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Steven Hammell wants Motherwell to hit ground running after World Cup break

Motherwell manager Steven Hammell (Steve Walsh/PA)
Motherwell manager Steven Hammell (Steve Walsh/PA)

Steven Hammell is hopeful Motherwell can “gather momentum” following the World Cup break after heading into it on a positive note with a 1-1 draw at St Johnstone.

The Fir Park side bounced back from Drey Wright’s 26th-minute opener to level with Blair Spittal’s deflected free-kick in first-half stoppage-time.

Both sides pushed for a winner in a scrappy second half but were content to settle for a point apiece ahead of the Premiership’s five-week hiatus.

Hammell was appointed Motherwell manager in August, after the start of the league campaign, and admits the lay-off will be good for both him and his injury-hit squad before they return with back-to-back home games against St Mirren and Kilmarnock.

Despite succumbing to six defeats from their past eight matches, the Steelmen are still just four points adrift of the top six and six behind Livingston in fourth.

Hammell said: “It’s a pretty similar starting XI or squad of 12, 13, 14 players we’re asking to go again and again and again.

“So it’s good for them to recharge and get away and refresh and come back in good condition and ready to go again.

“We’ve got some fixtures after the World Cup that we really want to be positive with and approach in a really positive manner.

“It’s been a tough run of fixtures and results, but the season’s going to be like that.

“It’s about getting through those spells, which we knew were going to come when we took the job. We knew it wasn’t always going to be perfect and we would go through difficult moments.

“I feel we should have more points than we have, but it’s still there for us. We’ll be looking to gather momentum after the break.”

Motherwell began confidently on a slick McDiarmid Park pitch but, despite zipping passes around, failed to trouble the St Johnstone defence beyond a deflected Kevin van Veen shot.

The home side gradually grew into the game and carved out a well-worked opener 25 minutes in.

Graham Carey found Adam Montgomery with a switch of play and the wing-back in turn fed David Wotherspoon in the box.
When the midfielder found space for a shot, Liam Kelly’s parry was knocked into an unguarded net by the lurking Wright.

Stevie May lobbed a slack Callum Slattery header over and Nicky Clark nodded wide from a corner as Saints sought a second.

But it was Motherwell who struck next with the equaliser seconds before the break.

Sean Goss won a free-kick on the left edge of the box and Spittal’s dead-ball effort took a wicked deflection off the wall to deceive Remi Matthews.

Both sides sought a second after the interval, but Spittal volleyed harmlessly wide and a Melker Hallberg shot took two deflections on its way wide for Saints.

The Perth outfit stretched their unbeaten run to five games with the draw and are just four points away from Aberdeen in third.

Manager Callum Davidson said: “It was a difficult game and a difficult surface, but I think both teams went out trying to win the game, so we’ll take a point and move on.”