’Well are sunk by Saints’ super-sub

Paul Lawson made his first start since Boxing Day
Paul Lawson made his first start since Boxing Day
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Motherwell’s worst run of form since 2011 continued on Saturday as they slumped to their fourth straight defeat at home to St Johnstone.

The Perth side arrived at Fir Park having got their season back on track with victory over Aberdeen and won it through Brian Graham’s debut goal.

It was another difficult day for ’Well though as they were forced to shuffle the pack once more.

Paul Lawson made his first start since Boxing Day, while there was a debut for on-loan defender Mark O’Brien and Zaine Francis-Angol and Lionel Ainsworth returned to the starting 11.

It was the visitors who got on the front foot early as Steven MacLean slipped in Gary McDonald who stood the ball up to the back post, but Craig Reid was there to block David Wotherspoon’s volley.

Chris Millar’s shot from the edge of the box was then parried away by Dan Twardzik who then saved a McDonald header.

In response ’Well could only muster a weak shot from Henrik Ojamaa and a drive over the top from Lawson.

Things did seem to be improving at the start of the second half as John Sutton got in behind the St Johnstone defence, but shot weakly at Alan Mannus.

Reid then had a shot charged down by Scott Brown and appeals for handball were ignored by referee Alan Muir.

Sutton is still looking for his first goal of the season and was denied as he headed down an Ainsworth corner by the foot of Mannus.

Josh Law then charged down Steven Anderson’s attempted clearance, but fired over from a narrow angle and Ainsworth failed to find the target with two efforts.

It looked like ’Well might just edge the match, but the visitors came back into it, Michael O’Halloran giving Twardzik a scare as his mishit cross hit the post.

There was a warning sign as Dave MacKay crossed from the right for McDonald to head on target.

However, the warning wasn’t heeded and with four minutes to go McDonald sent the ball in from the right and GRAHAM took advantage of Stephen McManus struggling with a hamstring injury to head in the winner.

Motherwell: Twardzik, Reid, McManus, Ainsworth, Lawson, Sutton, Lasley, O’Brien, Francis-Angol (Ramsden 81), Law (Erwin 67), Ojamaa (McHugh 76). Subs not used: Nielsen, Leitch, Neill, Cadden.

St Johnstone: Mannus, MacKay, Scobbie, Anderson, Millar, McDonald, MacLean (Graham 75), Wotherspoon, Brown (Lappin 69), Croft (O’Halloran 62), Easton. Subs not used: Banks, Wright, Morgan, Miller.

Referee: Alan Muir.

Attendance: 3,700.