Motherwell 1-2 St Johnstone: Steven Hammell says hosts need surgery

Stevie May
Stevie May pounced in the dying embers to win the game for St Johnstone

Interim manager Steven Hammell says the Motherwell squad “needs time and a lot of work” after they lost to a late St Johnstone goal.

Hammell is among the candidates to replace Graham Alexander, but having won his opening game at St Mirren, his team were sloppy and ineffective in Scottish Premiership defeat at home.

St Johnstone deservedly led through Jamie Murphy and they snatched victory with Stevie May’s 94th-minute strike after Motherwell leveled three minutes earlier with a Graham Carey own goal.

“It’s difficult,” Hammell said. “I’ll maybe speak to [the club hierarchy] just now and see where we’re at.

“It doesn’t change the fact that if the club have seen enough, we’ve had one week and two games to work with a team that needs time and a lot of work.

“It does need some surgery, regardless of whether I’m manager. It’s clear what we’re lacking.”

For the most part, this looked every inch a scrap between two teams shorn of confidence. Motherwell, stupefied by their desperate European exit to Sligo Rovers. St Johnstone, toiling to escape the dark shadows cast by last season and the relegation play-off required to stay in the division.

They were toothless against Hibernian in last weekend’s opening defeat and the lack of ruthlessness was evident again when Theo Bair galloped through on goal but shot tamely at Liam Kelly.

Bair has yet to score since arriving in Perth from Canada in January. He is a powerful presence, though, with a neat touch, and showed both elements when putting Murphy in for the opener as the veteran winger swept low beyond Kelly.

Motherwell almost replied immediately, Connor Shields’ awkward half-volley swerving off a post. St Johnstone nearly doubled their lead before the break when Andrew Considine looked set to stab home a Graham Carey free-kick, but Paul McGinn nipped smartly ahead of him.

In the second half there were more last-ditch heroics. Alex Mitchell slid superbly to prod the ball away from Joe Efford, racing through on St Johnstone’s goal.

Sondre Solholm did likewise when Murphy squared for Bair, who would have had a golden opportunity to kill the game.

Then, in the dying minutes, it was Considine himself, lurching his massive frame between Shields and an open goal, before Mitchell nearly had his head taken off sending a Sean Goss howitzer behind.

It was but a prelude to the nerve-shredding finale. Goss bent in a corner, the stooping Solholm got something on it, before the ball bobbled inexorably past Remi Matthews via Carey’s touch.

That looked like the decisive moment. The home support certainly thought so. They didn’t reckon for St Johnstone’s bloody-mindedness.

Callum Davidson’s men won a corner of their own. Motherwell dealt with the initial delivery, but could not clear the second. Carey, unmarked, caressed a header across goal and May stole in to stab home first-time.

Chaos in the away end. A mighty win for St Johnstone and Davidson.

Man of the match – Jamie Murphy

Jamie Murphy
St Johnstone have long struggled to create, and Murphy looks a very handy creative addition. He was influential in attack, finished clinically, and nearly teed up Bair for a second

Dogged St Johnstone punish wasteful hosts

Motherwell huffed and puffed for long spells. They were by turns toothless and wasteful. Final balls went astray, deliveries unfinished, opportunities squandered.

Hammell is a strong contender to land the manager’s job on a full-time basis, and giving Motherwell back their mojo would be high on his list of priorities.

St Johnstone have never lacked doggedness. For 90 minutes, they defended stoutly, with Considine and Mitchell particularly compelling. They also found a rare flourish of attacking incision, and Davidson needs to see more of that kind of panache.

As sweet as the victory will taste, the St Johnstone boss will be irked at the concession of a second late set-piece goal in as many weeks.

what they said

Motherwell interim manager Steven Hammell: “Disappointed to come away with nothing. When we get into the position we did, we should never be losing the game. The goals we conceded were criminal.”

St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson: “First half, we played really well, we looked to get out and play, and we scored a really good goal.

“Second half, we started sloppily, and the game ebbed and flowed. I’m delighted Stevie has come on and got us the three points.”

What’s next?

Motherwell head north on Saturday where they take on Aberdeen at Pittodrie (15:00 BST). St Johnstone travel to Ibrox to face Rangers at the same time.

Player of the match

MitchellAlex Mitchell

Motherwell

  1. squad number2player nameO’Donnell

  2. squad number1player nameKelly

  3. squad number27player namegoss

  4. squad number16player nameMcGinn

  5. squad number18player nameCornelius

  6. squad number9player namefrom Veen

  7. squad number15player nameSolholm Johansen

  8. squad number5player nameMugabi

  9. squad number6player nameMaguire

  10. squad number23player nameMorris

  11. squad number7player nameSpittal

  12. squad number29player nameshields

  13. squad number28player nameMahon

  14. squad number26player nameTierney

  15. squad number11player nameEfford

St Johnstone

  1. squad number5player nameMitchell

  2. squad number4player nameConsidine

  3. squad number29player nameMurphy

  4. squad number19player nameMontgomery

  5. squad number18player nameMacPherson

  6. squad number23player nameCarey

  7. squad number14player nameWright

  8. squad number13player nameMcGowan

  9. squad number7player nameMay

  10. squad number1player nameMatthews

  11. squad number17player namebair

  12. squad number22player nameHallberg

  13. squad number21player nameCrawford

Lineups

Motherwell

Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Kelly
  • 16McGinnBooked at 87mins
  • 5Mugabi
  • 15Solholm Johansen
  • 2O’Donnell
  • 7SpittalSubstituted forTierneyat 68′minutes
  • 6MaguireSubstituted forCorneliusat 45′minutes
  • 23MorrisSubstituted forEffordat 45′minutes
  • 27goss
  • 9from Veen
  • 29shieldsSubstituted forMahonat 86′minutes

substitutes

  • 11Efford
  • 12Fox
  • 14Ojala
  • 18Cornelius
  • 26Tierney
  • 28Mahon
  • 33Wilson
  • 36Speirs
  • 49Ferry

St Johnstone

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 1Matthews
  • 13McGowan
  • 5Mitchell
  • 4ConsidineBooked at 45mins
  • 14Wright
  • 22HallbergBooked at 12mins
  • 18MacPherson
  • 19Montgomery
  • 23Carey
  • 29MurphySubstituted forCrawfordat 79′minutes
  • 17bairSubstituted forMayat 69′minutesBooked at 90mins

substitutes

  • 2brown
  • 6Gordon
  • 7May
  • 11O’Halloran
  • 12Parish
  • 16Mahon
  • 21Crawford
  • 25Ballantyne
  • 27Kucheriavyic

Referee:
William Collum

Attendance:
4.711

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