Goalscorers Murphy and Sutton (far right) were lively for the home side
By Andy Campbell
Motherwell consolidated sixth place in the Scottish Premier League after claiming a deserved win over St Mirren at Fir Park.
John Sutton clipped the frame of the visitors' goal with a superbly struck first-half volley.
Jamie Murphy missed an excellent chance to break the deadlock moments before lashing home the opener on 56 minutes.
And Sutton sealed victory with a composed turn and finish against his former club 14 minutes from the end.
With Motherwell interim manager Craig Brown taking charge of the Steelmen for the first time at Fir Park, the home side were looking to bounce back from their midweek Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Inverness.
Sutton and Stephen Craigan could not find the target with headers towards the St Mirren goal early on.
But Sutton faired better in the 19th minute when his rasping volley struck the junction of the post and crossbar on its way out.
Lukas Jutkiewicz sustained a thigh gash after coming into collision with team-mate Sutton and the Motherwell striker was stretchered off to get stitches on the wound, Murphy coming on as his replacement.
A free-kick into the Motherwell box almost created an opening for the Buddies as Chris Innes and then Billy Mehmet headed into the six-yard box but Andy Dorman could not make a clean connection.
Referee Dougie McDonald waved away faint claims for a penalty after Motherwell's Keith Lasley appeared to have his shirt tugged by Innes.
The visitors applied some pressure on the Motherwell goal early in the second half as Steven Robb's cross was headed over by Mehmet.
The influential Lasley then put Murphy through on goal but the substitute dragged his shot wide as Gallacher advanced from his line.
But the 20-year-old soon made amends for that miss with the opening goal.
Craigan's hoisted free-kick into the box was knocked down by Sutton into the path of Murphy, who smashed the ball into the net on the half-volley.
St Mirren responded with Mehmet's arrowed shot towards goal saved by keeper John Ruddy, who claimed the ball at the second attempt as Dorman prepared to pounce.
Murphy continued to menace the St Mirren rearguard and forced Gallacher to tip wide with a fierce drive from the edge of the box.
Motherwell made sure of the win when Lasley beat the offside trap and found Sutton on the edge of the box and the striker turned neatly before placing a shot beyond Gallacher.
St Mirren rallied in an attempt to get back into the game but a shot from Dorman and two headers by Mehmet failed to make a dent in the scoreline.
Motherwell interim manager Craig Brown: "It could have been a better game, but the resilience shown by Motherwell good was very, very good.
"In the past I've noticed that they've been ahead and slipped up and drawn or lost games that they should've won.
"It was important that they learned how to defend a lead. There's no shame in that and I think we did enough to get the three points.
"The substitution worked quite well but we can't take any credit for it because we had to replace a striker with a striker. Jamie Murphy is a very good striker, he has quick feet and he finishes well as we saw.
"Lukas Jutkiewicz got 12 stitches in the upper thigh. It was quite a nasty one. He'll struggle to be fit for the game at Falkirk on Wednesday.
"John Sutton placed his goal very well. It was thoroughly deserved because his attitude is terrific. His wife is expecting twins and he was away at the hospital with her yesterday. There's no better birthday present for these twins than a very good goal at home against St Mirren."
St Mirren manager Gus MacPherson: "I don't think we can have too many complaints. It was very scrappy.
"The difference was that we had the opportunity to put in a good free-kick and didn't do that. Motherwell put a basic free-kick into the box, we don't defend it properly and they take the lead.
"Far too often away from home, we're giving away really poor goals that are making it really difficult for us to get back into games."
Live text and stats
Saturday, 23 January 2010
14 Lasley yellow card
09 Jutkiewicz (Murphy 28)
17 O'Brien (Jennings 84)
27 Forbes (Humphrey 78)
10 Thomson (O'Donnell 72 yellow card)
14 Brady (Higdon 60)
15 Robb yellow card
18 Dargo (Ramsey 72)
Ref: McDonaldAtt: 3,621
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+3:05 The final whistle is blown by the referee.
90:00+0:04 Shot from deep inside the area by Giles Coke clears the crossbar.
87:18 Stephen O'Donnell sends in a cross, Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Billy Mehmet misses to the left of
83:47 Substitution Steve Jennings replaces Jim O'Brien.
83:23 The ball is crossed by Jack Ross, Billy Mehmet takes a shot. Save by John Ruddy.
81:27 Free kick awarded for a foul by Jack Ross on John Sutton. Tom Hateley delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from
left wing, save made by Paul Gallacher.
81:02 Free kick taken by Stevie Hammell.
81:02 Booking Stephen O'Donnell receives a yellow card.
80:49 Free kick awarded for a foul by Stephen O'Donnell on Jim O'Brien.
79:57 Giles Coke concedes a free kick for a foul on Hugh Murray. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Steven Robb, John Sutton
makes a clearance.
78:44 Andy Dorman has a shot on goal from outside the box which misses right.
77:10 Free kick taken by John Ruddy.
77:10 Substitution Chris Humphrey joins the action as a substitute, replacing Ross Forbes.
77:10 Unfair challenge on Jack Ross by Ross Forbes results in a free kick. Free kick crossed by Steven Robb, Foul by Chris Innes
on Mark Reynolds, free kick awarded.
75:47 Assist by Keith Lasley.
75:47 GOAL - John Sutton:Motherwell 2 - 0 St Mirren John Sutton grabs a goal from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Motherwell 2-0 St Mirren.
75:07 The referee penalises Keith Lasley for handball. Jack Ross takes the direct free kick.
73:08 Unfair challenge on Giles Coke by Billy Mehmet results in a free kick. Stevie Hammell restarts play with the free kick.
71:26 Substitution Conor Ramsay joins the action as a substitute, replacing Craig Dargo.
71:26 Substitution Steven Thomson goes off and Stephen O'Donnell comes on.
69:34 Corner taken right-footed by Andy Dorman from the left by-line to the near post, clearance by Tom Hateley.
67:36 Michael Higdon produces a drilled right-footed shot from 30 yards. Save by John Ruddy.
64:56 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Keith Lasley by Steven Thomson. Stephen Craigan takes the free kick.
64:22 Free kick awarded for a foul by Michael Higdon on Stephen Craigan. Stephen Craigan restarts play with the free kick.
63:19 Jamie Murphy takes a shot. Save made by Paul Gallacher. Corner taken by Ross Forbes from the right by-line to the near post,
save made by Paul Gallacher.
62:36 Corner taken right-footed by Andy Dorman from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by Giles Coke.
62:11 Tom Hateley concedes a free kick for a foul on Craig Dargo. Jack Ross takes the direct free kick.
61:30 Giles Coke concedes a free kick for a foul on Paul Gallacher. Direct free kick taken by Paul Gallacher.
60:46 Shot from 20 yards by Billy Mehmet. John Ruddy makes a save.
59:33 Substitution (St Mirren) makes a substitution, with Michael Higdon coming on for Garry Brady.
58:55 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jim O'Brien by Andy Dorman. Stephen Craigan restarts play with the free kick.
57:58 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jim O'Brien by Hugh Murray. Shot comes in from Ross Forbes from the free kick,
save by Paul Gallacher.
55:17 Assist by John Sutton.
55:17 GOAL - Jamie Murphy:Motherwell 1 - 0 St Mirren Jamie Murphy grabs a goal from inside the penalty area to the top left corner of the goal. Motherwell 1-0 St Mirren.
54:39 Stephen Craigan restarts play with the free kick.
54:39 Booking The referee shows Steven Robb a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
54:28 Steven Robb concedes a free kick for a foul on Jamie Murphy.
53:49 Free kick crossed right-footed by Andy Dorman, Giles Coke manages to make a clearance.
53:49 Booking Keith Lasley booked.
53:38 Unfair challenge on Craig Dargo by Keith Lasley results in a free kick.
52:15 The offside flag is raised against Craig Dargo. Stephen Craigan takes the free kick.
51:36 Jamie Murphy has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
49:47 Chris Innes gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jamie Murphy. Free kick taken by Jim O'Brien.
47:04 Steven Robb produces a cross, Billy Mehmet produces a header from inside the area that goes over the bar.
45:30 Effort from deep inside the area by Keith Lasley misses to the left of the target.
45:01 The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.
45:00+3:03 The referee blows for half time.
45:00+2:26 Craig Dargo produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the target.
43:54 Giles Coke takes a shot from a long way out clearing the bar.
42:54 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Ross Forbes, clearance by Billy Mehmet.
40:49 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Ross Forbes played to the near post, clearance made by Jack Ross.
39:50 The referee blows for offside. Indirect free kick taken by Tom Hateley.
38:45 Effort from outside the penalty box by Giles Coke goes wide right of the goal.
35:36 Centre by Craig Dargo, save made by John Ruddy.
34:21 Steven Thomson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jamie Murphy. Stevie Hammell takes the free kick.
32:45 The assistant referee flags for offside against Billy Mehmet. Indirect free kick taken by Stephen Craigan.
32:26 John Sutton is ruled offside. Paul Gallacher takes the free kick.
31:46 Steven Robb gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jim O'Brien. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Ross
Forbes from right wing, save made by Paul Gallacher.
30:49 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Hugh Murray by Jamie Murphy. Jack Ross restarts play with the free kick.
29:37 Jack Ross challenges Giles Coke unfairly and gives away a free kick. Stevie Hammell takes the free kick.
27:45 Substitution Jamie Murphy comes on in place of Lukas Jutkiewicz.
24:00 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jim O'Brien by Billy Mehmet. Direct free kick taken by Jim O'Brien.
20:55 Unfair challenge on Hugh Murray by Ross Forbes results in a free kick. Paul Gallacher restarts play with the free kick.
20:09 Effort on goal by John Sutton from just outside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the target.
18:54 Shot from deep inside the area by Hugh Murray clears the crossbar.
18:21 Jim O'Brien challenges Steven Robb unfairly and gives away a free kick. Paul Gallacher takes the direct free kick.
17:36 Effort from 25 yards by John Sutton.
16:31 Craig Dargo is flagged offside by the assistant referee. John Ruddy takes the free kick.
15:26 The official flags Lukas Jutkiewicz offside. Indirect free kick taken by Paul Gallacher.
14:59 Billy Mehmet challenges Giles Coke unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Stevie Hammell.
12:46 The official flags Lukas Jutkiewicz offside. Indirect free kick taken by Paul Gallacher.
12:18 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Stephen Craigan by Billy Mehmet. Direct free kick taken by Stephen Craigan.
11:52 The ball is crossed by Giles Coke, Headed effort on goal by Lukas Jutkiewicz from inside the penalty box misses to the right
of the target.
9:50 Giles Coke challenges Hugh Murray unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Paul Gallacher.
8:04 John Sutton challenges Chris Innes unfairly and gives away a free kick. Paul Gallacher takes the free kick.
5:59 Billy Mehmet gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Mark Reynolds. Free kick taken by Mark Reynolds.
5:09 Corner taken by Ross Forbes from the right by-line, Stephen Craigan has a headed effort at goal from close range which goes
wide of the left-hand post.
3:41 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Ross Forbes played to the near post, Billy Mehmet makes a clearance.
2:54 Close range shot by Lukas Jutkiewicz goes over the bar.
2:21 Free kick awarded for a foul by Andy Dorman on Jim O'Brien. Direct free kick taken by Jim O'Brien.
0:00 The match has kicked off.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
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