It was another frustrating and disappointing afternoon for Motherwell as they looked be settling for another point after a hard fought draw with St Johnstone.
The return of Charles Dunne steadied the Fir Park defence, and the equally solid Saints rearguard meant the game felt like a no scoring draw.
But that changed in injury time when Jason Kerr headed home to give Saints three points and leave the Fir Park players and fans gutted.
The Steelmen had plenty of possession but created only a few chances, largely through David Turnbull, who was very composed and impressive on his first start of the season. Overall, though, both ‘keepers were well protected and had a very quiet afternoon.
Still chasing their first home league win of the season, Stephen Robinson made three changes. Dunne back from injury formed a solid back three, with Aaron Taylor-Sinclair playing at left wing back. Without the suspended Carl McHugh, Turnbull was rewarded for his influential performance in the Colts’ win over Sligo Rovers last week.
It took Taylor-Sinclair only five minutes to make his first contribution, a curling left foot cross which found Curtis Main between two defenders but he could only steer his header wide of goal.
Trevor Carson made the first save after 13 minutes, when Tony Watt got beyond Tom Aldred but his angled shot was comfortably blocked by the ‘Well ‘keeper at his near post.
A minute later Zander Clark stretched at his back post to touch a terrific curling effort from Main beyond his post, as Motherwell began to exert some pressure on the visitor’s goal.
The Saints’ ‘keeper was more fortunate in the 16th minute. Charged with the delivery of dead balls, Turnbull curled a long free kick to beyond the six yard box where Andy Rose powered a header which thumped off the crossbar.
A hefty challenge limited Taylor-Sinclair’s involvement to 22 minutes when he was replaced by Richard Tait.
For all their possession especially around the Saints’ penalty area, the ‘Well players were reluctant to shoot from distance until Turnbull teed up Alan Campbell, but his well struck shot from 22 yards flew just over the crossbar.
With both teams unable to create clear cut chances neither ‘keeper was really tested in the first half.
Then in injury time, Chris Cadden brilliantly cut in from the right but with a great chance to test Clark he sliced his shot wide of goal.
The Steelmen aimed to improve on that from the start of the second half and from Tait’s lay-off Campbell had another crack at goal, but his effort was blocked by a packed penalty area.
Three minutes into the half, ‘Well produced their best chance of the match.
Turnbull showed great determination to win the ball in the middle of the park and his lofted pass was perfect for Main.
But after taking a great first touch the former Portsmouth striker blasted his shot over the bar with Clark’s goal at his mercy.
Undaunted by that miss, Main tried his luck from the other side of the box but his low left foot effort took a deflection to carry the ball just beyond the post.
After an hour trying to get in behind the well organised Saints’ rearguard, Elliott Frear was then given 30 minutes to create some space on the left. This was shortly followed by ‘Well’s last substitution and attempt to produce a winner, when Danny Johnson came on for the tireless Main.
Keen to make an impact, Johnson turned on Tait’s pass but from 20 yards he pulled his left foot effort wide of goal.
There was scarcely any activity around the home goal until 10 minutes from time, when Chris Kane’s swerving shot was sneaking inside the pos,t until Carson at full stretch threw himself low to his left and palm the ball behind.
Saints sensed a winner might be on the cards and pushed forward forcing a series of corners.
From the last one in injury time, Liam Craig picked out Kerr in a packed six yard box and his header flashed past Carson for the winner.
‘Well produced one last attempt to take a point but from Tait’s cross, Aldred’s header was taken by Clark under his crossbar as Saints held on for three points.