Match report: Motherwell 1-2 Saints
Match Reports

Match report: Motherwell 1-2 Saints

19th May 2024

Match report: Motherwell 1-2 Saints

Saints secured their Premiership status this afternoon as they defeated Motherwell 2-1 at Fir Park on a dramatic final afternoon of the season.

Saints took the lead on 18 minutes when Nicky Clark steered home a sublime Graham Carey cross.

The Perth side then doubled their lead in first half stoppage time as Adama Sidibeh took advantage of a defensive mix up to head the ball beyond Liam Kelly.

Motherwell pulled a goal back through a late strike from substitute Moses Ebiye however, Saints saw the game out to secure the vital 3 points.

The result coupled with Ross County drawing 2-2 at home to ten-man Aberdeen means Saints finish tenth in the cinch Premiership on goal difference, whilst Ross County slip into the relegation play-off positon and will now face Raith Rovers.


Motherwell was the destination for Saints this afternoon for their final cinch Premiership match of the regular campaign. Saints came into the match in eleventh place in the cinch Premiership knowing they needed to win and hope Ross County don’t against Aberdeen to avoid finishing in the relegation play-off position. Craig Levein made one change to his starting eleven from the side which drew 1-1 with Ross County on Wednesday evening as Matt Smith came in to replace Stevie May who dropped to the bench. Motherwell lost 3-0 at Hibs in midweek and manager Stuart Kettlewell made three changes to his starting eleven for this afternoon’s match. Bevis Mugabi, Harry Paton and Davor Zdravkovski came in to replace Stephen O’Donnell and Dan Casey who both dropped to the bench, whilst Andy Halliday missed out completely.

Blair Spittal got the match underway for Motherwell and the hosts started brightly forcing several corners which came to nothing.

On 7 minutes Graham Carey’s long ball forward played in Adama Sidibeh who burst into the Well box before seeing his effort blocked by Bevis Mugabi. Good play by Saints shortly after saw Drey Wright link up well with Matt Smith down the right as he played a neat one-two with the Welsh midfielder before bursting forward and sending over an inviting cross however, Sidibeh couldn’t make a clear connection with the delivery. Sam Nicholson then tried to clear the danger however, the ball clattered off Nicky Clark and it was heading for the top corner but Liam Kelly made a great save to claw the ball away. The Well number one then turned the ball behind for a corner with his leg whilst on the deck before Carey to latch onto it.

On 10 minutes Harry Paton played the ball out wide to Nicholson on the right and the winger cut inside before unleashing a strike which didn’t trouble Dimitar Mitov. The Fir Park side created another chance on 13 minutes as Georgie Gent saw his strike comfortably saved by Mitov.

The breakthrough came on 18 minutes as Saints took the lead. Carey sent over a brilliant cross from the left which went in behind the Motherwell defence and Clark slide in to guide the ball beyond Kelly to put Saints a goal up.

PHOTO: Nicky Clark celebrates his goal

Carey delivered another beautiful cross into the box on 23 minutes and the Saints players were claiming for a handball however, referee Colin Steven was unmoved. Played continued and the ball broke to David Keltjens and he unleashed a fierce strike from 25 yards which Kelly palmed away.

However, on the half an hour mark Motherwell were handed a route back into the match as they were awarded a penalty as Dan Phillips was penalised for a hand ball. Former Saints player Theo Bair stepped up to take the penalty however, Mitov made a brilliant save, getting down low to his right to save the penalty.

PHOTO: Dimitar Mitov saves Theo Bair's penalty

It would prove to be a big 16 seconds of the afternoon as following the penalty save news filtered through from Dingwall that Aberdeen had equalised after Ross County had taken an early lead. As things stood Saints were safe and County were in the relegation play-off.

With 5 minutes of the first half remaining Lennon Miller played in Bair and he burst into the box however, Liam Gordon was able to do enough to put off the striker as he fired well over the bar.

3 minutes were added on at the end of the first half and in the first minute of stoppage time Saints doubled their lead. Carey’s cross was headed by Paul McGinn and the ball dropped in the box. Mugabi was waiting for Kelly to come and gather the ball however, Sidibeh was able to take advantage of the defensive mix up to slip in to head the ball into the net.

PHOTO: Adama Sidibeh scores Saints second goal

Into the second half and a great ball forward by Wright played in Sidibeh who was in behind the Well defence and he broke into the box however, Mugabi was able to get back to make an important tackle to deny the Saints forward.

The Saints fans in the Tommy McLean Stand were then celebration as the news filtered through that Aberdeen had taken a 2-1 lead in Dingwall. They were celebrating again shortly after when they thought the Dons had scored a third however, it was chalked off following a VAR check.

On 57 minutes brilliant defending by Saints ensured their two goal advantage remained. Gent sent over a delightful cross which Ryan McGowan was able to flick away. However, Bair was able to head the ball back across goal but McGowan made a fantastic block on the line. The ball again broke to Bair but Liam Gordon made a fantastic diving block to turn the ball over for a corner.

Saints created another chance to extend their lead on 59 minutes as Sidibeh crossed the ball into the box as he tried to pick out Clark at the near post however, Nicholson got in front of the Saints forward to turn the ball behind for a corner.

PHOTO: David Keltjens and Dan Phillips tackle Lennon Miller

Motherwell were pushing to get back into the game and on 62 minutes Spittal saw his shot turned behind for a corner by McGowan. Spittal took the corner from the right and his delivery was met by McGinn whose header was well held by Mitov. Then a minute later the Steelmen created another chance as Spittal dummied the ball in the box as he moved the ball onto his left foot before unleashing a curling effort which crashed off the far post before the ball fell into Mitov’s arms. You were starting to get the feeling it could just be Saints day.

Saints made their first change of the game on 64 minutes as Andy Considine came on to replace Nicky Clark.

It was an enthralling afternoon in North Lanarkshire and another twist was to come as Ross County scored from the penalty spot against ten-man Aberdeen to make it 2-2 in Dingwall.

Craig Levein made another change on 74 minutes as Adama Sidibeh was replaced by Benji Kimpioka.

PHOTO: Georgie Gent and Adama Sidibeh

On 82 minutes Dan Phillips passed the ball to Wright and he unleashed a long-range effort which didn’t trouble Kelly.

4 minutes were added on at the end and Saints made a third change during stoppage time as Stevie May entered the action to replace Matt Smith.

Motherwell pulled a goal back deep into stoppage time as Gent laid it on a plate with a cross into the box for Moses Ebiye who slotted the ball beyond Mitov to set up a nervous finale to the match.

Saints created one final chance as Carey picked out Kimpioka with his ball into the box however, the strike from the Swedish forward was straight at Kelly who comfortably held the ball.

That proved to be the end of the action at Fir Park and the Saints players and management team waited on the pitch for news of the final result in Dingwall. It had the feeling of that afternoon back in 2007 when we waited for news from Dingwall however, this time it was to go in Saints favour as news soon came through that County had drawn 2-2 with Aberdeen and the players and fans celebrated wildly. The result confirmed Saints had finished tenth on goal difference and secured their place in Scotland’s top flight for a sixteenth consecutive season.

PHOTO: Craig Levein celebrates at full time with Dimitar Mitov

PHOTO: Ryan McGowan and Liam Gordon celebrate at full time

Motherwell: Kelly, Gent, Mugabi (Butcher 64’), Spittal, Paton (Vale 45’), Bair, McGinn, Zdravkovski (Ross 77’), Nicholson (Ferrie 77’), Blaney, Miller (Ebiye 64’)

Unused Substitutes: Oxborough (GK), O’Donnell, Casey, Devine

Booked: None

Scorer: Ebiye (90+4’)

Saints: Mitov, McGowan, Gordon, MacPherson, Clark (Considine 64’), Carey, Wright, Sidibeh (Kimpioka 74’), M. Smith (May 90+2’), Keltjens, Phillips

Unused Substitutes: Richards (GK), Jaiyesimi, Kucheriavyi, Olufunwa, Franczak, C. Smith

Booked: Keltjens

Scorers: Clark (18’), Sidibeh (45+1’)

Referee: Colin Steven

VAR: Nick Walsh

Attendance: 5,571 (736 Saints fans)

Match Report by Daryl Scott

Picture: The Saints players celebrate at full time

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