Phil McGhee Fir Park
Motherwell hopes of overtaking St Johnstone and claiming fourth place were dealt a blow as the Perth men came from behind to claim the points.
The final home game of what has turned out to be an enthralling season turned into a disappointing afternoon for the Fir Park fans.
Motherwell’s perfect start through a Scott McDonald goal looked to set them up for another home win but goals from Steven MacLean and Danny Swanson before half-time turned the game and points the visitor’s way.
With Stevie Hammell suspended, Marvin Johnson played a more defensive role on the left side, where he used his pace to great effect. And with Lionel Ainsworth supporting Scott McDonald and Louis Moult up front the Fir Park men had plenty of attacking options.
That resulted in a perfect, if rather fortunate start going a goal up within four minutes. Moult sent the ball down the right channel with Chris Cadden in pursuit. But after Zander Clark raced to the edge of his box to the ball clear he was caught by the young ‘Well midfielder. While everyone waited for referee Greg Aitken to blow for an infringement, McDonald nodded the loose ball into the unguarded net for his 14th of the season.
Enjoying the freedom on the left Johnson had a couple of deep surging runs and after 14 minutes a terrific run and cross picked out Ainsworth but he slashed his volley wide of target.
‘Well’s luck continued a minute later when following a smart free kick from Saints, Liam Craig’s low shot cracked off the face of the post with the home defence quick to react and block the rebound.
Keith Lasley, only included as the club appealed his red card at Aberdeen, probably wished he had been elsewhere as Danny Swanson’s heavy collision left the ‘Well captain grounded for several minutes.
After 24 minutes Johnson was again the architect cutting along the goal line before laying the ball back to McDonald but his angled drive raced across the goal face and wide of target.
Saints, though, were playing with great determination to hold onto fourth spot and after producing a couple of interventions Connor Ripley got down to smother David Wotherspoon’s shot with Graham Cummins waiting for a slip.
The Perth side grabbed an equaliser in the 34th minute. Brian Easton swept in a cross from the left which eluded Stephen McManus and Cummins in the centre but the unmarked Steven MacLean nipped in behind them to direct the ball past Ripley to make it 1-1.
The Steelmen might have restored their lead four minutes before half time when Cadden’s strength took him to the goal line but his inviting cross a yard in front of goal was just in front of Moult.
But it was Saints who took the lead two minutes from the break. Wotherspoon’s corner ended on the far side of the box where the unmarked Swanson calmly steered the ball between Ripley and his right hand post.
Within four minutes of the restart McDonald came close to repeating his first half feat, tuning smartly on Johnson’s throw in only to see his volley dip just wide of Clark’s right hand post.
At the other end Ripley was at full stretch to beat away Wotherspoon’s powerful 12 yard drive.
Probably still feeling the effects of his first half grounding, Lasley made way for Joe Chalmers allowing Johnson to push further forward. That substitution was quickly followed by another, Dom Thomas a standout in the Youth Cup win at Hampden, getting 30 minutes to see if his trickery could help turn the game ‘Well’s way.
However, shots high and wide from Cadden and Johnson respectively, were the only real threats on Saints’ goal.
In injury time McDonald’s weak trundled effort summed up the the home side’s energy as they ended their home campaign with a defeat.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 1 – 2 St Johnstone
There will be four minutes added on.
87′ | 1-2
An absolutely laughable attempt at simulation there from Fisher. Embarrassing stuff.
83′ | 1-2
Motherwel sub, Leitch on for Johnson
MATCH ATTAX | Young ‘Well fans can vote now for their Man of the Match. Tweet us with your name, age, choice and #MatchAttaxMOTM.
79′ | 1-2
St Johnstone sub, Swanson off for Scobbie
75′ | 1-2
Johnson with a shot from range but he can’t get it on target. Into the final 15….
74′ | 1-2
St Johnstone sub, Cummins off for Kane
70′ | 1-2
Cadden down receiving treatment. Ref misses the foul……..
66′ | 1-2
Pearson take a booking for a foul on Swanson then the refs misses a tug on Pearson which would have seen Fisher sent off.
59′ | 1-2
Second Motherwell sub of the afternoon, Thomas on for Ainsworth.
57′ | 1-2
Set-piece corner sets Pearson free in the box but he can’t get his cross right, which hits the top of the bar and goes out.
55′ | 1-2
Strong hands from Ripley to save form Wotherspoon who was threaded though on goal.
53′ | 1-2
Motherwell sub, Lasley makes way for Chalmers
50′ | 1-2
Up the other end, Shaughnessy’s header clips the top of the bar and is just over.
49′ | 1-2
McDonald inches away from a brilliant goal as he drops the shoulder and fires away a shot from 25 yards which goes just wide!!
Motherwell get the second 45 underway. COYW!
HT: Motherwell 1 – 2 St Johnstone
44′ | 1-2
Goal – Saints have turned it around, Swanson unmarked at the back post and slots it past Ripley.
42′ | 1-1
So close! Cadden gets away from Craig and fires it in across the face of goal but no ‘Well man can take advantage!
38′ | 1-1
Fisher booked for obstructing Johnson as he broke down the left…
36′ | 1-1
St Johnstone sub, Brown on for the injured Davidson.
34′ | 1-1
Goal – MacLean brings Saints level with a good finish from a deep Easton cross from the left.
24′ | 1-0
Good chance for McDonald. Again Johnson is involved, cutting it back but the Aussie slices his shot wide of the post.
22′ | 1-0
The Captain returns to action after some treatment from @stokesay16
20′ | 1-0
Pause in play as Lasley receives treatment for a head knock.
17′ | 1-0
Chance for Cadden! Moult nods it down to him 8 yards out but cant’ get enough power in it to trouble Clark.
16′ | 1-0
Off the post from Craig! Saints work a set-piece and his shot from 25 yards comes off the base of the post.
15′ | 1-0
What a goal that would have been!! Johnson skins Wotherspoon and curls it into Ainsworth who volleys just past from the edge!
11′ | 1-0
Decent chance for Cummins as he gets on the end of Craig’s cross but there is no conviction in his header and its easy for Ripley
4′ | 1-0
Cadden pressures Clark into a sliced clearance which leaves McDONALD to nod into the empty net! 1-0!!
St Johnstone get the game underway. COYW!
Out come the teams, usual colours for both sides. #MFCvSJFC
Motherwell manager Mark McGhee:
St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright