Motherwell FC are just one point off the Scottish Premiership top six after Wednesday night’s 2-0 home victory over St Johnstone.
Ten minutes into the contest, ’Well fans paid tribute to late skipper Phil O’Donnell with a rapturous minute’s applause. It was almost eight years to the day since the legendary skipper had died after collapsing on the pitch during a 5-3 home win over Dundee, during Mark McGhee’s first spell as manager.
The game took a bit of time to get going, before a great 16th minute run into the box by ’Well striker Scott McDonald ended with him shooting into the side netting.
Home keeper Connor Ripley – who has signed a loan extension to stay until the end of the season – then made a great save low to his right to keep out an effort by Steven MacLean.
’Well took the lead on 37 minutes when teenage Northern Irish centre half Ben Hall headed in Stevie Hammell’s corner from the right.
This was a further blow for St Johnstone after influential stars Michael O’Halloran and Murray Davidson had earlier both had to leave the field through illness and injury respectively.
Ripley again saved brilliantly at the feet of St Johnstone’s Chris Kane on 42 minutes, before ’Well went 2-0 up a minute later when Stephen Pearson placed a left foot shot into the right corner after his initial effort had been blocked by Darnell Fisher.
Ripley made his third great save of the night on 57 minutes to keep out Kane’s header at full stretch, before McDonald headed Marvin Johnson’s cross just wide at the other end.
’Well held on for their third straight league win, which ended St Johnstone’s sensational run of seven consecutive away victories.