The visitors opened the scoring after 16 minutes through Mark O’Hara before Saints levelled from the penalty spot via Stevie May. A tight second half played out with a few chances for both but that decisive goal wasn’t to come.
Both sides were looking to continue their pushes towards the top six heading into this, The Saints and Steelmen finely poised behind Kilmarnock in sixth on goal difference. Motherwell were hit with a blow before a ball was kicked.
Allan Campbell and Barry Maguire were ruled out due to self-isolation measures, the Scotland U21s squad they were part of this week subject of a Covid-19 outbreak. It wasn’t ideal but Stephen Robinson’s side still managed to start on the front foot.
They got an opener early on through a sumptuous team goal. It started from their own half, Callum Lang breaking upfield before linking up with Tony Watt, his lay-off finding Liam Polworth who’s effort was deflected into the path of O’Hara.
Playing in his usual central midfield role instead of defence, the Well number seven battered the ball past Zander Clark. It was a terrific goal but Motherwell would soon be the masters of their own downfall.
St Johnstone had caused threat with crosses into the box and runs on the flanks, but through the centre is where they’d find joy. O’Hara was slack in the middle, his pass intercepted and played through to May, who was clumsily brought down by Bevis Mugabi.
A penalty was awarded and May made no mistake with the spot-kick. It was probably fair on the balance of play as few chances were created by both, but Robinson may have been disappointed with how easily his side gave up their goal.
One nasty scene from the first half was Murray Davidson’s injury. The midfielder went flying into a challenge with Robbie Crawford, coming out worse off as he was sadly stretchered off the park.
The second half commenced in the first half’s same cagey fashion, although it was a bit more open as each team looked for a vital second goal. St Johnstone’s attacking efforts took a hit, injury striking again as Craig Conway was subbed with injury after a tackle with Mugabi.
Few chances were being created in the second half and you got the feeling one goal would settle things either way. St Johnstone had one cross bobble around in the box, calmly gathered by Aaron Chapman.
Chris Long was the next to be subbed off injured, replaced just minutes after coming on following an ankle knock. David Wetherspoon and Stephen O’Donnell then went close for their teams.
But nothing could split these two as the shares were spoiled. Here are three things we learned.
Covid strikes again
Campbell and Maguire were left at home by Motherwell as they begin self-isolation. The Fir Park club were not happy after being forced into this decision over two key players, notified just hours before kick-off about the pair’s situation.
Covid has provided massive disruption to most clubs this term and Motherwell, through no fault of their own, have felt the full effect of this at McDiarmid Park.
If you enjoyed this contest, fear not, you won’t have to wait long to watch it again. Motherwell host St Johnstone next week in a League Cup last 16 affair.
In the 1-0 and 1-1 matches between the sides this season, things have been very tight. Expect the same again at Fir Park next weekend as both clubs look for cup progression.
Injuries mount for Saints
Callum Davidson was handed two blows in this match, first Davidson being stretchered off before Conway came off injured in the second half. With a game to come away to Hibs on Tuesday, it looks unlikely they’ll make it.
From now through to January 2, St Johnstone have nine matches. They could do without losing two of their more experienced players.