Pictures from the 4-2 win over Dunfermline in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at East End Park.
These action shots and more are available to buy online at motherwellPICS.
Pictures from the 4-2 win over Dunfermline in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at East End Park.
These action shots and more are available to buy online at motherwellPICS.
Alan Temple at East End Park
A Michael Higdon brace saw Motherwell return to the top of the league after a hugely entertaining 4-2 win at East End Park.
It was the least McCall’s side deserved for a composed, expansive performance from start to finish, and one which guarentees the Steelmen a place at the summit of the SPL – for 24 hours at least; although they did have to cope with an unwarranted nervous ending to proceedings.
‘Well were ahead early doors as a delightful passing move culminated in a sweeping left-footed finish from Michael Higdon. The lead was doubled ten minutes later as Jamie Murphy surged from midfield before firing past Paul Gallacher, via a kind Alex Keddie deflection.
The game looked to be dead in the second half as Chris Humphrey popped up to score a delightful solo goal.
The Pars’ attempt at a comeback was somewhat laboured as they struggled to create many clear-cut chances, but they did pull a goal back with 20 minutes still to play. This time the home side benefitted from a deflection, as David Graham’s speculative effort found the net, off the back of Joe Cardle.
And Joe Cardle’s late strike has claret and amber hearts in mouths, only for Michael Higdon to complete the scoring in a six-goal thriller; his second of the match.
Naturally, Motherwell reverted to a more tried-and-tested line-up after a successful outing for many of the second string players against Clyde in midweek. Daren Randolph, Stevie Hammell, Stephen Craigan, Chris Humphrey, Steve Jennings and Jamie Murphy all returned to a strong Steelmen starting eleven.
There was also a debut for Tim Clancy, a midweek signing from Kilmarnock. The Irishman replaced Shaun Hutchinson in the heart of defence after the young Geordie succumbed to a hamstring strain.
Dunfermline also made a swathe of changes following an altogether more harrowing Scottish Communities League Cup experience during their defeat to Irn-Bru Second Division East Fife.
Gary Mason, Martin Hardie, Joe Cardle and Clydesdale Bank Premier League joint-top scorer Andy Kirk all returned for the Fifers as they looked to continue a remarkable unbeaten streak at the start of the campaign.
Stuart McCall had previously stated the importance of going into the international break on the back of a positive result, and ‘Well started in fluid fashion, with Nicky Law looking particularly incisive with a couple of runs at the heart of the Pars defence.
And The Steelmen were rewarded for an industrious opening after eleven minutes. Some wonderful interplay on the edge of the box involving Steve Jennings, Keith Lasley and Michael Higdon allowed the latter to spin inside the box and fire a superb finish across Paul Gallacher into the corner of the net.
The visitors were utterly dominant in the early stages and could have doubled their lead after 20 minutes as Tom Hateley curled a sumptuous free-kick from 30 yards off Gallacher’s right-hand post. Jamie Murphy also looked to have a claim for a penalty as Dunfermline scrambled to clear, but Euan Norris waved the shout away.
But McCall’s charges made it two a matter of minutes later. A lax Pars midfield and backline allowed Jamie Murphy to surge forward and his low drive proceeded to take a knick off Alex Keddie, wrong-footing the unfortunate Gallacher and nestling in at the near post.
Things went from bad to worse for Keddie as he was booked for a poor challenge on Michael Higdon moments later. That moment was actually a rare incident of passion and intensity in a very flat performance from the erstwhile unbeaten home side.
That was illustrated five minutes before the break as Tom Hateley, remarkably, was allowed to run the length of the right flank before cutting inside a blazing over the bar – without a challenge in sight.
Only a last-ditch block stopped Motherwell going in at half-time three-down – not a scoreline that would have flattered them – as Higdon was denied a clear effort following a Stevie Hammell cross.
It’s hard to believe that Jim McIntyre wouldn’t have had come vociferous home truths for his side at the break, and his side did display a little more intensity in the early stages of the second half, while struggling to break down and organised ‘Well back four.
Yet it was Motherwell showing the more potent streak up front, and Alex Keddie was forced to clear a dangerous cross-cum-shot after Nicky Law cut inside the box and lashed a right-footed towards the back-post.
And that potency was re-enforced ten minutes into the half as Chris Humphrey made it 3-0. The Jamaican was allowed all the space in the world to surge down the right flank before cutting inside the box. With no challenge forthcoming he powered a left-footed drive past Gallacher, arrowing in to the net via the inside of the post.
While Motherwell had graciously lapped up the good fortune of the first half deflected Murphy goal, it was Dunfermline’s turn to get a slice of luck after 69 minutes. Second half substitute David Graham smashed an effort from distance which struck Joe Cardle, completely wrong-footing Darren Randolph, and finding the back of the net.
Randolph had to be on his toes to save a near-post header from Andy Kirk as McIntyre’s side tried to turn the screw in the latter stages.
A Jason Thomson shot, which harmlessly cleared the ‘Well crossbar, proved to be a warning shot as Dunfermline ensured a very nervous finale. Joe Cardle spearheaded a four-versus-two counter attack after a Keith Lasley slip and, after moving into the box, his shot cannoned off Craigan to make it 3-2.
But the loud band of ‘Well fans needn’t have worried. Moments later a lovely move set Nicky Law free on the byline, and his delivery across the face of goal was poked home by Michael Higdon from close range.
[tab:As it happened]
Kris Jack at East End Park
Full Time – Dunfermline 2-4 Motherwell. A deserving win for Well, unfortunate to lose the they goals they did, but an assured performance. Top of the League.
90 Mins – GOAL! Higdon at the double puts it to bed! A patient build up from Humphrey and Law picks out Higdon at the back post. Magic stuff.
88 Mins – GOAL! Dunfermline pull it back to 3-2. Craigan OG? Cardle given it by Pars announcer though. Randolph had it until Craggs stuck out a leg. Squeaky Bum Time after a really unlucky break for the captain.
80 Mins – Thomson fires over for Pars, after good work to keep the ball in by Kirk. It’s taken this long for Dunfermline to make a game of it.
69 Mins – GOAL! Graham strike takes a massive deflection past Randolph and in to make it 3-1. Pars comeback on the cards?
55 Mins – GOAL! 3-0 to the Well. Chris Humphrey cuts in from the right, as he’s done all day, this time rattling the ball in off the post. Great solo effort.
53 mins – Nicky Law goes close with an effort, as Barrowman swaps with Graham for Dunfermline.
39 Mins – Hateley given free reign of the right wing to run and cut inside, only to fire well over.
21 Mins – GOAL! 2-0 Well, Murphy goes on a darting run in to box, his shot taking a deflection off Keddie and in. Well running the show here.
20 Mins – Law fouled 30 yards out and Hateley rattles the post with a bending free kick. Murphy denied penalty while closing down rebound.
16 mins – Higdon could have had a second, as Humphrey’s cross form the byline almost picks him out. Up the other end, Barrowman fires well wide.
11 Mins – GOAL! Great play from Jennings, Murphy and Lasley to play in Higdon, who smashes the ball low in to Gallacher’s far corner. A merited Well lead.
5 Mins – Motherwell with most of the possession in the early stages, Clancy with a few introductory long balls for good measure.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“We said that we wanted to end with a good result because we have two weeks before we go to Celtic; I could handle scoring four away from home every week.
“We would have like to have done it a bit more comfortably but you’ve got to give credit to Dunfermline.
“We just got a bit sloppy. Once we got the third goal we started taking too many touches on the ball, taking too many risks and not keeping the ball the way we can do.
“If you’d said before the game we would come here and won 4-2, I would have been delighted – so I’ve got to still be happy with that.”
Dunfermline manager Jim McIntyre:
“They played well, but for me we didn’t compete enough. In the second half we got ourselves back in the game, but Motherwell deserved to win.
“We were extremely disappointed with our first-half showing and Motherwell punished us. They’re a good side and we’ll have days like this when it is a learning curve.
“We learned that if you don’t start games well, it is hard to recover. You will get punished at this level. It is about how they respond to it now.”
Tim Clancy hopes to be a part of a successful campaign with Motherwell this year – after watching from afar as the Steelmen roared to the Scottish Cup final last season.
And the Irishman insists he didn’t even have to think about the move when his agent informed him of the interest from the ‘Well.
“I didn’t even think twice about it because I knew it’s a good club and a good bunch of lads. It was an easy decision,” the former Killie stopper praised.
“The lads here had a fantastic season – top six and a cup final – and they have started really well this year, so it’s an ideal move.”
The versatile defender has been described by Stuart McCall as a ‘perfect fit’ for Motherwell, given his ability to play anywhere across the backline; a vital attribute in a member of such a small squad.
[pullquote]The lads here had a fantastic season – top six and a cup final – and they have started really well this year, so it’s an ideal move.[/pullquote]
He also possesses the same philosophy of attractive, flowing football which the Steelmen have adopted this season, after spending last year under the tutelage of Mixu Paatelainen and Kenny Shiels.
He continued: “There are a few teams now that are playing good football; St Mirren are playing nice stuff, Kilmarnock and Motherwell as well.
“It’s good for the SPL. There are a lot of people who like to talk the league down. Obviously with teams going out of Europe, they might start saying it’s a poor league but when players come up from England they find it hard to play in the league. It’s a good standard.”
The 27-year old will go straight into the reckoning for the trip to Dunfermline on Saturday, and he admits he is looking forward to more first-team opportunities after seeing his chances limited at Rugby Park this campaign.
“I cover all the positions,” he admitted. “It can work against you. If you have a set spot every week and you’re playing then you stay in the team.
“It’s a smaller squad as well here. Killie had a lot of players so hopefully if I come in and do well or if someone gets injured and Tom goes into midfield, maybe I could slot in. It goes with the rest of the players across the back four; it’s a smaller squad so there are opportunities.”
Stuart McCall is still in the market for one more signing as he looks to finalise his ‘Well squad ahead of the transfer deadline on Wednesday.
The Motherwell boss was delighted to be able to present his new versatile defender Tim Clancy to the assembled press today, and his focus has now turned to securing an extra attacking option.
McCall has made no secret of his desire to secure the signing of Omar Daley who is currently training at the club.
“I know Omar (Daley) well,” the former Bradford boss said, having worked with the flying winger at Valley Parade. “And I would like the move to happen. But there is a bit of red tape to cut through; visas and things like that.
“But Omar ticks the boxes in the sense that he can play anywhere up font, like Steve Jones last season.
[pullquote]We’re all positive and delighted to get Tim in from Kilmarnock. He can play in a number of positions, and for a club like us that is what you look for.[/pullquote]
“He’s pacey – he’s just what we need and I’d be delighted if we got him tied up, and I’d be happy with what we’ve got after the signing of Tim Clancy.
“We’re all positive and delighted to get Tim in from Kilmarnock. He can play in a number of positions, and for a club like us that is what you look for. I think Tim has probably played about a third of his games at right-back, a third at left-back and a third at centre-back. It suits us down to the ground.
“He’s a good pro and we welcome him on board.”
The Irishman, who shares an agent with ‘Well’s Stevie Saunders, could feasibly make his debut this weekend as The Steelmen make the trip to Fife to face Dunfermline.
Few people would have expected this match to be a top-of-the-table clash at this stage of the season, but both sides can go top with a win – for 24 hours at least.
And McCall is desperate for a victory in the Kingdom ahead of the forthcoming international break.
The gaffer continued: “We’ve had a good run ourselves and we are up against a side, in Dunfermline, who are unbeaten.
“I haven’t thought about that [going top] and someone said Dunfermline can go top if they win. But it’s always nice to finish on a high before the international break; you don’t want to go into that with a negative result.
“It is [a tight SPL] at the moment, when we’ve all got our fully fit squads. Obviously we’ve had a serious injury to Saunders, just like they’ve had one with the boy McGregor, but it’s when you get to the suspensions and injuries that you really get tested.”
Motherwell’s midweek win over Clyde certainly created a feeling that the ‘Well squad may be deceptively well-equipped to handle the rigours of an SPL season, with the likes of Lawless, McHugh and Forbes impressing.
And McCall admits he is delighted with the momentum that result brings and the performance of some of his fringe players.
“We bounced back with a good cup win at Clyde,” he lauded. “The game was a potential banana skin.
“We had to get a happy mix. The lads that all played have been on my bench this season and will be involved for the rest of the season so they needed games.
“They came through well, and we had Michael Higdon getting on the scoresheet. Nicky Law and Steven Lawless got their first goals for us too. All in all it went very well for us.”
A late, late penalty denied Motherwell anything from the match as St Johnstone ran out 3-2 winners in an entertaining encounter at Bathgate this afternoon.
Saints roared into a 2-0 first-half lead courtesy of goals from Chris Kane and a Ricky McIntosh penalty. However, Motherwell fought their way back into proceedings when Keiran McGachie headed home from close range then Nicky Devlin equalised midway through the second half with a cross-cum-shot.
Despite late pressure from the home side, Saints would win it after a trip by Willie Muir on sub Andrew Steeves allowed Ricky McIntosh to tuck home from the spot for the second time, taking all three points home to Perth.
Young made just one change from the side that overcame Kilmarnock six days previous. Josh Watt was feeling the ill-effects of an early season knock and was rested. In his place came new signing Hermann Mboa Mekongo, the Frenchman having received clearance to play earlier in the week.
Expectations were high for an eye-catching encounter but the game actually took a while to get going. Both teams traded possession for the opening quarter with very little in the way of real chances at goal.
Things burst to life though when St Johnstone took the lead after fifteen minutes. Right midfielder Ricky McIntosh picked up on a loose midfield ball and he sent Chris Kane through with a looping ball over the top. After taking a great first-touch touch and with Willie Muir rushing out to narrow the angle, the Edinburgh born 16-year old finished with aplomb, slotting under the goalkeeper to make it 1-0.
Motherwell tried to respond instantly but a long-range effort from Lee Erwin went way over the bar with keeper Alistair Worby able to watch it soar out the ground.
Things quickly went from bad to worse for Motherwell as Saints doubled their advantage from the penalty spot. The Steelmen were far from happy with the decision and replays would show they were right to be upset; it was an incredibly harsh call from referee Stephen Mitchell.
A free-kick from the right by Liam Caddis, after Mboa Mekongo had held back Kane, was whipped in with pace towards the front post. Keiran McGachie challenged with Ryan Hutchinson, brother of ‘Well defender Shaun, and when the ball flicked up, it inadvertently hit the hand of the striker. No one claimed, certainly not Hutchinson, but the whistle went and a penalty kick was the decision.
Ricky McIntosh was in no mood to show mercy and tucked the ball home into the left hand corner of the net, sending Muir the wrong way.
Both teams traded possession, play was sloppy and neither side really took a grip of the match. That said, as the first half neared its conclusion, it was the hosts who applied the most pressure in the hunt for a goal. Zane Francis-Angol made Worby work with a low shot from the edge of the box after neat build-up involving four players.
And, right on half-time, that man Francis-Angol was at the centre of things as Motherwell brought themselves back into the game. Picking up a return pass twenty-yards from goal, the former Tottenham youngster took on and beat Greg Mitchell before hanging a lovely cross towards the back post that found Keiran McGachie. The big striker out-jumped Gareth Rodger to bullet home a header from close range – his third of the season. Game on!
The second half started with the Steelmen on the front foot and they were denied what looked like a stonewall penalty kick when centre-back Rodger blocked Adam Ashgar’s net-bound looking shot with an arm. Referee Mitchell was up with play however, in his defence, his view was obscured by Steve Hetherington which would go some way to explain why a spot kick wasn’t forthcoming.
Be it a sense of injustice at a couple of calls that didn’t go their way or not, ‘Well had the bit between their teeth and eventually got the goal they deserved midway through the half. Keiran McGachie collected inside the area and did well to shield before knocking it wide to the waiting Nicky Devlin. The former Dumbarton full-back skinned McIntosh on the flank before firing a cross-cum-shot over Worby and into the net.
At that stage, there looked to be only one winner and Motherwell kept up the pressure with two efforts from Lee Erwin. Both went over the bar but served notice the Steelmen were seeking all three points.
Fancis-Angol went close again too, this time from a nearly worked free-kick, but again it spun wide the Saints keeper not having to work too hard for his side. Similarly, a long range effort from Mboa Mekongo bounced wide as Motherwell pushed and pushed.
With five minutes left on the clock, Lee Erwin did bring out an excellent save from Worby – his spinning low shot from the edge of the area parried by the young goalkeeper before eventually been hooked away. Three minutes later the same player had another strike, almost from an identical distance, but it treacled past the left hand upright with the Saints keeper at full stretch.
With all Motherwell’s chances, possession and crosses into the box, there was almost an air of inevitability that there would be a sting in the tail and it came in the form of a stoppage time penalty kick for the away side.
Darren Brownlie left a pass back to Willie Muir half a yard short allowing sub Andrew Steeves to nip in. He got there just before the goalkeeper who clipped the striker; referee Mitchell having no other option but to point to the spot.
Ricky McIntosh stepped up once again and slotted it into the same left corner as his first earlier in the match. It was to prove the last kick of the ball as Saints ran out 3-2 winners; a harsh result on Gordon Young’s side without doubt.
Motherwell: Muir, Francis-Angol, Murray, Brownlie, Devlin, Hetherington, Mboa Mekongo, Ashgar (Moore – 69mins), MacDonald, Erwin, McGachie
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Lynch, Leitch, Green
Motherwell Football Club have today completed the signing of Irish defender Tim Clancy on a one-year contract.
Clancy, 27, started his career with Millwall but made his name with fellow SPL side Kilmarnock – playing 75 times in four years at Rugby Park.
‘Well boss Stuart McCall has had to move quickly to plug the gap left by the long-term injury to Steven Saunders and the reliable Clancy, a former Irish Youth International, will provide excellent competition at both right back, left back and at centre back.
Speaking exclusively to motherwellfc.co.uk, Clancy said, “It’s all happened so quickly but I am really pleased to be here.
“Obviously, Motherwell were in the market for a defender after the injury to Steven Saunders and things just went from there.
“I enjoyed my time at Kilmarnock; I’ve made lots of friends and have some great memories. But, for whatever reason, I wasn’t going to get an opportunity there so it was time to move on.
[pullquote] It’s my aim to come here, try and force my way into the team, and hopefully repeat some of the success we had last year.[/pullquote]
“It’s great to get a move to a club like Motherwell. The lads have started the season so well, this on the back of getting into the top six last year and reaching the Scottish Cup Final. It’s my aim to come here, try and force my way into the team, and hopefully repeat some of the success we had last year.”
Steelmen gaffer McCall was pleased with the capture and stressed the need for additional quality and cover along the defensive line.
“After Steven Saunders’ injury, it was important we indentified a player who was versatile and had the quality to play in a number of positions across the back,” said McCall.
“Not only can Tim play at centre back, he is as equally comfortable at both left and right back so he’s very much the player we were after.
“He’s a really good signing, experienced at SPL and has a great attitude. Anyone who I have spoke to about him always come back with positive feedback. He’s mentally strong, a steely character, and I am absolutely sure he’ll be a good addition to the dressing room.”
Steven Lawless admits Motherwell’s history of giving young players a chance helped inspire him to become the latest Fir Park youth player to make the first team.
The 20-year-old marked an assured debut against Clyde with a goal as he powerfully volleyed home from 15 yards to round off a 4-0 Scottish Communities League Cup win.
Lawless has been a regular on the bench since returning from a loan spell at Albion Rovers, who he helped to promotion from the Irn-Bru Third Division after playing 27 games last season.
The winger is likely to feature more often this season with Motherwell manager Stuart McCall currently boasting just eight outfield players over the age of 21 on his books.
[pullquote]There is a lot of talent coming through. I’ve really enjoyed it since the manager has come in because he has given youth a chance[/pullquote]
McCall rested a number of experienced players at Broadwood with the likes of Jordan Halsman, Stuart Carswell and Gary Smith getting a game.
Lawless said: “It was good to get my debut and top it off with a goal but the main thing was to get through.
“I didn’t feel that nervous because I was on loan last season at Albion Rovers and I have played at this stadium before.
“I tried to go into the game in the same frame of mind and I just took it as it came.”
The Hamilton-based youngster added: “It has worked out really well for me. I had a season out on loan and coming back there is not a lot of players. Because of finances, we have been pushed on a good bit.
“I’ve been here about ten years now, I came when they went into administration. They have been giving youth a chance all the way through from (James) McFadden and (Stephen) Pearson right up to Murph (Jamie Murphy).
“Hutchie (Shaun Hutchinson) broke through and I played with him in the under-19s. He is an established player now and seeing him play week in, week out has pushed me on a bit.
“The team we finished up with (at Clyde) was basically the under-19s team from two or three years ago.
“We finished third that year so it’s good to see a lot of them playing. There is a lot of talent coming through. I’ve really enjoyed it since the manager has come in because he has given youth a chance.”
Referee for Saturday’s Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with Dunfermline at East End Park will be Euan Norris.
It will be Euan’s first in charge of the ‘Well this season but Fir Park fans will be familiar as the 33-year old handled two games last term.
The first, a 0-0 draw with Inverness was instantly forgettable. However, the other was one that will live long in the memory. Motherwell beat Championship-chasing Celtic 2-0 at Fir Park; former striker John Sutton netting a brace.
The season previous to last, Euan also handed two matches. He was the man in the middle when Motherwell edged out Falkirk 1-0 at Fir Park. Lukas Jutkiewicz got the only goal of the game, heading home a corner from the left after 18 minutes.
His other game that campaign was also at Fir Park; a stormy affair between Motherwell and Hibs. The Steelmen won the game 1-0 thanks to a Jamie Murphy goal eight minutes from time but the game was marred by a red card for Liam Miller for a challenge on Jim O’Brien midway through the first forty-five.
Thankfully, FIFA referee Norris usually likes to keep his cards in his pocket with only twelve cautions handed out in those games, with six flashed at a ‘Well players.
Euan will be ably assisted by Brian McGarry and Graeme Leslie with Brian Winter on fourth official duties.
Stuart McCall commended the attitude of the Motherwell players as they comfortably defeated Clyde 4-0 in the second round of the Scottish Communities League Cup.
Goals from Michael Higdon, Nicky Law, Tom Hateley and Steven Lawless put ‘Well through to the next round with ease, in what could have been a potential Cup upset.
“It’s always a potential banana skin,” acknowledged McCall. “I saw how well East Fife played at Dunfermline last night. It was good that we got the first goal as it could have added pressure if we hadn’t done.”
[pullquote]All the boys that played tonight have been on the bench and will be needed in the next few months.[/pullquote]
A side which had six changes from the weekend loss to Rangers was lacking in first-team experience but packed with youthful talent, and turned in a terrific performance.
And McCall believes it bodes well for a long season, during which the likes of Lawless, McHugh and Page may be asked to play a pivotal role.
“All the boys that played tonight have been on the bench and will be needed in the next few months,” the former Bradford gaffer insisted.
It was the perfect response to the first league defeat of the season, which saw Rangers run out 3-0 winners at Fir Park on Sunday. And Stuart was quick to praise the attitude and response of those who took part against Rangers – as well as the impact of the players who came in.
There was also the added bonus of maiden goals for Michael Higdon, Nicky Law and the impressive, waspish Steven Lawless: “It was good for Mike (Higdon) to break his duck and get on the score-sheet.
“Little Lawless as well; he’s a Will O’ the Wisp of a player – a jinky little winger who’s played well in the bounce games.
“In no uncertain terms, before the game, I made it clear how important it was that the attitude of the players who came in was right. It’s always the case; if your attitudes not right then you can come a cropper.”
Pictures from the 4-0 win over Clyde in the Scottish Communities League Cup at Broadwood.
These action shots and more are available to buy online at motherwellPICS.