There was little Christmas cheer for Motherwell, as a Simeon Jackson goal midway through the second half was enough to secure all three points for St Mirren.
With Stephen Robinson expelled to the stand for the next three games, Keith Lasley assumed the manager’s role on the touchline. But despite the former ‘Well captain highlighting the need for consistency, a poor performance after some terrific home form not only cost the Fir Parkers a crucial win but also saw their lead over the relegation threatened Buddies reduced to six points.
The injection of five changes from the midweek visit to Celtic Park failed to have an impact in a game devoid of any sustained football. As both teams struggled to maintain control and possession of the ball in conditions made difficult with bouts of torrential rain goalmouth action was scarce.
While the Fir Park men might have claimed to have had the bulk of the play in their visitors’ half they did little to threaten Dean Lyness in the Saints’ goal. Indeed the ‘keeper’s first save came almost midway through the half when David Turnbull’s free kick curled beyond the his defensive line forcing Lyness to clutch the ball under his cross bar.
The Saints ‘keeper should have been tested 10 minutes later when Turnbull’s cross picked out Curtis Main six yards in front of goal but his attempted header came off his should allowing Lyness to make a comfortable save.
The consensus was that the football and weather could only improve in the second half and in fresh strips and dry overhead ‘Well restarted in a more positive manner.
After seven minutes Richard Tait wriggled free of his marker at the corner of the box before hammering the ball across a packed area. Danny Johnson reacted well but could only hook the ball over the crossbar.
On the hour mark Lasley made his first and substitution, replacing Christian Mbulu with Gael Bigirimana.
However, it was the Saints sub Adam Hammill who brought some life to the Buddies. In the 68th minute his pass sent Lee Hodson through but when Mark Gillespie blocked his shot the ball bounced kindly into the path of Jackson who steered it past Tait on the goal line to put the Paisley side ahead.
That prompted a response from the Steelmen and Main’s powerful header from Turnbull’s corner looked like the equalizer until Lyness made a terrific block.
After 77 minutes Turnbull decided to take route one and his powerful drive from 30 yards had Lyness flapping to clear the ball but when Main nodded the rebound back towards goal the ‘keeper comfortably collect the ball and end any danger.
With ten minutes remaining ‘Well made a bold double substitution bringing on two strikers Conor Sammon and Ryan Bowman at the expense of Campbell and Tait.
Despite having the ball in the Saints box for most of the closing minutes, it took a great save from Gillespie to deny Hammill adding a second goal and killing off the game.
Motherwell came close to making the most of that save and snatching a point in the final action of the game. Liam Grimshaw’s cross into a crowded box found Turnbull sneaking in at the back post and his downward header from a couple of was heading inside the post until the ball was brilliantly blocked by the ‘keeper’s legs.
However, it was too little too late from a Motherwell side which will rue the opportunity to widen the gap between themselves and Saints.