Stephen McManus's fourth goal of the season secured a win for Motherwell to virtually ensure they will be playing European football again next season.

Lionel Ainsworth's cross evaded goalkeeper Alan Mannus to put the Steelmen in front but Dave Mackay headed Saints level.

But McManus's headed goal 11 minutes before the interval ensured three points for the Fir Park side.

And victory puts Well one point behind second-place Aberdeen.

The result also brings to an end Saints' unbeaten run with the Perth side suffering their first defeat in eight matches.

The first early chance fell the way of the home side with their skipper Keith Lasley firing a shot over the bar from the edge of the box.

It was a positive start from Motherwell and with their next effort James McFadden should have done better than shoot weakly at Mannus following a fine passing move.

St Johnstone were on the back foot but they did look dangerous on the counter attack and when David Wotherspoon sent Stevie May away he made a poor connection to send his shot wide.

Ainsworth was next to threaten the Saints' goal with a powerful strike and goalkeeper Alan Mannus was relieved to push the ball to safety.

Lionel Ainsworth scores for Motherwell against St Johnstone

Ainsworth's cross found its way into the net

However, Mannus was soon a frustrated man when Ainsworth's cross from the right curled over the keeper before nestling in the net.

The lead was short-lived though, Mackay equalising with a free header from Wotherspoon's corner.

Freedom in the opposition penalty box was evident again when Motherwell took advantage to regain the lead.

McManus was the unmarked man on this occasion with the defender directing a header goalward from a Vigurs free-kick.

Steven Anderson tried to stop it with his hand but the ball crossed the line. After a short delay, referee Kevin Clancy awarded the goal and booked Anderson to further upset the visitors.

St Johnstone enjoyed more of the possession early in the second half but were slightly over elaborate in the build-up around the edge of the Motherwell penalty area.

May turned inside Lasley as the Motherwell skipper looked to challenge and the striker went down looking for a penalty. The referee went to his pocket for the yellow card and it was the Saints player who was booked for simulation.

Wotherspoon fired an effort narrowly wide before Well came close to adding a third through substitute Henri Anier, whose strike took the slightest of deflections to steer it wide of the post.

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (5)

Motherwell

  • 01 Hollis
  • 02 Reid
  • 03 Hammell
  • 14 Lasley
  • 05 Hutchinson Booked
  • 06 McManus
  • 25 Ainsworth
  • 11 Vigurs
  • 07 McFadden (Anier - 70' )
  • 09 Sutton
  • 17 Francis-Angol (Kerr - 75' )

Substitutes

  • 12 Nielsen
  • 20 Kerr
  • 22 Moore
  • 23 Murray
  • 24 Anier
  • 26 Leitch
  • 30 Thomas

St Johnstone

  • 01 Mannus
  • 19 Miller
  • 24 Easton Booked
  • 10 Wotherspoon (Hasselbaink - 81' )
  • 02 Mackay Booked
  • 06 Anderson
  • 07 Millar
  • 12 Dunne (McDonald - 86' )
  • 09 MacLean
  • 17 May Booked
  • 29 O'Halloran (Croft - 69' )

Substitutes

  • 04 Cregg
  • 08 McDonald
  • 11 Hasselbaink
  • 15 Banks
  • 22 Croft
  • 23 Clancy
  • 25 Iwelumo
Ref: Kevin Clancy
Att: 7,201

Match Stats

Shots

8 6

On target

5 2

Corners

5 3

Fouls

19 16

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Motherwell 2, St Johnstone 1.

90:00 +3:04 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Motherwell 2, St Johnstone 1.

90:00 +2:08

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Craig Reid.

90:00 +1:42

Foul by Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell).

90:00 +1:42

Nigel Hasselbaink (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

89:31

Hand ball by Steve May (St Johnstone).

88:12

Foul by John Sutton (Motherwell).

88:12

Gary Miller (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.

87:21

Attempt saved. Gary Miller (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

85:31

Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.

85:31

Foul by Chris Millar (St Johnstone).

85:16 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Gary McDonald replaces James Dunne.

83:25

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Steven Anderson.

83:05

Attempt blocked. Henri Anier (Motherwell) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

81:20

Foul by Fraser Kerr (Motherwell).

81:20

David Mackay (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

80:07 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Nigel Hasselbaink replaces David Wotherspoon.

76:03

Attempt missed. Steve May (St Johnstone) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

74:35 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Fraser Kerr replaces Zaine Francis-Angol.

70:52

Foul by Henri Anier (Motherwell).

70:52

David Mackay (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

70:30

Foul by Henri Anier (Motherwell).

70:30

Brian Easton (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

69:02 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Henri Anier replaces James McFadden.

68:31

Foul by John Sutton (Motherwell).

68:31

Steven Anderson (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

68:15 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Lee Croft replaces Michael O'Halloran.

67:53

Attempt missed. David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

65:43

Foul by Stephen McManus (Motherwell).

65:43

David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

63:10 Booking

Booking Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

63:06

Foul by Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell).

63:06

Steve May (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

62:16

Foul by Zaine Francis-Angol (Motherwell).

62:16

David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

61:00

Steve May (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.

60:57

Foul by Craig Reid (Motherwell).

59:07 Booking

Booking Steve May (St Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.

58:59

Steve May (St Johnstone) has gone down, but that's a dive.

54:50

Foul by Zaine Francis-Angol (Motherwell).

54:50

Michael O'Halloran (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

46:53

Foul by John Sutton (Motherwell).

46:53

David Mackay (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

46:19

Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.

46:19

Foul by David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone).

45:23

Attempt missed. Michael O'Halloran (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

45:00

Second Half begins Motherwell 2, St Johnstone 1.

45:00 +1:10 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Motherwell 2, St Johnstone 1.

45:00 +0:23

Steven Hammell (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

45:00 +0:23

Foul by Steven MacLean (St Johnstone).

43:59

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

43:57

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

42:42

Delay in match John Sutton (Motherwell) because of an injury.

42:41 Booking

Booking Brian Easton (St Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.

42:33

John Sutton (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

42:33

Foul by Brian Easton (St Johnstone).

41:35

Foul by Craig Reid (Motherwell).

41:35

Steve May (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

38:04

Stephen McManus (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

38:04

Foul by Steve May (St Johnstone).

36:24

Keith Lasley (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

36:24

Foul by David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone).

35:44 Booking

Booking David Mackay (St Johnstone) is shown the yellow card.

35:23 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Motherwell 2, St Johnstone 1. Stephen McManus (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Iain Vigurs with a cross.

33:44

James McFadden (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.

33:44

Foul by James Dunne (St Johnstone).

29:43

James McFadden (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

29:43

Foul by Steven Anderson (St Johnstone).

28:42

Attempt missed. Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

28:21

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by David Mackay.

28:02

Attempt saved. John Sutton (Motherwell) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

26:26 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Motherwell 1, St Johnstone 1. David Mackay (St Johnstone) header from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by David Wotherspoon with a cross.

25:45

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Steven Hammell.

25:06

Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

25:06

Steve May (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.

24:24

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Chris Millar.

23:53

Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

23:53

Foul by Steven MacLean (St Johnstone).

22:14

Foul by Iain Vigurs (Motherwell).

22:14

James Dunne (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

20:26 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Motherwell 1, St Johnstone 0. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the right to the top left corner. Assisted by James McFadden.

18:20

Foul by Steven MacLean (St Johnstone).

18:20

Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.

16:39

Attempt saved. Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner.

15:00

Steve May (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

14:58

Foul by Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell).

14:20

Foul by Zaine Francis-Angol (Motherwell).

14:20

Gary Miller (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.

13:21

Foul by Michael O'Halloran (St Johnstone).

13:21

Craig Reid (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.

11:48

Foul by James McFadden (Motherwell).

11:48

David Mackay (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

10:54

Attempt missed. Steve May (St Johnstone) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.

8:39

Attempt saved. James McFadden (Motherwell) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

7:45

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by James Dunne.

6:48

John Sutton (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

6:48

Foul by Steven Anderson (St Johnstone).

6:24

Foul by Steven Anderson (St Johnstone).

6:24

Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

5:55

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Shaun Hutchinson.

4:39

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by David Mackay.

4:00

Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

3:57

Foul by Michael O'Halloran (St Johnstone).

3:17

Steven MacLean (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

3:17

Foul by Stephen McManus (Motherwell).

2:36

Attempt missed. Keith Lasley (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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