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    McCall delighted with tough win

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    Hearts win in pictures

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    Motherwell 1 – 0 Hearts

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    Clyde ticket prices confirmed

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    Law loving life at Fir Park

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    Rangers game switched

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    Bid on Craigan Testimonial kits

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    McCall wary of Hearts threat

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    MARS Just Play kicks off this Monday

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    Youths edge out Blackburn Rovers

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    McCall delighted with tough win

    Stuart McCall lauded another clean sheet and another three points as Motherwell regained top spot in the SPL with a 1-0 win over Hearts in a tempestuous encounter at a rain-soaked Fir Park.

    A second half goal from Jamie Murphy was enough to secure the victory after Ian Black saw red for a reckless challenge on Keith Lasley. Lasley himself made the long walk to the dressing room five minutes from time for a trip on Arvydas Novikovas, but Motherwell closed out the game with aplomb.

    As well as earning top spot, the result represents the Steelmen’s third consecutive clean sheet in the league this campaign.

    “I’m delighted with another clean sheet,” McCall praised. “We know we’ve got players up front that can change a game, so it’s vital to keep it tight at the back. I said to the boys at half-time that it could be a 1-0 win and that we needed to defend well.

    “It’s a good start and something that we’re delighted with – but it’s nothing more. We’ll try to keep building on that as we go to St. Mirren next week.

    “We said at half-time that we had to raise it because the first half was a non-event. And although it was a nervous end we’re delighted with the three points.

    “You have to realise that Hearts are a good side and won’t just let you play, but I thought we did well in the second half and played some really good stuff.”

    [pullquote]Hearts are a good side and won’t just let you play, but I thought we did well in the second half and played some really good stuff.[/pullquote]

    The game was a very even contest up until Ian Black’s red card – at which point Motherwell took control of possession and dominated the game, scoring 15 minutes later.

    And while McCall – a tenacious midfielder in his day – admits the challenge was dangerous, he has sympathy for the former Caley midfielder; a sentiment which he shares when looking at the late dismissal of the excellent Keith Lasley.

    The former Bradford boss analysed: “I’ve watched it again and I think they both go in for the ball, fully committed on the greasy surface, and Keith Lasley has got there split seconds before Black. I don’t think there is any malice at all. It looked reckless and I think that’s why the ref has sent him off.

    “In these conditions when you slide in like he did you’ve got to make sure you get the ball.”

    Similarly looking at Lasley’s dismissal, he said: “Sometimes fouls are just fouls. I can understand why the referee has given the booking, but not every foul automatically has to be a booking.”

    Another blistering performance from Jamie Murphy seems unlikely to dampen the fervour surrounding the gifted 21-year old, with the best part of a month left of the transfer window.

    That, allied by a terrific display from several players who could be attractive to other clubs, with do nothing to cease the grinding of the rumour mill. While the former Rangers midfielder is acutely aware of the realities of modern football, he isn’t inviting bids for his star players – a group which has rocketed to the top of the league and is yet to concede a league goal.

    “We’re not encouraging bids and I’m hopeful everyone will still be here at the end of August,” McCall challenged. “I genuinely believe we have a few boys that will go on to play at a very high level, but playing regularly for Motherwell is good for them.

    “We’ve not had one enquiry about any of our players, and long may that continue. I like to think the boys enjoy coming to work, and we’ve worked hard to create a good environment at the club. All of us should enjoy coming to work and I don’t think there is anyone chomping at the bit to get away.”

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    Hearts win in pictures

    Pictures from the 1-0 win over Hearts in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at Fir Park.

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

    [svgallery name=”hearts070811″]

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    Motherwell 1 – 0 Hearts

    [tab:Match report]

    Alan Temple at Fir Park

    Motherwell ascended back to the top of the SPL with a hard-fought victory over Hearts in an ill-tempered encounter which saw two men sent off.

    An even, scrappy encounter swung in the direction of the men in claret-and-amber moments after half-time as Ian Black inexplicably lunged into Keith Lasley. Stevie O’Reilly produced the red – and ‘Well began to dominate.

    The man advantage was turned into an advantage on the scoresheet on the hour-mark as Jamie Murphy calmly rolled a lovely finish past Marian Kello from inside the box.

    Further chances followed for Murphy and Law, while Hearts – who appeared to lack a ‘Plan B’ when down to ten men – saw their best chance saved by Darren Randolph; a first half drive from Andy Driver.

    The numbers were evened out with five minutes left on the clock as Keith Lasley was shown a second yellow for a foul on Novikovas – but it proved too late in the day to make a massive impact on the final result.

    Stuart McCall had the pre-match fillip of being able to call on Michael Higdon – coming in for McHugh –  after the bustling striker made a miraculous recovery from a thigh strain which was initially expected him to keep him out for a further week.

    In less positive injury news for the ‘Well gaffer Shaun Hutchinson had to be left out after suffering a heavy knock in training on Friday afternoon. Scotland international Stevie Saunders took the big stopper’s place in central defence.

    Ex-Motherwell striker John Sutton had to be content with a place on the bench on his return to Fir Park, with Paulo Sergio opting to start with Ryan Stevenson leading the line. Indeed, the only change from the side which dismantled Paks of Hungary in midfield was Jamie Hamill replacing the injured Stephen Elliott.

    Early chances were at a premium in miserable Lanarkshire conditions, with Andy Driver providing the only test to either keeper with a shot from the edge of the area, having robbed Stevie Saunders, but Randolph parried away.

    Motherwell’s best chance in the driving rain of the opening stages came after twenty minutes, with Steve Jennings forcing a fairly simple save from Marian Kello, following some excellent build-up play on the right flank from Tom Hateley.

    Further efforts from distance by Jamie Hamill and Marius Zaliukas proved ambitious and foolhardy, and were indicative of a fairly ordinary encounter – yet ten minutes before the break the Steelmen should have been ahead.

    In the first moments of outright quality Nicky Law found Chris Humphrey with a sumptuous 50 yards pass, before the Jamaican picked out Jamie Murphy at the back post with a pinpoint cross. But the Scotland under-21 star couldn’t keep his header under the bar when completely unmarked.

    While ‘Well could have been ahead, they needed to rely on Darren Randolph to ensure they didn’t go in at the break one-down. Andy Driver streamed past Stephen Craigan to collect a loose ball and Randolph had to rush off his line to splendidly block Driver’s dinked effort. The Englishman then had to stoop to save a shot from Jamie Hamill as Hearts enjoyed their best spell of the game in the five minutes before the break.

    If the first half was a tad lifeless then the opening exchanges of the second half made amends – with Hearts being reduced to ten men after five minutes. The tempestuous Ian Black made a crazy lunging challenge on Keith Lasley, despite the ‘Well man being in his own half, which prompted Stevie O’Reilly to produce a straight red card.

    While the numerical advantage did allow Motherwell to gain the majority of the possession, clear chanced remained rare, although Stevie Hammell did somewhat scuff a decent chance wide.

    The home side did finally turn their possession into a lead, partly thanks to a stunning defence-splitting pass from Stevie Saunders. The versatile defender found Nicky Law, who calmly squared the ball to Jamie Murphy, who retained his composure to slot ‘Well into the lead from eight yards.

    McCall’s side were using the man advantage superbly, and could have doubled their lead when Tom Hateley lashed a drive across goal, missing all claret-and-amber jerseys. That was immediately followed by an excellent Kello save, denying Jamie Murphy from point-blank range.

    Paulo Sergio – in his first SPL outing – threw on John Sutton and Arvydas Novikovas but struggled to break down an organized, composed Motherwell side, who used their extra man to perfection. Indeed, the only moment of drama came in the form of a late dismissal; Keith Lasley walking, after a second booking for a trip on Novikovas.

    [tab:As it happened]

    Graham Barnstaple at Fir Park

    Full Time: Great three points and we are still top – three clean sheets in three games

    91mins – 3 minutes being added on, 1 and a half already played!!

    90mins – Sub for ‘Well – Carswell on for Murphy.

    86mins – Lasley shown second yellow for a foul on Novikovas.

    84mins – Hearts final change – Hammill off, Novikovas on.

    80mins – Humphrey on the break fouled by Hammill at edge of box as he lines up to shoot, only a yellow!

    77mins – Hearts second change – Skacle for Templeton.

    75mins – Attendance this afternoon is 5685.

    60mins – GOOOALLLLL – Saunders defence splitting pass to Law who squares to Murphy who beats Kello.

    57mins – Sutton on for Driver for Hearts, mixed reception from Well fans.

    51mins – Can we now make the extra man count?

    50mins – Straight red for Ian Black for a tackle that was high and late on Keith Lasley, now making a meal of leaving the pitch.

    45mins – Second half underway, with Well kicking off.

    HALF TIME: The kids are from the Wishaw Soccer Centre – some quality kids football on show….

    HALF TIME: The ball is bigger than some of the kids! But they seem to be having fun out there.

    HALF TIME: Plenty of half time entertainment today, first Cash Converters Challenge and then Mini Steelmen doing their stuff now.

    Half Time: Poor so far – Motherwell 0 – 0 Hearts.

    45mins – One minute being added on, one too many!!

    41mins – Driver denied by Randolph as he tries to lift the ball over the keeper.

    35mins – Yellow card for Lasley for a late challenge on Mrowiec, no complaints.

    32mins – Law switched play to Humphrey and his cross picks out Murphy who can only head over.

    20mins – Humphrey cross reaches Jennings whose shot from back of box is beaten out by Kello for a corner.

    17mins – Sadly not a lot to report, both sides are cancelling each other out in dismal wet conditions.

    7mins – Murphy and Higdon combine to set up Law but he can only stroke a weak shot wide of the far post.

    5mins – Saunders half clearance reaches Driver at the edge of the box and Randolph saves his effort at full length.

    1min – Game is underway, Hearts kick off and we are hitting towards the South Stand.

    [tab:Reaction]

    Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:

    “It is a good start; It is obviously what we are looking for, but it’s nothing more than that. We have to keep building on it and we look to the next game against St Mirren and nothing more.

    “Hearts had the better chances in the first half, which came from us giving the ball away sloppily. Obviously the sending off had an impact on the game, but it was a little bit nervy at the end. If we could have got the second goal we would have killed them off, but I was delighted with the three points and the clean sheet.”

    Hearts manager Paulo Sergio:

    “Perhaps we should have not have lost, but we have a lot to improve, but I’m sure we will because we have lots of football to look forward to.

    “I feel a draw may have been fair but I offer congratulations to Motherwell.”

    [tab:Man-of-the-match]

    [poll id=”63″]

  • Archive

    Clyde ticket prices confirmed

    Ticket information for the Scottish Communities League Cup 2nd Round clash with Clyde on Wednesday 24th August can now be confirmed.

    ‘Well fans will be able to pay at the turnstiles with admission set at:

    ADULTS:   £12  
    CONCESSIONS:                                            £5
    • Concessions are listed as Under 16s, Over 65s and full-time students with a valid matriculation card.
    • Fans who require wheelchair access should contact John McCaskie on 01555 870122 or email sharon.mccaskie@sky.com.
    • Motherwell fans will occupy the West Stand (along the side of the park).
    • The match will kick-off at 7.45pm.

    Communities League Cup

  • Archive

    Law loving life at Fir Park

    Nicky Law is reveling in the freedom afforded to him by Stuart McCall, as the 23-year old continues to garner rave reviews at the heart of an entertaining Motherwell side.

    The former Rotherham midfielder has settled into the Motherwell side admirably as ‘Well have enjoyed an industrious and progressive start to their SPL campaign – and he admits that he is loving the style of football being implemented by his current gaffer and long-time admirer Stuart McCall.

    “I knew the style of football the manager would like to play,” Law praised. “The manager has played on the floor and quick counter-attacking, more so at Motherwell because we have got better players here than we had at Bradford.

    [pullquote]The staff at Fir Park, the fans and the players have been welcoming to me.[/pullquote]

    “In pre-season we played like that and we looked to carry it on into the league, it’s something we have been able to do. People are starting to recognise Motherwell now as a good footballing and passing side and that’s something we want, but we also want good results on top of that. Our aim is to get into the top six and improve on last season.”

    Law and McCall worked together at Bradford City during the current ‘Well boss’ tenure as manager at Valley Parade, and the Nottingham-born playmaker has already confessed that McCall played a big part in his decision to move up north.

    He also cites the Steelmen boss as a major reason why he has settled in so well – along with the harmony in the dressing room.

    “Within a week I felt like I had been here a couple of seasons,” he praised. “Because everyone was so easy to get on with. It’s predominately quite a young which is easier for myself, when people are around the same age it’s a bit easier to get on with them. The staff at Fir Park, the fans and the players have been welcoming to me and the same with Higgy as well.

    “Obviously the manager knows about me and I know about the manager and that does help because sometimes you can go to a new club and the manager doesn’t know too much about you.”

    Law admits that the SPL standard is a step up from what he has been used to in League Two with Rotherham, and he is keen to challenge himself further when Hearts – many people’s pick as third-force in Scotland – come to town on Sunday afternoon.

    It has been a dramatic week at Tynecastle, with the arrival of Paulo Sergio in the dugout in Gorgie, replacing Jim Jefferies, but Law is expecting a positive reaction from the men in maroon – particularly having just landed a plum draw with Tottenham Hotspur in the Europa League.

    He continued: “They had a good result in Europe last night and we have just found out about their draw in the cup, which is something they will be looking forward to.

    “With a new manager coming in you’re trying your hardest to impress the new manager. That’s what they will be doing but we felt, particularly at home, we can give anybody a game at the best of our ability.

    “They were tipped as the only team that could break into the top two between Celtic and Rangers. They are obviously still looking to do that so it’s a great test for us.”

  • Archive

    Rangers game switched

    Motherwell’s clash with Rangers later this month has been moved to Sunday due to the Ibrox club’s involvement in the Europa League.

    Ally McCoist’s men will take on Maribor in the Play-Off Stage of the competition on Thursday 18th August.

    As a result, the game at Fir Park will be moved to the Sunday (21st August) with a 2.15pm kick-off.

    As was previously scheduled, the game will still be covered live on ESPN.

    >> Updated Fixture List

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    Bid on Craigan Testimonial kits

    Stephen Craigan is offering ‘Well fans the chance to own a piece of history after listing all the kits worn during his testimonial match on eBay.

    Craigan is the current Captain of Motherwell FC and over two spells has played in more than 350 games for the Club.

    Having also played 54 times for Northern Ireland he is also the most capped player to have played for Motherwell FC. 

    A true Motherwell favourite and Club Legend!

    For the first time we are offering an entire kit, namely signed shirt, shorts, and socks for sale.

    These items are very rare and are a must for any collector of Motherwell FC memorabillia or match worn football shirts/kits. 

    All monies made from these kits will be going to the Stephen Craigan Testimonial Fund.

    **CLICK HERE TO BID**

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    McCall wary of Hearts threat

    Stuart McCall expects a dangerous, fully focused Hearts side to arrive at Fir Park on Sunday, despite the events of an utterly tumultuous week in Gorgie.

    To the surprise of many, Vladimir Romanov decided to dispense with the services of Jim Jefferies and Billy Brown, replacing them with Sporting Lisbon boss Paulo Sergio, and his assistants Alberto Cabral and Sergio Cruz.

    And while there was initial anger regarding the decision from many quarters, much of the outrage has subsided after a fine 4-1 victory in the Europa League third qualifying round and subsequent draw with Tottenham Hotspur – factors which the ‘Well boss is wary of and Sergio makes his SPL bow in North Lanarkshire this weekend.

    “It happens in football [the dismissal of coaches] l and I’m sure Jim and Billy understand it and accept it – especially working at Hearts,” the 47-year old said. “I was at the game the other night and from the first whistle the crowd got behind the team and behind the new manager. They got the win and – I’m not saying Jim and Billy will be forgotten – it’s a new era.

    “They’ve certainly got strength in depth there; a lot of players, so we’re under no allusions how difficult Sunday will be.”

    While McCall’s regard for Hearts’ squad is clear, the former Bradford gaffer is somewhat skeptical regarding the claims of Marius Zaliukas that Vladimir Romanov is looking for Paulo Sergio to deliver the SPL title.

    “I still think it’s difficult for any team to split the Old Firm and I think most people would say that, but Hearts had a terrific run last season,” the Motherwell boss acknowledged. “I think they won ten out of eleven before fading away. But they’ve got the strength in depth which most clubs are envious of; two players for each position. The strength is there and the quality is there, but it’s a big ask [to split the Old Firm]. It will be expected to be between them and Dundee United to finish third.

    [pullquote]I was at the game the other night and from the first whistle the crowd got behind the team and behind the new manager.[/pullquote]

    “Who knows? If they can consistently hit the form that they hit for a spell last season and Mr Romanov earmarks some more players. They’re a good side; that much is for sure.”

    The former Bradford boss had admitted a degree of frustration regarding missing out on transfer target Gavin Gunning in the last week.

    The Irish under-21 international looks set to complete a move to Dundee United, with the Arabs using some of the finances afforded to them by the departure of David Goodwillie to make a lucrative offer for Gunning – something ‘Well could not cope with.

    “We can’t get near the package Dundee United will be offering him [Gunning],” a candid McCall admitted. “He’s one that we would’ve liked to bring in but it’s outwith out wage structure and we will move on. It’s not a problem; we understand it.

    “If he’d came back on loan then we could have offered him something, but it’s a permanent deal and his wages at Blackburn are quite high and we couldn’t pay anywhere near that last year and we can’t pay anywhere near it this year.”

    Missing out on Gunning means that the search for new talent to add to the arrivals of Michael Higdon and Nicky Law continues.

    The gaffer has acknowledged that he would like to add an attacker and a defender to the ranks, as he looks to add depth to what is a talented, but shallow, pool.

    He continued: “We haven’t got much left in the budget so we’ve got to spend it wisely. Nobody can pinpoint where you are going to get an injury so we possibly could need a forward player that can play out wide or up front – like Steve Jones last year.”

    “But we also know we’re short at the back if we get a couple of injuries to our centre-halves. It’s a balancing act but it’s what managers get paid for. We’ve got what we’ve got to spend, and that’s football; we get on with it.

    “It’s difficult, and we’ll be looking at the younger end of the market – boys who are going out on loan for the first time. But I’ve also said we have to give our own young players a chance. Bob McHugh played last week, was unlucky not to score and had a decent full 90 minutes.

    “We’ll need to see how these young players progress in the next few weeks and hopefully they can improve and keep learning.”

  • Archive

    MARS Just Play kicks off this Monday

    Mars

    Motherwell FC is taking part in the MARS Just Play project which aims to provide men and women with the chance to play football free of charge throughout the Summer!

    Mars have teamed up with the SFA in a project designed to get people back into football and there will be the opportunity to sign up and get a game of football free of charge on the Fir Park Astro.

    To sign up couldn’t be simpler, register for the date/dates (9pm – 10.30pm) you want to play then turn up on the night and our dedicated staff will be on hand to provide equipment and co-ordinate matches!

    Email Graeme.mcarthur@motherwellfc.co.uk or teresa.okeeffe@motherwellfc.co.uk  or telephone us on 01698 239 926 for more information.

    The programme will run at Fir Park on Monday nights, 9-10.30pm on the following dates:

    • August 8th 2011
    • August 15th 2011
    • August 22nd 2011
    • August 29th 2011
    • September 5th 2011
    • September 12th 2011

    Get involved!

  • Archive

    Youths edge out Blackburn Rovers

    Motherwell U19s continued their pre-season preparations with a good 2-1win over Blackburn Rovers at Dalziel Park this afternoon.

    The young Steelmen side, who drew 0-0 with Bathgate Thistle in Paul McGrillen’s Memorial Game just four days ago, played well throughout the match and probably just about deserved the win.

    Rovers had the best of the opening exchanges and hit the post early on but it was the only time Willie Muir’s goal came under any real threat in the first forty-five.

    Motherwell looked dangerous on the counter but it was all square at the interval. However, the home side did eventually break the deadlock early in the second courtesy of a close-range strike from Lee Erwin after good work by Adam Ashgar.

    It remained that way until two minutes from time when Rovers equalised, the substitute striker curling home from what looked like an impossible angle.

    However, Motherwell wouldn’t be denied and, deep into stoppage time, Josh Watt pounced on a lovely hanging cross to fire home to give ‘Well the victory.

    Motherwell: Muir, Devlin, Francis-Angol, Cummins, Brownlie, Trialist, Hetherington, MacDonald, Ashgar, McGachie, Erwin

    Subs On: McLean, Murray, Watt, Moore, Leitch

    [svgallery name=”blackburnu19s040811″]