More Motherwell misery as St Johnstone inflict fourth defeat in a row

Ian Barraclough turns away in frustration. Picture by Graeme Hart, Perthshire Picture Agency
Ian Barraclough turns away in frustration. Picture by Graeme Hart, Perthshire Picture Agency

Motherwell fell to their fourth successive Premiership defeat despite going ahead against St. Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

Well were the better side in an intriguing first half. The Steelmen seemed to settle into the game quicker than the hosts and were ahead after just 10 minutes through summer signing Louis Moult.

The pacey Lionel Ainsworth raced to the byline after skinning Brian Easton and then squared the ball across the danger zone.

Moult could hardly believe his luck as he tapped the ball into an empty net. His first goal since his summer switch from Wrexham.

The Englishman should have doubled his tally minutes later, when freed after a defensive error from Tam Scobbie, but couldn’t find the composure to knock it past the advancing Alan Mannus.

The home side looked flustered and could’ve been further behind going into the interval.

First, Scott McDonald came agonisingly close after a surging run from the energetic Marvin Johnson. Lionel Ainsworth then tried his luck from range but failed to control his effort as it sailed over the crossbar.

In truth, St. Johnstone were poor in the first period. However they could easily have found themselves going into the break on level terms, both efforts coming from Steven MacLean.

His first, the result of a long-throw from Joe Shaughnessy, stinging the palms of Connor Ripley. The second, a more speculative drive that was one again well dealt with by the Well shot stopper.

Motherwell started the second half on the ascendency, captain Keith Lasley blazing over early on after neat built-up play from Moult and McDonald.

The visitors continued to look bright and purposeful on the break with Johnson also coming close on a couple of occasions.

However, it was at this point that the game seemed to swing in favour of the Perth club.

The addition of David Wotherspoon almost immediately providing the chance for the hosts to draw level. The former Hibs man, returning from a short injury lay-off, found Graham Cummins on the edge of the Motherwell box.

From there Cummins twisted and turned his man before firing across for Steven MacLean to apply the finishing touch.

Saints then pushed for the winner with both Cummins and Wotherspoon coming close.

The goal arrived just 10 minutes from time when Steven MacLean was once again found alone in scoring range. Great work from the impressive Michael O’Halloran set up the opportunity for MacLean who could hardly miss.

Motherwell boss Ian Barraclough will undoubtedly be frustrated by the inconsistent nature of his side’s performance. Well barely threatened after the hour mark and couldn’t even muster a late opportunity after falling behind.

In fact, the only talking point of the last ten minutes was the second yellow card handed to Jake Taylor after the midfielder took a tumble in the St Johnstone box.

Referee Craig Thomson adjudged the Englishmen to have taken a dive and offered him a not-so-early bath much to Barraclough’s annoyance.