Our old failing of conceding on the break and defensive disasters cost us dear. Ainsworth delivered the perfect start when he converted Ojamaa’s pass and we should have been is easy street by half time. But we lost possession when a we should have gone two up and lost the equaliser on the break. The least said about Saints’ winning goal the better. It was another defensive calamity.
We kicked off with an eleven that had two changes. Law and Reid were benched and Vigurs and Ainsworth were given a chance to turn our fortunes around.
We started brightly enough and earned three early corners and a shot on target from Francis-Angol. Saints replied with a shot and a 30 yard free kick from McFadden but we stole the opener in 14 minutes. The home side were in possession at the edge of their box but hustling from Ojamaa saw the ball released to Ainsworth who lashed it into the net from 12 yards.
We came close when Kerr had a heading opportunity at the corner of the 6 yard box but from his standing position he could not generate enough power. Hammell came close but his low drive was just wide. At the other end Twardzik had to deal with a few crossed balls but little else. With Ainsworth Sutton and Ojamaa all taking advanced positions we seemed (at last) to be carrying a threat.
Mackay caused some concern with a powerful driven free kick that Twardzik was happy to see fly outside the post. We conceded the equaliser after 40 minutes and it was cruel. Fabulous work by Ojamaa inside the St Johnstone box tied up three defenders and resulted in a great chance for Ainsworth. His shot was well struck but straight at Mannus. Saints flooded up the park and we were caught short and failed to make the obvious professional foul - the ball was squared for O’Halloran and he found the net.
We had two golden opportunities before the break. Sutton was presented with a perfect ball on the penalty spot by Ojamaa but the striker fumbled badly and the chance disappeared when it seemed simpler to score. Just before the break Ainsworth switched wings and cut in from the left but his attempt to find the far corner failed. We had the better of the first half but surrendered the lead.
We found some success via the left wing where both Ainsworth and Francis-Angol delivered tempting crosses – no takers. Ojamaa, as constant worry to the home defence, was on target from the right flank but Mannus’ legs kept it out. Vigurs, booked for a petulant throw of the ball, sent a free kick high and wide. Twardzik produced a terrific save from Wright’s goal bound header as the game raged from end to end.
We were caught on the break again after a corner on 75 minutes. At one stage it was four against two but Saints failed to capitalise. They were presented with a goal with ten minutes remaining. Two of our defenders crashed into each other allowing O’Halloran the freedom of the box. He rounded another and slammed home for his second goal
St Johnstone 2 Motherwell 1
Team: Twardzik, Hammell (O’Brien 83), Ramsden, McManus, Ainsworth, Sutton, Vigurs(Law 87), Lasley, Francis-Angol (Erwin 81), Kerr, Ojamaa