St Johnstone never know when they’re beaten. Tommy Wright’s men continued the tradition of last season by registering their second come-from-behind victory in the space of three days to continue their undefeated start to the new campaign.
No team accumulated more points from losing positions (25) than St Johnstone in the 2015/16 Ladbrokes Premiership and after knocking Hearts out of the Betfred Cup in midweek, they inflicted similar punishment on their hosts yesterday.
Despite dominating the first-half, they found themselves behind three minutes into the second period when a deflected cross allowed Chris Cadden to score. Instead of wallowing in the misfortune, Saints remained resolute, equalising through Danny Swanson before a howler from Motherwell goalkeeper Craig Samson allowed them to take all three points.
“It’s something you can’t buy,” insisted Wright. “It’s down to the players individually and as a collective. There are no prima donnas, they all have to muck in. They’re not afraid to drag each other out and that’s what they do when they get themselves in positions they don’t want to be in.”
The away side completely controlled the first 25 minutes, enjoying the lion’s share of possession and all of the chances. Brad McKay headed over from a corner and Chris Kane got in behind the defence but couldn’t squeeze in his shot at the angle. Swanson, Steven MacLean and Chris Millar then all took turns going close from the edge of the area.
Motherwell got into the match at the end of the half – with Lionel Ainsworth going close on two occasions – and used the impetus to start the second period the stronger side, quickly taking the lead through Cadden. The young midfielder was in the right place to turn in Richard Tait’s cross after it took a deflection on its way across goal. Full-back Tait was involved again a couple of minutes later when his cross was touched off to Scott McDonald by Ainsworth, but the striker shot wide of the post.
Motherwell manager Mark McGhee later admitted a 2-0 advantage would have been unfair on St Johnstone and they equalised through the game’s man of the match. Swanson feinted to cross before cutting inside Stephen McManus and drilling the ball between the legs of Samson. Kane then fired wide after being put through by Swanson, who was becoming a real creative fulcrum for the visitors.
Saints keeper Alan Mannus produced a couple of top saves to keep the scores level. Unfortunately for Motherwell, the same could not be said of Samson, who spilled a Kane shot hit right at him, allowing MacLean to net the winner.