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Devante Cole hits the post as Motherwell draw with St Mirren

Celtic v Motherwell – Scottish Premiership – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Motherwell were denied by the post as they delivered a much-improved performance in a goalless clash with St Mirren in Paisley.

Devante Cole saw his flick hit the inside of the post as Motherwell pushed for a winner in the final half hour.

Graham Alexander’s side moved five points off the Scottish Premiership bottom two with a far more competitive performance after conceding seven goals in their previous two matches.

Jon Obika threatened for St Mirren after an uneventful first half but Motherwell edged the pressure.

The draw puts St Mirren two points ahead of Dundee United in the race for a top-six spot.

Motherwell had Stephen O’Donnell back from suspension and Allan Campbell shook off an illness, while Steven Lawless returned to the bench as their absentee list fell to 12 following Saturday’s 3-0 defeat by St Johnstone. Jordan Roberts was handed a start in their three-pronged forward line.

St Mirren sprung a surprise by bringing Jamie McGrath and Jake Doyle-Hayes back from injury.

Motherwell only had one shot at goal in a one-sided game against the Perth Saints and they quickly produced the intensity and commitment manager Alexander demanded in response.

Motherwell’s pressing gave them several chances to shoot from distance with Barry Maguire coming closest in the first half.

Goalmouth action remained scarce though with St Mirren in particular struggling to get into forward areas. Goalkeeper Jak Alnwick appeared to take matters into his own hands by shooting from a free-kick inside his own half. The ball trundled well wide.

Motherwell skipper Tony Watt stayed on his feet as he rode Conor McCarthy’s clumsy penalty-box challenge but his cutback split two team-mates.

Alexander was booked for a comment made following one of several decisions by referee Kevin Clancy that mystified both benches.

St Mirren got the first effort on target near half-time but Liam Kelly easily held Joe Shaughnessy’s header from 18 yards.

The hosts took less than 60 seconds of the second half to eclipse any first-half action as Ilkay Durmus got down the outside and delivered a low cross which Obika swept towards the bottom corner. Kelly got down well to stop.

Campbell had a couple of strikes off target before Cole created a chance for himself when he beat McCarthy for pace. The Saints defender again put in a risky penalty-box challenge before Cole got up and saw his shot saved by Alnwick.

The keeper again denied Cole after some hesitant defending and Motherwell continued to push forward with some off-target long-range strikes before they came closest to scoring with 15 minutes left.

Cole got the slightest of flicks on to Roberts’ deflected, inswinging corner and the ball bounced off the inside of the post and into Alnwick’s arms.

A heavy downpour made the final stages more challenging and St Mirren produced some pressure of their own with substitute Kyle McAllister seeing a shot diverted over.

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