After Wednesday’s enthralling 3-2 win against Hearts in the Betfred Cup Saints were back in action this afternoon as they headed to North Lanarkshire to take on Motherwell. Tommy Wright made four changes to the team that started on Wednesday evening as Chris Millar, Murray Davidson, Steven MacLean and Brad McKay, who netted the decisive goal on Wednesday, all started. They replaced Paul Paton, Liam Craig and David Wotherspoon who all dropped to the bench, while Tom Scobbie missed out after picking up an injury in the win against Hearts. Motherwell manager Mark McGhee made one change to the side that started their 5-0 defeat at Celtic Park in the Betfred Cup three days ago as Lionel Ainsworth replaced Steven Hammell who missed out due to a calf injury.
Motherwell got the match underway and Saints got their first sight of goal after 2 minutes as Blair Alston’s deep cross found Danny Swanson and he laid the ball off to Chris Kane who had a shot at goal which was blocked by Ben Heneghan.
Saints created another opening on 5 minutes as Brian Easton’s cross was knocked behind for a corner which was taken by Danny Swanson and he delivered a good ball into the box which found Brad McKay who headed over.
Chris Kane did well to beat his man to the ball on 12 minutes before breaking into the box however his scuffed shot run across the face of the goal before being cleared to safety by Heneghan.
Saints had started the match well and they almost took the lead on 17 minutes as Joe Shaughnessy’s cross into the box was cleared by Heneghan however, the clearance by the defender took a wicked deflection off Stephen McManus and the ball went inches wide of Craig Samson’s left-hand post. Steven MacLean then saw his low drive 3 minutes later go wide.
A long throw by Shaughnessy on 24 minutes found Kane in the box and he setup Chris Millar who unleashed a powerful shot at goal which was tipped over the crossbar by Samson.
On the half hour mark Marvin Johnson had a shot at goal for the home side which was deflected behind for a corner by Millar. Then on 32 minutes Johnson was again involved as he beat his man before drilling a low ball across the face of the Saints goal which found Lionel Ainsworth at the back post but his shot on the stretch found the side netting.
Saints were passing the ball around well and they were awarded a free kick on 39 minutes as Richard Tait was cautioned for a foul on Swanson. From the free kick Swanson setup Kane who unleashed a shot at goal which went wide.
Motherwell created a good chance to open the scoring on 41 minutes as Tait’s cross found Ainsworth whose shot at goal was blocked by Brad McKay before the loose ball was gathered by Alan Mannus.
3 minutes into the second half Motherwell took the lead as Scott McDonald did well to get away from Steven Anderson and he then passed to Tait who delivered a good ball across the face of the Saints goal which found Chris Cadden at the back post who knocked the ball into the net.
Looking for a quick response Swanson’s cross on 52 minutes found the head of MacLean who directed it towards goal which was held at the second attempt by Samson.
Motherwell were looking a different side in the early stages of the second half and a ball into the box on 55 minutes found an unmarked Ainsworth whose shot was blocked by McKay. The loose ball fell to McDonald and he curled an effort inches wide of Mannus’ left-hand post.
Saints were not behind for long though as on 56 minutes Swanson cut in from the right and danced his way past a couple of Motherwell defenders before slotting the ball through Samson’s legs.
Saints should have made it 2 on 58 minutes as Swanson released Kane and with only Samson to beat he dragged his shot inches wide from 10 yards.
Mannus made a great save on the hour mark as he tipped over a Cadden strike from 25 yards.
Alan Mannus was called into action again on 70 minutes as he brilliantly tipped over a curling Johnson strike.
With 15 minutes remaining Saints took the lead as Shaughnessy did well to evade a challenge before setting up Kane who had a shot at goal which was spilled by Samson and MacLean was on hand to nod home from close range.
Motherwell striker Scott McDonald was booked on 82 minutes as he tried to do his best Diego Maradona impression as he used his hand to guide the ball into the net.
With a minute of normal time remaining Johnson delivered a deep ball into the Saints box and it found Dom Thomas who fired a shot into the side netting as Saints comfortably saw the match out to clinch all three points.
Man of the Match: Danny Swanson
Motherwell: Samson, Tait, Heneghan, McManus, Ainsworth (Thomas 76), Johnson, Cadden (Blyth 64), Lasley, Chalmers, Clay, McDonald Unused Substitutes: Brill (GK), Lucas, McFadden, Ferguson, MacLean Booked: Tait, Clay, McDonald Scorers: Cadden (48)
Saints: Mannus, Alston (Wotherspoon 71), Anderson, Millar (Paton 71), Davidson, MacLean, Swanson (Craig 88), Shaughnessy, McKay, Easton, Kane Unused Substitutes: Clark (GK), Gordon, Cummins, Comrie Booked: Kane, Swanson, Davidson Scorers: Swanson (56), MacLean (75)
Referee: Euan Anderson
Match Report by Daryl Scott
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