Match ends, Motherwell 0, St. Johnstone 1.
New on-loan signing Brian Graham marked his St Johnstone debut with a superbly headed goal to give his side their third league win of the season.
Graham came on as a second-half substitute and scored the only goal of the game four minutes from time.
John Sutton had threatened to give the hosts the lead on several occasions.
But there was to be no goal for the Steelmen as they sustained a fourth consecutive league defeat, a run not repeated since December 2009.
St Johnstone had the better of the early play and David Wotherspoon met Gary McDonald's cross on the volley only for Craig Reid to block.
McDonald then set up a chance for Chris Millar with a neat back heel and the midfielder's left-foot strike from 20 yards was parried away by Dan Twardzik.
Having created the early opportunities, McDonald had an effort himself with a header from of a Lee Croft cross, which Twardzik did well to hold.
Motherwell looked short of confidence, and were less than productive in an attacking sense.
An effort from Henrik Ojamaa which lacked power was easily gathered by Alan Mannus in the Saints goal.
At the other end Scott Brown drilled in a low 25-yard strike which Twardzik got right behind.
Four minutes from the break Sutton got the merest of touches to a Lionel Ainsworth cross but the big Well striker was unable to find the target.
Interested spectators included two members of the Celtic management team, assistant boss John Collins and coach John Kennedy. They were obviously doing their homework for future fixtures but the first 45 minutes would not have provided anything definitive of what these two sides are capable.
Last season the four fixtures between the Steelmen and Saints provided an average of three goals per game.
Sutton scored one of the 12 in those four encounters and he should have opened his account for this season just after the interval.
He superbly turned Tam Scobbie as a high ball was played up to him but after setting himself up for the shot on his left foot he could only deliver an effort which was more akin to a pass-back.
A few minutes later Sutton had a header from Ainsworth's corner cleared off the line by a posse of Saints bodies.
Josh Law was next to have an effort at the Saints' goal with a curling left-foot shot which flew wide.
Both managers tried to freshen up their attack to try and produce a winner and it paid off for Saints.
McDonald swung in an inviting cross from the right and Steven MacLean's replacement Graham duly accepted with a terrific header to secure victory.
- 17Francis-AngolSubstituted forRamsdenat 81'minutes
- 2ReidBooked at 20mins
- 18LawSubstituted forErwinat 68'minutes
- 24OjamaaSubstituted forMcHughat 76'minutes
- 3ScobbieBooked at 52mins
- 22CroftSubstituted forO'Halloranat 62'minutes
- 20BrownSubstituted forLappinat 69'minutes
- 9MacLeanSubstituted forGrahamat 75'minutesBooked at 86mins
- Alan Muir
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Motherwell 0, St. Johnstone 1.
Attempt blocked. Lee Erwin (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Foul by Lee Erwin (Motherwell).
Gary McDonald (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt missed. Lee Erwin (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.
Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Chris Millar (St. Johnstone).
Goal! Motherwell 0, St. Johnstone 1. Brian Graham (St. Johnstone) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Gary McDonald.
Keith Lasley (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Simon Lappin (St. Johnstone).
Foul by Simon Ramsden (Motherwell).
David Mackay (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt missed. David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.
Attempt saved. Gary McDonald (St. Johnstone) header from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Substitution, Motherwell. Simon Ramsden replaces Zaine Francis-Angol.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Mark O'Brien (Motherwell) because of an injury.
Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).
Simon Lappin (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.