The Scottish Mail on Sunday
JAKUBIAK PROVES A GREAT LEVELLER
ST MIRREN and Motherwell can both continue to dream of glory this season for a little bit longer after this battling draw in Paisley.
The visitors may feel slightly aggrieved at not seeing it out after Mark O’Hara’s first-half goal handed them an advantage until the 74th minute when Alex Jakubiak marked his first St Mirren start with the equaliser.
O’Hara could have claimed a second goal late in the contest but dragged his effort wide of target from a good position. The teams will try again to settle it next midweek just three days after they meet on league duty at Fir Park.
‘We’ll be sick of the sight of each other by then,’ joked Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson.
‘We tried to play our game, we created a lot of chances and a draw is probably a fair result.
‘The conditions were so, so difficult for the players but they showed great character, dug in and I’m delighted we are still in the hat.’
Jim Goodwin, who felt his side should have had at least one penalty in the first half for handball, was similarly satisfied with the way his side battled in atrocious conditions.
‘I think it was a fair result,’ said the St Mirren boss. ‘I was really pleased with how the players went about it in the first half. I felt we slightly shaded it in terms of quality and chances created.
‘We were looking forward to the second half with the elements behind you but I don’t think we utilised the wind well enough. We didn’t get the ball wide enough to get crosses in the box and we didn’t work the goalkeeper enough.
‘In the grand of scheme of things I don’t think myself or Stephen could say we deserved to win it. A draw was probably fair.’
St Mirren will find out tomorrow the extent of the hamstring injury sustained by Lee Hodson but Goodwin admitted it didn’t look good on the back of losing Kyle Magennis and Ryan Flynn to season-ending injuries.
‘Hopefully it’s not major but the minimum for a hamstring injury is a couple of weeks at least,’ he added. ‘It never rains but it pours.’
The ever-strengthening winds made it difficult for either team to get into any kind of rhythm, although both continued to plug away diligently in trying conditions.
Saints enjoyed the bulk of the possession but, as has so often been the case this season, failed to make the most of it for large spells.
Chances for the home side came and went. Ilkay Durmus struck the post from a Sam Foley cutback in the fifth minute and it set the tone for the afternoon.
Jon Obika lashed a shot high over the bar, while Jamie McGrath was unable to get enough loft on an attempted chip of Mark Gillespie after the keeper had spilled Calum Waters’ free-kick into the box.
Motherwell, in contrast, looked like they might score any time they poured forward on the counterattack. Not for the first time,
St Mirren had goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky to thank for keeping them in the contest.
The Czech had to look lively to punch away a stinging effort from Rolando Aarons after the winger had cut in from the right, and then gratefully clutched another fierce shot from Jermaine Hylton.
Just a minute later and Cammy MacPherson was short with a pass back and only a thunderous challenge from Conor McCarthy prevented Aarons from getting a shot away as the travelling support howled in vain for a penalty.
A Motherwell goal was coming, however, and it duly arrived after 21 minutes. It was unfortunate on the ubiquitous Hladky, who made a great save to deny Chris Long and would have been within his rights to glower at his defenders for allowing O’Hara to lash home the rebound.
It was well merited on the balance of play although St Mirren could have been level 12 minutes later when Durmus teed up Jakubiak, who could only shake his head in disbelief as Gillespie somehow repelled his goalbound effort.
A subsequent penalty appeal for a handball by Motherwell’s Peter Hartley fell on deaf ears.
St Mirren had one last chance before the break to equalise but Hartley did well to head away the shot from Durmus.
The heavens opened at the start of the second half, giving the players an extra problem to deal with.
Goodwin made a change by bringing on Kyle McAllister for McGrath and, within five minutes, the substitute had made his mark. Hodson played a ball down the line for McAllister, who turned it inside for Jakubiak.
The striker arrowed his shot into the far corner for the equaliser.
Both teams threw on strikers to try to win it, Tony Watt making his Motherwell debut and Junior Morias appearing for Saints.
Durmus had another blast well saved by Gillespie as neither side was able to find a winner. But a draw was probably the fairest result.