St Johnstone 1-2 Motherwell: Saints’ unbeaten run broken as Well strike early

Matty Kennedy
Matty Kennedy had his first-half penalty saved by Mark Gillespie

St Johnstone’s eight-game unbeaten run was brought to an abrupt halt as Motherwell claimed their first win in Perth in six years.

Tom Aldred and Danny Johnson’s early strikes stunned a Saints defence that had previously only conceded twice in 12 hours of football.

Well’s Mark Gillespie then denied Matty Kennedy from the spot before the break.

Jason Kerr pulled one back late on but there wasn’t enough time for a leveller as Motherwell held on for the win.

A late cavalry charge almost brought results for St Johnstone as the visitors held on for dear life, but it was too little, too late for Tommy Wright’s men who were two goals down before they started playing.

St Johnstone remain seventh as Motherwell, in ninth, open up a nine-point gap on bottom sides St Mirren and Dundee.

Early blitz key to success

This game was played in horrible conditions with a constant deluge of rain and near freezing conditions throughout – and it was St Johnstone who were caught cold from the off.

The highly rated David Turnbull took the corner and Aldred reacted swiftly at the back post to give Motherwell the dream start after less than two minutes.

There was a sharpness about the away side in the early stages and they made it 2-0 in the 17th minute. Liam Grimshaw’s cross was not dealt with by Saints, and Johnson reacted first when the ball broke in the box to turn it into the net.

St Johnstone upped the ante as they sought a way to fight back. It looked like it might come from the penalty spot after a handball from Charles Dunne who had little complaints. But it rather summed things up for Saints as Kennedy’s low shot was palmed away by Gillespie low to his left.

The horrendous conditions continued as the game evened up as a contest, but St Johnstone struggled to find a cutting edge as they looked to claw back the goal deficit.

A big chance fell to David McMillan in the second half, but at the back post he blazed his volley high over the frame of the goal.

But, Wright’s men did eventually get their goal. It was Kerr who crashed a header home from the middle of the box to give the home fans hope for the final few minutes that they could go nine games unbeaten, which would have equalled their best run in the top flight.

There was a penalty shout for St Johnstone as Danny Swanson tumbled in the box under a challenge, but referee Alan Muir decided there was not enough in it as Well held on.

‘This is what Motherwell craved’ – analysis

Having gone nine matches without a win at McDiarmid Park this is exactly the sort of result Motherwell craved.

It means they can go to Celtic Park on Wednesday with some confidence, although that will undoubtedly be another very hard shift.

As for St Johnstone, the eight-match unbeaten run has been and gone. They now have eight days to ready themselves for their next match, at home against Rangers.

‘The players don’t get credit often enough’ – reaction

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson told BBC Sportsound: “It was going to be scrappy and a hard-fought game. It always is here, but credit has to go to the players.

“What we asked for in the last month was consistency. We were organised, disciplined in difficult conditions. They don’t get that credit often enough.

“Our start of the season has dictated where we are, but we have shown a consistency over the last month.”

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright added: “I thought we deserved a draw, I don’t think we deserved to win the game.

“The penalty miss is a big turning point for us. We lose the game because we don’t start the first half really well. We talked about defensive duties today, to make sure we clear lines and don’t try to overcomplicate it at the back.

“But we don’t defend a throw-in properly, give away a cheap corner, don’t defend the corner and really all Motherwell’s opportunities came from bad mistakes from us giving the ball away in cheap areas, trying to play our way out of trouble when it was really a day to go longer.”

Line-ups

St Johnstone

  • 1Clark
  • 19Foster
  • 5Shaughnessy
  • 15Kerr
  • 3Tanser
  • 16McMillanSubstituted forKaneat 66'minutes
  • 26CraigSubstituted forAlstonat 77'minutes
  • 8Davidson
  • 10WotherspoonSubstituted forSwansonat 66'minutes
  • 32WattBooked at 46mins
  • 33Kennedy

Substitutes

  • 4Alston
  • 9Kane
  • 11Swanson
  • 17Nydam
  • 23Gordon
  • 28Callachan
  • 30Hurst

Motherwell

  • 20Gillespie
  • 5Aldred
  • 21Mbulu
  • 18DunneBooked at 26mins
  • 14Grimshaw
  • 8CampbellBooked at 44mins
  • 4McHughBooked at 90mins
  • 28TurnbullSubstituted forGorrinat 77'minutes
  • 2Tait
  • 24JohnsonSubstituted forBowmanat 90'minutes
  • 9MainBooked at 82minsSubstituted forSammonat 90'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Taylor-Sinclair
  • 6Hartley
  • 12Bowman
  • 13Ferguson
  • 17Bigirimana
  • 19Sammon
  • 23Gorrin
Referee:
Alan Muir
Attendance:
2,302

Match Stats

Home TeamSt JohnstoneAway TeamMotherwell
Possession
Home56%
Away44%
Shots
Home10
Away10
Shots on Target
Home4
Away6
Corners
Home11
Away6
Fouls
Home8
Away19

Live Text

Match ends, St. Johnstone 1, Motherwell 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 1, Motherwell 2.

Attempt missed. Richard Foster (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

Booking

Carl McHugh (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Tony Watt (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Carl McHugh (Motherwell).

Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Carl McHugh (Motherwell).

Jason Kerr (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Ryan Bowman (Motherwell).

Substitution

Substitution, Motherwell. Ryan Bowman replaces Danny Johnson.

Substitution

Substitution, Motherwell. Conor Sammon replaces Curtis Main.

Foul by Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone).

Charles Dunne (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Charles Dunne.

Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Alex Rodriguez (Motherwell).

Goal!

Goal! St. Johnstone 1, Motherwell 2. Jason Kerr (St. Johnstone) header from the centre of the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Blair Alston.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Christian Mbulu.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Carl McHugh.

Booking

Curtis Main (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Jason Kerr (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Curtis Main (Motherwell).

Foul by Jason Kerr (St. Johnstone).

Danny Johnson (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Blair Alston replaces Liam Craig.

Substitution

Substitution, Motherwell. Alex Rodriguez replaces David Turnbull.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Liam Grimshaw.

Attempt blocked. Tony Watt (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Allan Campbell.

Attempt blocked. Danny Swanson (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Danny Swanson (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Liam Grimshaw (Motherwell).

Attempt missed. Curtis Main (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is too high.

Foul by Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone).

Allan Campbell (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt saved. Curtis Main (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Christopher Kane replaces David McMillan.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Danny Swanson replaces David Wotherspoon.

Tony Watt (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

goal

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