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    Norris in charge for Cup clash

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    TV: Goals from Fir Park

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    TV: McCall praises attitude

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    TV: Ojamaa keen on Fir Park stay

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    St Johnstone win in pictures

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    Motherwell 3 – 2 St Johnstone

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    TV: Young looks ahead to United test

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    TV: McCall disappointed at appeal

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    Club Statement – Michael Higdon

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    “Convert for Cash” Challenge returns

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    Norris in charge for Cup clash

    Referee for Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup 5th Round clash with Greenock Morton at Fir Park will be Euan Norris.

    It will be Euan’s fourth match in charge of the ‘Well this season after previously overseeing the 4-2 away success against Dunfermline at East End Park in late August, the 1-0 success at Easter Road in October and the 3 – 0 defeat at Ibrox earlier this month.

    And Fir Park fans will be relatively familiar with the 33-year old who handled two games last term too.

    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 twenty cautions handed out in all those games, with nine flashed at a ‘Well players.

    Euan will be ably assisted by Billy Baxter and Raymond Whyte with John McKendrick on fourth official duties.

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    TV: Goals from Fir Park

    Goals from Keith Lasley and a double from Henrik Ojamaa gave Motherwell a vital 3-2 win over St Johnstone at Fir Park this afternoon.


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    TV: McCall praises attitude

    ‘Well boss Stuart McCall has praised the attitude and commitment of his players after another hard-fought victory this afternoon.

    The Steelmen played their third game in seven days; a point at Tannadice was followed by a terrific home win over Dunfermline with just ten players for the majority of the ninety minutes.

    The Claret and Amber men made it an excellent week with another super performance against high-flying St Johnstone thanks to goals from Keith Lasley and a Henrik Ojamaa brace.

    And McCall was quick to pick out many of his side for praise in what was an all-round team effort.

    “Henrik will take the plaudits and rightly so but I think Daley had a great game linking up play up front,” he said.

    “What we lacked in height and aerially, we made up for in pace and legs. The midfield two of Lasley and Jennings covered every blade.

    “Saints are an excellent side, they’ve got a great away record, so even when we went 1-0 up it was cagey. The last few games here, we can’t complain as we’ve scored some good goals but we’ve been beaten by Tade’s strike, Goodwin, Kirk at Dunfermline and now Morris today. Big Darren will be thinking he can’t get near them.

    “They’ve all been fantastic goals against us, but we’ve scored some good ones ourselves.”


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    TV: Ojamaa keen on Fir Park stay

    On-form striker Henrik Ojamaa has reiterated his desire to stay at Motherwell after yet another scintillating display.

    The Estonian scored twice in a 3-2 win over St Johnstone, picking up the BBC Alba and Sponsors Man of the Match.

    When he first arrived at Fir Park, the 20-year old told MFC TV he was keen to make his move a more permanent arrangement and he repeated that this evening.

    “I would like to stay,” he said. “I am very happy here.”

    “I am getting on really well with everyone at Fir Park and everyone has been really nice to me so nothing has changed on that front.

    “I enjoy playing with the team – the dressing room is good and I think the style of football suits my game. They (the players) seem to get the best out of me and I hopefully can bring something to the team.”


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    St Johnstone win in pictures

    Pictures from the 3-2 win over St Johnstone in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at Fir Park.

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

    [svgallery name=”stjohnstone28012012″]

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    Motherwell 3 – 2 St Johnstone

    [tab:Match report]

    Andy Ross at Fir Park

    Estonian sharpshooter Henrik Ojamaa struck twice as Motherwell defeated St Johnstone 3-2 at Fir Park to move six points clear in third place in the SPL.

    Ojamaa opened the scoring mid-way through the first-half before Jody Morris levelled on the stroke of half-time.

    The Estonian restored the hosts’ lead on 65 minutes and Keith Lasley doubed their advantage ten minutes later with a fantastic drive from 25-yards.

    Francisco Sandaza netted from the penalty spot with ten minutes remaining but Motherwell held out for an important three points.

    Motherwell made a bright start to the match and in the opening minute Jamie Murphy’s long-range drive drifted inches past the post.

    St Johnstone created their first opening after ten minutes when Jody Morris fired well wide of the target, following good work by Francisco Sandaza.

    Marcus Haber missed a glorious opportunity to head the visitors ahead on 13 minutes when he leapt unmarked to meet Dave MacKay’s cross, but the Canadian’s attempt went harmlessly over the bar.

    After a difficult opening to the match, St Johnstone were beginning to seize the initiative and Darren Randolph in the home goal had to be alert to handle a dangerous Sandaza free-kick.

    Motherwell took the lead against the run of play on 22 minutes, Nicky Law who slipped the ball through to Henrik Ojamaa who hammered the ball across Peter Enckelman and into the bottom left-hand corner.

    The hosts almost doubled their lead two minutes later when Steven Hammell’s rifled effort struck the top of the Saints bar with Enckelman beaten.

    St Johnstone came agonisingly close to levelling the game on 36 minutes, Tim Clancy clumsily took down Sandaza and from the resulting free-kick Liam Craig struck the underside of Randolph’s crossbar.

    The away side continued to search for a leveller and seven minutes before half-time Croft forced an excellent save from Randolph after neat build up play between Sandaza and Murray Davidson.

    Sandaza attempted to seize on the rebound but instead lunged into a dangerous tackle on Clancy – earning himself a yellow card.

    St Johnstone grabbed the equaliser their play merited a minute before the break.

    Lee Croft did well to find Jody Morris who unleashed an unstoppable effort beyond Randolph.

    Craig tested Randolph in the opening minutes of the second half when he raced on to Sandaza’s flick-on and fired a low shot which the former Charlton keeper did will to hold.

    St Johnstone continued to look the more likely to take the lead and Randolph saved well from Murray Davidson before making an excellent stop from Sandaza’s close-range attempt on 57 minutes.

    Motherwell took the lead on 65 minutes with their first effort of the second half, Ojamaa looked to have miss-controlled Tom Hateley’s pass but the Estonian recovered to fire beyond Enckelman.

    After regaining the lead, Motherwell began to show more of an attacking threat and Hateley flashed a shot well wide after good build-up play between Omar Daley and Ojamaa.

    The hosts doubled their advantage with 15 minutes remaining when Keith Lasley ended a lightening-fast breakaway with a 25-year effort that looped over Enckelman.

    Murray Davidson blazed an effort over the bar from six-yards as St Johnstone attempted to find a way back into the game and they were handed the perfect opportunity when referee Calum Murray pointed to the spot when Davidson was felled by Lasley.

    From the resulting penalty Sandaza rifled the ball into the roof of the net to setup an exciting conclusion to the match.

    The visitors were unable to breach the Motherwell defence however and the hosts held out for the victory.

    [tab:As it happened]

    Alastair Reilly at Fir Park

    FULL TIME: YES! Motherwell 3 – 2 St Johnstone

    90mins: Fourth official indicates 2 minutes added on

    86mins: 4 minutes left and a nervy finish ahead.

    84mins: MOTHERWELL SUB- Humphrey on for Murphy.

    80mins: GOAL:St Johnstone – Sandaza 3-2 now. Looked a soft one…

    PENALTY: Penalty for St Johnstone

    78mins: ST JOHNSTONE SUB – Sheridan on for Craig

    Another wonder strike to add to his collection. He’s picked the ball up just inside his own half, wandered forward and his shot loops over Enckleman after a deflection. 3-1!


    68mins: Chance for Hateley after he somehow finds himself in the opposition box, Blazes high over the bar from 9 yards.

    68mins: ST JOHNSTONE SUB: Haber off, Compton on

    Brilliant again!! Even after slipping in the box, he get up and bends it into the bottom left hand corner. 2-1!


    64mins: Liam craig with the free kick 25 yards out….well over the bar.

    58mins: Great save Randolph as Sandaza cuts inside and tests the Irishman with a powerful close range strike

    55mins: If we can keep the ball on the deck, we have a chance. We’ve played some great stuff so far, just require some patience in the final 3rd.

    53mins: 8 minutes in and not much happening in the way of chances but St J look dangerous when they break.

    47mins: 3 minutes in and we’ve ben camped in their half. Some neat link up play form ‘Well, just lacking penetration.

    45mins: Both teams back out. Big, big half, this,

    HALF TIME: And the ref calls an end to an entertaining first half. 1-.1

    GOAL: Jody Morris. Great strike, to be fair.

    40mins: Wi-fi here is a bit shoogly. In the time it’s been down, Clancy has halved Sandaza, Sandaza has halved Clancy and Liam Craig has hit the bar.

    28mins: Great stuff from Motherwell! Really piling on the pressure. Peppering the goal faster than i can type!

    26mins: Daley tries similar…….it actually did find row z of the South.

    25mins: Hammell cracks the bar with a strike on the edge of the box. ‘Well smell blood,,,

    The pistols are out once again! Lovely ball from law sets him up on the angle and it’s a sweet finish from the Estonian.


    19mins: Free-kick for St Johnstone which Sandaza takes…………..good save Randolph!

    14mins: St Johnstone go close again. This time a free header for Haber which fortunately sails over from 10 yards out

    10mins: Good play from Sandaza finds Haber who tee’s up Morris just outside the box., His shot blazes wide.

    4mins: Quiet start. In saying that…Omar has been brought down on the edge of the box. Step forward Tom…

    1min: We shape up with Ojamaa and Daley up top, Law and Murphy out wide and Las and Jenno sitting. Usual back 5.

    1min: Jamie Murphy goes close with a 25 yard volley. Just past Enckelman’s post.


    Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:

    “I felt we were the better team in the first half but the second was much closer. Overall I felt we edged a very close-fought encounter.

    “That was a big three points, I was a bit fearful with the suspensions of Michael (Higdon) and Stephen (Craigan) that we were left with only two players over six feet tall – but the players stuck to their task manfully.

    “I am really pleased for the supporters as we have been poor at home and up until today were the lowest scorers at home.

    “I am also delighted for the lads in the dressing room, they will enjoy themselves tonight and then turn their focus to the cup tie with Morton next Saturday.”

    St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas:

    “We made a change after 30 minutes as Motherwell were controlling the game. I thought we totally dominated the game after that, unfortunately Motherwell got their goal and then scored again shortly after.

    “I have to give full credit to the players for coming to a good team like Motherwell and dominating the game.

    “Sometimes you say that you want a performance and the result will take care of itself but I think today we can consider ourselves very unlucky not to have taken something from the game.”


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    TV: Young looks ahead to United test

    Head of Youth development Gordon Young is looking forward to his team’s return to U19s League duty after their mid-season training camp in Turkey.

    The Under 19’s are back in league action after an almost two-month sabbatical and will take on against eleventh placed Dundee United at St Andrews tomorrow afternoon.

    Young has been buoyed by a productive trip and a string of impressive results on foreign soil over Emrespor, Zenit St Petersburg and Dutch outfit Den Haag, and believes his side is in better shape than ever.

    He told MFC TV: “It’s a great way to use the two weeks we have been away. We had about 35 hours training and 4 matches so without being over exuberant; I think we are in great shape.

    “I think they are desperate now (to play). If you go back to the last game we played, the three each game against Hibs on the 13th of December, we were able to get four games out in Turkey and you can see the difference.

    “Dundee United has always been a difficult game. St Andrews will be blowy and I’ve seen the snow start to come on but we should be good enough to beat anyone on our day. Although, in saying that, I’m more concerned with how these players develop and how they have kicked on.

    “We had our team meeting earlier on and I’ve said to them all there’s no point in going away there and performing as well as they did and then coming back and misfiring. We’ve had a fantastic micro pre-season and now the icing is on the cake for them to go and play the matches.”


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    TV: McCall disappointed at appeal

    ‘Well boss Stuart McCall cut a frustrated figure after the SFA’s Fast Track Tribunal upheld Michael Higdon’s one match suspension.

    The three man committee agreed with SFA Compliance Officer Vincent Lunny’s original offer of a one match ban for allegedly breaching rule 200, which covers “offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures”.

    Higdon, Motherwell’s top scorer with ten goals, will now have to watch Saturday’s match with St Johnstone from the stands.

    “We are really disappointed with the outcome,” said McCall.

    “You have got to look at the makeup of the three-man panel and be lucky with that. Regardless of what we had said, they had made their mind up.

    “It’s a sore one to take; they said that it was from the ‘low end’ of offensive behaviour but how that can be deemed as the same as other offences, and our player missing a game through it, I find ridiculous.”


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    Club Statement – Michael Higdon

    Motherwell Football Club today (Thursday) issued the following statement in relation to the one-match suspension given to Michael Higdon.

    After appealing the Compliance Officer’s initial offer of a ban, the case was heard by a three-man Fast-Track Tribunal at Hampden this afternoon.

    Following a 45-minute hearing, the panel opted to uphold the initial suspension and the striker will now miss Saturday’s vital SPL clash with St Johnstone.

    Commenting, Chief Executive Leeann Dempster said, “We are extremely disappointed by all aspects of the process and of course the ban. We have material concerns about the approach, the informal communication around it and the obvious disproportionate nature of the suspension.

    “As a Board we have raised our concerns with both the Scottish Premier League and with the Scottish FA. There is an urgent need for clarification on what is being done, why and to what end. The precedent set does not give us the impression that justice has been done, or seen to be done.

    “It will mean that a huge focus will be placed upon consistency in the application of such compliance rulings across the game at all levels. In essence our player has been banned for celebrating a goal in a way that has, to our knowledge, never resulted in a suspension in any game anywhere else.

    “We are focused as a Club on improving how we are run and how we contribute to the rejuvenation of Scottish Football. We do not believe this process as executed is doing anything other than setting all of us back. The focus is supposed to be on football, more needs to be done to keep the administration of the game on that track.”

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    “Convert for Cash” Challenge returns

    The Cash Converters “Convert for Cash” challenge returns this Saturday when St Johnstone visit Fir Park and you can win £100.


    The event that pits home fan against away fan, confronted by the site of our very own gaffer Stuart McCall, is back again.

    Faced by a life-sized statue of Stuart McCall, fans must run round him 3 times, before composing themselves to score past our mascot, Claret, EITHER from the edge of the box (the £100 ball) or the penalty spot (the £50 ball).

    Enter at the Cash Converters SPL Facebook page by CLICKING HERE.

    In addition, Cash Converters will also be donating £150 per challenge to their official charity for the 2011/2012 season, Dreams Come True.

    For your chance to win £100 in the “Convert for Cash” challenge against Saints, enter your details at the Cash Converters SPL Facebook page now: CLICK HERE.

    The Facebook page will also give you the chance to win a whole host of other prizes, including tickets and exclusive, money-can’t-buy experiences. Simply “Like” the page, and get entering.

    The draw will close at Noon on Friday 27th January.

    *Please note: You must be aged over 18 to take part, and proof of age will be required on the day. You must also already possess a match ticket.