-kick, allowing Halkett to rise highest and glance a superb header into the corner of the net.

“We didn't do the simple things well enough and got exactly what we deserved,” said Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson.