MOTHERWELL got back to winning ways with a comprehensive victory at McDiarmid Park on Saturday courtesy of a Jamie Murphy double and fine Nicky Law strike.
Stuart McCall made just one change to the side who had lost 4-0 to Hibernian the previous week with Adam Cummins replacing the injured Fraser Kerr in central defence.
’Well had lost the last three SPL games without scoring, but took just 38 seconds to find the back of the net.
Henrik Ojamaa’s shot was going wide, but hit Steven Anderson and fell kindly for MURPHY to sweep in from 12 yards out.
Three minutes later Ojamaa should have made it 2-0 as Alan Mannus failed to control Anderson’s pass back, but the Estonian fired high and wide when face with an empty net.
St Johnstone could have got back into it, if first Liam Craig, and then Gregory Tade had done better with free headers than just make the ballboys work.
Michael Higdon then thumped a volley wide and Millar just managed to poke the ball between Ojamaa’s legs as the forward waited in the six-yard box to pounce of Chris Humphrey’s deflected cross as it seemed number two would arrive imminently.
On 38 minutes it duly arrived as Stevie Hammell laid the ball off to MURPHY who duly waltzed past four players before firing past Mannus from the edge of the box.
Darren Randolph made sure his side remained two up at the break as he saved Anderson’s downward header, despite Steven MacLean slamming into his chest in search of a rebound.
Ojamaa last scored for ’Well in the 5-1 win over St Johnstone at Fir Park in April and passed up another great chance to open his season’s account after being put one-on-one with Mannus by Humphrey’s pass could only slam the ball into the goalkeeper’s chest.
However, he was the architect of the visitor’s third goal as his backheel allowed LAW to nick in front of a hat-trick seeking Murphy and clip the ball into the net.
Randolph pulled off a remarkable save to dent Nigel Hasselbaink’s pint blank header and it looked like the Irishman would claim his first clean sheet since the opening day of the SPL season.
It wasn’t to be though, as two minutes from time substitute DAVID ROBERTSON was left alone on the penalty spot and slammed in fellow sub Rowan Vine’s cut back.
There was still time for Murphy to try and grab his third, but after being picked out by Zaine Francis-Angol his shot took the slightest touch off Anderson’s heels and scraped just wide.
St Johnstone: Mannus, Mackay, Wright, Anderson, Millar, Davidson, Tade (Vine 61), Craig (Robertson 78), Hasselbaink, MacLean, Miller. Subs not used: Tuffey, McCracken, Caddis, Kane, Tobin.
Motherwell: Randolph, Hammell (Angol 78), Law, Hateley, Humphrey (Carswell 89), Ojamaa (McHugh 79), Higdon, Murphy, Lasley, Ramsden, Cummins. Subs not used: Hollis, Daley, Hetherington, Asghar.
Referee: Brian Colvin.