A spectacular strike from John Spencer set up a smashing match at McDiarmid Park where we grabbed three points to reach sixth place in the SPL table. "What an advert for Scottish Football!" said a happy Billy Davies after the match. No argument there!
The only change to the line up from last week's successful eleven was the appearance of Derek Adams instead of the suspended Ged Brannan. The 'Well support (approaching a thousand) was packed into the left wing of the main stand and looked suitably festive.
From the off we looked aggressive and attack minded and with the two front men supported by Townsley and Twaddle had the best of the opening exchanges. The first real chance came to Bollan in four minutes when he struck a solid shot from twenty odd yards forcing Goram to concede the first corner of the match. But one minute later the game was graced by a Spenny special.
He collected the ball just in the opposition half and turned to face the Saints goal. He ran on, beat Kane and found himself thirty five yards out. Where was the support...? None to hand so he did what all good strikers do - thrash it into the net and worry about it afterwards. A peach it was, curling into the goal with Main a spectator.
The Saints were not going to lie down and immediately they pushed us back into defence. Goram produced a flying save to save a certainty and Sylla misses from fifteen yards when he had an opportunity to slot the ball home at the post.
We weathered the storm though and towards the end of the half we made the breakthrough.
First, a good passing movement found Spencer feeding Townsley on the right wing and Adams making a near post run. The pass was perfect and Del scored our second. Forty minutes gone.
Three minutes later we had a repeat of the Twaddle/Townsley goal which we scored at Fir Park last week against Hearts. Again the corner was on the left wing and again Twaddle stole a few inches and swung the cross on to the head of Townsley who headed home.
Three up at the half and the game should have been over. The team got a standing ovation from the away support as they retreated to the dressing room.
The talk was 'could we hold on' rather than 'would we extend the lead?' And we didn't have long to wait to find out.
Adams started the second half collapse in forty-nine minutes when he was sent packing for a second booking following a silly straight arm challenge. It was backs to the wall stuff after that.
After a couple of minutes Billy decided to substitute McLen for Spencer - ignoring the old adage 'never sub when defending a corner' - and we paid the price. Parker was presented with an easy chance after the flick on.
We had one opportunity in fifty seven minutes when a defensive error allowed Twaddle the run of their box. He had only Main to beat but dragged the ball wide and shot directly at the keeper.
The one way traffic resumed and Goram produced a great double save from a header then a shot to keep us in the lead.
In seventy one minutes we gifted them their second when Corrigan slipped up and allowed Lovenkrands a clear shot. Andy stopped the shot but the ball broke to Sylla who had an easy tap in.
The high at the end of the first half turned to a nail biting climax as Saints threw everything up the park in the attempt to grab an equaliser. But hang on we did and as a bonus we are now at sixth in the league.
Billy was delighted with the result and felt that the game was a great advert for Scottish football. "It was nappies time at the end" he said . Just so.
Corrigan McMillan Strong Hammell
Townsley Adams Leitch Twaddle (S68 Elliott )
Spencer (S52 McLen ) McCulloch (S82 Ouiefio )
Subs unused: Woods Nicholas
Referee D Somers
St Johnstone 2 Motherwell 3
23 December 2000
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