Motherwell 1-2 St Johnstone: Match Report

18 March 2017

Liam Craig bags brace as Stephen Robinson experiences defeat as Well boss

Liam Craig's double for St Johnstone was enough to condemn Motherwell to a 2-1 defeat in Stephen Robinson's first home game since he was appointed manager.

The interim boss was handed the reins on a permanent basis on Wednesday but he could not inspire the Steelmen to victory.

The defeat continues a dismal run of results at Fir Park for Well, with the last home success coming back in November against Partick Thistle.

Craig gave the visitors an early lead before Scott McDonald equalised on the stroke of half-time.

Tommy Wright's side then dealt Well a killer blow with 24 minutes remaining - Craig firing home his second of the afternoon with the hosts firmly in the ascendancy to give St Johnstone all three points.

Stevie Hammell and Zak Jules passed late fitness tests to ease the defensive worries of the home side, who faced something of a crisis with Stephen McManus, Richard Tait, Kieran Kennedy and Ben Heneghan all missing.

Saints boss Wright named an unchanged side following their 2-0 win over Dundee in Perth.

With both teams struggling to retain possession in a scrappy opening few minutes, St Johnstone took the lead with the first real attack of the game.

The ball found its way to Graham Cummins on the wing and he delivered an inch-perfect cross for Craig, leaving the former Hibernian man with the easiest of finishes to head the visitors in front.

Motherwell appealed strongly for a penalty less than 10 minutes later when McDonald appeared to be hauled down in the box, but referee Greg Aitken waved away the protests - much to the frustration of the home side.

St Johnstone continued to look threatening in attack and were troubling a jittery Motherwell defence.

They could have easily extended their lead with goal-scorer Craig, Steven MacLean and Danny Swanson all testing Samson in the Well goal.

Motherwell came back into the game and veteran McDonald should have equalised five minutes before half-time. He somehow managed to shank his left-footed shot high and wide after leaving goalkeeper Zander Clark stranded.

With Motherwell pressing, the Australian atoned for his bad miss to score the first home goal of Robinson's tenure as both sides went in level at the break.

Motherwell started the second half well and had a great chance to take the lead through Jules.

The ball fell to the feet of the towering defender from a corner but half-time substitute Alan Mannus pulled out a terrific stop to deny the on-loan Reading man.

The home side failed to make their dominance count as Craig doubled his goal tally for the afternoon to put St Johnstone back in front.

The attacker found himself in acres of space as he collected the ball from a cross and he fired past Samson for his fifth goal of the season.

The goal was harsh on Motherwell, who had started the second half brightly and looked the more likely team to score.

The goal knocked the stuffing out of Well, and were lucky not to fall further behind when Craig blew his chance for hat-trick - firing over from close range.

Louis Moult went agonisingly close to equalising for Well in the final moments, but he watched in despair as his header cannoned off the inside of a post and bounced away to safety.

Source: PA