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    Young pleased with ‘Steely’ resolve

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    U19s St Johnstone win in pictures

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    Motherwell U19s 1 – 0 St Johnstone U19s

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    No split loyalties for Hamilton fan Brown

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    Gers can wait as derby excitement kicks in

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    Co-operative Insurance Cup draw

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    Thomson’s in charge

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    Voting open for monthly awards

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    Show Racism the Red Card

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    Hamilton Programme

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    Young pleased with ‘Steely’ resolve

    Gordon Young was pleased with his players’ spirit as they bounced back from two successive defeats to win against St Johnstone today.

    The youths crashed to back-to-back 5-0 reversals at the hands of both Rangers and Hearts in recent weeks and confidence took a knock.

    However, speaking after his side’s 1-0 win against Saints, Young insists his players have as much to learn in defeat as they do in success.

    “I think we just about deserved the win today,” said Young.

    “We had a feel sorry for ourselves attitude to start off with which is natural. It’s as the golfers say, ‘There’s no picture in a scorecard’; you just look at the score and don’t take into consideration the goalkeeper getting sent off or the players being available, or in our case, unavailable. That is all a part of their apprenticeship and a couple of defeats of that nature won’t do them any harm.

    “It can play on players’ minds though, particularly if winning has become a habit. When it doesn’t work out, it is hard to deal with and it’s up to the players to show character. In saying that, I think we have played some decent football amongst those defeats, indeed, I thought we were better against Rangers, and lost 5-0, than we were today yet we picked up all three points.”

    Young was delighted with not only the wonder strike that won the game, but also the quality of defending at the back.

    Grant Brown’s thirty yard thunderbolt gave goalkeeper Neil Duff no chance whilst Tom Bradley and his defenders were solid at the back to pick up their fifth clean sheet of the campaign.

    He said: “It’s been very good, over the course of the season, to keep as many clean sheets as we have.

    “Although the goalkeeper didn’t have too many saves to make, his overall commanding of the area was first class.

    “The goal was richly deserved and right out the top drawer. Sometimes opposition teams restrict our passing game and that, combined with the conditions, mean we have to chance of philosophy at times. You can’t win games on a tactics board but we will continue to try and play the game in the correct manner which will, hopefully, benefit these players in the long term.”

    Young finished by highlighting his disappointment at the location of next Sunday’s SFA Youth Cup game with Livingston.

    Traditionally, Youth Cup games are played in the teams’ home ground but Livi have opted to play on their Field Turf (Astroturf) pitch, adjacent to their Almondvale home.

    The Motherwell coach couldn’t hide his disappointment saying, “I think this (playing on the Field Turf pitch) devalues things but it certainly won’t devalue our preparation.

    “As there are only two professional teams at every club, certainly in the SPL, this is the showcase tournament for the Under 19s and it is heavily sponsored and heavily publicised. You’ve also got to take into account that a game like this could be the biggest one of our lads may play.

    “Not everyone can make it, getting the opportunity to play in nice grounds. We try and retain the integrity of the tournament and give it its place.

    “Every Youth Cup game we’ve had at home has been played at Fir Park and that will continue. But I’d like to think Motherwell will take a decent wee support through there. There were over 400 at our last game against Stirling and I hope we get some of them returning for this match.”

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    U19s St Johnstone win in pictures

    Pictures from the 1-0 victory over St Johnstone U19s in the Clydesdale Bank U19s League at the Creamery Park. These action shots and more are available to buy online at www.motherwellpics.com.

    [svgallery name=”stjohnstoneu19291010″]

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    Motherwell U19s 1 – 0 St Johnstone U19s

    Motherwell Under 19s return to winning ways this afternoon with a hard fought 1-0 victory over St Johnstone at a rain-soaked Creamery Park.

    After a stunning start to the season, Young’s men have faltered in recent weeks, losing 5-0 to both Rangers and Hearts.

    However, they stopped the rot this afternoon thanks to a stunning Grant Brown strike midway through the second half.

    It was a quiet opening to the game, with both sides doing their best to cope with the slippery surface at Bathgate Thistle’s Creamery Park. Indeed, it was a credit to the Bathgate side that the game was even on given the deluge of rain in the previous forty-eight hours.

    The hosts thought they had taken the lead some seventeen minutes into the game when Jamie Pollock’s free-kick from deep was headed home by Euan Murray, but the 17-year-old was denied by the assistant’s flag; adjudging the defender to be in an offside position.

    St Johnstone replied through with a free-kick from range, and although it had some swerve, Tom Bradley was well placed to make the catch in the middle of his goal.

    Motherwell were continuing to create the better openings and Saints had their goalkeeper Neil Duff to thank for keeping the scores level after saving brilliantly from Howarth. A sweeping move culminated in a lovely Brown ball towards the back post. A misjudged defensive header allowed the former Clyde striker in, but his shot was saved by the ‘keeper with the rebound hooked clear.

    If that save was good, Bradley’s nine minutes later was even better. Aiden Henry and Steven May combined on the edge of box allowing the latter to smash a lovely effort at goal. It looked to flying in but for the fingertips of Bradley who helped it over the bar and away from danger. It was a let-off for the Steelmen with #9 being allowed the opportunity too easily – a point Gordon Young wasn’t shy of making when the ball was eventually cleared.

    Further chances came and went for Scanlan and, on the stroke of the break, for Brown but neither troubled the Saints backline too much.

    Into the second half and the Steelmen came out of the traps flying. Josh Watt almost rounded off a wonderful passing move just minutes after the restart but his curling effort from just inside the area took a coat of paint off the right hand upright.

    Saints were showing an ability to cause problems of their own, as was the swirling wind, and the two combined to almost give the visitors the lead. A bursting run and long-range shot by Ricky McIntosh looked harmless enough but a gust of wind changed the direction forcing Bradley to scramble the ball over the bar. The resulting corner was cleanly taken by the young keeper.

    But it would be ‘Well who would push and push but despite efforts for Moore (which flew over the bar) and Pollock (deflected wide), it remained goalless. That was until Grant Brown scored one of the goals of the season.

    A corner from the right by Pollock found Murray in the six-yard box but his downward header was bundled off the line and hooked clear. It landed at the Greenwich-born youngster some 35-yards out, and after a terrific first touch he lashed home an unstoppable volley in off the underside of the crossbar.

    He was mobbed by his teammates and rightly so, it was a goal right out the top drawer.

    St Johnstone, to their credit, refused to give in and created a number of chances in search of an equaliser. Edinburgh-born striker Chris Kane had a shot from distance well saved by Bradley and, five minutes later, the same player would again be denied when Bradley got down low to thwart a goal-bound header from just inside the six yard box.

    Jamie Pollock almost wrapped it up for Motherwell with a bounced shot from distance which was again well held by Duff. Down the other end, the dangerous Kane turned provider minutes later with a great ball across the face which was narrowly missed by the sliding May.

    It was to prove to be the last chance in an otherwise entertaining match that was played in difficult conditions but excellent spirits.

    Motherwell: Bradley, Brown, McKinnon, Sloan, Murray, Lynch, Scanlan (Halsman), Pollock, Watt (Erwin), Moore (Connor), Howarth

    Subs Not Used: Muir, McLean, McGachie

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    No split loyalties for Hamilton fan Brown

    There’s guaranteed to be one Accies supporter hoping for a resounding Motherwell win this weekend – Steelmen manager Craig Brown.

    The gaffers’ Hamilton persuasion is just an extra facet to what is bound to be a fascinating Lanarkshire derby for as high-flying ‘Well face relegation-threatened Hamilton in a match which is special for fans, players and staff alike.

    “I’m looking forward to this weekend’s Lanarkshire derby; it’s especially good when you are an Accies fan managing the opposition!” Brown laughed.

    “Seriously, a Lanarkshire derby is always going to be a major test from the club and something we thrive on. We weren’t at our best in midweek and we will be looking for an improvement, otherwise we will be punished

    “The Lanarakshire derby is very important for the area. The Motherwell fans feel that way, and the Accies’ fans feel that way – so you can be sure of a competitive match.”

    With the South Lanarkshire side struggling at the wrong end of the table, and coming to Fir Park on the back of a home defeat to St. Johnstone, some may have Motherwell asfavourites – especially after banishing the memories of poor early season home form with two wins at Fir Park on the trot.

    However, the former Scotland boss doesn’t agree and insists it could be one of the toughest games of the season so far.

    The experienced boss said: “We don’t always like to be favourites at Motherwell. We’re certainly not getting excited by our current position.

    “The table at the end of the year will tell us how good or otherwise we have been over the course of a whole season.”

    Accies boss Billy Reid praised the resilience of Craig Brown’s troops this week, following The Steelmen scraping past Dundee United in the cup, describing being able to beat teams when not playing well as the mark of a good team.

    Whilst accepting of the compliment, Reid’s opposite number was keen to point out that Motherwell have not made a habit of ‘not playing well’ this season.

    “I love wee Billy,” the ‘Well gaffer smiled. “In some respects he is right; we didn’t play well on Tuesday night – although I’d say the game was even.

    “However we have played very well for much of this season, and sometimes we haven’t actually got the rewards; we battered Hibs at Fir Park and lost, for example.

    “Every team will win games that they perhaps did not deserve to, but I think you’ll find we have not won a match that we have not deserved this season – certainly in terms of chances and possession. We even lost 4-1 at Ibrox when the statistics said we had more of the ball!”

    The ‘Well gaffer was speaking to the press from his old stomping ground of Hampden, as he attended the draw for the Co-operative Insurance Cup semi-final, where The Steelmen were paired with Rangers in the last four.

    Brown admits to a level of excitement ahead of squaring up to the Glasgow giants at the beginning of February, but he is typically pragmatic when insisting on absolute focus ahead of the weekend.

    “It’s something we can look forward to.” The Steelmen boss admitted. “But our focus is absolutely on the SPL.”

    “We have dealt with the distraction of the Europa League earlier in the season, and now we must forget about the Rangers match. These occasions are fantastic for the fans but the league is our bread and butter, and the most important thing for us is bettering our fifth place from last season.”

    Two players who will be absolutely key if ‘Well are to finish above fifth in the SPL are Jamie Murphy and Keith Lasley, both of whom are doubts for this weekends’ match.

    However, their gaffer remains hopeful both players could make the tie.

    “We’ve got our physio working around the clock,” Brown confirmed. “Keith and Jamie are both influential players and both are last-minute decisions ahead of Saturday.”

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    Gers can wait as derby excitement kicks in

    Keith Lasley is well aware how big an occasion the Co-operative Insurance semi-final against Rangers in the New Year will be, but he insists his complete focus is on Hamilton at Fir Park this Saturday.

    The squad responded remarkably well to the distractions of the Europa League earlier in the season, and similar powers of concentration will be required to ignore the prospect of a trip to Hampden to face the reigning Scottish champions.

    A win over their Lanarkshire rivals and continued residence in third spot in the SPL could be the reward for achieving that level of focus.

    “It’s a massive match against Hamilton tomorrow. The Cup is one thing, but it is vital to keep our great league form going,” said Lasley.

    “Once you get to third spot you want to do everything in your power to stay there. We look at the league table after every Saturday and we are desperate to stay where we are in the league, and we’ll only do that by winning matches.

    “We know every match is difficult in the SPL, but at the same time we believe we have the quality to maintain our position.”

    Lasley is actually still a doubt for this weekend’s match, and his absence would undoubtedly be a blow for Brown’s men.

    He picked up a nasty looking knock in the league win over Dundee United last Saturday, being forced off after just 19 minutes, and he missed the midweek Co-operative Insurance Cup win over the same team.

    Now the determined ‘Well stalwart is working twice as hard as normal in the hope of playing a part on Saturday.

    “I’m hopeful to be playing tomorrow; I am doing a bit of work at the moment and I’ll come in a little bit earlier tomorrow and we’ll see whether I’m fit enough to play,” he confirmed.

    “But I’m absolutely desperate to play; I know what a big match this is.”

    The 30-year-old’s focus on this weekend should not be mistaken for an apathy regarding the Co-operative Insurance Cup draw.

    On the contrary, Keith was visibly thrilled at the draw, and there is no doubt the match – to take place in the last weekend of January – will be a magnificent occasion for everyone involved with Motherwell Football Club.

    Even the difficulty of drawing Rangers wasn’t enough to dampen the spirits.

    “It’s going to be a fantastic encounter, and something the players will really look forward to,” he insisted. “It’s the type of match that every player is desperate to play in; the whole experience of a match at Hampden – the build-up, the excitement and the match itself – is wonderful.

    “We will certainly believe we can win the match.

    “Perhaps we could have got a kinder draw, but when it comes to semi-final time it’s a case of you get who you’re given. In this country you know that to win major tournaments you are probably going to have to beat Rangers and or Celtic at some point.

    “Although we had a poor result at Rangers a couple of weeks ago I think we have shown on several occasions that we can match them on our day. Even in the 4-1 defeat for long periods of the game we were a good match for them.”

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    Co-operative Insurance Cup draw

    Motherwell have been drawn against holders Rangers in the semi-finals of the Co-operative Insurance Cup.

    Celtic will play Aberdeen in the other tie following this afternoon’s draw at Hampden Park.

    Both ties are due to be played at the national stadium on the weekend of the 29th and 30th January.

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    Thomson’s in charge

    Craig Thomson is the man in charge of this Saturday’s Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with Hamilton Accies at Fir Park.

    Regarded as the best in Scotland, Thomson is a familiar face to Motherwell fans having already taken charge of the league opener against Hibs (3-2 defeat) this campaign and five ‘Well games last season.

    The whistler was the man in charge for the first Lanarkshire derby of last season when Jim Gannon’s side were held to a 2-2 draw by ten-man Hamilton Accies last November.

    He was also the man in the middle for the 6-1 demolition at Ibrox in late December as Gannon’s reign as boss was coming to an end.

    He oversaw the 3-0 away victory at Rugby Park in Craig Brown’s first full game in charge and the excellent 2-1 away win at McDiarmid Park. His fifth game was another sour note though as Stephen Pressley’s Falkirk came to Fir Park and ran out 1-0 winners courtesy of Ryan Flynn’s 27th minute strike

    His record in charge of the Steelmen is mixed with nine wins, thirteen defeats and six draws.

    Not included in that list was the 2007/08 Scottish Cup fourth round replay win against Hearts at Fir Park, when he replaced the injured Stuart Dougal midway through the second-half.

    In those 28 games, Motherwell have scored 39 and conceded 39. 100 players have gone into the book, 49 were wearing claret and amber, while four players, including Stephen Craigan, have been dismissed. The skipper saw red in the 2-0 Scottish Cup defeat to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park five years ago.

    Thomson will be ably assisted by Tom Murphy and Francis Andrews with George Salmond on fourth official duties.

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    Voting open for monthly awards

    With almost a quarter of the 2010/11 Clydesdale Bank Premier League season gone and the league table starting to take shape it is once again time to have your say in the Clydesdale Bank Manager, Player and Young Player of the Month awards.

    Have one of our players or young players caught your eye with their SPL performances throughout the month? 

    Craig Brown has the Steelmen third in the table and playing some excellent football. Could he be in the running for Manager of the Month?

    Nick Blackman continues to impress and, despite being overlooked in September, he’s surely in the running for the Young Player of the Month for October.

    And what about Chris Humphrey? The winger has been sensational during the month with the press linking him with a possible Scotland call-up. Surely the former Shrewsbury Town man will be amongst the favourites for the Player of the Month gong?

    You can vote by visiting the Clydesdale Bank Premier League website www.cbfootball.co.uk and the top three fans nominations will be put forward to the shortlist for the panel of Scottish football experts to choose the winners.

    And to give you something back for voting, a lucky fan whose votes for the three categories match that of the judging panel will be picked at random to win hospitality tickets for a Clydesdale Bank Premier League team of their choice (subject to availability).

    Voting is now open and closes at 12pm on Tuesday 2nd November.

    Log onto www.cbfootball.co.uk to cast your vote, test your knowledge in the weekly quiz and enter the competition to win tickets to our next SPL fixture.

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    Show Racism the Red Card

    Before kick off this weekend, clubs playing at every SPL match, will be united in calling for an end to racism in football and in society.

    Players in over 40 European countries are involved in similar events as part of the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network against racism and discrimination.

    Show Racism the Red Card has received excellent support from football clubs, football authorities and football fans the length and breadth of Scotland and we would like to thank you for this. It has not been without it’s challenges though and we urge fans to continue to support the anti-racist message. We have heard of many instances where real supporters have turned on racist fans making it clear that they are not welcome at their club.

    Within football racism has been directed towards players who were born in Scotland and who elected to play for the Republic of Ireland. The campaign will continue to speak to all football clubs, the football authorities and the police to eradicate all forms of racist behaviour.

    The SPL and its clubs deplore all forms of racism and any racist behaviour will not be tolerated at Scottish Premier League fixtures.

    This year the campaign has developed partnerships with local authorities to deliver educational workshops combined with football coaching sessions in a number of regions. The workshops are delivered by ex-professional footballers and they are a very positive method of educating our young people about the negative impact racism has on Scottish society.

    Here’s a brief outline of what’s taking place during the Fortnight of Action this year:

    • Anti-racist football tournaments and projects in Paisley, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Inverness, Paisley and Wick.
    • Show Racism the Red Card actions at SPL, SFL, SWPL, SWFL, SJFA, and Scottish Cup matches.
    • Unite Against Racism’ actions at UEFA Champions League fixtures.
    • Educational workshops in schools and community groups across Scotland.

    Football is a sport that is followed by people across the world, and football matches should be an enjoyable experience for all, whatever their racial or religious background. We all have a part to play in showing Racism the Red Card.

    If you see or hear racism at any level of football, please report it to stewards or police. Our website also includes updates on Fortnight of Action events and more information on the “Show Racism the Red Card” campaign in Scotland.

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    Hamilton Programme

    The seventh edition of the Motherwell Matchday Magazine is on sale this Saturday when Accies visit Fir Park for the Lanarkshire derby.

    After successive home wins against Dundee United, ‘Well will be hoping to make it three from three against their nearest rivals.

    And the new-look, 64-page programme will again be on sale with all the latest from Fir Park.

    This week, boss Craig Brown looks back at the double header against the Arabs and addresses the emotive issue of Scottish officials.

    The hero from Tuesday night, Alan Gow, gives his verdict on progressing to the Cup Semi Final and his long-term plans for the future.

    There’s a fantastic 8-page interview with influential midfielder Steve Jennings. The scouser, enjoying another brilliant season, talks about derby football, life in Scotland and playing for Motherwell FC.

    We have a ten-page section dedicated to our visitors, Hamilton Accies, including a player-by-player account of Billy Reid’s men. Peter Elder also takes us back through time to recall some of the good and, erm, not so good encounters between the sides.

    Alan Temple examines the ‘modern derby’, Jamie Murphy talks crazy golf, lonely Spaniards and ball bags in our Pot Shots feature. The latest bout of Brainiacs yields the best to scores so far! Stevie Hammell takes on Stevie Saunders and both scored high. Only one can win and progress to take on Jamie Murphy in the Quarter Final. You’ll need to pick up your copy to check it out.

    And that’s not all… We look back at the 2-1 SPL success against Dundee Utd in the SPL as well as the 1-0 win against the same side in the Co-operative Insurance Cup three days later. There’s a breakdown of the Show Racism the Red Card Fortnight of Action, the latest community news as well as all the latest ticket information for our next six matches.

    The programme, priced at £3, will be available in the ‘Well Shop with sellers in and around the ground from about 1pm.