St Mirren’s form under the rapidly binned Alan Stubbs is now beginning to look like it belonged to halcyon days. A seventh straight league loss under Stubbs’ successor Oran Kearney last night, dished out by a Motherwell in almost as desperate straights, can only leave serious questions of the Irishman.
The desultory nature of the display that was punished by goals either side of the interval netted by David Turnbull (pictured) and Chris Cadden was alarming. A straight red card for St Mirren’s Ryan Flynn after a studs-up challenge on Richard Tait 15 minutes from time merely added salt to an open wound.
Stubbs was sacked after 77 days for enjoying a comparatively successful run of one win from four games – two of these at Ibrox and Tynecastle. Kearney, following a scoreless draw against Celtic in his first outing, has never looked like claiming a second win for the Paisley club across his 55 days in charge. Frankly, St Mirren were a team in name only as Stephen Robinson’s side used them for a much-needed bout of light relief, with two strikes hardly reflecting their superiority. Indeed, it took all of 66 minutes last night before the home side managed a first shot on target after two-and-a-half hours of football without one. They have scored only twice in seven games.
In echoes of the Monty Python sketch where bemoaners attempt to outdo each other about how hard they have had it in life, the Paisley club and Motherwell could have traded tales of grimness about their existence pre-match. Each hadn’t won in their previous six league games, and could only point to one such triumph all season – victory over Dundee hardly a success about which to boast. St Mirren just edged it in the sorrowful stakes courtesy of Motherwell having taken one point from their past six. It typified the haplessness of the Paisley club in recent times that the Lanarkshire side were set on their way to a first win since 1 September by a goalkeeping howler from Craig Samson. One of the more stable performers for the club as Premiership points have become mythical beasts, apparently, the greasiness of the surface couldn’t explain away how he allowed 19-year-old Turnbull to claim a first senior goal.
The attacker was in yards of space when the ball was played in to him 20 yards from goal on the half-hour mark. He had a hopeful hit, which should have had neither the power or direction to trouble Samson. Yet, the keeper somehow allowed it to squirm under his body.
Curtis Main should have doubled that advantage and effectively put the result beyond doubt shortly afterwards. Instead, though, he contrived to nod a free header straight at Samson.
St Mirren simply weren’t capable of punishing such wastefulness, however, but more the capable of being further punished themselves.
So it proved when, five minutes after the restart, Cadden played a one-two with Main before exquisitely steering the ball in at the far corner, a finish for which Samson could not be faulted.
Overall, there was a serious absence of composed, constructive play as befitting the teams stuck second and third bottom at the start of the night. While Motherwell will have pretensions to improve that situation after moving above Hamilton with the win, St Mirren cannot pretend they are anything other than relegation fodder.