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Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell spoke of his faith in keeper Liam Kelly after he denied St Mirren’s Mark O’Hara from the spot in the 0-0 draw in Paisley.

It is a result that leaves Motherwell second bottom of the table and without a win in 14 games. The Fir Park side should and could have won the game in the latter stages with four solid one-on-one chances while Kettlewell also felt they should have had penalty of their own.

The game turned on Kelly’s save five minutes after the break when he dived to his right to parry an uncharacteristically weak effort from Saints skipper O’Hara, a stop that went some way to atoning for last weekend’s indiscretion against St Johnstone that gave Craig Levein’s side a point.

“I never had a doubt about Liam,” insisted Kettlewell.

“You get asked questions when goalies make one or two mistakes in this knee-jerk world and it’s as if there should be wholesale changes.

“I believe Liam is one of the top goalkeepers in the country and importantly, I think he does too.

“I never had a doubt about Liam and nobody at the club has ever questioned him.

“But he has answered one or two critics who have been looming about in the last few weeks.”

He also felt that his side could have come away with more than just a point. They haven’t won since September 3rd and are now level on points with an Aberdeen side who have three games in hand.
“There’s a not a great deal that needs to be ripped up and changed from today’s performance. But what we have to do is be more clinical.

“If we were sitting in there celebrating a point and patting ourselves on the back after a goalless draw, on the back of the chances we had, we’d be kidding ourselves on.

“That should have been three points for us.

“But, moving forward, with that level of defensive performance we will have the platform to go and try to build on it.

“We by far had the best chances in the game,” he insisted. “Liam Kelly makes the save from the penalty and from Thierry Small but apart from that, the clear-cut chances were ours.

“When certain guys are landing in those positions – Blair Spittal, Callum Slattery, Mika Biereth, Theo Bair – I’m thinking we have the right players in position to convert them.”

Saints boss Stephen Robinson was the happier of the two managers. His side continue to punch above their weight in terms of their league position – they are in fourth – and he was in no way pointing any fingers at O’Hara for the penalty miss.

“There’s no criticism of Mark because anyone can miss a penalty and he’s brave enough to step up and take them,” he said.

“The wind even affected the rebound, bringing it back to him so quickly he couldn’t react to it. We had other chances to win the game and they had two good chances as well, which Zach Hemming saved well.

“The wind played a huge part in the game so credit to both teams for creating chances through good play.

“Overall, the outcome was probably fair and it’s 100% a point gained for us because every point for St Mirren is one gained.

“We had three great opportunities to win it. Greg Kiltie’s chance – when he slipped in the first half – with his talent, we expected him to hit the net, Mark misses a penalty and Liam Kelly has a great save from Thierry Small.”

Saints could leapfrog Steven Naismith’s side with a win at Tynecastle next weekend.

“This group of players have raised expectations to ridiculous levels, much higher than they should be and that’s credit to them,” said Robinson.

“Listen, we’re sitting fourth the week before Christmas, which a lot of people would’ve been happy with at the start of the season.

“Next weekend it’ll be third v fourth when we play Hearts and I love going to Tynecastle. As a management team, we have a good record there so we’re looking forward to it and we’ll go there with a lot of confidence.”

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