Saturday 18th March
Saints won 2-1 at Motherwell for the second time this season as a Liam Craig double ensured the three points at Fir Park this afternoon.
The result means St. Johnstone have now leapfrogged Hearts into fourth place in the Scottish Premiership table.
Saints headed to Motherwell today looking to build on last Saturday’s 2-0 win at home to Dundee and Tommy Wright chose to go with the same starting line-up that started last weekend’s game. New Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson made two changes to the team that started last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Aberdeen as Louis Moult and Elliot Frear came into replace Ben Heneghan and Ryan Bowman.
Saints got the match underway and they started well creating a couple of half chances. Then on 8 minutes Saints took the lead as Graham Cummins delivered a great cross from the right which picked out Liam Craig in the box who planted a great header past Motherwell goalkeeper Craig Samson and into the top corner of the net.
The home side were claiming for a penalty on 16 minutes as Elliot Frear crossed the ball into the Saints box to Scott McDonald who went down after clashing with Brian Easton however, referee Greg Aitken waved play on.
2 minutes later a rasping Cummins shot was pushed over the bar for a corner by Samson. The corner was taken by Danny Swanson but it was easily cleared by the Motherwell defence.
Motherwell created a decent chance on 31 minutes as Louis Moult chested the ball down to Craig Clay whose shot at goal took a deflection before being gathered by Zander Clark.
Then a minute later Cummins won the ball before slipping it to Steven MacLean whose angled shot was saved by Samson.
The home side were coming more into the game and on 36 minutes they wasted a great chance as McDonald setup Chris Cadden but the midfielder blasted his effort high and wide from 10 yards.
With 5 minutes of the first half remaining Danny Swanson cut in from the left before having a shot which took a deflection off Clay before being gathered by Samson.
Motherwell then missed a great chance to draw level on 42 minutes as Louis Moult’s effort was saved, the ball then fell to McDonald and with the goal at his mercy somehow managed to send his shot wide.
However, the home side were not to be denied as 2 minutes later they were level. Moult broke down the left before crossing the ball into the box which eventually found McDonald who fired home from close range.
Saints made a change before the second half got underway as Alan Mannus came on for Zander Clark, who had picked up a knock in the closing stages of the first half.
On 54 minutes, good play by the home side saw Frear setup Moult whose effort was well saved by Mannus. Then a minute later Mannus made a fantastic reaction save to deny Zak Jules from close range.
The Steelmen created another chance on 63 minutes as Frear again setup Moult who dragged his effort inches wide from 12 yards out.
A minute later Saints made their second change of the afternoon as Murray Davidson came on for Blair Alston.
Although Motherwell had started the second half the better of the two sides Saints first real attack of the half on 66 minutes saw them regain the lead. A good cross from the right into the home box by MacLean was flicked on before falling to Craig who controlled the ball before firing a great strike past Samson for his second of the afternoon.
On 77 minutes Cummins went on a good run down the right before crossing the ball into the box which picked out Craig whose volley went wide of the target. Then with 10 minutes remaining Swanson saw his curling strike go inches over Samson’s bar.
With 2 minutes, remaining Cadden clipped the ball in from the right to Moult but the Motherwell striker couldn’t get his header on target. Then as the match entered 3 minutes of added on time a header from Motherwell substitute Ryan Bowman hit the post and rolled across the face of the Saints goal before being cleared.
The home side continued to pile the pressure on the Saints goal but the Saints defence stood firm and saw the game out to secure a vital 3 points which sees Saints move up to fourth place in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Man of the Match: Liam Craig
Motherwell: Samson, Hammell (Bowman 68), McHugh, Moult, Cadden, Frear (Ainsworth 82), Clay, Jules (Blyth 90), Ferguson, McDonald, Pearson Unused Substitutes: Griffiths (GK), Lasley, Campbell, McMillan Booked: None Scorers: McDonald (44)
Saints: Clark (Mannus 45), Scobbie, Alston (Davidson 64), MacLean, Swanson, Shaughnessy, Paton, Foster, Easton, Craig, Cummins Unused Substitutes: Millar, Smith, Coulson, Thomson, Hunter Booked: Davidson Scorers: Craig (8, 66)
Referee: Greg Aitken Attendance: 3,588
Match Report by Daryl Scott
Photo by Martin Hawkins
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