Scorers: Motherwell - Sutton 72
Indeed, the Argentine consortium which has switched its attention from Motherwell to Paisley in the last week may be having second thoughts after this latest defeat left St Mirren rooted to the foot of the table.
Motherwell are perilously close to bottom spot themselves, but a solitary goal from John Sutton helped new manager Ian Baraclough make the perfect start.
“Maybe it was a day when the result was more important than the performance and we could certainly have been better because we gave the ball away far too often for my liking,” he said. “We were also a bit timid at times.”
Saints’ interim manager, Gary Teale, handed a start to 18-year-old midfielder Lewis McLear, who had never previously made it on to the bench for the first team, in an attempt to secure a first home league win since April.
However, his plans were up in the air after only 17 minutes when his side were reduced to ten men in controversial circumstances.
Mark O’Brien, who had already escaped punishment for going in heavily from behind on Steven Thompson, did so for a second time.
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The defender stayed on the ground, however, and – to the surprise of everyone – referee Alan Muir displayed a red card to the Saints captain, who may have left his foot in.
Disbelief turned to anger among the home support when two similar challenges from O’Brien (on Kenny McLean and John McGinn) also went unpunished.
That simmering sense of injustice appeared to inspire the hosts, though, and Marc McAusland saw a header from Stephen Mallan’s corner cleared off the line by Josh Law.
O’Brien finally collected a caution three minutes from the interval, for another foul on McLean, who had assumed the lone striker role. The Irishman, along with David Ferguson, did not reappear for the second half.
There was further controversy in the 48th minute when Kenny McLean’s header from another Mallan corner appeared to cross the line after striking the underside of the bar, but Mr Muir further enraged the Paisley public by refusing to award a goal.
It was somewhat against the run of play, then, when the visitors took the lead 18 minutes from time.
Henrik Ojamaa was the architect. The Estonian’s surging run across the park ended with him releasing Law on the right and his low cross was turned behind Mark Ridgers by Sutton.
Teale was disappointed by the outcome and had no doubt that Thompson’s dismissal played a major part in that.
“I haven’t seen a replay of the red- card incident but I didn’t believe it was justified at the time.
“Basically, I thought it was just a coming together, with both players doing exactly the same thing.
“If the referee’s called that right, then fair play to him, but if he hasn’t, then it’s cost us big time. Steven certainly didn’t think it was a sending-off.
“Scottish football can’t afford goal-line technology, so you’re at the mercy of the referee and linesman.
“Again, well played to them if Kenny McLean’s header didn’t cross the line, but it’s another massive call. I didn’t feel we deserved to lose this game.
“I’ll continue to do my best for this club, but there are a couple of important games coming up and I’m not naïve – if we don’t get the results we want then my chances of getting the job won’t be very high.”
St Mirren: Ridgers, Naismith, McAusland, Goodwin, Tesselaar, Osbourne (Reilly 85), McLean, McLear (Wylde 78), McGinn (Ball 83), Mallan,Thompson. Subs not used: Kelly, Marwood, Drury, Kello.
Motherwell: Twardzik, Ferguson (Erwin 46), O’Brien (Kerr 46), McManus, Reid, Law, Lasley, Carswell, Ainsworth (Thomas 85), Sutton, Ojamaa. Subs not used: Nielsen, Neill, Cadden, MacLean.
Referee: A Muir. Attendance: 3,909
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