St Mirren secured their first win of 2011 thanks to substitute Michael Higdon's fortunate late goal.
The Buddies left started well and forced 'well keeper Darren Randolph before Motherwell midfielder Keith Lasley had his claim for a penalty turned down.
St Mirren could have had a penalty of their own on 13 minutes when McGowan went down under Lasley's rather clumsy attentions.McGowan angrily chased referee Steve Conroy after the ball rolled out of play for a goal kick, but none of his team-mates appeared to share his sense of injustice.
It was the visitors who went in at half time with the better of the first half and they came out eager to break down the hosts defence and could have took the lead when Craig Dargo got up to meet the ball but could only place it in Randolph's gloves.
Dargo could have made amends a few minutes later but once again failed to make the keeper work when he blasted into the side netting.
Ex Arsenal striker Francis Jeffers also had his penalty claim turned down and it looked like the game was going to finish stalemate until Michael Higdon comes on to replace Craig dargo and within minutes he was there to grab the winner.
Motherwell were unlucky not to grab an equaliser late on as the St Mirren defenders done all they could to secure the win.
Three valuable points for The Buddies as they move 5 points clear of the relegation zone although Hamilton have a game in hand.
Motherwell: Randolph, Craigan, Hateley, Hutchinson, Gunning, Humphrey, Jennings, Lasley (Hammell 53), Murphy, Sutton, Jeffers (Casagolda 75).
St Mirren: Gallacher, van Zanten, Potter, McGregor, Travner, McAusland, Murray (McLean 85), Thomson, Goodwin, Dargo (Higdon 80), McGowan.
Referee: Steve Conroy.