Football: Inglis strikes in vain

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The Independent Online
Motherwell. . . .0

St Johnstone. . .1

Inglis, 70

Attendance: 7,498

AFTER four seasons in the Premier Division, St Johnstone started this game staring into the abyss down to the First Division. They did all they could on this visit to Fir Park for their last game - they won by the only goal - but their fate was not in their own hands. Events elsewhere, especially at Easter Road where Kilmarnock drew against Hibernian, were to decide the Perth club's fate.

A blustery wind was no help, but the omens looked bright for the visitors as early as the second minute, when superb control by Steve Maskrey left Rob McKinnon looking foolish, but the Motherwell defence recovered to clear the danger.

They also began to surge towards Andy Rhodes in the visitors' goal. He responded with a series of remarkable saves in a 10-minute spell - remarkable because he knew little about Steve Kirk's header and shot as they came off his body. But his brave advance to block Dougie Arnott's shot was

premeditated.

The Motherwell goalkeeper, Sieb Dykstra, added to the gaiety by messing up a clearance when challenged by Ian Ferguson, but he had recovered his composure minutes later to deal calmly with Phil Scott's header after John Philliben badly misjudged a long clearance.

An indication that it still could be Saints' day came within minutes of the restart, when Scott's perfectly floated through ball left Billy Dodds with only the keeper to beat. But the little striker's hasty shot rebounded harmlessly from Dykstra's body.

In the 71st minute Colin Miller's free-kick was allowed to float across the Motherwell penalty box, tempting Dykstra into a hopeless dash and futile flap at the cross. It reached Ferguson, who nodded it into the path of John Inglis, and the defender stuck it firmly into the net from 12 yards.

So it is back to the First Division, whence they came four seasons ago, for St Johnstone. For Motherwell, who finished third, Europe beckons. While the might of Milan and such places might not quake at the thought of visiting Lanarkshire, their manager, Tommy McLean, has put together a side made up of artisans who will equip themselves well. With a dash of class, as can be applied by the likes of Phil O'Donnell - absent yesterday - who knows?

After all, three decades ago the great Hungarian Ferenc Puskas was entranced by a teenage winger who played for Kilmarnock against Real Madrid in the European Cup. His name was Tommy McLean . . .

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