Scottish Premiership
Motherwell3St Johnstone0

Motherwell 3-0 St Johnstone: Steelmen keep top-six hopes alive with second-half strikes

Media playback is not supported on this device

Highlights: Motherwell 3-0 St Johnstone

Motherwell kept their slim top-six hopes alive in the Scottish Premiership and condemned St Johnstone to a bottom-half finish with three goals in the final 20 minutes at Fir Park.

Substitute Elliott Frear, David Turnbull and Richard Tait clinched a fifth consecutive home win.

Liam Craig had an early penalty saved for the Perth side.

Motherwell, who leapfrog the visitors, trail sixth-place Hibernian by five points with two games until the split.

A niggly contest was on a knife-edge until Frear guided a classy finish low into the net, and St Johnstone capitulated in the closing stages and have now won just once in 11 matches.

Hosts come on strong

Although both teams still held aspirations of a top-six finish, there was little evidence in the early stages either believed they could achieve their target.

Stephen Robinson and Tommy Wright lined up their players in identical formations and cancelled each other out.

Joe Shaughnessy had an early header blocked for St Johnstone while, at the other end, Tom Aldred twice had opportunities to find the target but missed.

The Perth side were given a glorious opportunity after just 12 minutes when striker Chris Kane was bundled down inside the box by Alex Rodriguez-Gorrin. Craig stepped up but his left-foot effort was poor and Mark Gillespie saved easily low to his left.

Kane passed up a good second-half chance for the visitors when he latched on to a knockdown by Shaughnessy and fired over from just six yards out.

Both managers then made a rash of changes and it was the home team who made the breakthrough. Motherwell striker Curtis Main sent a lovely flick into the path of substitute Frear, who took a touch before curling low into the net.

The goal gave the game the lift it badly needed. Kane hooked over from a St Johnstone corner, while Tait crashed a long-range shot off the woodwork.

And with 10 minutes left the home side secured the points. Turnbull was played into space at the edge of the box and his smart finish wrong-footed Clark.

Further pain was to come for St Johnstone in stoppage time when Tait curled a composed effort past the helpless goalkeeper.

David Turnbull skidded in Motherwell's second goal
David Turnbull skidded in Motherwell's second goal

'Motherwell can relish run-in' - analysis

Goals change games and Wright will be cursing the fact Craig's spot-kick was saved. But there was little else in terms of creativity and, with a top-six spot out of reach, it would be no surprise if the manager gives some fringe players an opportunity in the final seven matches.

Motherwell can still squeeze into the top half but need to win both games and hope results elsewhere go their way. However, after a start to the season that had the Lanarkshire club looking in danger of a relegation battle, Robinson can now relish the run-in.

'Totally unacceptable from us' - reaction

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson: "First half, we played in front of them too much. We lacked movement and creativity.

"The three subs - Elliott Frear, Chris Cadden and Carl McHugh - were excellent and changed the game for us. We started putting balls into the strikers' feet and that was the difference in the game."

St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright: "There was very little in it first half. Second half we were the better side. Chris Kane should score. After that, it's totally unacceptable from us.

"The players have to stand up and take responsibility. There was no reaction at all. There's maybe too many of them who think they've arrived in the game and they got what they deserved."

Line-ups

Motherwell

  • 20Gillespie
  • 14Grimshaw
  • 5AldredBooked at 87mins
  • 18Dunne
  • 2Tait
  • 8Campbell
  • 23GorrinSubstituted forMcHughat 77'minutes
  • 28Turnbull
  • 32HastieSubstituted forCaddenat 64'minutes
  • 9Main
  • 12AriyibiSubstituted forFrearat 63'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4McHugh
  • 6Hartley
  • 7Cadden
  • 11Frear
  • 13Ferguson
  • 22Donnelly
  • 24Johnson

St Johnstone

  • 1Clark
  • 19Foster
  • 5Shaughnessy
  • 15Kerr
  • 3Tanser
  • 27GossSubstituted forCallachanat 68'minutes
  • 26CraigSubstituted forWattat 73'minutes
  • 17O'HalloranSubstituted forSwansonat 68'minutes
  • 8DavidsonBooked at 29mins
  • 33Kennedy
  • 9Kane

Substitutes

  • 11Swanson
  • 12Bell
  • 14Comrie
  • 23Gordon
  • 28Callachan
  • 32Watt
  • 50Northcott
Referee:
Euan Anderson
Attendance:
4,083

Match Stats

Home TeamMotherwellAway TeamSt Johnstone
Possession
Home42%
Away58%
Shots
Home12
Away12
Shots on Target
Home4
Away3
Corners
Home5
Away6
Fouls
Home14
Away16

Live Text

Match ends, Motherwell 3, St. Johnstone 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Motherwell 3, St. Johnstone 0.

Goal!

Goal! Motherwell 3, St. Johnstone 0. Richard Tait (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Carl McHugh.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Charles Dunne.

Foul by Tom Aldred (Motherwell).

Ross Callachan (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Booking

Tom Aldred (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Attempt missed. Elliott Frear (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Goal!

Goal! Motherwell 2, St. Johnstone 0. David Turnbull (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Allan Campbell.

Substitution

Substitution, Motherwell. Carl McHugh replaces Alex Rodriguez.

Attempt missed. Richard Tait (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Jason Kerr.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Tony Watt replaces Liam Craig.

Attempt missed. Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Charles Dunne.

Goal!

Goal! Motherwell 1, St. Johnstone 0. Elliott Frear (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Ross Callachan replaces Sean Goss.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Danny Swanson replaces Michael O'Halloran.

Attempt missed. Elliott Frear (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Jason Kerr.

Substitution

Substitution, Motherwell. Chris Cadden replaces Jake Hastie.

Substitution

Substitution, Motherwell. Elliott Frear replaces Gboly Ariyibi.

Attempt missed. Tom Aldred (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Charles Dunne.

Attempt missed. Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Charles Dunne.

Second Half

Second Half begins Motherwell 0, St. Johnstone 0.

Half Time

First Half ends, Motherwell 0, St. Johnstone 0.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Charles Dunne.

Booking

Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Alex Rodriguez (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone).

Attempt missed. Jake Hastie (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Attempt missed. Tom Aldred (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is too high.

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Jason Kerr.

Penalty saved! Liam Craig (St. Johnstone) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, right footed shot saved in the bottom right corner.

Penalty conceded by Charles Dunne (Motherwell) after a foul in the penalty area.

Penalty St. Johnstone. Christopher Kane draws a foul in the penalty area.

Attempt missed. Tom Aldred (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Joe Shaughnessy.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic30224467165170
2Rangers30179466224460
3Kilmarnock31159744281654
4Aberdeen31157947361152
5Hearts31155113736150
6Hibernian31139947331448
7Motherwell31134143641-543
8St Johnstone31125143042-1241
9Livingston31108133333038
10Hamilton3173212066-4624
11St Mirren3155212358-3520
12Dundee3146212564-3918
View full Scottish Premiership table

Top Stories