IF there is one thing to take from Stephen Robinson’s tenure as Motherwell manager after just three games, it’s watching his team will leave you with more late cliff-hangers than a River City script writer.

Already the Northern Irishman’s men through one way or another have brought a hat-trick of matches to a close with those in the stands cowering behind their claret and amber scarves. During his first game in temporary charge a last-minute Kris Boyd penalty miss cannoned off the post to gift Motherwell three precious points while at Aberdeen last week, Niall McGinn struck deep into injury time with the only goal of a heart-wrenching game.

Here in his first game since been named permanent manager during the week, Robinson and the majority inside Fir Park were put through the emotional mincer in the dying seconds as his team desperately fought for a late equaliser when 2-1 down. They thought that golden goal had arrived in deep into time added on as Ryan Bowman rose to head over Alan Mannus. The keeper somehow got the faintest of touches to tip the ball on to the far post before the whole of Fir Park held its breath as it trickled along the line off the other post and back out.

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Only the shrill of the full-time whistle broke the audible gasps of disbelief moments later.

“I don’t think I can ask a lot more in terms of desire and commitment,” said Robinson, who also lost defender Zak Jules late on with a concussion. “We’d two penalty claims and one of them – on Chris Cadden – was an incredible decision that it wasn’t a penalty. It was a stonewall decision for me.

“If we show that quality and intensity we’ll be okay.”

This was a game Motherwell may well wonder how it slipped away as they remain 10th in the table. Well, the reasons are three-fold really. Lack of luck, lack of ruthlessness in attack and a lack of composure in defence.

As well as that late header, the home side had two solid penalty claims waved away. Firstly when Brian Easton appeared to haul Scott McDonald to the ground, before Paul Paton’s check on Chris Cadden sent the 20-year-old sprawling on the deck. That second claim came just one minute before Scott McDonald was involved in another jaw-dropping moment on 41 minutes. A Louis Moult flicked header sent him through and around first-half goalie Zander Clark only to somehow miss an open goal from around five yards.

He would amend for that mistake by turning a poorly-cleared Craig Clay shot into the net 60 seconds later as a panicked St Johnstone defence failed to clear, but it only added to the what-could-have-been vibe that drifted over the supporters as they left the ground.

As has been common place this season, bad mistakes at the back cost Motherwell again. For the first goal on eight minutes, Graeme Cummins was allowed to drift wide and float a perfect ball in for the unmarked Liam Craig to head in from six yards. The match-winner on 66 minutes wasn’t much better, a Steven McLean cross wasn’t dealt with by young full-back David Ferguson, as his header only set up a free Craig to lash the ball across goal and beyond Craig Samson to send St Johnstone into fourth place.

“They threw the kitchen sink at us for the last four minutes and we had to hang on but it’s an incredible save from Alan to tip it onto the post and that got us the three points,” said Wright, who was forced to take off goalie Clark at half-time through injury. “This is another great away win and that all but secures top six, which is an incredible achievement for this club.”