Neil McGregor says the time for excuses is over now that Dundee have played six games back in the SPL.
Stuart McCall’s half-time team talk had the desired effect, with the previously lacklustre Steelmen transformed as they pinned Dundee back.
However, the home side almost extended their lead in the 66th minute when Baird was again the provider for Nish. But the big striker, who earlier broke his nose in a clash of heads with Adam Cummins, shot just wide.
McCall threw on Henrik Ojamma, and the Estonian made his mark, sending a cross in from the right which Higdon bundled into the back of the net at the second attempt after ghosting between substitute Kyle Benedictus and Toshney.
The Dundee fans were left biting their nails, hoping their side could at least hold on for a draw.
Those hopes were dashed with five minutes of normal time remaining when the unmarked Higdon raced on to a Tom Hateley corner to bullet a header past the helpless Douglas.
Sandwiched between the two Motherwell goals, there was a big shout from the Dundee fans when Shaun Hutchinson barged into the back of McGregor inside the Motherwell penalty area.
The former Dunfermline centre-half, who has given away three spot-kicks this season, preferred not to dwell on the merits of the appeal and instead is already focusing on this week’s daunting trip to Celtic Park.
He said: ”I was just ready to take off and jump for the header but I was nudged in the back. It was one of those ones that probably would have been given against me the way things are going at the moment.
”But I think it might have been a bit harsh if it had been given.”
He added: ”We have a big game against Celtic next week so we just need to pick ourselves up and get on with the job at hand. It is probably the most difficult place to go in this league, so we have to lift ourselves and get ready for that one.”
Dundee boss Barry Smith lamented the lapses in concentration that cost his side dear.
He said: ”I thought we played very well in the first half but that is another harsh lesson for us: if we lose concentration then we will get punished at this level.
”We are now six games into the season and we have to cut out those lapses and making the same mistakes.”
They broke their SPL duck with victory over Hearts at Tynecastle two weeks ago, and it looked on Saturday that their learning curve had taken another upward turn.
They took a well-deserved first-half lead thanks to a Colin Nish header, and dominated for long spells against table-topping Motherwell. However, the Steelmen hauled themselves back with a Michael Higdon equaliser, and then the big striker netted a second to snatch all three points and consign Dundee to the bottom of the league.
McGregor said the result was difficult to take but admitted the players only have themselves to blame for the goals.
He said: ”After such a good first half, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot a wee bit. I felt we were worth at least a draw but we have lost two bad goals, with the second in particular a free header from a corner.”
He added: ”That’s six games into the season and these kinds of things are still happening, so we are going to have to do something about it. It’s possibly a lack of concentration and not ensuring you are getting the right side of your man. At set-pieces in particular we need to mark tighter.
”So we are going to have to shape up quickly. Six games in, we should possibly have more points on the board but, if we can cut out the silly mistakes, I am sure we will start picking up wins quite soon.”
On the balance of play, Dundee deserved at least a point from the match, especially after a first-half showing that was possibly the best 45 minutes they have put together since their return to the SPL.
Thirteen minutes in, they created a great chance. Matt Lockwood played the ball forward to Jim McAlister, who found Lewis Toshney in the Motherwell box. The on-loan Celtic man scuffed his shot but it still took an outstanding save from Darren Randolph to prevent the Dark Blues taking the lead.
Seven minutes later, the keeper was helpless as John Baird crossed for Nish to direct a measured header into the back of the net from 12 yards.
Dundee visibly gained in confidence and went on to dominate the rest of the half, although they survived a big fright just before the break when a Higdon shot cannoned off the inside of Rab Douglas’s post before being cleared to safety.