Scottish Premiership
St Johnstone2Motherwell0

St Johnstone 2-0 Motherwell

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.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Interview - St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright

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.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Interview - Motherwell manager Stuart McCall

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.

Line-ups

St Johnstone

  • 1Mannus
  • 19MillerBooked at 61mins
  • 24B Easton
  • 4CreggSubstituted forDavidsonat 71'minutes
  • 2Mackay
  • 3Scobbie
  • 7Millar
  • 8McDonald
  • 17May
  • 11HasselbainkSubstituted forCaddisat 78'minutes
  • 10WotherspoonSubstituted forEdwardsat 86'minutes

Substitutes

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

Motherwell

  • 12Nielsen
  • 4Ramsden
  • 3HammellBooked at 90mins
  • 8LawsonBooked at 80mins
  • 5Hutchinson
  • 6McManus
  • 11VigursSubstituted forMooreat 67'minutes
  • 14Lasley
  • 9Sutton
  • 18CarswellSubstituted forFrancis-Angolat 65'minutes
  • 16McHugh

Substitutes

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

Match Stats

Home TeamSt JohnstoneAway TeamMotherwell
Possession
Home54%
Away46%
Shots
Home12
Away8
Shots on Target
Home3
Away1
Corners
Home12
Away3
Fouls
Home6
Away14

Live Text

Match ends, St Johnstone 2, Motherwell 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, St Johnstone 2, Motherwell 0.

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

Foul by John Sutton (Motherwell).

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

Foul by Steve May (St Johnstone).

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

Booking

Steven Hammell (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

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

Foul by Steven Hammell (Motherwell).

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

Foul by Zaine Francis-Angol (Motherwell).

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

Foul by Simon Ramsden (Motherwell).

Substitution

Substitution, St Johnstone. Gwion Edwards replaces David Wotherspoon.

Booking

Paul Lawson (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

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

Foul by Paul Lawson (Motherwell).

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

Foul by Paul Lawson (Motherwell).

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Stephen McManus.

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

Substitution

Substitution, St Johnstone. Liam Caddis replaces Nigel Hasselbaink.

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Gary McDonald.

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

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

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

Foul by Craig Moore (Motherwell).

Substitution

Substitution, St Johnstone. Murray Davidson replaces Patrick Cregg.

Substitution

Substitution, Motherwell. Craig Moore replaces Iain Vigurs.

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

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

Foul by Paul Lawson (Motherwell).

Substitution

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

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.

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Thomas Scobbie.

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

Booking

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

Foul by Gary Miller (St Johnstone).

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Gunnar Nielsen.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLGDPts
1Celtic108201326
2Aberdeen11623620
3Inverness CT10613619
4Motherwell11614-119
5Dundee Utd11443816
6St Johnstone11434415
7Hibernian11434-215
8Partick Thistle11344-213
9Ross County10316-810
10Kilmarnock11236-49
11St Mirren10226-118
12Hearts11227-9-7
View full Scottish Premiership table

Top Stories