Motherwell 1-1 St Mirren: St Mirren fail to cement top six after Motherwell draw

St Mirren will have to wait to confirm their place in the top six of the Scottish Premiership after Motherwell hit back for a point at Fir Park.

Marcus Fraser gave the visitors the lead in the first half as he nodded in a corner following Andy Halliday's missed clearing header.

But Motherwell's talisman Theo Bair bundled in a leveller in the 74th minute to keep Stuart Kettlewell's slim top-six dream alive with two games until the split.

With Hibernian beaten by Rangers, a win for fifth-place St Mirren would have guaranteed a top-six finish, but instead they hold a five-point cushion over the Easter Road side.

"Overall, to come to Fir Park and get a point is another point towards our ultimate goal which is top six," St Mirren boss Stephen Robinson said.

"I thought we should have won the game but when you don't take your chances then you don't.

"The fact we're in the running for the top six two years in a row after such a long absence tells you we are going in the right direction."

Motherwell remain eighth, six points adrift of sixth spot and six above second bottom.

Motherwell have hardly been on the best of runs - three wins in their last 11 games - but the mood music has changed and Kettlewell is looking up rather than down.

They are still not clear of the dogfight below them, though, and the first half was a reminder of that. Motherwell probably had the better of the play but found themselves behind at half-time through Fraser's header.

Before that, Bair had been a nuisance and Georgie Gent hit a post, while St Mirren rattled the crossbar twice in five seconds - Ryan Strain curled a free-kick off the woodwork and Mikael Mandron's rebound header similarly cannoned back off the frame.

Fraser's effort then gave the visitors the lead, and they kept it at half-time when Zach Hemming denied a Bair effort with his feet.

The second half was shaded by St Mirren, who enjoyed large swathes of pressure on the Motherwell goal as they looked to cement their lead.

Toyosi Olusanya - who had a good effort saved in the first half - saw his strike deflect wide before Keanu Baccus' low shot went inches wide.

The visitors were made to rue that profligacy. Jack Vale launched a high ball to the back post where Stephen O'Donnell nodded across for Bair, who wrestled Fraser and the ball into the back of the net.

Player of the match - Georgie Gent (Motherwell)

Impossible to split two entertaining, if inaccurate, sides - analysis

This was a highly entertaining clash between two equally strong sides. Both played with attacking intent, enjoyed spells of momentum and showed plenty of fight. What they lacked, though, was accuracy in the final third.

Motherwell were shaky in patches of the second half but Liam Kelly, who has not lived up to his billing this season, looked more like the goalkeeper who earned a Scotland cap.

The players who have dragged them up the table - Bair and Spittal - weren't at their best though and the loss of Callum Slattery and Harry Paton was keenly felt in the middle of the park.

St Mirren looked relatively solid, if a little undeserving of their initial lead. However, they showed confidence in the second half and should be frustrated not to leave with all three points.

What they said

Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell: "Probably fair in the end. St Mirren are a team who, if they get their nose in front, are very difficult to play against. I'm pleased at the reaction we got and the quality for the goal, but in general I thought we could have passed the ball better.

"We fashioned a few good opportunities but we can be a lot better than what we were over the 90 minutes."

St Mirren manager Stephen Robinson: "The boys have been fantastic all season and we have to remember that. An away point against Motherwell is a really good result for us.

What's next?

Motherwell travel to Dundee next Saturday while St Mirren host Hearts (both 15:00 BST).