SPL

Mika Biereth caps Motherwell comeback to deny Craig Levein debut win

By Sports Desk November 07, 2023

Motherwell battled back from two goals down to draw 2-2 and deny Craig Levein a winning start with St Johnstone in the cinch Premiership.

First-half goals from Nicky Clark and Andrew Considine at McDiarmid Park had the hosts on course for a second straight league success, but two goals in the space of six minutes levelled matters.

Shane Blaney headed in with 22 minutes left and then Mika Biereth turned home to complete the comeback.

Both teams sides would spurn opportunities in the final minutes, meaning they both remain in a struggle at the foot of the league table.

St Johnstone stay bottom, though have reduced the gap between themselves and Livingston in 11th to two points, while Motherwell have jumped one place to eighth – one point ahead of Hibernian having played a game more.

Levein made one change for his first game in charge, Daniel Phillips replacing the suspended Dara Costelloe.

Well, who had lost six of their last seven Premiership encounters, started Stephen O’Donnell and Callum Slattery with Paul McGinn missing out due to a facial injury and Theo Bair dropping to the bench. Despite both sustaining suspected broken noses at the weekend, both Calum Butcher and Brodie Spencer were deemed fit to start.

Motherwell had the ball in the net with the first opportunity of the match, Conor Wilkinson taking advantage of confusion between Considine and Dimitar Mitov, although the striker’s joy would be short-lived after he was adjudged to have handled before flicking the ball past the home keeper.

Graham Carey had a strike from distance deflected wide before the hosts took the lead from from the resulting corner.

Matt Smith picked out Clark, who made no mistake in heading beyond Liam Kelly from close range with 17 minutes on the clock.

A crucial intervention from Spencer spared the blushes of Blaney, the Irish defender caught in possession and Chris Kane looked likely to take full advantage until denied by a last-ditch tackle.

It would not be long before the second goal arrived as Carey’s 27th-minute corner eventually dropped at the feet of Considine who blasted home.

The visitors were in desperate need of a response and they almost got a goal back when Slattery connected with Blair Spittal’s corner but Luke Robinson cleared off the line.

Bair replaced Spencer at half-time and was involved in a neat passing move that almost led to Biereth turning in Spittal’s cross at the back post shortly after the restart.

The substitute was the architect again with 23 minutes remaining, almost picking out Wilkinson after a bursting run forward.

Motherwell reduced the deficit a minute later after Blaney found the net following a good header across the face of goal by Wilkinson.

The goal appeared to inject renewed life into Kettlewell’s side and Casey’s header from Spittal’s corner drifted agonisingly past the post, just before they grabbed an equaliser on 74 minutes.

A sweeping attack ended with an excellent cross from Georgie Gent that was steered beyond Mitov by Biereth.

Kelly had to be alert to tip over Smith’s acrobatic effort with minutes left on the clock, while at the other end Spittal worked the Saints keeper with a low drive.

Stevie May really should have grabbed a dramatic winner in the first minute of added time, but his front-post header sailed off target.

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