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    Craigan thanks ‘Well fans

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    Important Parking Information

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    McCall thrilled for Craigan

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    Partick Thistle win in pictures

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    Motherwell 1 – 0 Partick Thistle

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    Craigan honoured by testimonial

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    McCall wants focus from his side

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    Rangers game live on ESPN

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    Leeds hospitality just £29 per person

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    McCall satisfied with Sons win

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    Craigan thanks ‘Well fans

    Motherwell legend Stephen Craigan has thanked the fans who made his testimonial against Partick Thistle such a special occasion.

    Well over 2000 fans turned up to honour ‘Well’s most capped player; a stalwart who has played over 300 games in the claret-and-amber of Motherwell and over 100 games for Thistle.

    And they saw Craigan grab the only goal of the encounter, dispatching a penalty after Jamie Murphy was hauled down – the goal-shy centre-back wheeling away in celebration after just two minutes; a unique sight for both Motherwell and Jags fans alike.

    [pullquote]I always wanted this game to be against the only other club I’ve played for here and it was great to get such a reception from the fans.[/pullquote]

    The night ended, fittingly, with the 34-year old being subbed off to a rapturous standing ovation.

    “I am really grateful for all the people who turned up tonight, it made it a great occasion for me,” said a moved Craigan. “I always wanted this game to be against the only other club I’ve played for here and it was great to get such a reception from the fans.

    “We know the Thistle fans travel in good numbers and it was great to see so many of them here.

    “People will think that’s the biggest fix in football [the penalty award] but was a definite penalty. I still had to be persuaded to take it and I didn’t make up my mind where I was going to put it until I hit the ball, which isn’t a good ploy. Fortunately, it went in and that was a real relief for me.”
     
    The defender insisted there was never any danger that he wouldn’t sign on for another season, as Stuart McCall enjoys his first full campaign at the Fir Park helm.

    Some fans were worried at the time it took for a deal to materialise, but the man McCall described as ‘inspirational’ is visibly delighted to have signed on for another year.

    He continued: “As the season goes along with no offer you do start to worry but I spoke with the manager after the cup final back here at Fir Park over a drink and it was obvious he wanted me to stay.

    “From then I wasn’t hard to deal with, particularly after being here for so long it would have been hard to move elsewhere. I enjoy coming to work here and I get on with the people I work with why would I move anywhere else.

     “Contracts are hard to come by these days and I am glad to be playing for another season at least. At the moment I am planning to take things a season at time and see how my fitness and desire is. Sometimes its only when you get back into pre-season that the buzz returns and you get that feeling for the game again.”

    ‘Well’s captain was coy on what his future will hold, clearly choosing to focus on further successes with the Steelmen.

    The Northern Ireland defender made several appearances on TV towards the end of last season, appearing as comfortable on the BBC and ESPN as he did marshalling the ‘Well backline. While Craigan admits that he enjoyed the change of scenery, he still has no concrete plans for his future beyond Motherwell – whether it’s in the media or in coaching.

    “They are both things I enjoy doing but at the moment I am concentrating on playing.” Craigan insisted.

    “I enjoy helping the young players along during a game, although I am not sure it would always be so enjoyable when you are coaching for a living!”

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    Important Parking Information

    In recent seasons it has become common practice for supporters to park their cars on the grassed area opposite Motherwell South Parish Church, bordering Findlay Street and Adele Street.

    As a result of complaints from local residents and other members of the public, North Lanarkshire Council, after consultation with Strathclyde Police, have erected trip rails around the existing ash car parks thereby preventing access to the grassed area.

    Strathclyde Police has asked the club to point out to supporters that anyone parking on the grassed area runs the risk of having their car towed away and/or being charged and reported to the Procurator Fiscal. Please park responsibly taking care not to obstruct driveways.

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    McCall thrilled for Craigan

    ‘Well boss Stuart McCall couldn’t his delight for Stephen Craigan after the defender scored the winner in a 1-0 victory over Partick Thistle this evening.

    The Motherwell Captain was being honoured by the club and the fans for his 14-year service at Fir Park and made a dream start; slotting home from the penalty spot after Scott Fox had hauled Jamie Murphy to the ground inside the first few minutes.

    McCall joked that he was shouting at players to follow it in but was thrilled that the veteran capped his own night with the one and only goal.

    [pullquote]We did create chances; their keeper made a couple of good saves, we hit the bar and had an effort cleared off the line. If it had been a League game we would have been a bit frustrated we hadn’t closed the game out earlier.[/pullquote]

    He quipped: “He only decided where to put the ball when he ran up to take the kick, and when I saw that I was telling the rest to follow it in!”

    “No, seriously, it was a good work out for the boys. the only down side was we could have scored more goals, and Michael Higdon had to come off with a slight knock.

    “We did create chances; their keeper made a couple of good saves, we hit the bar and had an effort cleared off the line. If it had been a League game we would have been a bit frustrated we hadn’t closed the game out earlier.

    “On the plus side, Darren Radolph got 90 minutes, although he made his only save in the last minute, and Steven Jennings got 70 odd minutes under his belt.”

    McCall played a full-strength side against the Jags as ‘Well prepare to take on another Thistle, from Inverness, in the SPL opener in ten days time.

    The former Sheffield United and Everton player hinted before the match that he would go with a strong side and give them all as long as possible.

    He explained, “I was saying to the players and the staff that I always felt when I was playing that it took three games to get underway, but that was when you had a long pre-season of six weeks.

    “We are only going to have three and a half weeks before the first game so we have to get as many of them games as possible.”

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    Partick Thistle win in pictures

    Pictures from the 1-0 win over Partick Thistle at Fir Park in Stephen Craigan’s Testimonial match.

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

    [svgallery name=”partickthistle130711″]

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    Motherwell 1 – 0 Partick Thistle

    [tab:Match report]

    Alan Burrows at Fir Park

    Stephen Craigan scored the only goal of the game as Motherwell ran out 1-0 winners over Partick Thistle in the skipper’s testimonial.

    The Northern Irish International netted from the spot after Jamie Murphy had been pulled down in the box by Thistle keeper Scott Fox.

    And it was a night of emotion for the 34-year old with 2000 plus supporters turning out to honour his fourteen years at Fir Park.

    ‘Well boss Stuart McCall made two changes from the side that swept away Dumbarton last Saturday. Darren Randolph and Steve Jennings both returned from knocks to play their first match in pre-season at the expense of Lee Hollis and Ross Forbes.

    Thistle included two former ‘Well players in their starting eleven. Willie Kinniburgh was at the heart of the Jags’ back four whilst Martin Grehan was instructed to spearhead the attack.

    As far as scripts go – it was impossible to write it any better as the man of the night Craigan put his team ahead in the opening minute. A lovely Stevie Hammell through ball sent Murphy on the chase one-on-one with Thistle keeper Fox. The former Scotland U21 starlet got there first and was crudely grounded; referee Alan Muir pointed to the spot. An almost hesitant Craigan stepped up and duly converted with some aplomb.

    Motherwell continued on the front foot when Higdon had two half decent chances to double the home advantage and, at the same time, net his first goal in Claret and Amber. The first, a bending shot following good Humphrey build-up, went just over and the second, a header from a Hateley corner, was well saved by Thistle keeper Fox.

    Fellow new signing Nicky Law was also getting in the thick of the action and, similar to Higdon, had two decent efforts of his own to get amongst the goals. A headed effort at the back post was followed by a terrific jinking run and shot that was brilliantly turned over by Fox to keep the score at 1-0.

    It only looked like a matter of time before the Steelmen would double their advantage and that would’ve been the case had it not been for a brilliant block by William Kinniburgh. Jamie Murphy was the man with the effort, his low shot beating the keeper only for the defender to scoop the ball away from under the crossbar.

    That seemed to give the visitors some belief and they knocked the ball about with a degree of confidence in the remaining fifteen minutes of the first-half. Martin Grehan, had the Jags’ first chance at goal when he met a teasing ball from the left, but his header dropped harmlessly wide.

    Stuart McCall replaced Michael Higdon during the interval with young Bob McHugh and the striker, who would’ve spent time on loan at Firhill last year but for a nasty wrist injury, had the first chance of the second period when he headed over a Hateley cross. Minutes later, Humphrey came close again with a blazing shot after some lovely jinking lead up play.

    Thistle knocked the ball about nicely without creating too much in the way of problems for Darren Randolph or the ‘Well rearguard. Down the other end, Fox had to look smart to save a testing Tom Hateley effort; the former Celtic youngster grabbing at the second attempt.

    Things got slightly sloppy as match headed into the final stages, substitutions from both sides interrupting the flow. That lull was interrupted by a moment of brilliance from Jamie Murphy though as the youngster bent a terrific curling effort from the edge of the box off the of the bar and out.

    Two minutes later, another moment of quality, this time from Nicky Law, set up Murphy who could only head over on the stretch from six-yards out.

    It took Thistle until the 88th minute to force Randolph, who had been a spectator for the majority of the match, into action. A driving run by substitute Thomas Stewart almost brought its rewards but his low bouncing effort from the edge of the ‘D’ was well held by the Republic of Ireland international.

    It was to prove the last action in an otherwise entertaining ninety minutes.

    [tab:As it happened]

    Graham Barnstaple at Fir Park

    Full time – 1-0 ‘Well, highlight Criagan’s penalty to win the game!

    90mins – Stephen Craigan replaced by Saunders, and he leaves the field to a standing ovation from all fans.

    81mins – Almost two nil, a Murphy bending shot from 18 yards crashes clear off the cross bar.

    77mins – Two changes for ‘Well, Humphrey and Jennings off, Forbes and Lawless on.

    76mins – Thistle make three more changes, and another player coming on has no number – it’s getting silly!

    75mins – Willie Kinniburgh cleans out Humphrey at the edge of the box, a yellow in any other game but not tonight.

    72mins – Just before change McHugh’s header from Hateley’s cross had the goal keeper scrambling to save at the 2nd attempt.

    70mins – Strange sub for Thistle, Balatoni goes off, someone with no number comes on! He is a trialist not listed on our team sheet apparently.

    69mins – Crowd just announced as 2122….

    65mins – Double sub for Thistle – Grehan and Cairney off and Stewart and Bannigan on.

    50mins – Humphrey cross from the right headed just over by McHugh, then Humprhey cuts in off right and fires left foot shot over.

    45mins – Teams back out, ready to get 2nd half underway, with McHugh on for Higdon.

    Half time – 1-0 Well, Thistle started to look slightly better as half ended but Well dominated for long spells and could be further ahead.

    33mins – Thistle create their first chance with Martin Grehan heading wide from about 10 yards out.

    29mins – Law sends Murphy through with a brilliant pass, he rounds the keeper but Kinniburgh clears off the line.

    22mins – Nicky Law ghosts in off left leaving three in his wake, but his deflected shot is brilliantly tipped over by keeper Scott Fox.

    19mins – A great Hateley cross to the back post is headed just wide at the back post by Nicky Law.

    10mins – Higdon’s downward header goes straight at keeper from a Hateley corner, inches either way it would have been in.

    6mins – great passing move down right sees Hateley release Higdon but he can only bend his shot over.

    2mins – GOOOALLLL – 1-0 ‘Well. Crags takes and coolly strokes the ball into the bottom right hand corner with the keeper going the right way.

    2min – Murphy pulled down by keeper Fox for a penalty in only the second minute – only one man to take it!!

    Kick Off – Game underway with Thistle kicking off and we are shooting towards the South Stand.

    [tab:Reaction]

    Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:

    “It was a good work out for the boys, the only down side was we could have scored more goals, and Michael Higdon had to come off with a slight knock.

    “On the plus side, Darren Radolph got 90 minutes, although he made his only save in the last minute, and Steven Jennings got 70 odd minutes under his belt.”

    Partick Thistle boss Jackie McNamara:

    “It was a good test for us against a good side. I think they proved that last season when they reached the Scottish Cup Final that they are a good team. Fitness wise I was very pleased with what I saw.

    “There are a few things though that we need to work at, especially offensively. Going forward last night I felt that we were too predictable and that is something that will be working to improve upon. Overall though, there were good things to take from the game.

    [tab:Man-of-the-match]

    [poll id=”59″]

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    Craigan honoured by testimonial

    Stephen Craigan has spoken of his honour as Motherwell prepare to commemorate his long service to the club at Fir Park tonight.

    The Steelmen will take on Craigan’s only other senior club, Partick Thistle, to mark the Northern Irish International’s 14-year run in North Lanarkshire.

    Skipper Craigan is in his second spell at Motherwell after initially arriving in 1994 before returning in 2003 after a three-year spell at Firhill.

    [pullquote]It is a nice personal touch that the club have awarded me a testimonial and it will be a special occasion for me.[/pullquote]

    “It is a nice personal touch that the club have awarded me a testimonial and it will be a special occasion for me,” Craigan told skysports.com.

    “My mum and dad and my wife will come to the game and it will be a night I will never forget.

    “I left home at 17 and my time in Scotland has been great and it feels like home now.”

    Craigan, who agreed a new one-year deal earlier in the summer, is keen to keep playing for as long as possible despite turning 35 in October this year.

    “Football can be fickle sometimes, but I have been loyal because I have enjoyed my time at Motherwell,” added Craigan.

    “The new contract was easy to renegotiate because as long as the club are happy with me, I am happy with the club.

    “The contract is settled and I am looking forward to the start of the new season.

    “Regards my future I am taking it season by season and I feel as fit and as good as I’ve ever been so I will keep going. We have got quite a young team and I am the experienced head who can help the younger players develop.”

    Fans should note that only the East Stand and Phil O’Donnell Stand will be open tonight. The Davie Cooper and South Stands will be closed. The Centenary Bar will be also be open to the public.

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    McCall wants focus from his side

    ‘Well boss Stuart McCall admits his side will have no time for sentiment when Partick Thistle visit Fir Park for Stephen Craigan’s Testimonial.

    Motherwell fans will have their opportunity to pay tribute to a modern day Motherwell legend on Wednesday night after 14-years and 351 games in Claret and Amber.

    And although the Steelmen supremo is thrilled for his captain, he is conscious of the need to use the match as a vital pre-season preparation match.

    [pullquote]I am really pleased for him (Craigan) but we certainly won’t be treating it as a testimonial game.[/pullquote]

    “First and foremost, I am delighted for Stephen; he has been a great servant to the club and he’s a terrific professional,” said the 46-year old.

    “I noticed that from my first day in here – he shows great professionalism in everything he does; both training and games. I am really pleased for him (Craigan) but we certainly won’t be treating it as a testimonial game.

    “This is a vital match for us in our preparations coming just ten days before we play Inverness Caley Thistle in the SPL.

    “It’s our third game now and we’ll be looking at giving most of the starting eleven the full ninety minutes.

    “Jenno (Steve Jennings) will be back involved and hopefully he can get a good half under his belt. Likewise, Darren Randolph is another who will return so we are all looking forward to it. Although it’s a testimonial in name, it’s a vital part of our pre-season line up and we’ll treat it accordingly.”

    Thistle will be amongst the runners and riders in the race for the First Division next season.

    The Firhill side return to Fir Park for the first time in five years and will provide stern opposition in the penultimate pre-season match of the summer.

    McCall has already laid down the gauntlet to his team in terms of what he expects this season and that will start tomorrow.

    He said, “The game is most certainly going to be a big step-up from Dumbarton; more in line with what we faced against Morton last midweek.

    “They gave us a good test and I am sure Jackie McNamara’s side will do exactly the same.

    “But we’re now two weeks into our training programme and the lads have been showing some great hunger and desire in training so that augers well. We’ve had a few team meetings and the players are absolutely clear what is expected of them and what our targets are for this coming season.”

    Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the return to training has been the emergence of some of the younger talent at the club.

    Players who were perhaps previously stifled are now been given an opportunity to show the Fir Park boss just exactly what they can do.

    And with the Motherwell squad light in terms of depth, the former Bradford boss is hopeful more than one of the young guns can establish themselves in the first-team.

    “My job and the job of the staff here at Motherwell is to improve the players both individually and as a group,” he explained.

    “At the moment, we’ve only added two players in Michael Higdon and Nicky Law and they have certainly added quality to our pool. But, with the financial climate the way it is now at most clubs, everyone is looking for their younger players to step up to the mark.

    “Guys like Bob McHugh and Gary Smith, who aren’t 16-year old kids, have put themselves in the frame. I have been really impressed with the lad Lawless when he has played along with lads like Jamie Pollock and Stuart Carswell, both of whom have done fantastically well both in training and the games we’ve played.

    “Big Jon Page has had a great start to pre-season and we need these lads to stop classing themselves as ‘the youngsters’. They are not here to make up the numbers, they have to aim to be involved and I don’t mean just as a part of the squad, but look to push people and get into the first team.

    “Look at young Carswell – we brought him in at the back end of last season when no-one really knew too much about him. I seen a few things whilst watching the Under 19s that I really liked about him and he, along with others, have been with us from the first day of pre-season and you can visibly see the improvement in these guys. I’ve laid down the challenge to each and every one of them. They must look around and see that we’re not exactly flush with experienced outwith the eleven or twelve or thirteen.

    “There is a great opportunity for them and they’ve got to look at the situation and think, ‘we’ve got a chance here’. They know that both Kenny and I will give them a chance if they are doing well and progressing. We want to get the young lads through; we believe in them. It’s now they’ve got to step up to the plate and take their chance when they are given the opportunity.”

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    Rangers game live on ESPN

    Motherwell’s Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with Rangers on Saturday August 20th will be covered live on ESPN.

    The game will now kick-off at 12noon as opposed to the originally scheduled 3pm kick-off.

    This is the only Motherwell match scheduled for live coverage between the start of the season and the end of October (Fixture Rounds 1-13).

    >> UPDATED FIXTURE LIST

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    Leeds hospitality just £29 per person

    Enjoy our pre-season friendly match with Leeds Utd in style and dine with the club for an amazing £29.

    In what is Motherwell’s ‘glamour’ game against the English giants, why not sample what our new in-house catering team in the Centenary Suite.

    The package includes:

    • Choice of two hot dishes
    • Selection of cold meats
    • Salad bar
    • Bread selection
    • Apple pie & cream
    • Tea or Coffee
    • Your own designated seat in the Centenary Club Section of the Phil O’Donnell Stand and Half-Time tea

    All this for just £29 per person.

    To book

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    McCall satisfied with Sons win

    Motherwell boss Stuart McCall was pleased with his players’ application after a comfortable 5-0 win over Dumbarton.

    The Steelmen supremo spoke candidly before the game about how he wanted his first-team stars to show the right mentality and treat the game with respect.

    He got that by the bucket load as the Fir Parkers turned in a very satisfying display, netting five times without reply.

    [pullquote]“I told the players before the match that not only would we treat Dumbarton with respect, but play to our maximum and, to their credit, they carried that out.[/pullquote]

    “I was very pleased with the application of the players from the first minute to the last,” said McCall, who is forging a reputation as a manager who always demands 100% from his side regardless of the opposition.

    “I told the players before the match that not only would we treat Dumbarton with respect, but play to our maximum and, to their credit, they carried that out.

    “We were well on top but in saying that, Lee Hollis has had to make some tremendous saves early on. When we settled down we played some neat stuff and scored some nice goals.”

    With players such as Chris Humphrey, Nicky Law, Keith Lasley and Jamie Murphy in the ranks, Motherwell have a wealth of creative options from middle to front.

    That was reflected in the amount of chances created at goal with Sons keeper Stephen Grindlay busy for the whole ninety minutes.

    McCall acknowledged Motherwell’s strengths going forward but also insists that the squad have been working hard to make things more watertight at the back.

    He said, “I’d like to think, with team that we have got, and the quality that is in it, we will create chances against anybody.”

    “The way we play, we like to go forward a lot in an attempt to create but perhaps we need to be slightly tighter at the back as we can’t all go on mass. We’ve been working hard in training and I am pleased with the response I’ve had.

    “We’re also working hard on the fitness side of things too. Most of the boys stepped up from 45 minutes the other day to about 70, 75 minutes today and we’ll look to progress that on when we face Partick Thistle and Leeds next week.”

    Perhaps the biggest positive to come out of the result at the Strathclyde Homes Stadium was the performance of new signing Nicky Law.

    The midfielder, a summer capture from Rotherham Utd, was in sensational form, involved in everything positive Motherwell did, tormenting the home defense and even pitching in with a sublime goal.

    McCall, all too familiar with his talents having worked with the player on three separate occasions, called for more goals when he signed and he dully delivered, much to the delighted of the manager.

    “He (Nicky) has very good ability going forward and he’ll create plenty of chances for our strikers,” McCall continued.

    “Thankfully, today, he has got himself amongst the scorers because that is what he needs to add to his game.

    “The last two seasons he has been named in the League 2 Team of the Year and has had the most assists in the division but for his ability he should be getting more for himself.

    “He settled in well but this is a good club to settle in at. There’s a lot of lads his age, he already got a flat and moved in. So far, so good!”