A dramatic second half comeback rescued Motherwell a precious point in Perth but the winless run extends to eight games after Tuesday’s 2-2 draw.
Shane Blaney and Mika Biereth both scored after the break to ensure Craig Levein’s debut as St Johnstone manager did not end in victory. Nicky Clark and Andrew Considine – both from appallingly defended corners – had put Saints in front.
The draw just about keeps Motherwell in mid-table but there is no doubt pressure on Stuart Kettlewell remains high going into Saturday’s visit of Hearts.
Stephen O’Donnell and Callum Slattery replaced the injured Paul McGinn and Theo Bair in the starting eleven. Calum Butcher and Brodie Spencer played despite broken noses.
There was little new manager bounce seen from the hosts initially but Conor Wilkinson’s neat lob over Mitov, disallowed for an accidental but clear handball, was the best threat we could muster.
The game changed in the 17th minute when sloppy play from Slattery conceded a corner headed in by Clark. Our confidence sank and St Johnstone suddenly looked lively.
Another corner 10 minutes later provided the second as a scramble was not cleared and Considine prodded home. At the other end Dan Casey had a header blocked on the line when a goal looked certain but boos rang out from the away support at half time.
Bair replaced Spencer with Blair Spittal going to left wing back. Spittal whipped in a dangerous cross straight after the restart but St Johnstone seemed to have weathered the storm.
Slattery, booked and increasingly frustrated, was removed for Georgie Gent as Spittal went central again and we – novelty of novelties – tried a left footer at left wing back. It would be a crucial change.
The comeback started in the 68th minute when Spittal picked up a second phase from a corner and crossed deep to Wilkinson. His header across goal gave Blaney a simple task to nod home.
Just six minutes later we were level when Bair’s dummy released Gent, whose gorgeous cross was touched home by Biereth.
St Johnstone steadied the ship but neither side wanted – or was capable of – settling for a point. Substitutes could have won it when Stevie May headed over from point blank range before Oli Shaw inexplicably cut inside when clean through. A shot or a square ball to Bair would surely have won the game.
The draw retains a four-point gap to St Johnstone but ultimately Kettlewell must find a way to have us playing positively from the beginning again. We have not won since our 1-0 triumph at Tynecastle and a repeat of that result this weekend would let everyone breathe a little easier.
St Johnstone 2 Motherwell 2
Team: Kelly, Blaney, O’Donnell, Butcher, Casey, Spencer (Bair 45), Spittal, Slattery (Gent 60), Paton, Wilkinson, Biereth (Shaw 90+1)
Tuesday 7 November 2023