Motherwell defeated 2-1 by Saints

Liam Craig scored a double for St Johnstone in the win at Fir Park (Library pic by Michael Gillen)
Liam Craig scored a double for St Johnstone in the win at Fir Park (Library pic by Michael Gillen)

A battling Motherwell side went down to a narrow 2-1 defeat at home to St Johnstone on Saturday.

The Steelmen’s bad luck this season was summed up when a header by substitute Ryan Bowman in injury time looked a goal all the way but the ball struck the inside of the left hand post before trickling along the goal line.

Motherwell ace Ryan Bowman wins a bullet header in injury time which cruelly hit the inside of the left post and rolled along the St Johnstone goal line (Pic by Alan Watson)

Motherwell ace Ryan Bowman wins a bullet header in injury time which cruelly hit the inside of the left post and rolled along the St Johnstone goal line (Pic by Alan Watson)

Motherwell got off to a nightmare start when Saints hit the front with a fine goal after just eight minutes.

Graham Cummins’ cross from the right was headed powerfully past Craig Samson by Liam Craig.

The hosts then had a strong penalty shout when Scott McDonald seemed to be impeded in the box after brilliant play on the left by Elliott Frear who beat two men.

Samson kept out a Cummins blast from distance before Frear - Motherwell’s outstanding player in the first half - was prominent down the left again before Louis Moult chested the ball back to Craig Clay, whose effort was deflected tamely to Saints keeper Zander Clark.

There was almsot a 31st minute disaster for Motherwell’s Carl McHugh when he was dispossesed by Cummins who set up Steven MacLean for a shot saved by Samson.

The Steelmen were then guilty of squandering two gilt edged chances in quick succession.

Firstly Chris Cadden shot over from close range, before McDonald somehow scooped the ball too high from six yards after a Moult pass.

Motherwell came extremely close to breaking the deadlock from a 54th minute Frear corner, which was flicked on by Moult for Zak Jules, whose shot was brilliantly saved by Saints sub keeper Alan Mannus.

Moult was off target with a couple of efforts before St Johnstone silenced the home support by taking a 65th minute lead when Swanson’s cross evaded David Ferguson and reached Craig who volleyed home brilliantly with his left foot.

Motherwell missing regular defenders McManus, Tait and Heneghan, looked suspect at the back on 72 minutes when Brian Easton’s mammoth punt saw Samson and Ferguson leave the ball to each other but fortunately for the hosts Saints couldn’t score.

Craig nearly completed his hat-trick when he volleyed just off target from Cummins’ long cross to the back post.

The Steelmen kept plugging away and Cadden’s cross from the right was just too high for Moult who headed over.