Motherwell extended their unbeaten run to two matches after drawing 1-1 with St Johnstone this afternoon in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
An early own-goal from Saints keeper Zander Clark was cancelled out by an equally fortunate goal from forward Chris Kane as the two sides played out for a point at McDiarmind Park.
‘Well boss Mark McGhee named one change to the side which returned early from the trip to Aberdeen midweek, recalling youngster Jack McMillan to the side in place of forward Ryan Bowman.
Tommy Wright named two changes, with Chris Millar and Tam Scobbie replacing Steven Anderson and Liam Craig.
A couple of early corners led to a couple of half chances for the hosts, with Murray Davidson heading narrowly over the bar shortly after Brian Easton had a header deflected wide.
The Fir Parkers grew in to the game and started enjoying spells of possession in the middle of the park – looking to threaten with the pace of Chris Cadden and the overlapping runs of Richard Tait down the right flank.
Sure enough, in the tenth minute the Steelmen took the lead and it came from a ball in from Tait. In-form Louis Moult fizzed a superb ball out wide to the marauding full-back who took a touch before whipping in a low cross which Zander Clark couldn’t deal with and turned into his own net.
Craig Clay had a half-chance to open his goal-scoring account in Claret and Amber when the ball dropped for him on the edge of the box, but his effort flew wildly off target in the 20th minute.
Craig Samson in the Motherwell goal was being well protected by his defence in the opening half hour, with Ben Heneghan in particular throwing his body in front of a number of attempts on goal from the Perth side.
Keith Lasley picked out forward Scott McDonald in the middle of the park with a neat chipped pass, and some clever work from the Aussie forced the foul and allowed Mark McGhee’s men a good chance from a set piece.
And McDonald had the ball in the back of the net following the cross, only for the linesman’s flag to cut any form of celebration short.
Clay seemed to be in the mood for a goal, with the midfielder linking up superbly with Moult and McDonald before trying his luck from 25-yards, but his low effort didn’t trouble Clark who watched on as it went wide.
A golden opportunity went amiss for the ‘Well when Cadden beat his man and got to the byline, but instead of firing a low cross the youngster lifted his cross and Saints managed to head clear.
Motherwell were on the up and could have bagged a second and again it was a great chance carved from down the right flank. Moult fed a delightful ball over the top to the advancing Tait, who chopped back on to his left foot to get past his marker and tee up McDonald, but his dummy was read and Joe Shaughnessy managed to clear.
A phenomenal save from Craig Samson on the stroke of half time ensured the Steelmen went in to the break with their lead intact. The stopper got down well to palm Steven MacLean’s goal bound header around his post.
The second half got off on a similar foot to the first, with neither side forcing too many chances and both keepers fairly quiet until around the hour mark.
A blatant handball decision should have given the Steelmen a glorious opportunity from the penalty spot when Lee Lucas got up to battle in the air with St Johnstone’s Shaughnessy. The defender’s hand denied the ‘Well midfielder’s header from heading towards goal but referee Willie Collum ignored the claims.
A few minutes later the hosts drew level through Steven MacLean, when a deflected shot trundled in to the path of the striker, whose initial shot was tremendously saved by Samson but came ricocheting back off the player and in to the empty net.
McGhee made two changes in relatively quick succession – withdrawing David Ferguson for Lee Lucas as he changed to a back four, and then replaced Lasley with Lionel Ainsworth as his side pushed for a winning goal in a delicately poised match.
St Johnstone replaced Millar with Paul Paton with just over 20 minutes remaining and not long after, Moult went in to the referee’s book when he was adjudged to have impeded Shaughnessy when attacking the ball.
Down the other end of the park, a golden opportunity was created for Blair Alston who tried to stroke neatly past Samson inside the box but the ‘Well stopper produced a tremendous save to keep the game level.
Saints made their second change when they brought off Chris Kane for Graham Cummins and a couple of minutes later, it looked like the Steelmen were set to grab all three points when McDonald skipped past his man and slipped in Moult, but the forwards curling effort from an angle wouldn’t have counted if it snuck inside the post due to the linesman’s flag.
In a nervy final few seconds, the fourth official indicated an additional four minutes was to be added at McDiarmid Park.
Motherwell won a free kick when Ainsworth was thrown to the floor by Richard Foster, which resulted in a yellow card. The following set play was tossed in to the danger area, and a few loose headers eventually led to the home side clearing the danger and the two sides settling for a point apiece.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at McDiarmid Park
FT: St Johnstone 1 – 1 Motherwell #SJFCvMFC
90′ | 1-1
There will be 4 minutes added on.
89′ | 1-1
Foster booked for hauling down Ainsworth as he broke away
87′ | 1-1
Looked like a glorious chance there for Moult as McDonald slides him in but its inches wide of the target and the flag went up
86′ | 1-1
Ball seems to take an eternity to fall out the sky to McDonald who opts for the first time volley but its over the bar.
84′ | 1-1
St Johnstone sub, Cummins on for Kane.
83′ | 1-1
Chance for Alston but Samson denies him with a great save as he burst through on goal.
81′ | 1-1
Final Motherwell change, Bowman on for McMillan
76′ | 1-1
Moult booked for impeding Shaughnessy with his arm as he rose to head the ball.
73′ | 1-1
Motherwell sub, Lasley off for Ainsworth
69′ | 1-1
St Johnstone sub, Millar off for Paton.
62′ | 1-1
Goal – Saints draw level. MacLean gets played in and his shot is well saved by Samson but the rebound cannons in off the striker
61′ | 0-1
McDonald gets down the right hand side and hangs up up at the back post but Lucas can’t test Clark with his header.
60′ | 0-1
McManus is booked for a foul on the touchline. From the free-kick Davidson heads wide.
58′ | 0-1
Motherwell sub, Ferguson makes way for Lucas
56′ | 0-1
Moult gets the break of the ball wide on the left but as he gets inside the area, he curls his shot well over the bar.
54′ | 0-1
Nearly the equaliser but Samson gathers Davidson’s header at the second time of asking.
St Johnstone get the second half underway. COYW!!
HT: St Johnstone 0 – 1 Motherwell #SJFCvMFC
A quiet first 45 but ‘Well have the lead through that Clark own goal.
45+1′ | 0-1
Great save by Samson to deny MacLean’s header from 5 yards!!!
45′ | 0-1
St Johnstone forced into a change as Coulson limps off for Alston
37′ | 0-1
McMillan gets forward and tee’s up Lasley but he can’t hit the target with his strike.
34′ | 0-1
Clay looks off balance but attempts a shot from 25 yards, which trickles well wide of the post.
25 | 0-1
‘Well defence holding strong as Heneghan blocks another Scobbie header on goal from a corner.
17′ | 0-1
MacLean gets a bit of space inside the area but Heneghan gets enough on it to take the sting out it and Samson gathers
12′ | 0-1
TAIT whips in a low cross which seems to go straight through Clark and into the net! 0-1 to the Steelmen!!!
4′ | 0-0
Couple of early chances for Saints. Easton’s header is put wide then from corner Davidson heads over the bar
Motherwell get the first half underway. COYW!!
Motherwell manager Mark McGhee:
St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright: