Lee Erwin grabbed his first Motherwell goal on his league debut as they overcame St Mirren in the Scottish Premiership opening weekend.
Simon Ramsden and Stevie Hammell missed out through injury, while Iain Vigurs was suspended, but Craig Reid, Fraser Kerr and Zaine Francis-Angol dragged themselves off the treatment table as ’Well were able to field a recognisable team.
Vigurs’s suspension handed a league debut to summer signing Josh Law who took his place on the left as Erwin joined John Sutton up front.
Law could have given ’Well the lead in three minutes as he was sent clean through by Sutton, but shot weakly at Marian Kello.
However, the match started to be dominated by the visitors and Dan Twardzik was called into action to deny James Marwood twice and John McGinn.
It wasn’t all one way traffic as Erwin chested Lionel Ainsworth’s cross into the path of Stuart Carswell, but he failed to seriously test Kello.
Law fashioned another two chances, but his finishing let him down.
At the start of the second half St Mirren were in complete control as Gregg Wylde pulled the strings from the left.
He sprinted down the wing, but his shot across Twardzik was tipped wide.
Then Wylde set up volleys for McGinn and Callum Ball, the first going wide and the second saved by Twardzik.
However, teams who don’t take their chances tend to be punished and so it proved in 64 minutes.
Ainsworth’s powerful show was only parried by Kello and quick as a flash ERWIN turned in the rebound.
Ten minutes later the away side’s job got even tougher as captain Jim Goodwin was shown a second yellow after his forearm connected with the back of Sutton’s head.
No foul was given, but the assistant referee Frank Connor spotted the incident and informed Callum Murray.
St Mirren threw on former Hibs striker Ross Caldwell for Ball, but despite the walking wounded Stuart McCall refused to make chances.
With two minutes left Twardzik pulled off the save of the match as he dived full length to push away Caldwell’s effort and secure the victory.
Motherwell: Twardzik, Reid, Carswell, McManus, Ainsworth, Sutton, Lasley, Francis-Angol, Law (Leitch 89), Erwin, Kerr. Subs not used: Nielsen, Lawson, McHugh, Cummins, Thomas, Ferguson.
St Mirren: Kello, Naismith, McAusland, Plummer, Goodwin, McGinn, McLean, Marwood, Wylde, Ball (Caldwell 76), Tesselaar. Subs not used: Ridgers, Kelly, Reilly, Brown, Williams, Teale.
Referee: Callum Murray.