St Mirren 2 Motherwell 1: Play-offs loom large

Motherwell went ahead but lost to St Mirren
Motherwell went ahead but lost to St Mirren

Motherwell need another two games to secure their SPFL fate after being confirmed as the Premiership’s relegation play-off contenders.

A calamitous own goal from George Long and Mark O’Brien cancelled out John Sutton’s second half penalty and, when coupled with wins for drop-zone rivals Kilmarnock and Ross County, consigned the Steelmen to 11th place in the top league.

Stephen Mallan’s late cracker rubber-stamped their fate.

It took ‘Well a quarter of an hour to get into the box and even trouble Marian Kello. A marauding charge through the middle by Lee Erwin won the visitors a corner and though they failed to take a goal from it they did take confidence after showing their fallen hosts rather a lot of respect in the opening to the game.

Even then St Mirren, already relegated, looked more comfortable in their plight than their slightly better off visitors. Sean Kelly could have punished slack marking at the back from Motherwell when he ghosted in at the back to scuff a Stevie Mallan free-kick wide from close range.

Motherwell improved before half-time and a jinking run on the left-wing by McDonald opened up an attack for ‘Well and a calm switch to Marvin Johnson on the opposite wing put pressure on the Saints, but though they were tidy around the box there was little penetration.

That came on the stroke of half-time when Lasley lifted the ball over the top into McDonald’s path and only a despareate block from Jason Naismith kept the Aussie striker’s effort out.

It began in a similar vein after the break, but ‘Well were much quicker into their stride. Kello had to beat a McDonald drive away just before the hour after good work by Erwin. Then Pearson blasted Johnson’s corner into the 1044 Well fans behind the goal.

There was a lengthy delay for treatment to Alan Gow who was stretchered off following a collision with Stephen McManus in the middle of the park which the Motherwell skipper was booked for. The actioin though restarted with aplomb.

An incredible series of misses and goalmouth clearances from Kieran Sadlier, the new sub Lewis Morgan and James Dayton after George Long had rushed from his line and been beaten added an element of farce to the attack, but you got the feeling the gods might just be smiling on Motherwell.

At the other end, sub John Sutton pulled a shot inches wide of the far post , and then it was confirmed, the Steelmen had Lady Luck on their side.

Lee Erwin charged into the box and was felled and sub Sutton sent Kello the wrong way for what could be a crucial goal in the relegation run-in.

Dayton caused alarm with a run and shot that was blocked by O’Brien but with a pakced defence guarding a vital lead against the already relegated Saints, it was all going well for Motherwell.

Then Motherwell gave Saints a goal, and gave themselves an extra two games and a relegation play-off. An overhit pass from Mallan was just kept in by Jason Naismith on the by-line. The ball spun up and fell under the crossbar where both Mark O’Brien and keeper Long collided in their attempts to clear it and both bundled the ball into the net.

Scott McDonald compounded Well’s misery with a red card two minutes from time for an aerial clash with Thomas Reilly.

With wins for Kilmarnock and Ross County, his wasn’t the only misery in the Motherwell ranks and Stevie Mallan added to it with an injury time cracker.

ST Mirren: Kello, Naismith, Baird, Kelly, Tesselaar, Mallan, Reilly, Dayton, Gow (Morgan 72), Wylde (Sadlier 65), Thompson (Arquin 86). Subs: Wilks, Genev, Cuddihy, Goodwin.

Motherwell: Long, Ramsden, McManus, O’Brien, Hammell,Lasley, Pearson, Johnson (Sutton 69), Grant (Ainsworth 59), Erwin, McDonald. Subs: Twardzik, Straker, Law, Thomas, Moore.

Att: 3912 (1044)