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.