COPY and paste the deluge of analysis from last week’s league clash and you’d have the sum of yesterday’s rematch in the Betfred Cup. At least there was a winner this time, St Johnstone fighting back from a goal down to secure their place in the quarter-finals. 

It was a game without excitement until an explosive second-half spell but still the visitors had Michael O’Halloran’s energy and David Wotherspoon’s poise to thank for bringing some sparkle to Motherwell, a town devoid of its Christmas displays this year. 

The pair combined to scramble home a late winner - Tony Watt had opened the scoring and Callum Hendry levelled - and both were involved in the best of what the contest had to offer. 

“The character shown by the players was absolutely terrific,” said Saints boss Callum Davidson. “I don’t normally single players out, but Michael dragged us back into the game with his heart more than anything else.

“For me, that was really pleasing to see. A lot of times this season we have played well and lost 1-0.

Glasgow Times: Michael O'Halloran excelled for the visitors Michael O'Halloran excelled for the visitors

“It gives them that little belief they are doing the right thing and I am pleased for Callum Hendry. Maybe at the start of the season the ball wouldn’t have dropped but he tucked it away.”

Seven days on from a timid McDairmird Park affair there was still no Allan Campbell for the hosts while Davidson again had to make do without his namesake Murray or Craig Conway. 

Yet, the Saints were the ones who showed much of the early promise, so often borne out of the influential Wotherspoon drifting into pockets of space and he was the first to have a go. A lovely combination with Hendry created a gap, which he devilish darted in to before arrowing just wide. 

For all of Wotherspoons’ promise, it seemed his opposite number was determined to prove anything the Canadian could do he could do better. Time and time again O’Halloran lit the afterburners and stormed towards the Motherwell box. But, for every charge full of gusto, he lost his footing at the crucial moment. 

O’Halloran’s display was the game in a nutshell: too often attacks broke down at the last and when he finally found his stride the Saints stumbled onto theirs. 

The hosts could point to Declan Gallagher’s headed effort or a fine combination between Watt and Callum Lang - which ended with a tame attempt - for their own first-half encouragement but their moments of promise were fleeting.

For the Saints, they could rightly feel the most aggrieved at not opening the scoring before the break when they carved out the period’s best chance. On this occasion, their new starlet Ali McCann couldn’t provide the finish Stevie May’s inventive flick deserved. 

By now both Stephen Robinson and Davidson know what to expect, given they seem to be stuck in their own form of purgatory, forced to play one another until they’ve paid off their debts. What neither expected was a helter-skelter 20-minute period which sparked the contest into life. 

It was Motherwell who opened the scoring, fending off a couple of St Johnstone raids to take the lead just after the hour mark when Watt caressed a free kick into his path, slivered beyond the Saints’ grasp, and stroked the ball calmly into Zander Clark’s net. 

Unperturbed, St Johnstone continued to furrow their way upfield and eventually the eagerness of O’Halloran, May, and Hendry told. It was a weird goal all the same, as Aaron Chapman prodded an innocuous cut back into Hendry’s path, which the striker obligingly stroked home.

The Saints’ tails were up and it was that man Wotherspoon who soon had the telling touch. 

O’Halloran once again led the charge and his rocket across the goal was dutifully tapped home by his teammate to secure some much-deserved atonement for St Johnstone. 

“We got what we deserved and throughout they were stronger than us,” said Stephen Robinson. “They looked hungrier which is something I don’t often say about my teams.

Glasgow Times: Motherwell again had to do without Allan Campbell Motherwell again had to do without Allan Campbell

“We looked fluffy and we didn’t look as hungry as them. We have lots of good players in the team, potentially good players, but they just lacked the wee bit of determination.

“I said to them: do we miss Allan [Campbell] that badly? I will answer that myself. Yes we do. I singled out four players who I thought did very well but the rest were miles away.