Scottish Premiership
MotherwellMotherwell2St JohnstoneSt Johnstone0
By Chick YoungBBC Scotland at Fir Park

A dominant Motherwell inflicted St Johnstone's first away defeat since September, and the Perth side's first league loss at Fir Park since 2004.

They did so in grand style, a tribute to a club legend Phil O'Donnell eight years after his death, with not a failure from back to front.

Goals from young Ben Hall and veteran Stephen Pearson seized control and that advantage would never be relinquished.

Previously free-scoring St Johnstone lost their way in front of goal.

A contributory factor to that was the loss after 20 minutes of talisman Michael O'Halloran, was forced off through injury - a blow that was exacerbated by Murray Davidson limping off 15 minutes later.

Motherwell also took on an unfamiliar look, with manager Mark McGhee fielding a reshaped midfield. Marvin Johnson moved from left to right and Liam Grimshaw moved infield to a central role with Stephen Pearson wide left. It proved to be an inspired move.

It was an emotional evening at Fir Park, the eighth anniversary of the death of O'Donnell on Tuesday marked by applause for the duration of the 10th minute, in keeping with his squad number.

For all that, the game took quite some time to ignite.

But 38 minutes in it did come alight for Motherwell. A corner on the right was hunted down by a pack of players but it was teenage central defender Hall who got his head to the ball, which squirmed over the line.

Stephen Pearson scored for Motherwell
Deployed on the left of midfield, Stephen Pearson scored Motherwell's second goal

And then the hosts were ablaze. They broke again after a missed chance by Saints - when Thomson made a magnificent flying run down the right to set up Chris Kane, who should have scored - reacting immediately with a delightful pass which found Pearson relishing his new position on the left.

His first strike was blocked, but the former Scotland player put the rebound over the line to trigger a standing half-time ovation from the home support.

Motherwell were functioning smoothly all over the place against a team who arrived with a big reputation, including goalkeeper Connor Ripley who produced a quite spectacular flying save from a Liam Craig header.

At the moment, Mark McGhee's side are a joy to watch, a lovely marriage of wisdom provided by the likes of Scott McDonald and Keith Lasley and the pace of Johnson and Lionel Ainsworth, who again was introduced as a second-half substitute.

Applause rang round the ground at the end and maybe a wee bit of it should have been directed to the Fir Park ground staff who got this game on despite a 17:30 GMT pitch inspection. The surface played perfectly and it was hard to believe there was any doubt.

It was pitch perfect - but it's not just the grass which is coming up lovely for Motherwell.

Line-ups

Motherwell

  • 1Ripley
  • 18Law
  • 32Hall
  • 6McManus
  • 3Hammell
  • 4Grimshaw
  • 14Lasley
  • 8Pearson
  • 11JohnsonSubstituted forClarksonat 84'minutes
  • 77McDonald
  • 20MoultSubstituted forAinsworthat 61'minutes

Substitutes

  • 5Laing
  • 7Ainsworth
  • 13Samson
  • 19Clarkson
  • 23Thomas
  • 24McFadden
  • 28Watt

St Johnstone

  • 1Mannus
  • 22FisherBooked at 90mins
  • 2Mackay
  • 6Anderson
  • 24EastonBooked at 48mins
  • 7Millar
  • 25KaneSubstituted forSuttonat 73'minutes
  • 8DavidsonSubstituted forScobbieat 36'minutes
  • 26Craig
  • 9MacLean
  • 29O'HalloranSubstituted forThomsonat 22'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Scobbie
  • 11Sutton
  • 12Clark
  • 14Shaughnessy
  • 16Caddis
  • 18Cummins
  • 27Thomson
Referee:
Crawford Allan
Attendance:
4,055

Match Stats

Home TeamMotherwellAway TeamSt Johnstone
Possession
Home46%
Away54%
Shots
Home12
Away10
Shots on Target
Home3
Away5
Corners
Home6
Away7
Fouls
Home15
Away9

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Motherwell 2, St. Johnstone 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Motherwell 2, St. Johnstone 0.

  3. Booking

    Darnell Fisher (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.

  4. Post update

    Darnell Fisher (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  5. Post update

    Foul by David Clarkson (Motherwell).

  6. Post update

    Attempt missed. Steven MacLean (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

  7. Post update

    Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Brian Easton.

  8. Post update

    Attempt missed. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right misses to the left.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Brian Easton (St. Johnstone).

  10. Post update

    Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  11. Post update

    Steven Anderson (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Post update

    Foul by David Clarkson (Motherwell).

  13. Post update

    Attempt blocked. David Clarkson (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

  14. Post update

    Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Josh Law.

  15. Substitution

    Substitution, Motherwell. David Clarkson replaces Marvin Johnson.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Steven MacLean (St. Johnstone).

  17. Post update

    Marvin Johnson (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Post update

    Chris Millar (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  19. Post update

    Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

  20. Post update

    Attempt missed. Marvin Johnson (Motherwell) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.