Pictures from the 3-3 draw with Hearts in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at Tynecastle.
These action shots and more are available to buy online at www.motherwellpics.com.
Pictures from the 3-3 draw with Hearts in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at Tynecastle.
These action shots and more are available to buy online at www.motherwellpics.com.
Motherwell remain unbeaten at Tynecastle this season after a monumental second-half comeback against Hearts in Gorgie.
The game looked to be over for the Steelmen as Hearts raced to a 3-0 lead in the first 50 minutes, thanks to a penalty from Craig Thomson, a Rudi Skácel strike and a powerful Ryan Stevenson header.
Yet Stuart McCall’s cup finalists would not be beaten, and pulled two goals back in quick succession, through John Sutton and Tom Hateley.
And a remarkable afternoon in the Capital was completed as John Sutton stooped to head home his 17th goal of the season, and rescue a remarkable point.
The hosts, on a run of just one win in seven matches, made two changes from the side which drew against Inverness Caledonian Thistle the previous week, with Eggert Jonsson coming into the team in the place of Andrew Driver and Marian Kello replacing Jamie MacDonald. Once again the PFA Player of the Year nominee David Templeton had to be content with a place on the bench.
Motherwell re-jigged their team from the previous week’s demolition of St Johnstone, with Gavin Gunning, Stevie Saunders and Steve Jones coming in for Stevie Hammell, Chris Humphrey and Steve Jennings, the latter two ruled out through injury.
A low-key opening in the torrential Gorgie rain was enlivened after twenty minutes as a sharp Rudi Skácel header was saved by the sprawling Darren Randolph. That was immediately followed by a Craig Thomson free-kick, which swept inches over the ‘Well cross-bar.
And Hearts managed to turn that pressure into a lead just before the half-hour mark. Willie Collum adjudged Stevie Saunders to have fouled Ryan Stevenson in the box, despite the contact looking fairly minimal in the area.
Craig Thomson stepped up and sent Darren Randolph the wrong way to give the Jambos the lead.
Jim Jefferies’ side, without a win in three meetings at Tynecastle against Motherwell, took confidence from that opener and doubled their lead before half-time, with Rudi Skácel firing high past Darren Randolph. While the first goal was seeped in controversy, the second was superb, coming after a slick one-two with Stephen Elliott.
Motherwell regrouped admirably, and could easily have pulled a goal back in a promising close to the half. Firstly Steven Saunders point-blank header was saved by the returning Marian Kello, before Jamie Murphy was slipped through on goal at an angle, only to see his shot saved.
The pattern was set for a pulsating second half when, just eight minutes in to it, a goal was put on the board. It went the way of Hearts, as Suso Santana’s cross was headed home firmly by the arriving Ryan Stevenson.
That came moments after Stevenson had struck a low shot from a tight angle – which struck the inside of one post, rolled along the goal-line, and hit the other post before bouncing out. So, perhaps some deserved luck for the former Ayr man.
If the game was dead and buried at 3-0, then someone forgot to tell the Steelmen.
Moments after Hearts fired in their third goal Motherwell pulled a goal back, with a well-worked headed goal of their own. Steve Jones danced brilliantly into the box, and hung a stunning cross to the back post where John Sutton nodded home.
And a matter of minutes later Tom Hateley made it 3-2, as his whipped in-swinging delivery evaded everyone and crept past Kello at the far post.
Both sides exchanged excellent efforts as a pulsating clash raged from end to end. Ian Black lashed a shot inches over the bar while Steve Jones came a matter of centimetres away from levelling the scores, striking the foot of the post with a sharp low drive.
You sensed there was still a twist in this extraordinary tale, and it was delivered, with 88 minutes on the clock, by the in-form, in-demand John Sutton.
The big Englishman’s movement inside the penalty area was phenomenal as he darted to the near post to flick on a Gavin Gunning cross. The header was delicate and accurate, and found the far corner, sending the travelling Motherwell fans wild.
It capped an incredible afternoon at Tynecastle, Stuart McCall heading back across the M8 the happier of the two managers.
[tab:As it happened]
Graham Barnstaple at Tynecastle
Full time: 3-3; what a comeback, another performance of great character and spirit when the game looked lost.
90mins – Three minutes being added on, time for a fourth!?
89mins – GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL – 3-3, an amazing comeback, Gunning’s cross to the front post is flicked past Kello by head of Sutton, is it a hat trick?
87mins – The sun has finally came out with three minutes left!
83mins – Hateley releases Jeffers whos blasts wide with only the keeper to beat, we should be level with the chances we’ve made.
82mins – Another Hearts change Skacel off Driver on.
73mins – Jones sees a shot beat the keeper but bounce clear off the post.
70mins – Hearts make another change, Suso off (and taking about five minutes to do it) and Templeton on.
65mins – Kello has just made two great saves from long range shots from Hateley and Jeffers, a completely different game now!!
60mins – GOAL! 3-2, Hateley free kick from wide on the left either goes straight in or takes a flick from Sutton, but no matter we are back in it!!
58mins – crowd is 13039, not bad considering the weather.
57 mins – Maurice Ross on for Steven Saunders.
55mins – GOAL – 3-1, great run from Jones down right, picks out Sutton to head in his 16th of the season from close range.
53mins – GOAL – 3-0, Suso cross from right picks out the unmarked Stevenson to power a header past Randolph from about 6 yards out.
49mins – Big escape, Stevenson turns Craigan on bye line, and his shot from a tight angle hits both posts and somehow comes out.
48mins – Booking for Suso Santana for a hack on Gunning.
46mins – Second half underway, Hearts have brought on Mrowiec for Webster – no changes for Well.
Interval: Lovely Royal Wedding cup cakes in the press room at half time.
Half time: 2-0 Hearts bit better towards the end of the half…..
43mins – Hateley to Murphy whose shot at the front post saved at front post by Kello.
41mins – Our best chance, a Saunders header looks as though it was going in but Kello somehow managed to claw the ball out.
36mins – GOAL – Hearts, Skacel plays a one two at the edge of the box before firing a shot high past Randolph from 10 yards out to make it 2-0.
31mins – After giving a goal kick when Bouzid heads out Hearts break and Stevenson hits the post with a 20-yard shot.
25mins – That’s six penalties Willie Collum has awarded in his last two and a bit games now, two to Celtic, three for Rangers and this one.
25mins – If you are going to give penalties for this sort of thing we’ll end up with loads of pens a game, also a soft booking for Saunders.
25mins – GOAL – Pen for Hearts jostling in the box, Saunders push on someone and Craig Thomson blasts home leaving Randolph no chance.
21mins – a ridiculous booking for Murphy, he miss-hits a clearance and the ball spun up and hit his arm – a foul but not deliberate.
20mins – Brilliant save from Randolph to turn a header from Skacel over the bar from close range.
11mins – Ian Black is flat out after taking a Tom Hateley free kick square in the face, but it looks as though he will be okay to carry on.
8mins – we’ve forced 2 early corners but no real danger from either of them.
1mins – Hearts kick off and the crowd are asked to make some noise as always here.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“That’s what they’ve shown in the last month, they’ve backed each other up, they’ve gone to the last minute.
“Fair play to both sets of players, they’ve played a great game. It could’ve been 6-6.
“They hit the post, we hit the post, there were chances galore, really good entertaining attacking football and it was a great, great advert for Scottish football.
“Some of our play was outstanding, so was Hearts’.”
Hearts manager Jim Jefferies:
“Credit to them, they came back and got a draw; It was a fantastic game for the neutral but a sore one for us to take.
“We played so well and we were in a winning position and we’re a bit gutted that we didn’t hold on. A penalty by Craig Thomson, a strike by Rudi Skacel and a header by Ryan Stevenson put Hearts in command, but John Sutton’s double, which sandwiched a Tom Hateley goal, levelled the scores.
“At three-nil, we were playing really well. Everything was fine and then we felt the referee gave a shocking decision against Stephen Elliott, just inside his own half. From the resulting free-kick, it cost us a goal.
“The second wasn’t defended well. We should have enough bodies there to go and meet it and put it away and clear it.
“And the third one’s worse because they’ve got a great cross in from their point of view, we know Sutton’s very good at getting in front of people, he had more determination than we have defensively to go and meet the ball and we should’ve put it in Row Z.
“I am gutted really because it feels like a defeat. There’s a lot to be pleased about the performance. I thought we were really good up until when the second goal went in.”
Steve Jones has praised the talent of the Motherwell squad – but has set his sight on proving he too is worthy of a regular place in the starting eleven.
The Northern Irishman admits that he has been surprised with the overall standard of the Scottish game; in particular, the ‘Well ranks, and he has tipped the likes of Jamie Murphy, Chris Humphrey and Shaun Hutchison for great things.
“I see enough talent there to go, at the very least, into the Championship,” he praised. “The players here are still young and learning and have a great opportunity.
“There’s even clubs in the English Premier League – your Bolton’s and Fulham’s – who bring in young players and nurture them through. There are definitely boys here who have that potential. I really think the sky is the limit.
“John Sutton is banging in the goals, Murph (Jamie Murphy) and Humphs (Chris Humphrey) have been superb and I have been really impressed with big Hutch (Shaun Hutchinson) who has been really dominant and impressive at the back.”
Despite what he admits is fierce competition for a first-team place, the former Northern Irish internationalist has hopes of fighting his way into the first-team reckoning at Fir Park.
If he achieves that, and perhaps features in a Cup final in the process, Jones confesses that he would be keen to sit down and talk terms with Motherwell. His contract at parent club Walsall expires in the summer and he would not be averse to extending ‘a really enjoyable’ spell in North Lanarkshire.
No-one is totally safe; the squad which played in the semi-final may not be the squad that plays in the final,” the 34-year old said keenly. “So I’ll be on my toes, just like the rest of the players.
He continued: “I’m open to all options. I see no reason why I wouldn’t want to stay (at Motherwell), as I’m really enjoying my time here and that’s the main thing. It’s too early to start talking about these things – that will come at the end of the season. But I feel like I look after myself the right way and have plenty of football left in me.”
The Motherwell on-loan winger also dismissed any idea that the Steelmen may switch off in the SPL with the May 21st showpiece to look forward to.
Instead, he believes it will inspire a surge in the final five games as players fight to secure their place in the team on that special occasion – starting with the trip to Tynecastle; a location where ‘Well are unbeaten in their last three visits. Indeed, Jim Jefferies has not tasted victory over Motherwell in Gorgie since he returned to Hearts.
“We had a meeting yesterday and we all said that we don’t just want to stay where we are,” the determined former Bradford player insisted. “Especially with a Cup final place on the line; we will push on and hopefully win as many games as we can.”
Stuart McCall has urged his out of contract stars to sign new deals, and help set the foundations of something special at Fir Park.
Several heroes of the Steelmen’s stunning Cup run and ascension into the top six have deals which end this Summer, including John Sutton, Franny Jeffers and Steve Jennings, and the ‘Well gaffer has assured Motherwell fans that the club have begun negotiations to keep several of the club’s key performers.
And McCall, speaking to the Press at his pre-match press conference, has insisted that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side: “Sometimes in football, as in life, it’s not all about getting an extra £5 on your weekly pay-packet.
“It’s about job satisfaction; about enjoying coming to your work in the morning. As I player I used to love coming to training and I have tried to, as a manager, create an atmosphere where the players want to come and progress, to work hard and to learn.
“I’m meeting agents in the next few days, but I’ve already said to a few players that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. If you are happy, content and enjoying life then sometimes there is no need for a change.”
The Motherwell boss is happy that the recent achievements have put the club in a decent position to negotiate new deals with several members of the first team squad.
The Steelmen have reached a lucrative Scottish Cup Final, have ensured the prestige and financial rewards associated with top-six football and could still attain European football next season should Celtic win the SPL or ‘Well lift the Cup.
While it doesn’t guarantee an extended stay for all the expiring stalwarts, it does benefit the club.
“I knew, coming here, that top-six football and a decent Cup run would help to maintain the budget,” said the 46-year old. “There will be a lot of clubs next season actually cutting their budget, but when we sit down with the players we will hopefully be able to offer good deals.
“We will offer them the best deal we can. When agents get involved it becomes complicated as they want to get every penny they can get – which is understandable – so I guess we will have to wait and see.
“We know what a good squad we have here and we want to keep it together, so it’s a case of working hard to find the solution.”
The gaffer also re-iterated his desire to hold on to his young stars who have impressed immensely this campaign. The likes of Chris Humphrey, Jamie Murphy and Shaun Hutchinson have turned in performances which are bound to have caught the eye of many clubs.
But McCall is steadfast in his desire to keep this talented squad together at Fir Park, and believes North Lanarkshire is the right placce to be for his charges to develop their games and reach their potential.
“You can look at a lot of our squad and think that big clubs might be coming in for them,” the gaffer conceded. “Being selfish, I hope that isn’t the case, because we want to hold on to our best players.
“You look at players like Jamie Murphy and they are flourishing. And I think another season here will make them better players again – but you have to say that it is a testament to the players that people are even talking about them.”
Away from contract matters and Stuart McCall has moved to urge his players to finish the SPL strongly, and catch this season’s surprise-package Killie – and in doing so assure themselves a Cup final berth.
A top-six finish was always the priority for the Steelmen, but now that has been achieved McCall certainly isn’t letting his players rest on their laurels, especially ahead of the May 21st showpiece.
“I think our aim has to be to catch Kilmarnock,” McCall challenged. “At three points I believe that is very do-able.
“But we will give our all in every match in the final five games and we will look to kick-on because all the players are desperate to be in that team for the Cup final.”
Jamie Murphy and Stephen Craigan have both been nominated for the Scottish Cup Player of the Semi Final award.
Vote for your Player of the Round at the official Scottish Cup Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/scottishcup and be in with the chance of winning a pair of tickets to the Scottish Cup final between Motherwell and Celtic on 21 May.
The nominations are:
Stephen Craigan (Motherwell)
Jamie Murphy (Motherwell)
Joe Ledley (Celtic)
Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic)
Voting closes on Wednesday 4 May 2011…
Jamie Murphy will use the joyous scenes that greeted the Motherwell players after their victory over St Johnstone as inspiration for the final against Celtic.
Murphy began to realise how much their 3-0 victory meant when the Motherwell team bus was stopped in the road before fans flocked to welcome them at Fir Park.
And he is eager to spark more celebrations when Motherwell face Neil Lennon’s men on May 21.
“It was great to come back to Fir Park and see all the fans waiting for us,” Murphy said.
“It gives you that incentive that if you do win the cup final there is going to be even more here and at the game celebrating as well.
“You hear stuff that it means a lot but you never really know until after the game.
“When you see the celebrations from the fans after the game and them following the bus, it’s great. It’s what you want to see as a football player, it means you are doing well.
“It was at the Electric Bar on Airbles Road, the fans ran across the road and stopped the bus for a wee while. It was good to see, obviously everyone was enjoying themselves and had a great day out.”
Murphy was outstanding against Saints, netting a spectacular solo goal, but the 21-year-old is still coming to terms with the fact he has helped Motherwell to their first Scottish Cup final for 20 years.
“I was just looking forward to the game more than being nervous about it,” the former Scotland Under-21 international said.
“It was a massive game for the club and all the players and myself as well, so to do well in a big game like that was great and it means we’ve got one more big game now.
“It’s still sinking in, it’s not every day you score a goal in a Scottish Cup semi-final. I’m getting a lot of texts and phone calls and stuff, everyone wants to go to the final.
“It will be great to have a big support there, especially my friends and family.”
Murphy almost added a second solo goal when he glided through the Saints defence before slipping the ball inches wide.
The pacy forward’s display drew comparisons with James McFadden from Motherwell midfielder Keith Lasley, who played with both.
“It’s flattering but James McFadden will always be remembered by the Motherwell fans for who he was and what he did,” Murphy said.
“I just need to keep trying to do well and hopefully make a name for myself here and take it from there.”
Murphy has grown in confidence over the past 12 months or so and his faith in himself and his team-mates will encourage him ahead of the final clash against Celtic.
“We know we have a good team and if we play well on the day, we are a match for most teams,” he said. So we just need to prepare right between now and the end of the season and hopefully do well in the league.”
Motherwell will qualify for Europe if Celtic win the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, whatever happens at Hampden.
But Murphy has not given up hope of securing a European place before the cup final by closing an eight-point deficit on fourth-placed Dundee United.
“We’re trying to do as well as we can in the league, that’s the only sure way that we’re in Europe,” said Murphy, whose team face Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday.”
Willie Collum will take charge of Saturday’s Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with Hearts at Tynecastle.
Regarded as one of Scotland’s best up-and-coming officials, this will be Willie’s third Motherwell game of the current campaign.
He was in charge of the Co-operative Insurance Cup Quarter Final clash with Dundee United at Fir Park; Alan Gow’s late goal booking ‘Well’s spot in Sunday’s showpiece occasion. He was the man in the middle for the Semi Final too as Rangers scraped past a brave ‘Well side 2-1; Keith Lasley grabbed the goal for the Fir Parkers.
Collum has had a busy, and at times, challenging season. Just before that Cup clash with the Arabs, the 32-year-old had been at the centre of an Old Firm storm after awarding Rangers a controversial penalty.
However, to his credit, Collum has gone on to have another excellent season with highlights so far including three Champions League games in Greece, Germany and Romania, two Europa League games in Germany and Holland as well as the Euro 2012 qualifiers between France and Belarus in Paris and Bulgaria and Switzerland in Sofia.
Last season, Collum took charge of three Motherwell matches. Jim Gannon’s side crashed to a disappointing 3-0 defeat at St Mirren in the Co-operative Cup and followed that with another defeat; by the same score line, at Tannadice some five months later.
However, the most memorable, by far was the 6-6 draw with Hibs at the tail end of last season.
Incredibly, Motherwell have never won a league game whilst Collum has been in charge. The only victory recorded whilst the Bellshill based whistler has been the man in the middle was the then CIS Cup win against Raith Rovers at the start of the 2007/08 season, a Scottish Cup success at Inverurie the following season and the aforementioned win over Dundee Utd last October.
His overall record in charge of the Steelmen reads three wins, seven defeats and two draws from twelve matches.
In those games, Motherwell have scored 18 and conceded 24. 20 players have gone into the book, ten wearing claret and amber, while two players have been dismissed – Ian Murray of Hibs at Easter Road a few years back and Jerard Aafjes at Falkirk last season.
James Bee and David Watt will run the lines, with Neil Watters on fourth official duties.
John Sutton insists Motherwell won’t simply make up the numbers in next month’s Cup final with Celtic.
The Steelmen have achieved nothing, yet. Not a criticism; merely a statement of intent from the Hampden hero, who has already set his sights on becoming a Scottish Cup winner on May 21st.
While other sides may be content to reach their first final in 20 years – to soak up the atmosphere and collect the plaudits – Sutton says that anything other than lifting the trophy would still amount to failure.
The determined 27-year old insisted: “There are a lot of teams who would reach the final and think ‘that’s that.’
“But most definitely we want to go on a lift the trophy; it was a good result in the semi-final as St Johnstone are a good side. Now we are in the final, against Celtic, we don’t want to just turn up, we want to go on and win it.
“There are pictures of the 1991 side all over Fir Park, and you talk to people about Motherwell and that is the first thing that comes to mind.”
The Steelmen reached the final after a blistering opening half, which saw the men in Claret and Amber two goals to the good within 14 minutes, before Sutton added a third in spectacular fashion five minutes before the break.
Despite this vibrant opening, the big striker actually says that Stuart McCall told them to relax in the early stages.
“No, he said the opposite,” the former Spurs youth laughed, when asked whether ‘Well had been under instructions to go for the jugular from the first whistle. “He actually said if you have a poor first 15 minutes don’t panic.
“It’s a good pitch and he thought that would suit us. We didn’t play at our best but when we did get the ball down we cut them open a few times and were probably good value for 3-0 at half time.
“It was a good goal to get [Sutton’s strike]. At the time it made it extremely difficult for them to come back. 2-0 at half time would have been okay but if they had got a goal at the start of the second half things would have been difficult, but at 3-0 made it very difficult for them.”
The attacking options of Motherwell have garnered much praised after the demolition of the Saints, with Jamie Murphy gaining particular acclaim for a stunning display, ably aided by the likes of Humphrey, Lasley and Jeffers.
Sutton was also his usual effective bustling presence up front, and his goal continued a stunning cup campaign for the big Englishman, who has now scored in every round of the competition.
When drawn on the idea of potentially carrying that habit on in the final he had his priorities clear: It doesn’t matter if ‘Well lift the cup!
“The main thing is getting a result in the final,” he admitted. “It would be great to take one step forward and repeat the feats of 1991.”
Stephen Craigan and Stevie Hammell hailed the magic of Jamie Murphy after leading Motherwell to their first Scottish Cup Final in 20 years.
Murphy scored a wonderful solo goal to double ‘Well’s lead after just 14 minutes – ten minutes after captain Craigan had given McCall’s men the lead. It set the side in Claret and Amber on their way to a handsome 3-0 victory.
Yet the ‘Well captain was modest enough to admit that the Steelmen had not even been at their best as they blitzed Derek McInnes’ St. Johnstone side – but he hailed the 21-year old who tormented the Perthshire club all day long.
“When you have got the quality of Jamie Murphy who can take people on, beat them and create things, then you always know he’ll be a threat.” the ‘Well captain lauded.
“We never felt totally comfortable, as I don’t think we started the game particularly well. In the first thirty minutes we didn’t pass the ball well, although we did get our goals at the right time.
“We were struggling to get a foothold in midfield. They had the extra man in there and they were dominating that area. Set-pieces were also a danger against us.
Craigan’s emphatic header was the Steelmen stalwart’s first goal in five years – with the 34-year old clearly having a knack for dramatic timing.
But the ‘Well legend admits that he very nearly wasn’t in position to score the opener at Hampden. Indeed, without the say-so of his gaffer he might have still been in defence as Tom Hateley whipped in his sumptuous delivery.
“I wasn’t even going to go up for the corner,” the captain smiled. “But the manager gave me the go ahead and I went up for it. It was a strange one. I didn’t expect to get the chance; I thought the goalkeeper had it covered.
“You can tell by my reaction to scoring that I wasn’t too sure what to do with myself! It’s strange when you haven’t score for a while, but you can tell I was emotional and I was up for the game today to say the least.”
The goals from Craigan and Murphy were supplemented, five minutes before the break, as John Sutton lashed home a spectacular 30-yard strike, which looped over the flat-footed Peter Enckleman.
And another ‘Well stalwart, Stevie Hammell was full of praise for Motherwell’s explosive front players who proved simply too hot to handle for the Saints.
Hammell said: “I think they started by putting more pressure on us but if we can get the ball to our front players we can cause any team problems.
“This helped take the pressure off, I don’t think we created a lot of chances but being two up in a big pressure game gives you a cushion and allows you to relax a bit.”
The Steelmen are now in the pleasurable position of being able to relax and watch the second semi-final, as Celtic and Aberdeen battle it out for the right to join ‘Well at Hampden in May.
And, regardless of who progresses, Hammell has his eyes on lifting the trophy.
“Well we are going to go out later and we will see if we get back in time to make it to watch the game,” the left-back smiled after the victory. “I don’t mind who we get as it is great to get there.
“Everywhere you look at the club all you see and hear is the 1991 stuff, and if we could lift the trophy it would be a dream come true.”
Motherwell FC today paid tribute to the 7,000 fans that made the Semi Final at Hampden such a memorable occasion.
The Steelmen were cheered on by a positive, vocal and loud support which spurred the team to a terrific 3-0 win.
And it was something that was highlighted by staff both on and off the field.
‘Well boss Stuart McCall said, “I would like to dedicate the win to our terrific fans that have been absolutely fantastic since I arrived four or five months ago.
“The backing the boys received today was terrific and that certainly helped lift their performance, particularly in the first half.
“I hope each and every one of them has a great night tonight. They deserve it and I am so glad they now have a Cup Final to look forward to.”
Chief Executive Leeann Dempster added, “It was fantastic to see the stands at Hampden so colourful and I want to thank the fans for helping us get there.
“These are very exciting times for the club, we want to build on this and really push on. Between now and May 21st, I want the whole of Lanarkshire to be bathed in Claret and Amber and really get the community feeling behind the club and the players.
“Getting to any Final is a major achievement and I want to pay special credit to Stuart McCall, his staff and the players for such an excellent display.”