Blackman makes point for Steelmen

Gareth Wardlaw headed the hosts in front at St Mirren Park when he
glanced home Paul McGowan’s cross in the 37th minute and the
Paisley side looked set to frustrate their visitors. However,
Blackman claimed his 10th goal of the season and possibly his best
when he lashed a strike high into the net with 15 minutes left.
Michael Higdon was then sent off but the home side held on to
continue their recent upturn in results. A tight contest was on the
cards from the start, with the first efforts coming from two
Motherwell free-kicks. Alan Gow took the first, a dipping 25-yard
strike that was pushed over by Craig Samson, before Tom Hateley’s
deflected effort from closer in took a major deflection and bounced
off the post. Higdon was booked for an off-the-ball clash with
Motherwell goalkeeper Darren Randolph as St Mirren tried to force
their way forward. The visitors were looking slightly sharper in
possession but St Mirren were closing them down quickly and
Motherwell continued to be restricted to long-range efforts,
although Blackman was not far over from 25 yards. David van Zanten
volleyed narrowly wide at the other end. Higdon took the risk of
tripping Jamie Murphy on the halfway line after being shown up by
the Motherwell youngster’s skill but referee Alan Muir, who had
harshly booked Saints midfielder Patrick Cregg moments earlier,
kept his cards in his pocket. St Mirren took the lead after a
simple cross from the right from Paul McGowan, who was back in the
team after missing the 1-0 defeat by Celtic under the terms of his
loan agreement. McGowan had won a corner from nothing and, after
his delivery came back to him, centred for Wardlaw to glance a
header just inside the far post from six yards. Higdon was proving
a handful and Motherwell centre-back Mark Reynolds, who received
his first yellow card in 18 months last weekend, was booked for
hauling him down before the former Falkirk striker twice came close
from 20 yards in the final stages of the half. Motherwell had more
urgency to their passing after the break but they were struggling
to get in behind St Mirren, who got 10 men behind the ball whenever
their opponents had possession. Steve Jennings was booked even
though his reckless tackle did not connect with Higdon, who soon
flicked on for Wardlaw following a long throw but the goalscorer
sliced wide. Higdon almost made it two when his driven free-kick
took a deflection but the grounded Randolph managed to block with
his outstretched leg. Gow finally forced the St Mirren defence to
turn when he threaded the ball inside Jure Travner for Chris
Humphrey to run on to, but the winger’s cutback was placed wide by
Jennings from 16 yards. Saints hit back immediately and Reynolds
almost turned Travner’s low cross into his own net before Wardlaw
was booked for a dangerous two-footed challenge on Tom Hateley. New
Scotland cap Steven Saunders volleyed well over after a Motherwell
corner as the visitors struggled for ideas. But Blackman once more
proved his worth to Craig Brown’s team when he netted a goal out of
nowhere. The on-loan Blackburn striker collected Stevie Hammell’s
pass on the edge of the box, turned his man and blasted the ball
into the roof of the net. The forward earned himself a booking for
throwing himself into the jubilant Motherwell fans and they were
almost celebrating again after Gow played a one-two with substitute
John Sutton but the striker curled just wide from 15 yards. Higdon
was sent off in the 80th minute after fouling Stephen Craigan but
Motherwell could not exploit their advantage with the closest they
came when sub Ross Forbes fired just wide from 25 yards.