Kris Jack at St Mirren Park
Motherwell and St Mirren shared the spoils in an entertaining, but ultimately goalless, match at New St Mirren Park.
Despite the Buddies’ dominance in the first half, they could not breach Darren Randolph’s goal, while two great saves from Craig Sampson prevented the Well from snatching an away win.
Tim Clancy kept his place in the Motherwell defence despite Stephen Craigan being available for selection after his two-game suspension. Stuart McCall stuck with the same side that put six goals past Morton in the Scottish Cup, while Danny Lennon reinstated Dougie Imrie to his attacking line, after the Saints Scottish Cup draw with Ross County.
And It was former Accie Imrie who had the first effort on goal after only 30 seconds when he spotted Randolph off his line. However, the execution wasn’t as good as the idea, and his shot from 40-yards was easily collected by the Irish goalkeeper.
St Mirren could have taken the lead a short while later, when McGowan played in Thompson at the edge of the box, but he was blocked out by Clancy. Imrie latched on to the rebound and found his effort saved at the front post by Randolph.
The scrappy nature of the game didn’t suit Motherwell’s play of recent weeks, which limited the Fir Parkers attempts on goal. Henrik Ojamaa tried on a number of occasions to feed Nicky Law and Jamie Murphy, but the break of the ball wasn’t kind to the young Estonian.
Saints’ transfer window signing Imrie was involved yet again when he burst down the right and played in Gary Teale at the touchline. The former Scotland and Wigan winger cut back for Steven Thompson, but his effort bounced up in to Randolph’s hands from six yards. ‘Well were being pinned back by their hosts, and were lucky not to concede midway through the first half, when Graeme Carey strode on to a loose ball in the middle of the park, but his effort from 20 yards whistled just past the post.
There was then some consternation in the box when Randolph looked to be fouled as he attempted to catch a McGowan cross, but as he was dumped to the ground with no foul called, Carey should have done better with an open goal in front of him. Instead, Shaun Hutchinson made a timely block to keep the game at 0-0. Steven Thompson then saw a header cleared off the line by Steve Jennings as the Motherwell goal continued to live a charmed life.
Randolph was called in to action once more to make a great one handed save, when Gary Teale was allowed space at the edge of the box to shoot. His strike was deflected off Stevie Hammell on its route to goal, but Randolph managed to adjust his feet and stretch to see the ball over the bar.
There was a big shout for a Motherwell penalty, after neat play between Murphy and Ojamaa sent Law bursting in to the box. Just as he was about to shoot, his heels looked to be clipped, as he slid along the box on his knees. However, Mr Charleston waved play on and the chance of a somewhat undeserved lead had gone.
Motherwell had managed to survive the first half without conceding and without creating any chances, but they came out for the second half with a much more positive attitude, and could have taken the lead almost immediately after the restart.
A Hateley corner after Murphy had earned the set piece was met by the leaping Hutchinson, but he failed to hit the target with his free header. The Well’s best chance of the game came a few moments later when Ojamaa’s trickery on the left made space for him to cross an inch perfect ball on to Michael Higdon’s head. The big striker’s powerful header looked destined for the top corner, but an outstanding outstretched arm from Craig Sampson which kept the ball out.
The busy Ojamaa was then played in by Murphy, but his centred cross was cleared to safety. Keith Lasley was then unlucky to see an effort from the edge of the box headed over as Motherwell looked to get a foothold on the game.
The majority of the game was being played in the middle of the park, with a drop in goalmouth action compared to the first. Thompson almost snatched a goal when he latched on to a first time cross form Imrie on the left, but his attempt was way off target.
Motherwell then had three chances in quick succession to leave Paisley with a win. Ojamaa almost conjured up a winner out of nothing. After seeming to be blocked out at the edge of the St Mirren box, the tricky striker created enough space to curl an effort round his marker, which was beaten out expertly by the diving Sampson.
Chris Humphrey, who had replaced Jamie Murphy, then hit the bar with a shot-cum-cross, with Sampson beaten.
Amid those chances, Clancy picked up a booking for taking out Hasselbaink, who had come on for Carey.
The Dutch forward almost carved out a winner for the Buddies, when his mazy run ended with a ball to McGowan, but the former Celtic man’s wayward shot almost went out for a throw in, despite Thompson’s attempt to keep it in play.
As much as both teams huffed and puffed, neither could find a goal, as the game ended 0-0. Other results went Motherwell’s way and keeps McCall’s men six points clear of Hearts, who visit Fir Park next week.
[tab:As it happened]
Alan Burrows at St Mirren Park
FT: St Mirren 0 – 0 Motherwell
90mins – Chris Humphrey hits the bar… Randolph puts him in down the flank. Cross-cum-shot hits the bar and drops out.
89mins – Goodwin then fires a shot over the bar. Nervy stuff here at St Mirren Park.
89mins – Incredible stuff. Hasslebaink weaves his way through. Square ball is sliced by McGowan and Motherwell scramble it clear.
88mins – Super shot from Ojamaa almost catches out Samson but the shot is brilliantly saved by the Saints GK
87mins – First sub of the day – Hasselbaink is on for Carey. The wee man has quality – let’s hope he doesn’t show it.
84mins – Corner from Hateley finds Hutchinson inside the six-yard box. Header (or was it shoulder) goes inches wide. Grrrrr
82mins – Carey sets up a free-kick. Looks dangerous but his effort ends up in the old Love Street – miles over!
81mins – Higdon booked for a ‘forward’s tackle’ there. Big man can have no complaints…
77mins – Game is evenly poised at the moment. Saints perhaps look the more threatening in attack – particularly on the counter.
70mins – St Mirren break with Imrie down the right. His low ball across is dealt with excellently by Tim Clancy. Still 0-0 at the moment!
67mins -Hateley booked for a poor challenge on McGowan. Fair play to the Saints man though – he got right back up.
65mins – Jennings booked for dissent. Ref has lost it a bit. Tackles flying in all over the place! Game stretched….
61mins – There has been some utterly strange calls in this game but the offside against Higdon takes the cake. 2 yards on at least!
57mins – Hateley has the opportunity for an effort at goal from one of those Goodwin fouls. Shot goes wide though with Samson not troubled.
56mins – Two quick-fire fouls by the already-booked Jim Goodwin. Midfielder is skating on thin ice.
54mins – Down the other end Saints, via Carey, screws a shot high, wide and not so handsome! Better start for ‘Well this half…
53mins – Corner breaks to Las – his fizzing shot is deflected over for another corner. Ref bails Saints out though – FK for the home team.
52mins – Lovely bit of skill from Ojamaa on the far touchline – SKINS his marker. Eventually leads to a cross that is hooked away by Saints
50mins – GREAT SAVE Samson! Ojamaa puts in a super cross for Higgy. Striker gets the header in, wonderful save from the Saints GK!
49mins – Corner from Hammell on the right. Hutchinson meets it but heads over. Think that might be our first effort at goal? :-s
46mins – Another foul, about the 456,707th of the afternoon, against Higdon when it looked nothing in it. Sigh!
45mins – Motherwell to kick-off – Las and Ojamaa will get us underway!
HT: Motherwell are back our early – Hopefully the gaffer has had some words of wisdom and the lads are fired up.
HT: General view amongst the press box is that ‘Well are lucky to be on level terms. Hard to disagree. Hopefully we can “sucker punch”!
HT: St Mirren 0 – 0 Motherwell
42mins – Imrie booked for a late challenge on Hutchinson. The striker has been buzzing about as usual but a wee bit tasty there.
38mins – BIG penalty claim there. Law goes down in the area. Saints fans are not happy but I thought it was a pen. He was going in on goal.
34mins – Another long range shot from McGowan flashes wide of Randolph’s post. ‘Well living dangerously at the moment…
31mins – More fussy stuff from the referee. Higdon for ‘Well and Thompson for Saints are being pulled up for every challenge.
30mins – Resulting corner is flicked wide by Thompson. Saints should be ahead by now truth be told. Hopefully we can capitalise.
29mins – Run and shot from Teale takes a deflection off Hammell – Terrific save from Randolph to turn it over,
26mins – Motherwell look to counter themselves – Law in down the flank but his cross is poor and Samson gathers easily…
23mins – Sorry, that should have read Carey! ‘Well holding on here…
23mins – Offt, that was close. McGowan drags a shot inches wide of the post. Saints have had much the better of things so far I am afraid.
23mins – Play hammering from end-to-end – Thompson almost opens the scoring. Clancy blocks – Motherwell counter but Samson beats Higdon.
20mins – Both teams are battling hard but the referee is being a wee bit fussy for both teams.
13mins – Jim Goodwin is the first booking of the afternoon – handball whilst on the ground.
11mins – Free-kick for ‘Well. Bent in by Hateley – Hutchinson and Samson go for it and the ref blows up. Strange call there – not much in it
9mins – Saints have dominated the first ten minutes – ‘Well are under the cosh but defending well so far.
8mins – Imrie goes down under pressure from Hutchinson – looked soft. Saints will whip the ball into the box.
5mins – Good ball across the face for Hammell has ‘Well in the Saints final third for the first time. Home defence hook it away though.
4mins – Hopeful ball into the area from Thompson drifts out for a goal kick. Another example of the hosts getting in behind though.
3mins – Another long range shot from McGowan but it goes well wide – no danger for Randolph but Saints look in the mood.
2mins – Saints break 5 against 3. Clancy gets in a great block before Randolph turns found for a corner. Not a great start from ‘Well!
1min – Saints kick-off – early shot from Imrie from distance is comfortable enough for Randolph.
Teams are out – C’MONNNNN YEEEEEE WELLLLLLLLL!!!! Fans in fine voice behind the goal. Must be approx 850/900 (ish) there!
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“It wasn’t a case of reading the riot act at half time. We were sloppy for the first 15 minutes and I felt we could improve.
“We did that in the second half and I was really pleased with the display.
“The save Samson pulled off from Higdon was terrific. He also saved one from Henrik Ojamaa, while Shaun Hutchinson should have scored with a header from a corner.
“For a 0-0, it was a really good game. We pushed for the winner in the second half but I thought it was a fair result.
“We go out to win every game and we were still trying to do that in injury time, but I’m not disappointed with the draw. It’s a good point.”
St Mirren manager Danny Lennon:
“We came out of the traps well. We put Motherwell under pressure and could have been a bit more ruthless in front of goal.
“Motherwell are a good side and caused a lot of problems in the second half, but we showed a great sense of character. We showed determination and an unbreakable mentality. Last season, those games slipped away from us, so it was pleasing to take something.
“I’m satisfied at the performance. We managed to grind out a result in the second half and could maybe even have stolen it. There are five teams battling for the last top-six position and we feel we are making progress.
“That was our 11th clean sheet of the season, which is more than double what we got last year.”