St. Mirren 3 Motherwell 1

A rare double from defender Ian Maxwell gave St. Mirren a richly deserved win, their fourth in five games, to lift them up to ninth in the SPL.

Just as well too, as bottom of the table Gretna also took maximum points against Falkirk, to leave the gap unchanged at 12.

Motherwell - who dropped from third to fourth on goal difference - conceded early at Hearts last week and were caught cold again in Paisley, although full credit should go to the Buddies for a razor-sharp passing move which set up Mark Corcoran for a low left-foot finish.

Andy Dorman and Craig Dargo also threatened in a highly satisfying opening spell for the home side, but the feelgood factor quickly evaporated as Motherwell drew level with a stunning equaliser.

Steven McGarry created it with perfect control and a delicate pass and David Clarkson did the rest with an angled right-foot effort which curled into the far corner.

It was perhaps inevitable that the pace would eventually slacken and a more cagey period followed, before Saints moved through the gears again on the half-hour when Dorman's volley was cleanly held by keeper Graeme Smith.

But Smith had no chance seven minutes later as Saints went ahead for the second time.

Corcoran played in a deep corner kick and Maxwell met it at the back post, squeezing a downward header past a couple of defenders on the goal-line.

Shortly before half-time Corcoran's low free-kick almost deceived Smith as it flashed across the six-yard box.

Scotland manager-elect Mark McGhee would have still fancied his team's chances at that point, but a third home goal, early in the second period, dramatically altered the picture.

Again, Corcoran was instrumental with a neat pass to Maxwell, who disproved the theory about defenders being poor finishers, with a clinical drive past Smith.

Dorman nearly made it 4-1 on the hour mark only to see his shot deflected wide.

Six minutes later Motherwell's best move since Clarkson equaliser went unrewarded when a teasing cross from substitute Jamie Murphy found no takers inside the penalty area.

Top scorer Chris Porter was then denied by some top-class defending and a one-handed Smith save as Well battled in vain to get back into the contest.