St Johnstone moved into the top half of the Scottish Premiership with a convincing win over Motherwell.

Stevie May forced in a close-range shot after the break as the Perth side dominated from start to finish.

And Nigel Hasselbaink profited from Gunnar Nielson's goalkeeping blunder to curl a strike into an unguarded net.

Motherwell offered next to nothing in attack and Saints wasted several opportunities to make their victory more emphatic.

The Steelmen, who remain fourth in the table, had won six of the previous eight meetings between the sides but were completely out of sorts as the wind and rain battered McDiarmid Park.

St Johnstone enjoyed the lion's share of possession and Paddy Cregg curled a shot off target before a David Wotherspoon near-post header was bundled out for a corner by a defender.

With Frazer Wright suspended, Steven Anderson injured and new signing Sanel Jahic lacking in fitness, the home defence consisted of four players who have all been used as full-backs in recent seasons.

The aerial threat of John Sutton must have been a worry for Saints boss Tommy Wright but the Motherwell striker was wayward with the only chance that came his way.

Simon Ramsden's deep cross found the head of the Englishman who could only head wide from 10 yards.

May failed to hit the target as he thrashed in an angled shot from right edge of penalty box and Wotherspoon let fly with a strike from 25 yards that skidded past Nielson's post.

Gary McDonald then stabbed a loose ball wide on the turn from close range at a corner and the interval came soon after a neatly-worked set-piece from the hosts.

Wotherspoon cleverly drilled a free-kick to May near penalty spot but the striker's first-time shot was diverted wide by defender Stephen McManus.

The second half was just two minutes old when the deadlock was broken, with May on hand to ram the ball into the net after Nielson had clawed away an acrobatic hooked shot from McDonald.

The advantage should have been doubled moments later as Gary Miller's miscued header flew over, with Nielson all over the place from Wotherspoon's excellent corner.

Motherwell wasted a great chance to level when Shaun Hutchinson's close-range header went straight into arms of Alan Mannus but Nielson remained the busier of the goalkeepers.

The Faroe Islander pushed away a rising shot from Chris Millar before he was left red-faced as Hasselbaink scored Saints' second.

Ramsden was heavy and wide with a pass-back and Nielson slipped trying to kick clear from the byeline, allowing the Dutch forward to curl a shot into an empty net from the left of the penalty area.

Hasselbaink then spurned an easier chance after a clumsy touch let him down right in front of goal.

Motherwell substitute Craig Moore sent in a raking strike that had Mannus scrambling before another terrible pass-back had Nielson in trouble.

Under pressure from May, the keeper's panicked clearance landed at the feet of Wotherspoon but the midfielder delayed his shot and his effort was headed clear by a covering defender.

The weather may have been grim but the majority of the 2,449 fans who braved the elements will have gone home warmed by St Johnstone's fourth home win of the campaign.

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (5)

St Johnstone

  • 01 Mannus
  • 19 Miller Booked
  • 24 Easton
  • 04 Cregg (Davidson - 71' )
  • 02 Mackay
  • 03 Scobbie
  • 07 Millar
  • 08 McDonald
  • 17 May
  • 11 Hasselbaink (Caddis - 78' )
  • 10 Wotherspoon (Edwards - 86' )

Substitutes

  • 14 Edwards
  • 15 Banks
  • 16 Caddis
  • 18 Davidson
  • 20 Brown
  • 25 Jahic
  • 27 Fallon

Motherwell

  • 12 Nielsen
  • 04 Ramsden
  • 03 Hammell Booked
  • 08 Lawson Booked
  • 05 Hutchinson
  • 06 McManus
  • 11 Vigurs (Moore - 67' )
  • 14 Lasley
  • 09 Sutton
  • 18 Carswell (Francis-Angol - 65' )
  • 16 McHugh

Substitutes

  • 15 Cummins
  • 17 Francis-Angol
  • 20 Kerr
  • 21 Stewart
  • 22 Moore
  • 24 Anier
  • 25 Ainsworth
Ref: Calum Murray
Att: 2,449

Match Stats

Shots

12 8

On target

3 1

Corners

12 3

Fouls

6 14

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, St Johnstone 2, Motherwell 0.

90:00 +3:06 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, St Johnstone 2, Motherwell 0.

90:00 +2:39

David Mackay (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

90:00 +2:39

Foul by John Sutton (Motherwell).

90:00 +2:07

Attempt missed. John Sutton (Motherwell) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right.

89:39

Foul by Steve May (St Johnstone).

89:39

Simon Ramsden (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

89:08 Booking

Booking Steven Hammell (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

89:02

Murray Davidson (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

89:02

Foul by Steven Hammell (Motherwell).

86:53

Gary Miller (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.

86:53

Foul by Zaine Francis-Angol (Motherwell).

86:00

Gary McDonald (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.

85:57

Foul by Simon Ramsden (Motherwell).

85:08 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Gwion Edwards replaces David Wotherspoon.

79:56 Booking

Booking Paul Lawson (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

79:51

David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.

79:51

Foul by Paul Lawson (Motherwell).

79:01

Steve May (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.

79:01

Foul by Paul Lawson (Motherwell).

78:19

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Stephen McManus.

77:59

Attempt blocked. David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

77:21 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Liam Caddis replaces Nigel Hasselbaink.

76:37

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Gary McDonald.

76:22

Attempt blocked. Paul Lawson (Motherwell) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

75:23

Attempt missed. Gary McDonald (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

73:28

Brian Easton (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.

73:28

Foul by Craig Moore (Motherwell).

70:19 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Murray Davidson replaces Patrick Cregg.

66:38 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Craig Moore replaces Iain Vigurs.

65:40

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Zaine Francis-Angol.

65:11

Nigel Hasselbaink (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

65:11

Foul by Paul Lawson (Motherwell).

64:48 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Zaine Francis-Angol replaces Stuart Carswell.

63:58 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! St Johnstone 2, Motherwell 0. Nigel Hasselbaink (St Johnstone) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the left to the bottom left corner.

61:14

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Thomas Scobbie.

60:44

John Sutton (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

60:33 Booking

Booking Gary Miller (St Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.

60:32

Foul by Gary Miller (St Johnstone).

59:13

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Gunnar Nielsen.

58:59

Attempt saved. Chris Millar (St Johnstone) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

56:23

Chris Millar (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

56:23

Foul by Stuart Carswell (Motherwell).

55:59

Attempt saved. Robert McHugh (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

55:30

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Chris Millar.

53:15

Attempt missed. Robert McHugh (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

51:21

Attempt missed. Gary McDonald (St Johnstone) header from very close range is just a bit too high.

50:58

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Simon Ramsden.

50:48

Attempt blocked. Nigel Hasselbaink (St Johnstone) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

49:59

Attempt missed. Robert McHugh (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

49:00 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! St Johnstone 1, Motherwell 0. Steve May (St Johnstone) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom right corner.

47:16

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Shaun Hutchinson.

46:41

Chris Millar (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

46:41

Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

45:00

Second Half begins St Johnstone 0, Motherwell 0.

45:00 +0:15 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, St Johnstone 0, Motherwell 0.

43:40

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Shaun Hutchinson.

43:26

Attempt blocked. Steve May (St Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

42:51

Chris Millar (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.

42:51

Foul by Stuart Carswell (Motherwell).

41:11

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Stephen McManus.

39:25

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Stephen McManus.

38:53

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Shaun Hutchinson.

37:15

Attempt missed. David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

35:58

Attempt missed. Stephen McManus (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is too high.

35:27

Foul by Thomas Scobbie (St Johnstone).

35:27

Robert McHugh (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

30:42

Thomas Scobbie (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

30:42

Foul by John Sutton (Motherwell).

26:45

Foul by Brian Easton (St Johnstone).

26:45

John Sutton (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

23:30

Attempt missed. Steve May (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

22:31

Hand ball by Brian Easton (St Johnstone).

21:44

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Stephen McManus.

20:09

Attempt missed. John Sutton (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.

12:17

Attempt missed. David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) header from the centre of the box misses to the left.

10:29

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Gunnar Nielsen.

9:54

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Simon Ramsden.

8:23

Attempt missed. Patrick Cregg (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

7:09

Foul by Robert McHugh (Motherwell).

7:09

Gary McDonald (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.

6:36

Foul by Stuart Carswell (Motherwell).

6:36

Patrick Cregg (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

5:08

Foul by Patrick Cregg (St Johnstone).

5:08

Keith Lasley (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

2:18

Attempt missed. Steven Hammell (Motherwell) left footed shot from outside the box is too high.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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