Motherwell continued their impressive form, their fifth successive league win consolidating their advantage in second place in the Scottish Premiership.

Their first-half dominance was rewarded by just one goal, John Sutton heading past St Johnstone keeper Alan Mannus.

But Iain Vigurs scored a second soon after the interval and the excellent Lionel Ainsworth grabbed his fourth goal in four games to seal the points.

And late on, substitute James McFadden curled in a right-foot shot.

St Johnstone fought gamely, but could not cope with Motherwell's relentless attacking pressure.

And so, as Dundee United, Aberdeen and Inverness Caledonian Thistle attract regular praise for their achievements in recent times, Stuart McCall's men continue to produce the goods with limited resources.

All of their goals were pleasing on the eye.

Vigurs was the architect of the first, delivering the type of cross Sutton must dream of. The striker duly darted in front of his marker to divert the ball past Mannus.

The second goal also owed much to terrific wing play. This time Ainsworth cut in superbly from the right to test Mannus with a low drive and though the keeper dealt with that, Vigurs was there to pick up the scraps and give his side a two-goal cushion.

If anyone deserved a goal it was Ainsworth and it finally came with a ferocious drive after Shaun Hutchinson had headed off the post.

Motherwell players celebrating

The Steelmen had a positive start to 2014, retaining second place in the Premiership

Even before they eventually took the lead, Motherwell could have been two goals up and indeed looked to have taken the lead with only three minutes gone.

An Ainsworth corner from the right flew all the way through to Stephen McManus at the edge of the area and the centre-half cracked a right-foot volley off the underside of the bar.

The shot looked to have bounced down over the line but with the officials unconvinced, no goal was given.

The home side continued undeterred and came close again when McManus's central defensive partner Hutchinson nudged another corner goalwards, only to see it cleared off the line.

Motherwell's attacking enterprise was eventually rewarded by Sutton's goal and Stuart Carswell would have extended the lead further but for Dave Mackay's intervention on the line.

St Johnstone did not lack a threat of their own, however, and also shook the woodwork with the game still goal-less, Scott Brown on his first start for the club hammering the ball off the bar from the edge of the box.

And even after going a goal down, the visitors offered occasional menace, with David Wotherspoon causing problems as he switched flanks and looked to test Dan Twardzik from distance, while Stevie May looked capable of exploiting any slackness in the Motherwell back-line.

But the striker missed an excellent chance to reduce the arrears when Motherwell were guilty of failing to clear their lines, though in fairness May's final shot was well knocked onto the post by Twardzik.

That came after Motherwell's second goal but Ainsworth's goal killed off any hopes Saints might have had of an unlikely comeback.

McFadden provided the late cameo for Motherwell, who were outstanding from start to finish.

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (6)

Motherwell

  • 51 Twardzik
  • 04 Ramsden
  • 03 Hammell Booked
  • 14 Lasley (Lawson - 84' )
  • 05 Hutchinson
  • 06 McManus
  • 25 Ainsworth
  • 18 Carswell
  • 09 Sutton (McFadden - 82' )
  • 24 Anier (Moore - 76' )
  • 11 Vigurs

Substitutes

  • 07 McFadden
  • 08 Lawson
  • 12 Nielsen
  • 15 Cummins
  • 16 McHugh
  • 17 Francis-Angol
  • 22 Moore

St Johnstone

  • 01 Mannus
  • 02 Mackay
  • 03 Scobbie
  • 20 Brown (Fallon - 68' )
  • 05 Wright
  • 06 Anderson
  • 14 Edwards
  • 18 Davidson Booked
  • 17 May
  • 08 McDonald (Millar - 84' )
  • 10 Wotherspoon (Hasselbaink - 59' )

Substitutes

  • 07 Millar
  • 11 Hasselbaink
  • 15 Banks
  • 19 Miller
  • 22 Croft
  • 25 Jahic
  • 27 Fallon
Ref: John Beaton
Att: 3,763

Match Stats

Shots

21 11

On target

10 3

Corners

6 7

Fouls

9 5

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Motherwell 4, St Johnstone 0.

90:00 +0:58 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Motherwell 4, St Johnstone 0.

90:00 +0:38

Attempt missed. Craig Moore (Motherwell) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.

86:30 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Motherwell 4, St Johnstone 0. James McFadden (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner.

84:34

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by James McFadden.

83:56 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Chris Millar replaces Gary McDonald.

83:42 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Paul Lawson replaces Keith Lasley.

82:42

Foul by Simon Ramsden (Motherwell).

82:42

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

81:49 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. James McFadden replaces John Sutton.

81:06

Attempt saved. Craig Moore (Motherwell) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

80:39

Attempt blocked. Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

80:15

Craig Moore (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

80:15

Foul by Frazer Wright (St Johnstone).

79:01

Attempt blocked. Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

77:50 Booking

Booking Murray Davidson (St Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.

77:46

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

77:46

Foul by Murray Davidson (St Johnstone).

75:22 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Craig Moore replaces Henri Anier.

74:51

Attempt missed. Steve May (St Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

73:43

Attempt missed. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right.

72:01 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Motherwell 3, St Johnstone 0. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom left corner.

71:36

Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell) hits the right post with a header from the centre of the box.

71:07

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

71:07

Foul by Gwion Edwards (St Johnstone).

70:27

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Iain Vigurs.

70:06

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

67:56 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Rory Fallon replaces Scott Brown.

67:16

Attempt saved. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

66:09 Booking

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

66:00

Gwion Edwards (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

65:58

Foul by Steven Hammell (Motherwell).

64:43

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Keith Lasley.

63:53

Attempt missed. John Sutton (Motherwell) right footed shot from very close range misses to the left.

63:06

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Steven Anderson.

61:25

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Lionel Ainsworth.

58:38 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Nigel Hasselbaink replaces David Wotherspoon.

57:38

Attempt saved. Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

57:00

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

56:58

Foul by Scott Brown (St Johnstone).

54:29

Attempt missed. David Mackay (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left from a direct free kick.

53:52

Foul by Simon Ramsden (Motherwell).

53:52

Gwion Edwards (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

52:54

Attempt missed. Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

51:33

Attempt saved. Steve May (St Johnstone) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the bottom left corner.

50:16

Foul by Stuart Carswell (Motherwell).

50:16

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

48:33 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Motherwell 2, St Johnstone 0. Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner.

48:19

Attempt saved. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the centre of the goal.

45:00

Second Half begins Motherwell 1, St Johnstone 0.

45:00 +0:01 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Motherwell 1, St Johnstone 0.

44:30

Attempt missed. Murray Davidson (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

43:46

Attempt missed. Steven Anderson (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

42:52

Foul by Henri Anier (Motherwell).

42:52

Scott Brown (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

37:17

Foul by John Sutton (Motherwell).

37:17

Steven Anderson (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.

34:13

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Shaun Hutchinson.

33:51

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

31:54

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Shaun Hutchinson.

30:30

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

30:30

Foul by Frazer Wright (St Johnstone).

28:13

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Gwion Edwards.

27:51

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by David Mackay.

27:31

Attempt blocked. Stuart Carswell (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

27:17

Attempt saved. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

26:34

Attempt saved. Steve May (St Johnstone) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

21:37

Attempt saved. David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the bottom right corner.

21:07 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Motherwell 1, St Johnstone 0. John Sutton (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal.

19:32

Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

19:32

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

18:19

Foul by Henri Anier (Motherwell).

18:19

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

17:30

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Simon Ramsden.

17:08

Attempt blocked. Gwion Edwards (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

16:34

David Mackay (St Johnstone) hits the bar with a right footed shot from outside the box.

8:48

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

8:14

Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

8:14

Scott Brown (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

5:25

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Alan Mannus.

5:01

Attempt saved. Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

4:35

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by David Mackay.

4:08

Stephen McManus (Motherwell) hits the bar with a right footed shot from the centre of the box.

3:02

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Gwion Edwards.

2:21

Attempt missed. John Sutton (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

Live data and text provided by our data suppliers