Two nil down and almost three behind, things were looking grim. We probably didn't even deserve to be one down, let alone two goals behind. We could have buckled, but we didn't, and managed to dig ourselves out of a hole. Steven Thompson got a crucial goal before the break and we battered Motherwell for a bit before it looked as if our race was run. Then a penalty, expertly converted by Kenny McLean, before Thompson bagged an incredible winner. Shades of Fir Park 2007 - although we still have five games left!
We started off poorly and got better as the game went on. The most important thing is there was a fighting spirit. We didn't just throw in the towel at two - nearly three - goals down, we stuck in and eventually got ourselves back into the game. We might have needed two late goals - and a penalty Motherwell aren't happy about - but we did it. The other results went for us too and suddenly we're second bottom, with three or four points covering five teams trying to avoid the drop. It's going to be unbelievable tense.
Last week we seemed to perform fairly well after making some changes to the team which, arguably, made us more attacking. It was therefore a bit of a surprise to see us field five central midfielders and wingers/forwards Gregg Wylde and Adam Campbell dropped. In for them were Marc McAusland and Paul McGowan, Jim Goodwin moving forward into midfield. Motherwell's injury problems meant James McFadden and Stuart Carswell were missing, but Lionel Ainsworth started as did Henri Anier and prolific former Saints striker John Sutton.
Despite Motherwell flying high, we nearly went in front inside five minutes, Darren McGregor's header from a corner well kept out by Gunnar Nielsen. John Sutton's header went fractionally wide at the other end with Christopher Dilo beaten before we fell behind. Goodness knows what happened with our defence - they were probably stopping in the hope the offside flag would go up - but somehow a ball over the top found Ainsworth and as Dilo rushed out to meet him he played it across for Anier to score one of the easiest goals he'll get all season. With our relegation rivals winning, going behind was the last thing we needed.
Worse came five minutes later when McGowan, who'd picked up an injury, had to go off, Wylde taking his place. When a team fails to take a good chance they are often severely punished and that's exactly what happened to us. After Jim Goodwin was unlucky to see his header from a corner fly narrowly wide we fell further behind, no one tracking the run of Ainsworth as he met a deep delivery from Steven Hammell, allowing him to play it across goal for Sutton to head in from close range. It was ridiculously simple and the boos began to ring out as the Steelmen looked for a third, Sutton denied by a late challenge from Naismith that meant his shot went behind.
Steven Thompson headed over from a corner - Kenny McLean's set-pieces about the only positive as McGregor put a free-kick over. The trio combined to give us hope just before the break - McLean's corner finding McGregor who - probably inadvertently - knocked it down for Thompson to dispatch into the bottom corner and give us some hope. Having been understandably critical of their team before, the Saints fans began to roar them on as they hoped for an impossible turnaround before the break. The closest we got was Wylde trying his luck from miles out and missing the target.
Half time saw another chance, this one slightly odder as Iain Brines replaced ref Euan Norris, who presumably had to go off because he was injured and not because he fancied a pint or thought he'd left the gas on. Naismith almost brought us level with a deflected shot that went wide with Nielsen beaten before a Thompson header was plucked out of the air by Nielsen. With Gary Teale and Adam Campbell waiting in the wings - or to be used on them - it was rather odd to see Josh Magennis chosen as the man to replace Conor Newton. It didn't disrupt our flow though - Naismith's effort being forced behind and Nielsen superbly turning Thompson's shot behind just as we looked to have equalised.
Motherwell had done nothing in the second half but finally began to wake up, Ainsworth shooting straight at Dilo before the keeper produced a terrific save to turn over a shot from the same player. It took Goodwin more than an hour to get booked today - a good effort from him - after flattening Vigurs. We didn't seem to be causing Motherwell as many problems and they introduced some fresh legs up fron tin the shape of Craig Moore - not that one - who took over from Anier. It nearly worked too as he shot wide when he should have scored as we once again waited in vain for the offside flag. No sooner had he missed than we put Gary Teale on for Goodwin, who was no doubt heading for another second yellow due to the cries of the Motherwell fans every time he went near play. Ainsworth had caused us problems so it was good to see him go off, although not so good to see Zaine Francis-Angol come on as he has plenty of pace.
And so to the final five minutes. First up, Wylde put in a cross that Thompson got his head on. It was going towards goal but Nielsen probably had it covered. He didn't get the chance though as the ball looked to cannon off the arm of Stephen McManus. From where I was it looked stonewall - although Motherwell might disagree - and Brines eventually pointed to the spot. After doing plenty of time wasting earlier in the half, Motherwell tried their best at mind games but it didn't work and McLean slotted away the penalty.
So that was us level, but could we get a winner? Yes. John McGinn burst into the box, I've no idea what happened - whether he shot or tried to pass - the ball ended up at Thommo and he poked it home. There seemed to be a delay as if he was waiting for a flag - ironic considering earlier events - but it didn't came and the place went wild.
Now we just had to hold on, with Motherwell no doubt pushing like mad for a winner in what little time remained. However, we saw it out, they didn't get a shot, and we clung on.
One down, five to go. We can do this!
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