Motherwell dealt with the pressure of a trip to Paisley to ease themselves to a much-needed victory over St Mirren.
A goal in each half from David Turnbull and Chris Cadden rewarded the Steelmen for maintaining the upper hand throughout a game where they always looked like taking full points.
In this Halloween fixture, there was no disguising the importance of the game, in the first of two matches inside four days which Stephen Robinson described as huge. The Fir Park players, however, responded to their manager and showed great determination as they controlled the entire 90 minutes.
The ‘Well boss made four changes to his side, with Carl McHugh and Richard Tait restored to the starting line-up and Liam Grimshaw and Gaël Bigirimana joining them.
With the latter in charge of set pieces, the first chance came within a minute when Bigirmana’s corner was headed over the crossbar by McHugh.
There was no lack of confidence in ‘Well’s build up play ten minutes in, but the final ball across goal posed little threat to former ‘Well ‘keeper Craig Samson.
Indeed, the first save came at the other end after 24 minutes, when a foul on Tait went unpunished allowing Adam Hammill a shot at goal but straight into Trevor Carson’s arms.
However, five minutes later, Motherwell’s first strike on goal was more productive. Bigirimana kept possession on the touchline before rolling the ball inside to David Turnbull.
With nobody closing him down he took a few strides towards the penalty area before driving a low hard shot which skidded under Samson for the 19-year-old’s first senior goal.
‘Well should have been two up in the 34th minute when Cadden’s cross found Main unmarked eight yards from goal, but he powered his header straight at Samson.
Just before half time, Ryan Bowman outjumped the Saint’s ‘keeper to force the ball over the goal line, but the assistant’s flag indicated that the striker was offside.
Two minutes after the break the Fir Parkers had the ball in the net again and this time it counted.
Cadden found Main at the edge of the box who held the ball up long enough to return the pass, leaving the Scotland Under 21 man free to sweep a lovely left-footed shot beyond Samson to make it 2-0.
The home side struggled to find a foothold in the match as ‘Well pressed to extend their advantage and boost their own confidence ahead of Dundee’s visit on Saturday.
With 20 minutes remaining, Robinson decided to bolster the centre of the park, calling on the more defensive-minded Alan Campbell to replace Bigirimana.
Less than four minutes later, Saints task of making a comeback were made more difficult when Ryan Flynn was shown a straight red card after a high challenge on Tait.
With an extra man ‘Well, made the most of possession and should have added to their lead. Nine minutes from the end Cadden burst towards the Saints box before finding McHugh, but he couldn’t quite cap a fine performance in the middle of the park with his left footed effort, which flashed just outside the post.
Danny Johnson replaced Main just before Cadden powered into the box again and testing Samson with a low drive.
In the closing minutes, all the play was around the home penalty area and a neat exchange between Cadden and Turnbull set up Johnson but, from the corner of the box, his curled shot was easily taken by the Saints stopper.
Barry McGuire made it four academy graduates on the pitch on a cold, wet night in the Ladbrokes Premiership, appearing for a few minutes as ‘Well comfortably remained in control for all three points and a confidence boosting win ahead of Saturday.