Craig Levein sees promising signs even as St Johnstone let lead slip

The Perth side were 2-0 up against Motherwell but drew 2-2.

New St Johnstone boss Craig Levein feels there is plenty of room for optimism despite the disappointment of seeing his side squander a two-goal lead against Motherwell.

Goals from Nicky Clark and Andy Considine had Saints in control at McDiarmid Park, though they would have to settle for a share of the spoils after conceding twice in the space of six second-half minutes.

It means Levein’s side remain bottom of the cinch Premiership table, though have moved within two points of Livingston in 11th.

“It’s obvious disappointment to be two-zero in front, have a fairly firm grip on the match – no manager would sit here and say he’s pleased with losing two goals in the second half,” he said.

“There were a lot of good things that I saw, we played some good football, created chances, scored two goals, and it was always the case that Motherwell would come into the game at some point, we just got spooked by it.

“The pleasing thing for me was at two each we started to grow again and we might have won it at the death. I’m disappointed, but not bitterly disappointed.”

Levein returned to the dugout for a Premiership match for the first time since October 2019, having taken up the managerial reins at Saints on Sunday.

It was the second time he has seen his new team in action and although he admitted to not enjoying being back in the dugout, the former Hearts and Dundee United boss believes he can help guide his new club to safety.

“I don’t know if it’s ever enjoyment, it’s just in the blood and a craving for torture,” he added.

“That’s two games I’ve watched, the Kilmarnock game and this game.

“There’s things that we can do better defensively for sure, the midfield looks pretty promising and we’ve got three good strikers as well.

“If I can keep everybody fit and keep working on the way we want to play then things will improve.”

Stuart Kettlewell praised the fighting spirting of his Motherwell side, though he insists it is time they stop giving themselves a mountain to climb.

Shane Blaney headed in with 22 minutes left before Mika Biereth turned home to complete the comeback for the Steelmen, who were booed off by the travelling fans at half-time.

“Disappointment is probably an understatement, it was sheer anger at half-time – it was anger from the players but especially myself and the staff,” Kettlewell said.

“We let ourselves down with two corners into our box, we don’t defend them properly.

“I think the players dragged themselves in by making better decisions and being much better on the front foot.

“I have to commend the players, I could sit here and continually be negative because it’s not what I want – I didn’t want to come here and get a point, I wanted to come and try to get three, as did the players and the supporters.

“I think in terms of the chances we created, I think we certainly at least deserved to get out of here with a point but I hate being in that position where you are fighting against the tide and having to show that much character to try drag ourselves back into the game.”

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