Vigurs off the mark in romp
Iain Vigurs hit his first goal for Motherwell as Stuart McCall started his fourth year in charge of the club in style with a 4-0 win to make it five consecutive Scottish Premiership victories.
Vigurs set up the opener with an incisive cross for John Sutton to head his 10th goal of the season and he followed up Lionel Ainsworth's shot to put the hosts two ahead just after the break.
Ainsworth fired home his fourth goal in as many games from 20 yards and the home fans were treated to a special strike from substitute James McFadden, who curled a right-footed shot into the corner of the net from almost 30 yards to make it 4-0.
Despite the heavy defeat, Saints contributed to an entertaining contest played in torrential rain at Fir Park and, like their hosts, hit the frame of the goal twice.
But Motherwell's victory might have been even more emphatic had Stephen McManus been awarded the early goal he claimed when his shot bounced down off the underside of the bar following Ainsworth's corner.
The home fans celebrated but Alan Mannus grabbed the ball and referee John Beaton waved play on after assistant Tom Murphy kept his flag down.
Mannus soon rescued his side from another Ainsworth corner when he made a flying save from Shaun Hutchinson's effort.
The action-packed start was a sign of things to come and St Johnstone skipper Dave Mackay saw a volley crash off the bar before Gwion Edwards shot just wide with the follow-up.
The breakthrough came in the 21st minute and it owed much to Vigurs' delivery. There appeared little danger when he collected a pass from Steven Hammell midway inside the Saints half but he delivered a perfect cross and Sutton got in front of his man to glance a header home from six yards.
Saints responded strongly. David Wotherspoon had a shot blocked by Dan Twardzik, Edwards had a low cross cleared from the goalmouth and Stevie May forced a save. Motherwell came close to a second when Ainsworth burst through the away defence but Mannus saved the shot and Mackay then acrobatically blocked the rebound from Stuart Carswell.
But Saints finished the half strongly and Hutchinson deflected Wotherspoon's shot just over his crossbar before Scott Brown fired just over in his first start for Saints since joining from Bradford.
Few inside the ground would have expected the game to end 1-0 as they reflected on the first half and Motherwell took less than three minutes to add to the tally after the restart.
The key contribution came from Ainsworth, whose flick took him away from Scobbie and he beat Frazer Wright before taking a shot. The angle was tight but with the pace on the ball and the conditions, Mannus could not hold and Vigurs forced the rebound home from six yards.
Again Saints responded brightly. Motherwell survived a goalmouth scramble when Twardzik pushed May's close-range effort on to the post and Mackay curled a free-kick just wide.
But Motherwell were hungry for more. Vigurs had a shot saved and Sutton bundled the ball wide after brilliant skill from Ainsworth, who soon saw his shot pushed off the post by Mannus after he ran from inside his own half on a counter-attack.
Hutchinson then headed against the post from a Vigurs free-kick but Ainsworth netted in the 73rd minute when he burst away from Murray Davidson on the edge of the box and inside the far corner.
The winger, whose loan deal from Rotherham expires next week, soon missed an easier chance but Saints knew it was not their day when the prolific May volleyed over from 12 yards.
And it got worse for the Perth side when McFadden struck his second goal in succession in the 87th minute, five minutes after coming on.