Motherwell stopped the rot with a hard fought win over St Mirren under the Fir Park lights.
Kevin van Veen and Max Johnston scored early but Ryan Strain countered before the half hour. It was a towsy match that saw the ball in the air more than on the ground but that mattered not a jot to Motherwell as they celebrated a first home win since August.
Stuart Kettlewell set his team out with three central defenders (Callum Butcher, Dan Casey and Paul McGinn) flanked by Max Johnston and James Furlong. And the intent of keeping the opposition at bay by clearing the line at every opportunity was taken to heart.
Form the off it was evident that this was going to be a ‘Well display of grit and determination first and foremost. Any outbreak of silky football was to be a secondary consideration. St Mirren answered in kind and the ball flew back and forth throughout the game.
Blair Spittal set up van Veen for the opener after 8 minutes. The striker had work to do on the right of the box but he held off his marker and poked the ball across Carson and into the far corner. It was exactly the confidence building start that Motherwell needed.
A second followed ten minutes later. Sean Goss placed a ball on Max Johnston’s chest and the back belt a hopeful effort from wide on the right. It flew into the net to the roar of the home crowd.
St Mirren pulled one back with their first threat on Liam Kelly’s goal. Main and Watt combined in front to the Cooper Stand to fire low across the six yard box. The ball continued through to Strain for a simple finish.
Goal action was in pretty short supply for the rest of the evening as the midfield scramble proceeded with plenty of effort and few phases of passing play.
Twenty outfield players ready for a tussle
Van Veen hobbled off with fisteen minutes remaining and Jack Aitchison came on to provide some much needed fresh legs in attack. The visitors’ frustration earned them four yellows as their foul count mounted. Each was cheered by the home crowd as was every throw-in and winning tackle.
After four added minutes relief arrived and Motherwell were propelled to the giddy height of ninth in the table.
Similar battling qualities will be needed on Sunday for the visit of Hearts but a spell of recovery and some consideration of a job well done will come first.
Motherwell 2 St Mirren 1
Attendance 4,978 (1,047)
Team: Kelly, Johnston, Casey, Butcher, McGinn, Furlong (O’Donnell 90+1), Spittall (Slattery 84), Goss, Cornelius, Obika, Van Veen (Aitchison78)
Wedesday 15 February 2023