Two wonderful strikes in either half from James Scott and Chris Long were enough to overcome a dogged St Mirren and make it a very impressive five wins from their last six games.
Although the Buddies were on the defence for most of the game, and ‘keeper Vaclav Hladky kept their hopes of taking a point alive until Long’s goal five minutes from time, ‘Well’s controlled performance especially in the first half, was well worth another three points.
Motherwell were aiming for another win and tighten their grip on third place in the Ladbrokes Premiership before the international break.
Stephen Robinson’s men had to do so without the influential midfield presence of the suspended Liam Donnelly. That allowed Barry Maguire to make his first start of the season in a holding midfield role, which the Scotland Under 21 man did with some style.
Devante Cole retained the striker’s jersey in an attempt to break down a stubborn Saints defence, which had the third meanest defensive league record.
Conversely, the Paisley men have only found the net three times this season. However, they had an early chance to end their drought when Ilkay Durmas’ cross was nudged beyond the post by Jon Obika.
Other than that, all the play was towards a compacted Saints half of the pitch with the Fir Park men patient in possession.
After 10 minutes, James Scott, revelling in his role on the right, dragged the ball across the 18 yard line before driving his shot wide of goal.
A minute later ‘Well threatened from the other wing. After playing the ball out wide to Sherwin Seedorf, Polworth collected the return only to watch his low drive palmed away by Vaclav Hladky, as the Saints ‘keeper made the first in a series of fine stops.
Seedorf then decided to go on a solo run from the touchline into the six-yard area before forcing a good block from the Saints’ ‘keeper.
Declan Gallagher, poised in possession at the back then set off upfield. Arriving at the opposite goal line, his cut back was perfect for Cole but his shot was blocked on the line as the Buddies defence held firm.
The visitor’s defence was spliced open after 18 minutes, when from their corner ‘Well broke upfield. However, with Polworth racing unchallenged through the middle, Scott’s pass forced the former ICT man to check his run and his hurried drive was wide of target.
It was almost a repeat 10 minutes later. Mark Gillespie collected the corner kick and immediately sent play to the other end. When Scott’s cutback was missed by Alan Campbell, it fell perfectly for Polworth but his measured shot was well saved by Hladky.
Ten minutes from half-time ‘Well created their best chance – only to be again denied by Hladky.
Liam Grimshaw’s throw-in found Polworth and his incisive pass put Cole though on goal but the Saints’ keeper raced from his line to brilliantly block the on-loan striker’s low shot.
Two minutes later, though, the ‘keeper was helpless as the Steelmen deservedly made the breakthrough. Scott looked to have passed up the chance as he made his way across the box but after a quick exchange with Polworth the teenager found some space and from 20 yards he fired a superb shot high into the right hand corner of the net to make it 1-0.
The home side then pressed for a killer second goal before the break which provided a breather for the overworked Paisley men.
Refreshed from the interval, Saints restarted on the attack and within a minute Mark Gillespie was forced into his first save rising to push Danny Mullen’s angled drive over the bar. The Fir Park goal then survived as the ball from the resultant corner pinged about the six yard before being cleared off the line.
However, a couple of minutes later normal service was resumed when Hladky, at full stretch, palmed away Seedorf’s effort which was curling inside the keeper’s far post.
St Mirren, though, with nothing to lose were more adventurous in the second half and created more chances around the home goal.
Ten minutes into the half Robinson made his first substitution and usual change, bringing on Jermaine Hylton, this time for goal scorer James Scott.
With the game much more open, and Motherwell wary of being on the receiving end of a sucker punch for a second consecutive home game, the home side doubled their attacking intent when Chris Long replaced Seedorf after 69 minutes.
Within a minute ‘Well came close to doubling their lead. Polworth’s curling shot from the edge of the box seemed destined for the back of the net and a fitting reward for a fine performance, until Hladky threw himself high to his right to bring off a spectacular save.
At the other end Kyle Magennis’ volley from 12 yards was on target until Peter Hartley’s stretched to head it behind his goal.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes and the 896 Saints’ fans behind Gillespie’s goal anticipating an equaliser, ‘Well made the final change, Christian Ilic, bolstering the midfield at the expense of Cole.
The Paisley fans were on their feet as Junior Morais fired an angled shot heading for the far corner of the net until Gillespie at full stretch palmed the shot away.
Five minutes from time, though, the tension in the home stands was relieved as ‘Well claimed the all important second goal. Chris Long chased a long ball deep into the visitor’s box before checking back onto his left foot and fire a superb finish high past Hladky and secure all three points.
Motherwell: Gillespie, Grimshaw, Gallagher, Hartley, Tait, Maguire, Campbell, Polworth, Scott, Seedorf, Cole.
Subs: Carson, Ilic, Long, Semple, Mugabi, O’Hara, Hylton.