Saints are let off the hook

Michael Higdon congratulates James McFadden after his free-kick stunner
Michael Higdon congratulates James McFadden after his free-kick stunner

A CLEAN sweep of wins over every SPL side this season remained tantalisingly out of reach as Motherwell had to come from behind to grab a late point against St Mirren.

’Well went into Saturday’s game knowing victory would take them five points clear of Inverness, who had drawn with St Johnstone the night before, in the race for second.

However, St Mirren were the only side they hadn’t beaten this season and while it may have been second top against second bottom, wastefulness in front of goal meant that would remain the case.

The home side were dealt a blow just before kick-off when Stevie Hammell injured a hamstring to be replaced by Zaine Francis-Angol with Steven Saunders taking his place on the bench.

SCUFFED

After a tentative start Chris Humphrey blew off the cobwebs as he blasted to the byeline and cut the ball back in the danger area, David Van Zanten just managed to nip the ball off James McFadden’s toe and Michael Higdon scuffed wide.

Henrik Ojamaa then got into a good position after playing a one-two with Nicky Law, but at the vital moment appeared to catch a stud in the dry turf and the ball rolled harmlessly back to Craig Samson.

It wasn’t all one way traffic and from Paul McGowan’s low corner Marc McAusland should have done much better 10 yards out than shoot tamely at Darren Randolph.

Law drove forward before laying off to McFadden whose cross to the back post was fired over by Higdon, while at the other end Dougie Imrie couldn’t find a way past Randolph after Steven Thompson’s lay off.

Last week Dundee allowed HIGDON a free header at the back post and on 34 minutes St Mirren made the same mistake as he nodded in from Keith Lasley’s cross, his 23rd of the season.

However, the lead didn’t last until half-time as four minutes from the break Sander Puri squared the ball to CONOR NEWTON who blasted into the top corner from 25 yards.

It could have been even worse as Kenny McLean found Van Zanten unmarked at the back post but Higdon stretched every inch of his frame as he slid in for a block.

At the interval Lewis Guy replaced Puri, but before he had his moment to shine his defence has some work to do as Samson palmed over from Ojamaa and McAusland deflected a Lasley shot over the bar.

PRESSURE

Humphrey swept past Paul Dummett but Samson was equal to his effort, and then McFadden dribbled away from McGowan and Newton but dragged wide.

The pressure continued - Higdon volleying wide, Lasley hitting Newton and the ball ending up on the roof of the net and Law backheeling past from Tom Hateley’s mishit drive before on 75 minutes a goal was finally scored - for St Mirren.

McGowan played a perfectly weighted pass into the path of GUY and the substitute stroked the ball under Randolph to give the visitors the lead.

However, there was still time for McFADDEN to shine and he duly did five minutes from time curling a free kick into the top corner which Samson got his fingertips to, but couldn’t keep out.

Motherwell: Randolph, Law, Hutchinson, Hateley, Humphrey, Ojamaa, Higdon, Lasley, Ramsden, McFadden, Francis-Angol. Subs not used: Hollis, Saunders, Higginbotham, McHugh, Carswell, Kerr, Cummins.

St Mirren: Samson, Van Zanten, Dummett, Goodwin, Imrie (McGinn 64), Thompson (Parkin 73), McGowan, McAusland, McLean, Newton, Puri (Guy 46). Subs not used: Adam, Mair, Robertson, Carey.

Referee: Brian Colvin.

Attendance: 5,414.