Motherwell’s attempts to secure seventh place took a dent as St Johnstone put the Steelmen to the sword at Fir Park.
Goal difference keeps Stephen Robinson’s at the summit of the bottom six, but the Saints five goal haul has tightened the gap in the push for seventh.
With a game just around the corner on Tuesday night, Stephen Robinson gave Barry McGuire, Elliot Frear and Nadir Çiftçi a starting place, resting Ricard Tait and Cédric Kipré, with Ryan Bowman dropping to the bench.
In a crazy nine-minute period before half-time, a Steven MacLean double and another from Steven Anderson put Saints in the driving seat.
That scenario looked so unlikely as the Fir Park side controlled the first 30 minutes, with seemingly just a question of time before they opened the scoring.
Curtis Main in particular appeared hungry to add to his haul of eight goals.
The first threat came when Main’s low driven cross from the left was fumbled by Zander Clark on his goal line.
His best chance came after 15 minutes when Liam Grimshaw threaded a great pass into the box but having debated which foot to use Main finally hammered the ball off Joe Shaughnessy from 14 yards.
Cadden was the provider, finding Main from the corner of the box, but the former Portsmouth striker was unable to get the ball out from under his feet and his effort squirmed harmlessly towards Clark.
The pressure mounted on the visitor’s goal and around the half hour mark ‘Well forced three consecutive corners. Despite Cadden curling each of them into the goal mouth, Clark and his defence stood firm.
Within a minute, and in their first real attack, Saints showed them the way to goal.
The Perth men were allowed far too much time to retain possession around the home box before Richard Foster picked out the unmarked MacLean, who buried his header into the corner of the net and beyond Trevor Carson.
Four minutes later, Saints doubled their lead. The home defence failed to deal with George Williams free kick into the box and after Carson clawed away Murray Davidson’s effort, Anderson took advantage of a static defence to ram the loose ball high over the ‘keeper.
Before the 40th minute, Saints were 3-0 up. Matty Willock got in behind and his pass across the face of the goal found the unchallenged MacLean sliding in to force the ball home.
Not surprisingly, the ‘Well boss made two changes at half-time, bringing on Bigirimana and Bowman and withdrawing Grimshaw and McHugh.
That bold move might have been rewarded with a fightback, especially when ‘Well were unlucky not to pull a goal back within five minutes of the restart.
Bigirimana’s measured free kick from 30 yards had Clark scrambling to palm the ball round the post. Frear’s corner found Çiftçi four yards from goal and his stabbed shot was destined for the net until it smacked off the face of the unsuspecting ‘keeper and back into play.
However, any thoughts of a fightback were killed off when MacLean toe poked Davidson’s trundling shot beyond Carson to claim a hat-trick and ensure all three points were heading back to Perth.
Thirteen minutes from time, ‘Well managed to reduce the leeway. Main set up Bowman and when his shot rebounded from the crossbar, Bigirimana nipped in to nod the ball home.
Two minutes later, though, Saints substitute David McMillan headed home a terrific Foster cross back across Carson and into the far corner of the net to complete a miserable afternoon for the Fir Park men.