SCOTT McDONALD, the Motherwell forward, blasted individual errors for costing the Lanarkshire club a precious point in Stephen Robinson’s first game in charge.
The Fir Park side helped gift St Johnstone two goals in this 2-1 defeat while passing up golden opportunities at the other end to usher in the Northern Irishman’s era on a positive note. Slack marking and allowing the Perth side too much time undoubtedly played its part in their downfall at the back for both goals. At the other end, McDonald missed a glaring chance at 1-0 before Ryan Bowman and Louis Moult missed opportunities in the second half.
The Australian held his hands up for that sitter before the break, but he was also blunt on the mistakes which continue to leave Motherwell in a perilous position in 10th place.
“Well, you know why you came away with nothing because you didn’t take your chances, it’s as simple as that,” said McDonald. “You get punished when you don’t do that and far too many times, I’m being honest, there are too many individual errors. Every week we talk about it, but we have to cut them out.
“We don’t get given goals at the other end but we still manage to make silly errors and put ourselves in silly positions. We need to cut that out, it’s as simple as that. At the other end, we had enough chances, particularly in the first half to put them to the sword. Including me, I’ll put my hand up.
“Collectively we need to do better at both ends. That’s what wins you games and at the end of the day St Johnstone continue to do that and that is why they are where they are.”
While McDonald grabbed Motherwell’s leveller in the 42nd minute, his glaring miss just moments before will be hard for the experienced forward to shake off. After taking the ball around St Johnstone goalkeeper Zander Clark, he somehow put the ball beyond the goal from just five yards out.
“I don’t know how I missed that,” he said. “I think the goalie probably made contact at the right time but I should still score. There’s no question, I was just thankful I could put it right almost immediately. You need to put it to bed or you keep thinking about it.
“Going in at 1-1 you are confident you can kick on. But against St Johnstone you always know they are in the game.
“They have mugged us quite a few times over the last couple of years. It’s a sore one again. But they are a really good unit and know exactly what they are doing. That’s why they are so successful.”
Motherwell now have two weeks to stew on what could have been before they face a trip to a venue that has offered little reward for their hearty endeavours. On both visits to Ibrox this season the Lanarkshire club have taken the lead only to lose 2-1 after losing a goal in the dying moments.
McDonald is confident Motherwell can still turn things around and pull away from trouble, but he knows how important a change in fortunes against Rangers could be in that pursuit.
He said: “It’s happened twice, at Celtic Park, here as well. This is the thing that keeps costing us.
“We need to make sure we are solid for 90+ minutes and that’s everyone. You can’t switch off, you need to concentrate all the time. Be aggressive and positive.
“If you fear the worst, the worst happens, so you have to go out there with a positive mind frame. Hopefully we can have that at Ibrox.”
As McDonald and Co go back to the drawing board over the international break, St Johnstone can bask in the familiar glow that all is right int he world.
This was Tommy Wright's side's 12th win of this Premiership campaign, but one which acted as a marker of just where this current group of players are both in the landscape of Scottish football and the Perth institution's long history. Yet another top-six finish now looks to be in the bag in what has been a stunning sustained period of prosperity under their Northern Irish manager, and their elevation above Hearts into fourth place may well offer up a European place if they stay there and the Scottish Cup finds its way to either Parkhead or Ibrox. You also wouldn't bet against them climbing even higher.
It was also a day of personal pride for Liam Craig, the man who got both goals for his team, as the brace now takes him to within two goals of Paul Wright's top-flight scoring record of 39 strikes in the modern era.
"I knew I was close and Steven MacLean is one goal behind me," he said. "He's not mentioned the record to me but he won't be long in mentioning it the next time we get a penalty!
"It's great that we are playing our part in the club's history. The boys did that a couple of years ago winning the Scottish Cup and year in year out getting into Europe. At the end of your career you will look back on what you have done and hopefully we have European football to look forward to again at the end of the season."
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