Match ends, St. Johnstone 2, Motherwell 1.
- O'Halloran nets twice for St Johnstone
- Ainsworth had fired Motherwell ahead
- First win in six games for Saints
- Fifth straight league defeat for Well
Michael O'Halloran scored twice as St Johnstone came from behind to consign struggling Motherwell to a fifth straight Scottish Premiership defeat.
Lionel Ainsworth lashed high into the net for the opener after getting the break of the ball in the penalty area.
O'Halloran atoned for losing possession in the build-up to Well's goal by firing the home side level.
And the 23-year-old danced his way through the visiting defence to tuck away a late winner.
Tommy Wright's Saints moved up one place to eighth and now hold a six-point lead over second-bottom Well, who will go bottom if Ross County beat Aberdeen on Monday.
Neither side went into the game in good form, with the Perth side without a win in five league games, since beating Motherwell in August.
The hosts were more impressive early on, with O'Halloran testing goalkeeper Dan Twardzik.
Recent Saints signing James McFadden seemed keen to make an impression against his former club and lifted a free-kick into the box for Frazer Wright to head narrowly wide.
However, Saints proved to be their own undoing as O'Halloran was caught in possession deep inside his own half and, after Henrik Ojamaa had forced the ball forward, Ainsworth got a fortunate ricochet off Brian Easton and made no mistake with the finish.
Well, who had a close call when Dave MacKay's free-kick whistled wide, could have added to their lead with Steven Hammell firing wide and Ainsworth denied by a superb Alan Mannus save.
The goalkeeper's contribution proved crucial as the home side equalised immediately.
O'Halloran drove at the Motherwell defence and played a one-two with Lee Croft before sweeping the ball past Twardzik.
The pacy Ainsworth bent a shot just wide of the far post before half-time, but there were fewer chances after break.
Mannus pushed away a powerful Ojamaa effort, while Wright's prowess in the air forced Twardzik into a block.
McFadden played an important role in the decisive goal, spotting O'Halloran in space to set the forward on the mazy run that ended with an accomplished finish.
Substitute Josh Law lifted a shot over in stoppage time as Motherwell's evening ended in disappointment.
St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright: "The points are a welcome relief. The performance was good and so was the character. To go a goal behind at home and show the character they did was pleasing.
"I'm pleased for Michael O'Halloran because he knows he could have done better for their goal. We're trying to encourage him to take people on and have some shots, and the second goal was a thing of beauty.
"Hopefully we can build on that and start to look up the table."
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall: "We created enough chances to win the game. We created more tonight than we have for a while so that was a positive. The bottom line is we lost the game but I can't criticise the players tonight.
"I thought going in level at half time was unjust but that's football. We've lost a game that there's no way we deserved to.
"When we're 1-0 up and in control we had good opportunities to go further ahead but we didn't take them and were punished."
- 22CroftSubstituted forMillerat 89'minutes
- 17McFaddenSubstituted forCaddisat 85'minutes
- 17Francis-AngolSubstituted forErwinat 82'minutes
- 3HammellSubstituted forO'Brienat 85'minutes
- 11VigursBooked at 64minsSubstituted forLawat 88'minutes
- 24OjamaaBooked at 52mins
- Kevin Clancy
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 2, Motherwell 1.
Attempt missed. Josh Law (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.
Gary McDonald (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).
Brian Graham (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Mark O'Brien (Motherwell).
Substitution, St. Johnstone. Gary Miller replaces Lee Croft.
Substitution, Motherwell. Josh Law replaces Iain Vigurs.
Liam Caddis (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Lee Erwin (Motherwell).
Substitution, Motherwell. Mark O'Brien replaces Steven Hammell because of an injury.
Substitution, St. Johnstone. Liam Caddis replaces James McFadden.
Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by David Mackay.
Substitution, Motherwell. Lee Erwin replaces Zaine Francis-Angol.
Goal! St. Johnstone 2, Motherwell 1. Michael O'Halloran (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by James McFadden.
Gary McDonald (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Iain Vigurs (Motherwell).
Attempt missed. David Mackay (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.
Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Zaine Francis-Angol.