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    Craigan selected for Northern Ireland

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    McCall reflects on Cup classic

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    Dundee Utd draw in pictures

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    Dundee Utd 2 – 2 Motherwell

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    Lasley looking to emulate heroes

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    McCall praying for Semi Final spot

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    U19s game off

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    Kirk calls for spirit of ‘91

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    Jones back in contention

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    Quarter Final Super Sunday

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    Craigan selected for Northern Ireland

    Stephen Craigan has been included in Northern Ireland’s 23-man squad for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Serbia and Slovenia later this month.

    The 53-times capped Motherwell skipper will be in the squad along with fellow SPL stars Jonny Tuffy (Inverness CT), Steve Davis, Kyle Lafferty and David Healy (all Rangers) as well as Niall McGinn and Paddy McCourt (both Celtic).

    Northern Ireland will play Serbia in Belgrade on Friday 25 March (kick-off: 8.30pm local time); before taking on Slovenia in Belfast on Tuesday 29 March (kick-off: 7.45pm).

    Nigel Worthington’s men currently sit five points behind leaders Italy although they have played at least one game less than any other side. Maximum points could leave Craigan and Co. at the top of their group at the midway point of the qualifying section.

    Northern Ireland squad:

    Goalkeepers: Taylor (Birmingham), Tuffey (Inverness Caledonian Thistle), Camp (Nottingham Forest)

    Defenders: J Evans (Manchester United), Craigan (Motherwell), Cathcart (Blackpool), McAuley (Ipswich Town), Hughes (Fulham), Hodson (Watford), Thompson (Watford)

    Midfielders: Baird (Fulham), McCann (Peterborough United), Brunt (West Brom), Gorman (Wolves), C Evans (Manchester United), Davis (Rangers), McGinn (Celtic), Clingan (Coventry City), McCourt (Celtic)

    Forwards: Healy (Rangers), Feeney (Oldham Athletic), Lafferty (Rangers), Boyce (Werder Bremen)

    Photo: Press Eye

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    McCall reflects on Cup classic

    Stuart McCall admitted a draw was the fairest outcome after a thrilling Scottish Cup quarter-final at Tannadice.

    The Steelmen arrived in Tayside with admirably attacking intents, taking the lead twice through a brace from the in-form John Sutton.

    But goals from David Goodwillie and another strike from the bench by super-sub Jon Daly ensured the match finished with a share of the spoils.

    The sides will do it all over again in the replay on March 29th at Fir Park – and if it is half as good as this tie then both sets of fans are in for another treat.

    “I thought a draw was a fair result and it was a really good cup tie,” the ‘Well gaffer praised. “I enjoyed the game. It would have been easy for us to sit in but we had a go at them.

    “I think people thought we would come and play 4-5-1 or 4-3-3, but I just felt we needed to come and have a go and I thought we did that.

     “Obviously I am disappointed with being ahead twice and twice being pegged back, but the first goal for them was fantastic – great ability from the lad who is an excellent player. Sometimes you have to hold your hand up and say well played. I thought our second was a lovely footballing goal and I thought we proved today at patches what we are capable of.”

    The three-time winner of the Scottish Cup from his playing days admitted slight frustration regarding the nature of United’s second equaliser.

    Jon Daly slotted home just 64 seconds after John Sutton had given the Steelmen the lead for the second time, but McCall knows that a place at Hampden was far from guaranteed – even if his side hadn’t conceded so quickly after scoring.

    “Frustrating and disappointing,” the 46-year old said of the concession. “I am not going to say if we hadn’t lost that goal we would have won it. The players they have in their side – Daly, Swanson and the midfield boys; middle-to-front they are an exciting side.

    “On the back of three victories they were full of confidence.”

    The Motherwell gaffer was also quick to shy away from the ‘favourites’ tag ahead of the replay back in North Lanarkshire.

    ‘Well will have home advantage and a vociferous home support cheering them to Hampden, but McCall is wary of the Arabs’ threat.

    He continued: “No way does it make us favourites. It will be two teams desperate to get to a semi-final, but coming to Tannadice was one of the toughest ties we could have got and it will be another exciting game when they come back to us.”

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    Dundee Utd draw in pictures

    Pictures from the 2-2 draw with Dundee Utd in the Scottish Cup Quarter Final at Tannadice.

    These action shots and more are available to buy online at www.motherwellpics.com.

    [svgallery name=”dundeeutd130311″]

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    Dundee Utd 2 – 2 Motherwell

    [tab:Match report]

    Motherwell and Dundee United will meet again for a Scottish Cup quarter-final replay after playing out a hugely entertaining 2-2 draw at Tannadice.

    The Steelmen took the lead after just 54 seconds when John Sutton towered highest at the back post to head home a Stevie Hammell corner – the twelfth strike of a fruitful season for the former Spurs youth.

    Motherwell were pegged back just before the break as David Goodwillie sent a stunning overhead kick past Darren Randolph from six yards.

    The Steelmen regrouped and turned in a lively performance in the second period, taking the lead again through Sutton again. This time he converted following a super interchange between Stevie Hammell and Keith Lasley, and a perfect subsequent cross.

    But there was to be a twist in the tale as the Arabs went straight up the other end – 64 seconds later in fact – and equalised through substituted Jon Daly.

    Stuart McCall made two changes to the side which turned in such a disappointing display in the Highlands eight days previously. Stephen Craigan came into the side for Ross Forbes while Stevie Saunders replaced the suspended Steve Jennings.

    The Scottish Cup holders United, playing their third game in six days, freshened up their side from the 2-1 victory over Hamilton with four changes. With Dixon, Buaben and Danny Swanson coming in for Shala, David Robertson, van der Muelen and Russell.

    The Steelmen certainly started the game like a side with a point to prove following the Inverness Caledonian defeat and, remarkably, they were ahead with less than a minute on the clock. Stevie Hammell showed his dead-ball expertise by floating a perfect deep corner for John Sutton, and the in-form striker made no mistake in powering the ball home.

    As you would naturally expect from a side on a run of three consecutive wins, Peter Houston’s men responded and could have been level twenty minutes into the game. David Goodwillie pounced on a short Steven Saunders header inside the ‘Well box, and his low shot from 16 yards was wonderfully saved by Darren Randolph.

    Randolph was called into action again five minutes later as Prince Buaben was fed through on goal by Danny Swanson, but the Ghanaian’s curling effort was tame and easily saved by Motherwell’s Irish stopper.

    At the other end Dusan Pernis was proving his worth too. As an end-to-end match swung towards the United goalmouth, Pernis was forced to act smartly to tip a Keith Lasley half-volley over the bar.

    Approaching half-time both sides exchanged excellent low drives from range, with Prince Buaben firing narrowly wide for the Terrors and former Arsenal striker Franny Jeffers doing the same for the Steelmen.

    Just as it seemed as though Stuart McCall’s men might take a one-goal lead into the break, after a scintillating opening period, David Goodwillie struck in spectacular fashion. Keith Watson lofted a high, hopeful ball into the area and the Scotland international pulled off an overhead kick to fire past Randolph.

    It was an extraordinary bit of skill, but Motherwell defenders were left incandescent with rage over a perceived foul on Gavin Gunning before the cross was put in.

    Into the second half Motherwell continued to play some excellent football, Indeed, on the hour mark the lively Lasley fired a powerful effort just over the bar from the edge of the area.

    That was followed by a chance for the home side, with substitute Jon Daly heading over the bar with almost his first touch after coming off the bench to replace the unusually quiet Craig Conway.

    In a see-saw encounter ‘Well were next to strike, and it was a splendidly worked goal. Stevie Hammell surged towards the penalty box, playing a neat one-two with Keith Lasley to burst into the area. Hammell, playing in an unaccustomed role of left-wing, had the presence of mind to pick out Sutton in the box, and he had the easiest task to slide home from six yards.

    That goal should have given the visitors something to hold onto – but they only succeeding in holding onto it for a little over a minute. Danny Swanson found Jon Daly at the back post with a good cross and the bustling Irish striker made no mistake in dispatching past his compatriot Randolph.

    There were half-chances in the closing stages for the busy David Goodwillie and substitute Chris Humphrey, but it finished 2-2, with a draw perhaps the fairest result from a match neither side deserved to lose. 

    [tab:As it happened]

    Graham Barnstaple at Tannadice

    Full Time: 2-2, good effort from the lads gave as good as they got, I am sure we are happier with a replay than they are.

    90mins – Four minutes being added on

    84mins – Forbes for Lasley, Well players upset at Goodwillie putting ball out for throw after we had kicked the ball out for Gunning injury

    76mins – Saunders long ranger has Pernis panicing, but it slides inches wide of the post

    74mins – Looks as though we got caught switching off after taking the lead, it’s a much livelier game now. Gomis booked for United.

    73mins – GOOOOOAAAAALLLL – 2-2 Well – Sutton scores at front post from Hammell cross, BUT United go up other end and score through Daly

    69mins – Hammell sends Gunning down left and his cross to front post is almost turned in by Dillon, another wasted corner

    62mins – Daly on for United, his first touch is to head over a Douglas corner. Humphrey on now for Murphy for Well

    58mins – Just as I say tha, Pernis pulls off a fine save from a Lasley shot from the edge of the box, from a Jeffers lay off.

    56mins – Ten minutes in, nothing much to report, United probably on top but chances at a premium at either end

    46mins – No changes in either line up at half time, as United get the second half underway

    HT: We survived a tough last fifteen minutes there and need to re-group for the second half if we want to get through this one

    Half time – 1-1, scoreline is about right, although some ‘Well players are complaining to ref and linesman about foul on Gunning

    45mins – One minute being added on

    41mins – Bit of controversy around the goal, as it looked as though Gunning was tripped before the ball was crossed in

    40mins – 1-1 Goal for United, cross from right and Goodwille scores an overhead kick leaving Randolph helpless – Rooneyesque!

    37mins – Hateley yellow for wild tackle just outside the box, United shout for pen as Goodwillie goes over nothing given.

    31mins – United dominating possession but only shooting from long range, we look dangerous on the counter, Jeffers 20 yards out slips wide

    27mins – Swanson booked for an outrageous drive after losing the ball

    25mins – Stunning save from Pernis who somehow turns a Lasley volley over the bar as it looked to be heading into the top corner

    18mins – Great save from Randolph, Goodwillie slipped past three defenders and looked to have score but big man saved one handed

    13mins – Two half chances for Well, Murphy left foot shot saved easily and a Jeffers shot flashing wide of the post.

    7mins – United’s first effort at goal comes from a Swanson free kick that is easily saved by Randolph

    1min – Sutton’s downward header is his 12th goal of the season in all competitions

    1min – GOOOAALLLLLL – Well 1 United 0, corner in 24 seconds, and Sutton heads in from Hammell’s kick, perfect start

    1min – Game is underway with ‘Well kicking off


    Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:

    “We go back now to Fir Park, I don’t think for any minute that makes us favourites. It will be both teams going for it again with a semi-final place at stake.

    “But I thought a draw was a merited result. I thoroughly enjoyed the game. There was a lot of good football.

    “I thought our second was an excellently worked goal, as soon as Daly came on, he did it against Hamilton the other night, he pulls it out in the big games.

    “It is disappointing and frustrating to lose a goal so early, but with the players they’ve got in the side, Swanson, Conway, Goodwillie and Daly, four front men who, on their game, are very good.

    “But we have good players in our side and we showed that.”

    Dundee Utd manager Peter Houston:

    “It’s typical Dundee United side at the moment, they are a great bunch of lads and we did come back and what a fantastic goal from David Goodwillie. It has got to be up there for one of the goals of the season

    “Then we fall behind and we don’t let it unsettle us and, within seconds, we are back in it. That’s a good thing.

    “But I can’t credit the players any more. When you look it, it is our third game in six days. I wouldn’t have made it an excuse for us losing the game, but for us still to be going hard at it after 94 minutes was fantastic. So I am very pleased and proud of the players.

    “It is a hard ask when we have a game on Wednesday as well and then we have a replay too. But I would rather be in the Cup.”


    [poll id=”45″]

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    Lasley looking to emulate heroes

    Keith Lasley is hoping to take the first step to becoming a Motherwell legend with a victory over old foes Dundee Utd at Tannadice on Sunday.

    The encounter is a repeat of the famous cup final of 20 years ago, last time the men in claret and amber lifted the World’s oldest national trophy – a fact which won’t be lost on the Steelmen fans travelling to Tayside.

    Lasley, a Motherwell stalwart of over ten years, knows better than most the symbolism of a cup tie against Dundee United and he is desperate to emulate the heroes of 1991 against the in-form Arabs.

    “The cup is special at this club, especially when you come up against Dundee United,” the 31-year old confirmed. “There are still a few people who played that day in ‘91 and a lot of people who were involved in some capacity.

    “So you still hear about that game and everybody remembers the way it went – and being at this club for so long I know that is what we have to aim for.

    “Rangers and Celtic tend to dominate domestic competitions and it’s usually one of them who lifts the cup, but Dundee United changed that last year and if you get to this stage then you’ve got a chance.

    “We’ve got a very difficult tie – it could hardly have been tougher than trying to beat Dundee United away as they are in a great vein of form.”

    The Steelmen have already had the opportunity to strut their stuff at Hampden this season, with the narrow  defeat to Rangers in the Co-operative Insurance Cup and Lasley, even as one of the more experienced heads in a youthful ‘Well lineup, is excited about the prospect of another visit to the national stadium – describing the prospect as ‘a dream’.

    The former Plymouth man continued: “First and foremost, from a player’s point of view, getting into another semi-final is a great chance.

    “We’ve had a taste this season with the League Cup semi and we’re desperate to get back there in the Scottish Cup. Looking at Hampden, there’s nothing better, and all the players – although we lost in the end – thoroughly enjoyed the experience last time out.

    “The build up to the game was very special as playing in semi-finals and finals is what you dream about and, for a club like Motherwell who don’t get there too often, hopefully this year could be the year for us.”

    Lasley, who scored the equalising goal against Rangers in Motherwell’s last visit to Hampden in January, can perhaps attribute a little of his enthusiasm to the fact he is creeping back towards full fitness.

    He has been bravely playing through the pain barrier recently, with the help of painkillers – but his bruised ribs are now beginning to heal…permitting any ‘dunts’ at Tannadice.

    “I’m feeling a bit better this last week, I’m starting to settle down a bit now – though I’m still taking the odd painkiller before matches.” he confirmed. “Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I’ll have forgotten all about it [the bruised ribs].”

    “You feel it if you get another wee dunt on it or if there’s some contact then you start to feel it. But it’s a lot better than it was. When you’ve got an injury it sometimes seems like you seem to get a few hits on it but, as I say, it’s miles better than it was.”

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    McCall praying for Semi Final spot

    Stuart McCall is desperate for a victory over Dundee United to pave the way for a return to Hampden.

    The Steelmen performed admirably on their last trip to the national stadium, narrowly losing out to Rangers in the Co-operative Insurance Cup semi-final, and the ‘Well gaffer wants a second crack at glory – this time in the Scottish Cup.

    “The lads have done terrifically in the cup competitions,” McCall praised. “At the start of the season they did really well in the European games and we also got through to the semi-finals of the League Cup, knocking Dundee United out along the way, and now we’re in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup.

    “The boys have responded really well to cup competitions and hopefully we’ll have a couple more still to play this season.”

    Despite the glamour of a potential national semi-final, McCall is looking no further than a tough trip to Tannadice at the weekend.

    Peter Houston’s side have been in fantastic form recently, racking up three consecutive wins, and have benefitted from the return of key players like Craig Conway and Danny Swanson. The Arabs are guaranteed to be a huge obstacle for ‘Well.

    The gaffer continued: “It’s a huge match. If we were to win on Sunday and get to the semi-final then it would be bigger than beating Celtic for me. What it means to the club and the fans to get to another semi-final is fantastic.

    “We know it’s a tough job, outwith the Old Firm it is probably the most difficult tie we could have been given. Away at Tannadice – especially with them getting their players back and having three successes – is a hard game.

    “But I believe that if we can perform like we have done in some games this season, and are at our best, then I think it could be a great cup tie.”

    The three-time Scottish Cup winner has been candid about his disappointment over ‘Well’s lack of consistently recently, but he insists that the club are ready to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointing defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

    “The players are in confident form, they’ve trained really well this week and everyone is desperate to be involved.” the 46-year old said.  “You look back at it [defeat against ICT] and we’ve looked at the goals and the parts of the game that we’re disappointed with.

    “The biggest disappointment is that we could have killed Inverness off if we had won that game – we would have put some daylight between us and them.

    “We’ve looked at some things and analysed certain things and our focus is now on Tannadice on Sunday and I’m sure we’ll get a better response than we did last Saturday.”

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    U19s game off

    Today’s scheduled Under 19s clash with St Johnstone in Perth has been postponed.

    Overnight snow and freezing temperatures has left the Tulloch Park pitch unplayable.

    No date has, as yet, been confirmed for the rearranged fixture.

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    Kirk calls for spirit of ‘91

    Motherwell legend Stevie Kirk has urged the current ‘Well side to call on the spirit of the ‘91 heroes when they face Dundee Utd on Sunday.

    Super sub Kirk, who netted the winning goal in that sensational final twenty years ago, was in Glasgow today with old foe Darren Jackson to preview the Quarter Final clash at Tannadice.

    And reminiscing back to that special day in May, Kirk admits the sights and sounds of Hampden will never leave him.

    He said, “The memories of that day are still etched, very clearly, in my mind.

    “It was a great day and a great achievement for Motherwell to get to the final that year and what a game it was. We looked as if we were going to win it in normal time until Darren Jackson popped up late in the game to equalise and, to be honest, I thought the tie was slipping away from us.

    “It was obviously disappointing but we managed to come through in the end and, over the piece, I think we just about deserved to win what was a fantastic end to end game.

    “You’ll struggle to find a better cup final since and it is something Motherwell fans still remember fondly and are very proud of, even twenty years on. I know the scenes that day will be with me for the rest of my life.”

    Kirk is back working full-time at Fir Park as the driving force behind the re-launched Motherwell in the Community department.

    In his role, he is a regular face about the ground and he is well aware of just what a win would mean to everyone connected with the club.

    The legend also gave his backing to Stuart McCall, predicting the former Scotland International to achieve great things whilst in North Lanarkshire.

    “Just about every team left in the competition has a great chance of at least getting to the final,” he said.

    “I am sure both Motherwell and Dundee Utd face a battle this Sunday but whoever wins has a great chance. Celtic are the strongest side left in the competition but even they face a very tricky tie up at Inverness.

    “If the team could manage to get to the final this year, I don’t think you could underestimate the size of the achievement, especially with the amount of upheaval with the previous manager leaving midway through the season.

    “Stuart McCall is doing a great job just now in what is a difficult situation. I see him on a daily basis and he’s doing very well. The players like him; they trust him and he has got the firm backing of all the staff at the club too. I would be absolutely delighted for him if he could lead Motherwell to Hampden for a second time this season.”

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    Jones back in contention

    On-loan Walsall winger Steve Jones returned to training today after a month on the sidelines vowing to win back his place in the first-team.

    The 34-year-old tweaked a hamstring against Rangers back in February, stalling what looked like a promising start to his Motherwell career.

    However, after coming through a tough session at Dalziel Park today, Jones has one eye on this Sunday’s Scottish Cup Quarter Final at Tannadice.

    “It’s pleasing to be back after a frustrating time with injury,” the 29 times capped Northern Irish winger said.

    “It’s a long few weeks when you are rehabbing on your own in the gym, but I trained for the first time today and it felt good. If things are as positive in the next few days, I am hoping to be in contention for the Dundee Utd game on Sunday.

    “To get an injury when you are a professional footballer is terrible but picking one up so soon after joining a new team is horrible luck. But I am back up and running now and I am keen to get back into the team and try and have an impact in the last ten games of the season. I’m just itching to kick the ball again!”

    Jones feels he has some unfinished business in Cup competitions this year after suffering mixed emotions so soon into his spell at Fir Park.

    He was a late substitute in the Co-operative Insurance Cup Semi Final when Rangers scraped past Stuart McCall’s men thanks to a late goal from Steven Naismith.

    However, he was on the score sheet at Stranraer, helping ‘Well book their place in this round, and he hopes he can repeat that feat this weekend.

    “I may only make the bench but if that is the case, then maybe I’ll get on and score the winner,” he smiled.

    “But seriously, it’s a big game for us. I know what the Scottish Cup means to the fans and the people of Motherwell. If we perform to the best of our capabilities, I think we can win. Dundee Utd are a good side and we’ll need to be at our best but we are going there looking to progress.

    “Those ten minutes at Hampden gave me a taste of it and I am desperate to get back there.”

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    Quarter Final Super Sunday

    Motherwell FC are delighted to announce that the Centenary Suite will be open from 11am this Sunday for an afternoon of live Scottish Cup action.

    If you’ve no plans to travel to Tannadice, why not bring the family along to join Dougie Arnott and guests for live TV coverage of our match versus Dundee Utd – a re-run of that famous day in May twenty years ago.

    The Centenary Suite will remain open for business as we wait (in collective hope) for the players’ triumphant return to Fir Park.

    Our Super Sunday continues into the night with Karaoke fun for all the family.

    For more information, contact us on 01698 338008.