McHugh to rescue for Motherwell

PA Sport
Bob McHugh levelled for Motherwell late on
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Bob McHugh levelled for Motherwell late on

Bob McHugh earned Motherwell an unlikely Clydesdale Bank Premier League point against St Johnstone after Stevie Hammell had been sent off in a 1-1 draw at Fir Park.

Murray Davidson headed Saints ahead in the 58th minute, moments after Darren Randolph had saved Dave Mackay's penalty when Hammell was penalised for Chris Millar going down. Saints looked like securing the win against a home side looking tired from their Champions League trip to Athens and with three young substitutes on the park.

But one of those, McHugh, levelled in the 78th minute and referee Iain Brines soon evened up the teams when Rowan Vine was sent off on his first start for a second bookable foul on Shaun Hutchinson.

Motherwell pushed for a winner and only some excellent stops from goalkeeper Alan Mannus and some desperate defending prevented them getting one.

Only 4,490 fans, including 292 Saints supporters, turned out at Fir Park for the game on Sell Out Saturday, a campaign aimed at filling out SPL grounds, but they were rewarded with an incident-packed second half after a tight first period.

Randolph survived an early scare when he left Callum Davidson's sliced cross and it bounced off the top of bar. The Motherwell goalkeeper fumbled it as it fell down but Hutchinson cleared. The hosts' best first-half chances came on the break. Henrik Ojamaa burst forward and fired in a 22-yard shot that Mannus pushed wide.

McHugh replaced Omar Daley at half-time and his side soon survived a penalty appeal when Nigel Hasselbaink fell after he got in front of Hutchinson.

Motherwell then put themselves under pressure as they missed two chances to clear the ball on the edge of the box and Liam Craig lobbed the ball over the top for Millar to run on to. The midfielder got ahead of Hammell and fell under pressure. The claim seemed weaker than Hasselbaink's but Brines pointed to the spot and showed Hammell a straight red card.

Mackay took the penalty low to Randolph's right but the Irishman dived to push the shot away with one hand. Motherwell did not take advantage of the reprieve though, and Davidson ran to meet Craig's corner unchallenged and head inside the near post a minute later.

Hasselbaink and Craig shot just wide from the edge of the box as Saints looked like wrapping up the points. But another positive burst from Law allowed the midfielder to square the ball for the unmarked McHugh to finish from 12 yards. The teams were evened up two minutes later when Vine caught Hutchinson late.

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