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Page last updated at 21:36 GMT, Thursday, 19 February 2009

St Mirren 1-0 Motherwell

By Martin Conaghan

Billy Mehmet celebrates his winner
Mehmet celebrates his winner for St Mirren, his 10th goal of the season

St Mirren progressed to the last eight of the Homecoming Scottish Cup with a narrow victory over Motherwell.

Billy Mehmet scored the only goal of the match five minutes from time after good work from substitute Craig Dargo.

Mehmet and Dargo had earlier spurned two golden chances in the second half when they both headed wide of the mark.

Stephen Hughes and Paul Quinn failed to capitalise on Motherwell's best chances, and the Saints held out to face Celtic in the quarter-finals.

It was a full 11 minutes before the first chance of the match emerged when St Mirren's David Barron flighted in a cross from wide on the left, but Steven Thomson conceded a free-kick trying to leap for the ball at the back post.

With 15 minutes played, the home side then won the first corner of the tie and Garry Brady did well to pick out Hugh Murray in the box, but he headed it wide.

Murray then fired in a shot from 25 yards but, once again, he blasted it over the crossbar.

Just after the half-hour mark, on-loan striker Cillian Sheridan fired in a close-range a shot, but St Mirren defender Scott Cuthbert blocked the danger.

As the half-time whistle approached, Motherwell defender Marc Fitzpatrick blasted in an effort from just inside the penalty area that drifted harmlessly over the target.

Shortly after the break, Dennis Wyness broke free inside the Motherwell penalty area and looked set to strike for goal, only to be thwarted by defender Mark Reynolds.

With nine minutes played of the second half James O'Brien worked the ball down the right-hand side of the St Mirren penalty area and opted for a shot that sailed wide of the target.

Jack Ross replied at the other end and forced Graeme Smith to punch clear with a 20-yard rocket shot from the edge of the box.

On the hour mark, Quinn fired in a half-chance for Motherwell, but the Saints keeper Chris Smith made the save.

Less than five minutes later, Andy Dorman set up Mehmet on the Motherwell six yard line, but the former Dunfermline man contrived to send his close-range effort wide of the post.

Hughes produced a left-footed shot from just outside the Saint Mirren box in the 77th minute that went harmlessly over the bar, then Dargo stooped to head another fine chance wide of the post.

With eight minutes to play, Stephen Hughes came close with a shot from 18 yards, but watched it edge over the bar.

Gus MacPherson's side finally made the breakthrough in the 85th minute when substitute Dargo worked the ball inside the Motherwell penalty area and released Mehmet to slide the ball under Smith to take the lead.

Motherwell pressed hard to take the match into extra-time, but the Buddies held out for a place in the last eight against Celtic at St Mirren Park on 7 March.

St Mirren manager Gus MacPherson:
"We're delighted. I think you could see how evenly matched the teams are. Motherwell had a couple of chances, we had a couple of chances as well. It was always going to be a close game.

"Both teams were trying to pass the ball. It's a very fast pitch. If you make a mistake with a pass, it's exaggerated because of the surface.

"We stuck at it and in the second half we were trying to push forward and get bodies into the box. We deserved to win it.

"We said at half-time that we knew we could play better. We had to push up more, strikers had to retain possession better to allow us to get up the park. That was maybe the problem in the first half.

"We felt we were in better control of it in the second half. We got a grip of it. We had a better tightness about us, we were more compact, we passed the ball better. We all raised our game by another 10%."

Motherwell manager Mark McGhee:
"I thought we were poor. Most of them tried hard enough but not a lot was right for us tonight. We had no real fluency about our play.

"I thought Cillian Sheridan was our best player and we have no right to ask that of him. He is a player on loan and I thought he was terrific, but the rest didn't do enough to support that.

"They didn't make any more chances than we did. I don't think we deserved anything out the game. We just didn't play well.

"We needed our big players - the likes of David Clarkson, and he didn't play well. I'm disappointed in David and I'm disappointed with the back four conceding the goal that we did.

"We are all complicit. We all share the responsibility. It was poor and we got what we deserved."

St Mirren: Smith, Ross, Cuthbert, Potter, Barron, Murray, Dorman, Brady, Thomson, Mehmet, Wyness (Dargo 70).
Subs Not Used: Howard, Hamilton, McGinn, Haining.

Booked: Cuthbert, Barron, Murray.

Goals: Mehmet 85.

Motherwell: Graeme Smith, Quinn, Craigan, Reynolds, Hammell, Klimpl, O'Brien, Hughes, Fitzpatrick (Darren Smith 79), Sheridan (Sutton 82), Clarkson.
Subs Not Used: Krysiak, Lasley, Murphy.

Booked: Craigan.

Attendance: 4,555

Referee: Craig Thompson

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Motherwell's Cillian Sheridan 9.33 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Scottish Cup - as it happened
19 Feb 09 |  Scottish Cups
Motherwell 1-1 St Mirren
07 Feb 09 |  Scottish Cups

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