Motherwell vs. St Johnstone – Football Match Report – May 5, 2018
Steven MacLean rounded off his St Johnstone career in style with a 25-minute hat-trick in a 5-1 victory over Motherwell at Fir Park.
The 35-year-old produced a masterclass in penalty-box forward play in his 203rd and final game for Saints before a summer move to Hearts.
MacLean will sit out Tuesday’s game on Hamilton’s artificial surface because of long-standing knee problems and is suspended for the final match of the Ladbrokes Premiership campaign, but he ensured Saints have a real chance of claiming a seventh-place finish.
The hosts could have all but wrapped up seventh with victory but they lost their three-point lead and saw a healthy goal advantage cut to two thanks to some uncharacteristically sloppy defending.
Motherwell rested central defender Cedric Kipre and wing-back Richard Tait as Stephen Robinson begins to rotate his squad ahead of the William Hill Scottish Cup final but they conceded as many goals in nine first-half minutes as they had in their previous five matches with Steven Anderson also capitalising.
Substitute Gael Bigirimana pulled one back but David McMillan scored his first St Johnstone goal three minutes later.
Motherwell brought in Barry Maguire and Elliott Frear and were the more enterprising team in a largely uneventful opening half hour.
But the game turned in the 31st minute when Richard Foster was given plenty of time to pick out a cross from the byline. He found MacLean, who peeled into space before guiding a header into the corner of the net from 12 yards.
Saints doubled their lead five minutes later after Motherwell failed to deal with David Wotherspoon’s free-kick into the box. Trevor Carson could not palm Murray Davidson’s header any further than his six-yard box and Anderson crashed the ball into the roof of the net.
MacLean made it three when Saints broke after a heavy tackle on Chris Cadden. George Williams released Matty Willock, whose low cross was turned inside the near post.
Wotherspoon came close just after the break and the hosts knew it wasn’t their day when Nadir Ciftci failed to beat Zander Clark after Frear’s cross found him three yards out.
MacLean soon netted his 57th goal for Saints when he stabbed the ball home from close range after Wotherspoon scuffed a shot when presented with yards of space following a short free-kick.
Williams shot wide after a 50-yard run before MacLean went off to a hero’s reception from the travelling support and a hug from Tommy Wright as he made way for McMillan in the 64th minute.
Bigirimana headed home from close range in the 78th minute after Ryan Bowman’s shot came off the underside of the bar but former Dundalk striker McMillan soon headed home Foster’s deep cross to mark his second appearance for Saints with his first goal on his comeback from injury.