Dossers set for top six

Mother­well St John­stone

Sunday Herald - - 19.03.17 SPORT - By Scott Mullen

IF there is one thing to take from Stephen Robin­son’s ten­ure as Mother­well man­ager af­ter just three games, it’s watch­ing his team will leave you with more late cliff-hang­ers than a River City script writer.

Al­ready the North­ern Ir­ish­man’s men through one way or an­other have brought a hat-trick of matches to a close with those in the stands cow­er­ing be­hind their claret and am­ber scarves.

Dur­ing his first game in tem­po­rary charge a last-minute Kris Boyd penalty miss can­noned off the post to gift Mother­well three pre­cious points while at Aberdeen last week, Niall McGinn struck deep into in­jury time with the only goal of a heart-wrench­ing game.

Here in his first game since been named per­ma­nent man­ager dur­ing the week, Robin­son and the ma­jor­ity in­side Fir Park were put through the emo­tional min­cer in the dy­ing sec­onds as his team des­per­ately fought for a late equaliser when 2-1 down. They thought that golden goal had ar­rived in deep into time added on as Ryan Bow­man rose to head over Alan Man­nus.

The keeper some­how got the faintest of touches to tip the ball on to the far post be­fore the whole of Fir Park held its breath as it trick­led along the line off the other post and back out.

Only the shrill of the full-time whis­tle broke the au­di­ble gasps of dis­be­lief mo­ments later.

“I don’t think I can ask a lot more in terms of de­sire and com­mit­ment,” said Robin­son, who also lost de­fender Zak Jules late on with a con­cus­sion. “We’d two penalty claims and one of them – on Chris Cad­den – was an in­cred­i­ble de­ci­sion that it wasn’t a penalty. It was a stonewall de­ci­sion for me.

“If we show that qual­ity and in­ten­sity we’ll be OK.”

This was a game Mother­well may well won­der how it slipped away as they re­main 10th in the ta­ble. Well, the rea­sons are three­fold re­ally. Lack of luck, lack of ruth­less­ness in at­tack and a lack of com­po­sure in de­fence.

As well as that late header, the home side had two solid penalty claims waved away. Firstly when Brian Eas­ton ap­peared to haul Scott McDonald to the ground, be­fore Paul Pa­ton’s check on Chris Cad­den sent the 20-year-old sprawl­ing on the deck.

That sec­ond claim came just one minute be­fore Scott McDonald was in­volved in an­other jaw-drop­ping mo­ment af­ter 41 min­utes. A Louis Moult f l icked header sent him through and around first-half goal­keeper Zan­der Clark only to some­how miss an open goal from around five yards. He would amend for that mis­take by turn­ing a Craig Clay shot into the net 60 sec­onds later as a pan­icked St John­stone de­fence failed to clear, but it only added to the what-could-have-been vibe that drifted over the sup­port­ers as they left the ground.

As has been com­mon place this sea­son, bad mis­takes at the back cost Mother­well again. For the first goal on eight min­utes, Graeme Cum­mins was al­lowed to drift wide and float a per­fect ball in for the un­marked Liam Craig to head in from six yards. The match-win­ner on 66 min­utes wasn’t much bet­ter, a Steven McLean cross wasn’t dealt with by young full-back David Fer­gu­son, as his header only set up a free Craig to lash the ball across goal and be­yond Craig Sam­son to send St John­stone into fourth place.

“They threw the kitchen sink at us for the last four min­utes and we had to hang on but it was an in­cred­i­ble save from Alan to tip it on to the post and that got us the three points,” said Wright, who was forced to take off goal­keeper C lark at half-time through in­jury. “This is an­other great away win and that all but se­cures top six, which is an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment for this club.”

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