St. Johnstone started brightly and just a minute into the game, Colin Samuel had a shot inside the box, but it was blocked and cleared by the Motherwell defence. And Saints went close once again seconds later, when a free kick just inside the Motherwell half was headed on inside the box towards goal, with Darren Randolph tipping the ball over for a corner.
But after that it was all Motherwell. Great play down the left by Jamie Murphy resulted in a corner for Stuart McCall’s side and from the resulting corner, they took the lead.
The corner was sent in towards the back post and with Saints keeper Enckleman flapping at the ball, Motherwell captain Stephen Craigan nicked in at the back post to open the scoring after just 4 minutes, as he led by example.
Both Stuart McCall and Derek McInnes were on the edge of their technical area, urging their sides forward.[singlepic id=985 w=320 h=240 float=left]The Saints fans started their grumbles just after ten minutes when defender Steven Anderson punted a long ball up front straight to Well keeper Randolph.
Saints captain Jody Morris who was looking to dominate the midfield was fouled after 12 minutes in the middle of the park. The free kick was headed on towards goal by Danny Grainger, but Randolph comfortably gathered the ball.
Just two minutes later and it was 2-0 to Motherwell. Jamie Murphy picked the ball up after a one-two with John Sutton 30 yard outs and jinked his way through the Saints defence, before firing past Saints keeper Enckleman to double the lead for Stuart McCall’s side.[singlepic id=999 w=320 h=240 float=left]With their side in the ascendancy, Motherwell’s fans dream was decidedly becoming a reality, with the prospect of reaching the Scottish Cup Final for the 10th anniversary of their 1991 Scottish Cup win. However manager Stuart McCall was uring his players to calm down and keep their heads.
Just before 20 minutes, Danny Grainger has a shot on goal, but two Motherwell players dove in front of Grainger to block the goal bound shot. Showing their desire to snuff out any chance for the Perth Saints.
On 22 minutes, St.Johnstone finally had their best chance of the game so far, as Liam Craig fired over from 20 yards out.
There was a strong penalty shout for Motherwell when Steven Anderson brought down Francis Jeffers after 24 minutes, but referee Iain Brines waved play on.
The game was halted for a moment of sheer hilarity, as the far side linesman did a brilliant Mario Balotelli-esque impression, when he got tangled up in streamers that had been thrown onto the pitch from the Motherwell fans.
Motherwell could have extended their lead twice on the half hour mark, first through Keith Lasley who broke free inside the left hand side of the Saints box but his shot fired wide of the goal. And Jamie Murphy, who was causing St. Johnstone all sort of problems, broke through the defence with ease, but he pulled his shot just wide also.
But Motherwell did increase their lead when a brilliant volley from John Sutton caught Enckleman off his line to make it 3-0. It was a great strike from the Motherwell striker, but Enckleman was culpable for being too far off his line.
The Well fans then had time to turn their attentions to former manager Craig Brown with chants of ‘are you watching Craig Brown’, whose Aberdeen side take on Celtic tomorrow in the other Semi Final tie.
The whistle blew for Half Time, but it could have easily been the Full Time whistle for Saints who trudged off the Hampden turf under a chorus of boos from their fans.
At Half Time St.Johnstone brought off the ineffective Colin Samuel for Jordan Robertson.
Minutes into the Second Half and the tie saw its first booking, when a studs up challenge by substitute Robertson on Hammell saw Iain Brines reach into his pocket to show a yellow card.
St.Johnstone then claimed for a penalty minutes later, after they claimed that Keith Lasley had handled the ball back to keeper Randolph, but it was a desperate call as the ball had hit off Lasley’s chest.
Saints began to get into the match more, and great link up play on 55 minutes saw Murray Davidson take aim from 25 yards out only to see his shot tipped over the bar by Randolph.
And Saints fans were calling for another penalty on 75 minutes, when Liam Craig was fouled on the edge of the box, but referee Iain Brines awarded a free kick. Much to the anger of the Saints fans, the free kick was fired well over the bar into an empty east stand.
With the clock ticking down, and seven minutes remaining, the Saints fans were making their way out, as the Motherwell fans were celebrating their team’s progression to the Cup Final.
Two minutes before time, St.Johnstone’s day was summed up well after a head flick on to Liam Craig bounced away from the player and into the hands of Randolph.[singlepic id=992 w=320 h=240 float=left]As the Full Time whistle sounded, Motherwell celebrated their win, while St.Johnstone travel back to Perth in the knowledge that they have now lost eight Semi Finals and will have to wait for another season to reach a Cup Final.
Over the 90 minutes, Motherwell fully deserved the win, while Derek McInnes must now wonder how to solve his side’s attacking ability who have failed to score a goal since the 5th March.
Saints’ Murray Davidson said of the result, “”The players are as disappointed as anyone. We let ourselves down, we let our fans down, our families and friends down – we let everybody down. It was the best chance we’ve had to get to a final.
“This was my first semi-final but the other boys have played when we have been drawn against the Old Firm in semis. We were confident and felt that if we played our best then we would win the game but we didn’t do that. We started the game well, we had the early pressure but from their first attack they scored. It was a cheap goal to give away and from then on we were chasing the game.
“At 3-0 down at half-time it was always going to be hard but we felt that if we got a goal we would have a chance but obviously it didn’t happen. If my header goes in then you never know what could have happened but it wasn’t to be and it was another hard luck story.”
Motherwell captain Stephen Craigan felt the scoreline was kind to his side though.
“We had high expectations coming into the game and there wasn’t much between the team despite the scoreline,” he said. “We played well and set our stall out, scoring early and giving ourselves a platform.”
The attendance at Hampden today was given as 11,920, but I think they had counted every fan twice. Not one section of the ground was full, and another reason why Semi Finals of the competition, should be played at smaller venues.
For Motherwell fans, thoughts will now turn to 1991, when they won the Scottish Cup Final and remember their fallen legends: Davie Cooper, Phil O’Donnell, Jamie Dolan and Phil McGrillen.
Motherwell: Randolph, Hutchison, Hammell, Lasley, Craigan, Hateley, Humphrey, Jennings, Murphy, Jeffers and Sutton.
Subs: Hollis, Ross, McHugh, Jones, Gunning.
St.Johnstone: Enckelman, Mackay, Grainger, Anderson, Dubbery, Morris, Davidson, Craig, Moon, Invincible, Samuel.
Subs: Smith, Maybury, Caddis, Robertson, May.
Referee: Iain Brines
Assistants: Keith Sorbie and Billy Baxter
Fourth Official: Bobby Madden
Attendance: 11,920 [Allegedly]
Match Photos by Vagelis Georgariou