Motherwell 4-0 St Johnstone

Highlights - Motherwell 4-0 St Johnstone

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Highlights - Motherwell 4-0 St Johnstone

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.

Motherwell boss Stuart McCall

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Interview - Motherwell boss Stuart McCall

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 manager Tommy Wright

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Interview - St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright

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.

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