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    Hearts 0 – 0 Motherwell

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    Carling mates challenge

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    Hateley hoping to build on success

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    McCall keeping his feet on the ground

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    Hearts Tickets and Travel

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    Officials appointed for Hearts clash

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    Lasley desperate to make it over the line

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    McCall thrilled with knackered ‘Well

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    Dundee Utd win in pictures

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    Motherwell 2 – 1 Dundee Utd

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    Hearts 0 – 0 Motherwell

    [tab:Match report]

    A battle-weary Motherwell side fought bravely for a point at Tynecastle today which has secured their place in the top-six of the SPL.

    With first-team players such as Francis Jeffers, Gavin Gunning, Stevie Hammell, Steve Jennings, Keith Lasley, John Sutton and Jamie Murphy all missing from the starting eleven, it looked a daunting prospect for the Steelmen against the league’s third best side.

    However ‘Well, including 17-year old debutant Stuart Carswell, more than matched the Georgie side and twice came within inches of grabbing the lead but both Steven Saunders and Ross Forbes were denied by the woodwork.

    It caps an incredible ten-day period for Stuart McCall’s men who now have a Cup Semi Final at Hampden to look forward to next weekend.

    The Motherwell manager made three changes to the starting eleven that overcame Dundee Utd during the week. Lasley, Murphy and Sutton all dropped to the bench, replaced by Jones, Casagolda and debutant Stuart Carswell, who took his place in a three-man centre midfield partnership.

    The home side, who looked to have third place in the SPL all but sewn up, started on the front foot and threw a couple of cross balls into the area and forced two corners in the opening exchanges, but nothing that would trouble ‘Well stopper Darren Randolph. In actual fact, it was the Steelmen who threatened first and could, and perhaps should, have taken the lead after just a few minutes.

    Esteban Casagolda did well to close down a clearance, allowing the 34-year old Northern Irishman to collect just inside the area. Jinking past one challenge, the goal looked to be gaping but the winger fired over the bar from close range much to the relief of goalkeeper MacDonald.

    Hearts’ reply was instant and Steven Elliot almost made himself the hero for the Jambos once again after netting the equaliser at Easter Road last weekend. Rudi Skacel won the ball on the left flank and wasted no time whipping an inviting cross towards the near post. Elliot met it but could only smash an effort way wide of goal.

    If that was close, the Steelmen had Randolph to thank, again, for keeping the scores level three minutes later with yet another wonder stop. This time from Templeton, the winger blasted a stinging half-volley at goal after Hutchinson’s headed clearance. It looked to be heading for the bottom corner but for the outstretched hand of the Republic of Ireland International, the keeper managing to turn it away before it was eventually hooked clear.

    After an end-to-end start, all the signs pointed to a cracking game. But, in truth, the remainder of the first half was poor with little or no goalmouth action. That was until Steven Saunders woke everyone up with a bouncing low effort which cannoned back off the right hand upright. The Scotland International collected on the edge of the area and drilled a decent effort – it whizzed past MacDonald but couldn’t beat the post; Hearts cleared the rebound and it was level at the break.

    McCall introduced Steven Hammell in place of Saunders at the interval, the defender feeling his hamstring again after recently returning to the side from a two-week lay-off. However, it was the hosts who would again come out the traps on the front foot and the Steelmen once again had Randolph to thank for keeping things all-square.

    The big keeper stood up excellently to block Templeton’s first effort from just inside the box after only two minutes gone in the half. What’s better, he was up quickly to save the rebound at the expense of a corner which was easily cleared by Hutchinson’s header.

    Motherwell’s only sniff in the opening exchanges of the second period came when Tom Hateley danced round four challenges on route to goal. The former Reading man’s final touch was a little heavy though and the chance was gone. Six minutes later Motherwell were back inside the box and had a half-decent claim for a penalty when Steve Jones went over in the area. Referee Thomson was right up with play and pointed for a goal kick; on reflection he probably called it right.

    Hearts boss Jim Jefferies introduced three subs on the hour mark but it was a starter, Rudi Skacel, who brought about the next chance, firing a stinging drive from distance that Randolph was glad to watch wide.

    Motherwell introduced a sub as well; John Sutton brought on to replace Esteban Casagolda who put in a punishing shift up front on his own. And it was the fresh legs of Sutton who almost created the opener for his side, setting up Ross Forbes with a neat head flick. Midfielder Forbes collected and looped a dipping drive over MacDonald but his shot smashed the bar on the way over and the chance was gone.

    The crucial moment came with just five minutes left on the clock when the quite brilliant Randolph produced another astonishing save to deny Craig Thomson. The defender’s free-kick came through a ruck of bodies and looked to be sneaking in at the near post but Randolph reacted quickly, somehow managing to throw down an arm to keep it out.

    He got the rewards his save deserved when Maurice Ross was on hand to make an equally as important block when he deflected the rebound onto the outside of the post and Motherwell survived.

    Indeed, the Claret and Amber men could have nicked it late on but chances for Ross Forbes and John Sutton weren’t converted and the game finished 0-0. With Inverness held to a 1-1 draw at Rugby Park, it confirmed Motherwell’s place in the top-six for the second successive season.

    [tab:As it happened]

    Graham Barnstaple at Tynecastle

    93mins – Game over 0-0, another hard working performance, and its Darren Randolph’s 18th clean sheet of the season

    90mins – Three minutes being added on, Tynecastle not as atmospheric as it was described at the satrt

    87mins – Forbes shot whistles wide of the post, crowd announced as 13800

    85mins – Craig Thomson’s free kick aimed at front post is saved brilliantly by the quick reactions of Randolph, and then scrambled clear

    82mins – our first corner, but Hateley’s kick is cleared by head of Palazuelos

    80mins – Murphy on forHumphrey, and is immediately fouled by Bouzid who is shown a yellow

    77mins – Jason Thomson shown yellow for blatant body check on Humphrey knowing he couldn’t cope with his pace

    75mins – Sutton head flick on to Forbes whose lob crashes off the cross bar and bounces over.

    73mins – Well sub, John Sutton on for Esteban Casagolda

    71mins – Skacel shot from 20 yards fizzes just past the post

    61mins – 3 changes for Hearts, Black, Elliot and Tmpleton off and on come Suso, Robinson and Driver

    60mins – half hearted penalty claim as Jason Thomson bundles over Steve Jones

    54mins – solo run from Hateley, waltzes past four or five, but his touch is too heavy as he heads into box

    46mins – a harsh early yellow for Maurice Ross, then double save by Randolph from Templeton at the near post

    45mins – Half Time – 0 – 0!

    43mins – Wow, that shot woke everyone up! Half hearted pen claim from ‘Well in there too but nothing doing at all.

    43mins – Steven Saunders hits the post from distance. So unlucky from the young defender!

    36mins – Ian Black’s shot from distance has the ‘Well fans in the Roseburn Stand diving for cover.

    31mins – to back that up Templeton has just hit a shot 20 yards wide that we wouldn’t normally mention!

    30mins – Our internet connection is solid, it’s just nothing much to report here at Tynie. Would not be too bothered if it stayed that way.

    14mins – Darren Randolph pulls off another stunning save low to his right from Templeton, it looked as though it was heading in

    11mins – First chance for Hearts with Stephen Elliot senidng a Skacel cross over the top.

    9mins – Jones latches on to loose ball but lashes shot over from close range, good work by Casagolda in build up

    7mins – Ian Black is down injured and getting treatment. Former ICT man looks in some pain…

    1min – Game underway, with Well kicking off and hitting towards the Gorgie Rd end


    Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:

    “All in all I’m so proud of them and delighted with them.

    “I’ve got a really difficult job next week, not only to name the 11 but to name the 16 (against St Johnstone).”

    Hearts manager Jim Jefferies:

    “There was plenty of effort from the players but we just lacked in that final third either a break or that little bit of quality that would’ve created more chances.

    “I think at the end of the day, it was a fair result.”


    [poll id=”50″]

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    Carling mates challenge

    [jwplayer config=myplayer file=]

    How do you fancy trying to score at half time during our Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden?

    Carling, the official beer of the Scottish Cup, is looking for some Motherwell fans to take part in their Carling Mates Challenge at the game.

    If you’re the lucky winner you get the chance to pick three mates to join you on the pitch at half-time, each taking a shot at goal to try to win your place at Carling hospitality at Hampden Park if we make it through to the Cup Final!

    Some of our players tried it out at Fir Park – check out the video above to see how they got on. Big Darren Randolph must have been tired after the midweek game!

    For your chance to take part, enter the Carling Mates Challenge competition in the Scottish Sun newspaper on Saturday 9th April (over 18s only).

    Good luck!

    If you’re over the legal drinking age, Like Carling’s Facebook page for the latest Carling news, offers and giveaways!


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    Hateley hoping to build on success

    Tom Hateley is hoping that recent momentum carries the side to a win at Tynecastle – and a top-six place.

    A victory over Jim Jefferies side will ensure the Steelmen are playing top-half football following the split the season, the primary objective for ‘Well at the season’s outset.

    Even a draw would ensure Inverness Caledonian Thistle would need three wins out of three games to pinch the final top-six spot – but the Monte Carlo-born utility player is looking for all three points.

    “It’s always nice to be coming off three wins,” Hateley praised. “And everyone is looking forward to the match against Hearts. We know just how difficult it will be, but it’s one we are ready for.

    “We knew this last week would be massive for the club – it was a make-or-break week-or-so for us and thankfully three of the results have gone our way. We just need one more win now and we have achieved top-six football, which was our main aim.

    “In the last few weeks we have had real hunger and belief and that has really shown in our play and, more importantly, the results we are getting. If we fight and battle like we have in the past few games then I think we can keep the consistency going and get the result tomorrow.

    “We really don’t want to be relying on other teams to do us favours at the beginning of next week; it is in our hands and we want to finish the job ourselves.”

    The trip to Gorgie is the Steelmen’s last outing before the tantalising trip to Hampden to face St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup semi-final, but everyone at the club is still focusing on SPL matters.

    Indeed, Motherwell’s 2009/10 Young Player of the Year insists no-one is thinking about next Saturday’s tie – other than in terms of impressing the gaffer and earning their jersey for Motherwell’s biggest game in years.

    “No-one is thinking about the semi-final just yet,” Hateley confirmed. “No-one is guaranteed a shirt for that match. The gaffer will pick the team, and if there are a couple of boys who are playing against Hearts that don’t always start then it is a great chance for them to play their way into the game against St.Johnstone.

    “That might be in people’s minds and hopefully it spurs us on even further.”

  • Archive

    McCall keeping his feet on the ground

    Stuart McCall has warned his Motherwell stars that they have achieved nothing yet ahead of a trip to Tynecastle on Saturday.

    The Steelmen would secure a top-six berth for McCall’s side with a win in the Capital, while ‘Well are also extremely close to a Scottish Cup final spot, facing St. Johnstone in the semi-final in eight days time.

    But despite these undoubtedly exciting prospects, the gaffer has reminded his players there is still a lot of work to be done this campaign.

    “I’ve told the lads that they haven’t achieved anything yet,” the 46-year old said honestly. “We’ve still got plenty of work to do.

    “It wouldn’t surprise me if Inverness won against Kilmarnock. So we want to go to Hearts and pick something up. A point wouldn’t be the worst result in the world, but, like every match, we will be going there looking to get a win, although we know how tough it will be.

    “First and foremost we have to focus on Hearts, but the semi-final looms large and the players know that there are eleven places to play for, especially for some of the lads who have come into the side in the last couple of games.”

    On paper the trip to Tynecastle looks like a tough task for ‘Well, but the battle-weary troops can take solace from Motherwell’s last two visits to Gorgie, both of which have resulted in wins for the visitors.

    It’s something the manager is looking to as he plots to make it three out of three.

    “The boys have done well earlier in the season at Hearts, getting a good victory,” McCall recalled. “So we’ll look forward to the trip.

    “We know how tough it will be; they were off midweek and they have a big enough squad to keep things fresh, but we’ll give it our best. Hearts are a good side – the players and staff have done brilliantly and they sit comfortably in third.”

    It will have to be another gritty display from the men in claret and amber on Saturday if they are to claim a result, as Motherwell’s thin squad remains stretched to excess.

    Motherwell have played 45 matches this campaign – eleven less than Hearts – and have used just 25 players in the course of the season, which is joint-fewest in the entirety of the SPL. It makes ‘Well’s achievements this season all the more remarkable.

    The boss doesn’t expect any extra bodies back for Saturday. Indeed, if anything, he will have fewer options for the trip to Gorgie.

    “We probably won’t have anyone back; more people out if anything.” McCall admitted. “Hammell has a chance, but Jeffers, Gunning and Jennings (the latter suspended) are all out, and we are sweating over a couple more.

    “But I’m not going to bleat about injuries. It’s not looking rosy but we will show the same spirit that we have for the last few games and look to get a result.”

  • Archive

    Hearts Tickets and Travel

    Motherwell get back on the road this weekend when the travel along they M8 to face Hearts at Tynecastle.

    It’s been a manic few weeks for the Steelmen after two wins over Dundee United and a good 2-1 success against Craig Brown’s Aberdeen.

    That has given ‘Well the chance to seal their top-six place this weekend with a win. However, the Fir Parkers will be up against an excellent Hearts side, by far and away the third best team in the country this term. Jim Jefferies’ men look certain to secure the ‘best of the rest’ position and a return to Europa League football.

    So both teams have it all to play for at Tynecastle; the old ground celebrating its 125th anniversary too. Tickets will be available on the gate with admission prices as follows:

     ADULTS:   £23
     CONCESSIONS:                                                              £15
     UNDER 18s:    £11
     UNDER 12s:    £7
    • Concessions are listed as Over 65s and Full Time Students.
    • Fans who require wheelchair access should contact Elaine MacDonald at the club on 01698 338068 or email



    The bus for Tynecastle will leave the Bentley Hotel at 1.30pm. Phone Jim on (01698) 299650 or e-mail Christopher on


    The Wishaw bus to Tynecastle will leave at 1.30pm. To book seats please call Anne on 01698470601 or email


    The Hearts bus is full with no more space available.


    BY CAR

    The stadium is located to the West of the city and is easily accessible from the bypass.

    Follow the M8 until its end and then take the A720 South towards Dalkeith. Leave the A720 to join the A71 and continue forward on to Gorgie Road. You will eventually come to the stadium on the left.

    If travelling from the South, follow the A702 and then take the A720 North towards Dalkeith.

    Street parking is available on numerous streets around the ground.

    BY BUS

    Several operators run buses to Edinburgh, departing every hour from Buchanan Station in Glasgow city centre.

    Further information and timetables are available online at


    Haymarket station is served by trains from Glasgow and is within walking distance of the ground.

    Upon leaving the station, turn right and then right again on to Dalry Road, which leads to Gorgie Road. You will eventually come to the stadium on the right.

    Further information and timetables are available online at



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    Officials appointed for Hearts clash

    Craig Thomson is the man in charge of this Saturday’s Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with Hearts at Tynecastle.

    Thomson, fresh from his midweek match at the Nou Camp, is a familiar face to Motherwell fans having already taken charge of the league opener against Hibs (3-2 defeat) and the 1-0 home defeat by Hamilton Accies. He was alos the man in the middle for 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, fourteen 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 29 games, Motherwell have scored 39 and conceded 40. 104 players have gone into the book, 50 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 six years ago.

    Thomson will be ably assisted by Alasdair Ross and Lawrence Kerrigan with Anthony Law on fourth official duties.

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    Lasley desperate to make it over the line

    Keith Lasley has called on battle-weary Motherwell to provide one more push in order to finally secure top-six football after the SPL split.

    At the moment Inverness Caledonian Thistle would need seven points from their remaining three games to usurp ‘Well in sixth spot – should Motherwell lose at Tynecastle on Saturday – but a win against Hearts would mathematically confirm a top-half berth for McCall’s men.

    But it will undoubtedly take one more almighty effort after a brave defensive showing against Dundee United secured a 2-1 victory – despite the hosts visibly tiring towards the end of the encounter.

    “You saw how much we wanted that result tonight,” Lasley praised after a frenetic finish, during which Darren Randolph had to make a wonderful save to deny David Goodwillie an equaliser. “We know how big that was for us.

    “We want to stay in the top-six and tonight was a massive three-points for that. But we are well aware that it might not be enough – Saturday (against Hearts) is a great opportunity to officially secure top-six and it means we don’t need to worry about what Caley Thistle do.”

    With key players Jennings, Jeffers, Hammell and Gunning all missing McCall’s squad was patently down to the bare bones, and his lack of experienced, fit options on the bench was borne out by the fact he didn’t make his first substitution until the 90th minute.

    This meant the players on the pitch had to endure a stamina-busting encounter on a very heavy, rain-soaked pitch – while Dundee United had the luxury of bringing on Jon Daly, Garry Kenneth and Danny Swanson as they bombarded Darren Randolph’s goal-mouth.

    Infact, all things considered, it was a heroic victory for ‘Well’s knackered stars, who erected an impassable – albeit weary – defensive wall in the closing stages.

    “We were maybe a wee bit lucky to take three points today.” Lasley admitted. “There wasn’t much in it in the first half but we managed to nick the first goal which is always vital in this league. The second goal gave us a bit of a cushion.

    “But we knew United would come back at us – they are a good side on a great run in the league. We knew they would throw everything at us, and they did; maybe on another day they would have got the draw.

    “I was running on empty and we’ve had a few other guys injured that have been playing who we couldn’t select. We’ve got a few boys playing through the pain but it’s a crucial part of the season and we all want to be out there.

    “You saw towards the end that we were starting to tire a little bit, but we’ll recharge for Saturday which is another massive game.”

  • Archive

    McCall thrilled with knackered ‘Well

    Stuart McCall hailed his brave Motherwell side after watching the Steelmen pick up a nervy three points in the driving rain at Fir Park.

    ‘Well were two goals to the good after first-half strikes from Jamie Murphy and Chris Humphrey, but had to endure concerted United pressure in second period – with Peter Houston referring to it as ‘like the Alamo.’

    Despite some fraught nerves at the end McCall was exceedingly proud of his threadbare squad.

    “The effort tonight was absolutely outstanding,” the boss praised. “We were hanging on towards the end; there’s no doubt about it. But we fought hard and it is a huge win. I said before the game that it didn’t matter how we got it – the main thing was the three points.

    “It was Saunders’ first game back for a month, Maurice (Ross) has played two full matches back-to-back after not playing since November, Forbes has come in to start too. Sutty was on his last legs towards the end. 

    “And you can look at the four lads in the stands; Jennings, Jeffers, Gunning and Hammell, and you can see the talent we were missing. I did look to the bench but we only really had kids fit and that would have been a very difficult environment to throw them into. 

    “We were playing a side, tonight, who have just gone to Ibrox and scored three goals and were on a brilliant winning run in the league. They are a very good side, with excellent players so this was a top result for us.”

    It is a victory which brings McCall’s side very close to securing their top-six participationafter the SPL split.

    If the Steelmen defeat Hearts this weekend or Inverness Caledonian Thistle are beaten at Rugby Park then Motherwell are guaranteed top-half football. While even a point at Tynecastle would mean Terry Butcher’s men have to win all three of their remaining fixtures to deny McCall’s troops.

    Even defeat in Gorgie would still mean the Highlanders would require seven points from three matches – one of which is against Celtic.

    “They (ICT) still have nine points to play for and I wouldn’t put it past big Terry to drive them on,” the ‘Well gaffer insisted, refusing to suggest a top-half finish was assured. “But we are in a terrific position.

    “The lads are in tomorrow and there will be no resting on their laurels ahead of the weekend. We go to Hearts and we will have to give another big effort. After that, thankfully we have seven days to rest up and recuperate – and be ready for the Scottish Cup semi-final.”

    The gaffer was clearly reluctant to single out any players after a heroic team effort, but he did praise the goal-scorers and keeper Darren Randolph.

    Indeed, Randolph’s contribution was every bit as vital as the goals from Murphy and Humphrey, with the talented stopper’s stunning save from David Goodwillie deep into injury time securing the three points. 

    “Daz has pulled off a brilliant save from Goodwillie at the end when we were hanging on a bit,” McCall acknowledged. “And you can see Chris Humphrey is a player with bags of confidence at the moment. We left him out for a couple of weeks to recharge his batteries and he’s come out flying.

    “It was great to see young Murphy get a goal as well, and he created United a few problems throughout the night.”

  • Archive

    Dundee Utd win in pictures

    Pictures from the 2-1 win over Dundee Utd in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at Fir Park.

    These action shots and more are available to buy online at

    [svgallery name=”dundeeutd060411″]

  • Archive

    Motherwell 2 – 1 Dundee Utd

    [tab:Match report]

    Alan Temple at Fir Park

    Motherwell notched their second victory over Dundee United in seven days with a brave 2-1 win at Fir Park.

    Jamie Murphy enlivened what had been a fairly low-key first half as he drove home a splendid effort from what seemed like an impossible angle.

    The home side made it two when Chris Humphrey skinned Paul Dixon before firing in a low shot which deflected into the net off the unfortunate Sean Dillon, making it three goals in as many games for the in-form ‘Well flyer.

    A nervy finish was ensured when Johnny Russell flicked home a near-post header from a Paul Dixon corner, but – despite some anxious moments, including a match-winning Darren Randolph save – McCall’s men held on manfully for three precious points.

    Remarkably, trips to Fir Park now account for four of Dundee United’s six away defeats in domestic matters this season – with Peter Houston presumably sick of the sight of North Lanarkshire.

    Stuart McCall has previously bemoaned his side’s lack of consistency, but the Steelmen’s Fir Park form going into this clash was exemplary, having won three consecutive home matches in the SPL.

    In the quest to make it four on the trot McCall made three changes to the side which defeated Aberdeen at the weekend, with Ross Forbes and Stephen Craigan coming in for Steve Jones and Gavin Gunning. Stevie Saunders also made his return to first-team duty, replacing Stevie Hammell.

    The Arabs were also coming into this vital encounter on the back of an impressive weekend result, having defeated the defending champions, Rangers, in their own back yard – a thoroughly impressive response to their Scottish Cup elimination at the hands of Motherwell last week.

    Peter Houston made two changes to the side which triumphed at Ibrox, with Craig Conway coming in for Danny Swanson and Scott Severin starting in place of Barry Douglas – Severin’s first start since 23rd October, ironically a 2-1 defeat against Motherwell.

    The opening stages could hardly have been more different from the blistering start made by ‘Well seven days previous, with both sides struggling for any sense of urgency or vibrancy. Indeed, it took 15 minutes for either side to notch anything approaching a shot on goal, with Johnny Russell firing straight into the arms of Darren Randolph from 18 yards.

    That half-chance seemed to spark the home side into life and Jamie Murphy created a decent chance for John Sutton. The Scotland under-21 starlet sailed past Keith Watson before teeing up the ‘Well striker, but his point-blank effort was well blocked by the scrambling Sean Dillon.

    Sutton’s chance was a forbearer for the Steelmen’s opener, and once again the electric Murphy was at the heart. The 21-year old latched onto a poor clearance following a Ross Forbes cross, and proceeded to burst past to United defenders and beat Dušan Perniš from an astoundingly acute angle – the in-form wide-man’s eleventh goal of a prolific campaign.

    And Motherwell doubled their advantage with five minutes to go until the break – and it was a case of déjà vu all over again, with exactly the same goal scorers as first-half of the cup encounter a week ago – as Chris Humphrey added to Jamie Murphy’s opener.

    The Jamaican-born winger took a stunning first touch from a long diagonal pass to absolutely skin the toiling Paul Dixon on the right-flank. He cut inside toward the United box and his low drilled effort cannoned over the despairing Perniš, via Sean Dillon.

    It was an admittedly lucky finish, but the least the winger deserved from a scintillating run.

    The Arabs were, once again, struggling to impose themselves at Fir Park, but they did register one decent effort, with Craig Conway lashing a free-kick wide from 25 yards. However, it looked as though big Darren Randolph had it covered.

    Over the half-time interval the skies of North Lanarkshire endeavoured to open, ensuring testing conditions for the second period – and in the wind and rain Dundee United attempted to piece together a comeback.

    Firstly, Johnny Russell looped a shot just wide from the edge of the box following some neat interplay down the left between Paul Dixon and Craig Conway. That was immediately followed by a Russell volley wide of goal from 20 yards, after Darren Randolph punched a cross straight to the United youngster.

    With less than ten minutes played in the second half it was Scott Robertson’s turn to come close for the Arabs. The United captain latched on to a David Goodwillie pass, and his low drive was well parried by Darren Randolph, preserving the two-goal cushion.

    The relentless wind and rain were making conditions fairly treacherous, with United keeper Perniš seemingly having the most trouble with the weather, misjudging several clearances and making one particularly comical fumble of a simple long ball.

    As the half progressed there was a distinct lack of fluency – something which very much suited the home side.

    Yet the whipping gusts aided the Arabs attempts to get back into the match as Paul Dixon’s ferocious corner kick caught the gale, producing a massively swerving in-swinging delivery which was flicked into the net by Johnny Russell.

    Moments later the visitors were almost level as Danny Swanson latched on to an incisive through-ball before driving a decent low shot towards the far corner of the net, but Darren Randolph was on hand to parry wide superbly.

    ‘Well had to defend for their lives in the closing stages as the Arabs piled men forward, and Darren Randolph made a magnificent point-blank save to deny David Goodwillie in injury-time – and effectively secure the win for the hosts.

    A third consecutive victory ensures that a top-six place is now tantalisingly close for ‘Well. If the Steelmen defeat Hearts this weekend or Inverness Caledonian Thistle are beaten at Rugby Park then Motherwell are guaranteed top-half football after the split. While even a point at Tynecastle would mean Terry Butcher’s men have to win all three of their remaining fixtures to deny McCall’s troops.

    [tab:As it happened]

    Graham Barnstaple at Fir Park

    Full Time – 2-1 Well, seven points ahead of ICT in race for top six.

    92mins – Randolph makes a stiunning point blank save to secure three points.

    90mins – Two minutes being added on and Page on for Forbes.

    87mins – We look as though we are dead on our feet but there is some determined , dogged play going on out there.

    85mins – 5 to go and Well fans getting nervous as we struggle for any posession!

    80mins GOAL to United, Dixon’s corner headed in at the front post by Russell, Randolh then denies Swanson when he is clean through.

    65mins – final change for United Conway off and replaced by Jon Daly.

    62mins – Pernis makes an over flamboyant save from a Hateley free kick.

    59mins – Another United change, with Swanson on for David Robertson, they are now playing with three up at all times.

    55mins – Crowd is 3435, almost 5000 less than last week!

    53mins – first chance of half to United, Scott Roertson’s low drive from 18 yards denied by fine diving save from Randolph.

    50mins – Gavin Gunning has just appeared in the Director’s Box with his right arm in a sling.

    49mins –  United sub, Kenneth on for Keith Watson who didn’t look happy with the decision.

    46mins – Second half underway, with the rain now sweeping across the ground.

    Half time – 2-0 Well, not as scintillating as last week but it’ll do!!

    41mins – If it stays as a Humphrey goal that is three in three games, he is on fire!!

    41mins – GOAL – 2-0, Humphrey skins Dixon 35 yards out, races into the ox and his shot from 15 yards is deflected over a stranded Pernis.

    27mins – That’s Murphy’s eleventh goal of the season, three behind John Sutton.

    26mins – GOAL – Murphy skips past two defenders and then appears to run along the bye line before somehow squeezing in from tight angle.

    22mins – Humphrey shot from edge of the box blocked, after United fail to deal with a corner .

    16mins – first shot of the game, Russell out paces Cragian but his shot from 20 yards is easy for Randolph to gather.

    1min – Maurice Ross is at left back with Steven Saunders at right back, Ross Forbes wide on the left, that’s the changes from Sat.

    1min – Ref Stevie O’Reilly gets the match underway with United kicking off, and we are shooting into the South Stand.


    Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:

    “That result is outstanding as Dundee United are an excellent side. They’ve won six league games on the bounce, beating Rangers at Ibrox, and they have quality players.

    “We had four regulars out and we had lads running on empty in the last 15-20 minutes. But we hung in there.

    “A team as good as Dundee United are going to have spells in the game. You’ve got to accept that and you have to defend well when they do.

    “And we did that ever so well. We got some great blocks in and big Daz made some great saves. We got home through grit, determination and desire.

    “It’s disappointing to lose a goal from a set-piece but when you look at Garry Kenneth, Scott Severin and Jon Daly – they are a big, big side.”

    Dundee Utd manager Peter Houston:

    “You can’t afford to give a team like Motherwell a two goal start and that is exactly what happened today again. It was poor, poor defending at both goals.

    “The first is from their first attack; they’ve never really been up the bar. A ball down the touchline, we try to be smart instead of clearing it, Forbes gets it to Murphy who does well to score.

    “The second, Dixon rushes out to Humphrey, he flicks it round him. You ask players to get tight but not as tight as that. It then takes a wicked deflection over the keeper and we’re 2-0 down.

    “The last hour we battered them and had enough chances to win the game. Pleased with the second half performance but once again we leave Fir Park with nothing.”


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