Pictures from the 2-1 defeat by Rangers in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at Fir Park.
These action shots and more are available to buy online at www.motherwellpics.com.
Pictures from the 2-1 defeat by Rangers in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at Fir Park.
These action shots and more are available to buy online at www.motherwellpics.com.
Kris Jack at Fir Park
Motherwell’s hopes of finishing in second place in the SPL took a further blow, as a late, late Lee McCulloch goal saw Rangers steal a 2-1 win, in a game that the Steelmen did not deserve to lose.
An early goal from Henrik Ojamaa was cancelled out almost as quickly by a swerving Steven Whittaker strike, and it looked like those goals would see the match out as a tie.
However, despite playing some neat football, and being on the right end of some refereeing decisions, ‘Well fell to a late lapse in concentration, extending their run of games without beating Rangers to 37.
Keith Lasley returned to the starting eleven at the expense of Stuart Carswell after suspension, while Ross Perry and Kyle Bartley were the only two additions to Ally McCoist’s line up after last week’s Old Firm win.
The home side got off to the ideal start, in their quest to rewrite history.
Five minutes had gone when Chris Humphrey played a one-two on the right hand side and took advantage of a slip from Lee Wallace to get to the by-line. As Allan McGregor looked to close him down, he dinked the ball in to the path of the onrushing Henrik Ojamaa who slid the ball in to the empty net.
Rangers were taken aback by the goal but were not to be deterred in looking for a quick response. A foul on Steven Davis allowed Sone Aluko to whip a ball in to the box, but Steven Whittaker’s header dropped just wide from the delivery.
However, Whittaker wasn’t to let that miss phase him though as he scored a glorious equaliser moments later. A vital but inaccurate clearance from Lasley on his own by-line fell to Sasa Papac who teed up Whittaker with a square ball. The Scotland full-back unleashed a vicious swerving effort in to the bottom corner leaving Darren Randolph rooted to the spot.
It was a goal of high quality but Estonian Ojamaa’s header drifted wide of Allan McGregor’s post after a decent Humphrey cross. The Scotland goalkeeper then made the first of three excellent saves, when Ojamaa played Nicky Law in on goal. The former Rotherham midfielder bore down on McGregor only to see his effort stopped by the feet of the man between the sticks.
Buoyed by creating the opening goal, Jamaican Humphrey was keen to make a further impact, first sending in a cross that was just too long for Ojamaa, before cutting in from the right and flashing a left foot effort just wide of the post.
Play was roaring from end to end with both teams slugging it out. Rangers should have had the opportunity to go in front from the penalty spot when Sone Aluko was brought down inside the box by Darren Randolph. It looked, and even sounded, like a penalty but referee Iain Brines opted to caution the Nigerian and award Motherwell a goal-kick.
The teams went in level at the half way point, with Motherwell perhaps the better of the two sides but riding their luck a little with the penalty call.
Rangers were first to threaten in the second half, when Steve Jennings fouled Aluko midway in his own half. Davis’ free kick evaded all in blue and hit Higdon’s shins before Randolph cleaned up the danger.
Motherwell got themselves together and a great interchange between Law and Ojamaa allowed Keith Lasley to have a dig from 20 yards but his effort was well tipped over by the gloves of McGregor.
Law then saw a shot drift just wide when the ball broke to him at the edge of the box, after a melee in which it looked like Higdon had been bundled over on the penalty spot, just before the hour.
McCoist made his first change of the game, bringing Lafferty on for Papac to try and carve out the next goal, but it was a great cross from Edu, which set up Steven Davis, unmarked in the box. The Ulsterman’s first time volley was spectacular in technique but lacking in execution as he sliced his effort in to the side net.
Steven Hammell was alert to thwart Lafferty on the by-line after the striker had freed himself from Law’s attentions at the corner flag as Rangers looked to be going for the win. Moments later, an Aluko turn and had a shot from 18 yards was blocked by both Clancy and Hutchinson, resulting in a goalmouth stramash but Motherwell survived when Randolph mopped up a Lafferty dinked ball.
With seven minutes left, McGregor completed a hat trick of point winning saves when he somehow palmed away a half volley from the penalty spot by Higdon. Despite that save, the belief was still there that Motherwell could be the ones to go on and snatch a late winner.
McGregor’s counterpart Randolph was then forced into his first real save of the game, when Lafferty had a snap shot from the corner of the box, but the big Irish goalie made the routine stop. His next save was every bit as good as McGregor’s efforts as a whipped ball was glanced goalward by Lafferty again, only to be kept out by the stopper’s stunning reactions.
However, he was helpless seconds later as Lee McCulloch helped himself to an 88th minute winner.
The throw in conceded by the clearance from the earlier save took an awkward bounce over the head of Clancy, who looked to be nudged off balance by Aluko. That allowed the former Motherwell and Wigan man to steal in and poke home the winner from four yards out.
Motherwell’s luck had run out in the cruellest way possible, as the Rangers fans celebrated behind the goal and Hammell and Clancy protested to Mr Brines about the Aluko push. However, the goal stood and deflated the hopes of all in Claret and Amber inside Fir Park.
It was a harsh end to an entertaining game for the Motherwell fans having seen their side play arguably the best they have against Rangers in the last few years only for the hard work to be undone by the late concession. ‘Well now sit 6 points adrift of second place and McCall’s men will look to bounce back next week against Hibernian at Easter Road in the final game before the SPL split.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
92mins: Full time Motherwell 1-2 Rangers.
90mins: 4th official indicates 2 minutes added on.
88mins: GOAL 1-2. Lee McCulloch nips in at the front post to poke past Randolph.
85mins: Rangers Sub, Little on for Edu.
80mins: Fantastic save from McGregor from Higdon’s 10 yard volley.
79mins: Humphrey does well again up against Wallace, beating him to the line and driving into the area. His cut back is blocked this time.
74mins: Goian booked for dangerously leading with an arm to win a header.
72mins: Free-kick for Rangers in a dangerous position….. Davis fires over.
67mins: Steve Davis harmlessly drives a volley past the post after ‘Well got caught exposed.
62mins: Rangers Sub, Papac off for Lafferty.
52mins: So unlucky! Las with a 20 yard effort beaten away by McGregor.
45mins: And the Half time whistle goes. 1-1, which is a fair reflection of the first half.
39mins: Rangers having a spell on top. ‘Well resilient in their defending though.
27mins: Humphrey looks full of confidence and was unlucky when he cut inside on his left foot but dragged it just wide!
22mins: Great chance for ‘Well as Hammell and Ojamaa link up well down the left. The through ball found Law whose shot was saved well.
19mins: Corner for Motherwell, the ball dropped to Humphrey who volleyed it back into the mixer. Ojamaa’s stabbed effort trickles wide,
13mins: Clancy and Whittaker both booked after an altercation. Looked a fair booking.
9mins: 1-1 Whittaker equalises with a 25 yard left footed drive.
5mins: Outstanding pace from Humphrey as he powers past Wallace and squares the ball to Ojamaa who taps home.
1min: And Jenno and Las kick the game off. Come on!
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
A six-point gap is of no interest to me, to be honest. We have never talked about second.
“Our main aim at the beginning of the season was to be in the top six. At Christmas, we looked at getting into the top four to get European football.
“With the points we amassed, come February, we were looking at third and since February third has always been our aim.
“If we can maintain that level of performance today in the six games we’ve got left, I’m confident it will get us enough points to finish third.”
Rangers manager Ally McCoist:
“That was a big win for us because it takes us six clear of Motherwell.
“We’ve still got to play the teams in the top six so it’s never over but it certainly puts us in a better position than we were at 1200 today.”
Motherwell U19s signed off the season with a crushing 6-1 defeat at the hands of Rangers at Murray Park this afternoon.
Before kick-off, Young’s men sat three points ahead of the light blues in fourth place but the difficult task was made almost impossible when Adam Asghar was sent off after just eleven minutes and Rangers were wrongly awarded a penalty.
The midfielder was correctly ordered off by referee Craig Napier as he denied Tom Skogsrud a goal-scoring opportunity but Gordon Young can feel doubly aggrieved at the call. Not only did the offence take place outside the box but Rangers had earlier escaped an almost identical situation when Keiran McGachie was bundled to the ground by Adel Gaifiti, who would later score, whilst racing through on goal.
After what seemed like an age, Josh Robinson stepped up and buried the opener low into the bottom left hand corner despite Ross Stewart going the right way.
Despite going down to ten, Motherwell played some neat stuff and were probably the better team for the majority of the first half. Josh Watt had a half chance on the half hour but he could only hit the side netting from an acute angle.
Indeed, it was against the run of play when Rangers added their second, and arguably most decisive, goal of the afternoon; it was a hammer blow for ‘Well just before the interval.
Matty Clarke dinked a ball towards the edge of the area that was flicked on by Robbie Crawford. It fell invitingly for Robinson who looped a clever effort over the outstretched Stewart and into the net.
The message from Gordon Young at half-time would surely have been to keep it tight for the opening exchanges but it didn’t work out like that as Rangers, and Robinson, added a third seconds after the restart although they wouldn’t have to work had for it.
It was a terrible goal for the Steelmen to lose. A long, hopeful ball over the top didn’t look to be presenting any trouble whatsoever. Stewart raced from his goal, only to completely miss his kick, allowing Robinson to complete his hat-trick with probably one of the simplest goals he will ever score.
Rangers made it four just before the hour mark. A free-kick from the right was whipped in at pace towards the front post. Stewart did superbly well to turn away a point blank header from Skogsrud only for it to fall invitingly for Gaifiti who slid the ball home at the back post.
Four minutes later Rangers made it five as the match threatened to turn embarrassing for the young Steelmen. The goal epitomised the sort of day it was for Motherwell; Robbie Crawford took a magnificent touch on the edge of the area, controlling a long ball out the air, before curling effort off the crossbar. However, in a stroke of terrible fortune, it hit the back of young Stewart on the rebound and somehow crept over the line.
The score remained that way until the 85th minute when Rangers made it six through Jamie Burrows. A free-kick towards the back post looked comfortable for Stewart but he let it slip and it fell perfectly for the young substitute who slotted it home despite the best efforts of Nicky Devlin on the line.
The only bright spark in an otherwise black afternoon for the ‘Well was a late consolation through Lee Erwin who netted from the penalty spot. Euan Murray was adjudged to have been fouled inside the area allowing Motherwell’s top marksman for the season the opportunity to get his name amongst the scorers. He duly did, slotting home into the bottom right corner, the last action of the match.
Motherwell: Stewart, Devlin, E.Murray, Cummins, Francis-Angol, Watt (Brownlie), Hetherington, Asghar, Mboa Mekongo (MacDonald), McGachie (Moore), Erwin
Subs: R. Murray, Thomas, Leitch, MacDonald
.TV – Match Highlights
Veteran midfielder Keith Lasley is looking forward to getting back amongst the action after watching the last two matches from the stand.
The 32-year old was sent off by Craig Thomson as ‘Well crashed out the Scottish Cup three weeks ago, forcing him to miss the Dons league game at Fir Park and last weekend’s trip to Rugby Park.
Available again, Lasley is likely to return after what has been a sensational season for the former Plymouth Argyle man.
“It’s always a frustrating time when you are out the team, albeit by my own doing,” he admitted.
“It’s good to be back in the mix. It’s always a huge occasion when either half of the Old Firm come to Fir Park.
“With it being late in the season and with us sitting close behind them in the league, it adds a little more spice to the occasion.
“Rangers showed last week they still have a good squad of players there and there’s little doubt it’s going to be difficult for us. But we’re at home, we’ve got to try and win the match and that’s all we’re focused on.”
‘Well boss Stuart McCall has called for his side to up their performance against Rangers in light of the previous two results against the Ibrox club.
Motherwell have lost 3-0 on both occasions –back in August at Fir Park and in Glasgow on January 2nd.
Former Scotland midfielder admits he still hurts thinking back to that game at New Year and is challenging his side to go for it tomorrow.
“We’ve got to aim for an improvement on the previous performances against Rangers this season,” he McCall.
“We’ve managed some excellent, consistent performances and results over the piece but our showing at Ibrox last January was our worst, there’s no doubt about that.
“During my time at the club, the games at Fir Park have followed a very similar pattern. We’ve ran them close in the first half; very even with nothing much in it, and they’ve managed to nick a goal before the break. When you go behind against either half of the Old Firm, it’s becomes difficult because they hit you on the counter when you go looking for a goal.
“We know what we’ve got to do tomorrow and a win could take us back to level points.”
Season Ticket Holders who sit in the Phil O’Donnell Stand should note the following information.
Due to the large demand, the club have once again sold tickets for the wings of the stand to away fans – as has been the case for the past two seasons.
However, should any Season Ticket holder wish to exchange their ticket(s) for either a Davie Cooper Stand or East Stand ticket(s), the club would be more than happy to facilitate that subject to availability.
Chief Executive Leeann Dempster said, “In the past fans have said to me that they understand the importance of the revenue that these big games bring.
“As a club we understand however, that some supporters may want to move to another part of the ground when it comes to sharing the O’Donnell Stand and we are happy to make this happen if the space is available.
“There is absolutely no requirement to do so, but if you would like to swap then feel free to contact the Ticket Office at Fir Park between now and kick-off at 12pm on Saturday.”
Tom Hateley reckons Motherwell’s Saturday’s Clydesdale Bank Premier League showdown with Rangers is one of the biggest of his career.
The Steelmen can move level on points with the Scottish Champions if they claim all three points at Fir Park.
With Rangers’ exclusion from European competition next season all but confirmed, Stuart McCall’s men, along with St Johnstone, Dundee Utd and Hearts, all have a great opportunity to claim a dream spot in next season’s Champions League qualifiers.
“Saturday could be up there with one of the biggest games of my career, we need to get three points and we will set ourselves up to do that,” said the 22-year-old.
“We don’t go out and aim to contain the other team, that is rarely in our mindset – we have positive and go out there and try win the game.”
Hateley admits it’s been a long week, following last weekend’s 2-0 reverse at Kilmarnock.
However, having bounced back from setbacks already this season, the Fir Park set-piece specialist is keen to do the same on Saturday.
“Last Saturday massively disappointing, nobody showed up to be honest, we had spoken before the game about how important it was and we just weren’t good enough,” stressed Hateley.
“It’s been a long week for everyone, all of the guys have worked really hard in training though and enjoyed the sun – Saturday can’t come quickly enough.
“The couple of setbacks we have had this season, we have bounced back quickly – that shows how much character there is within the squad. We are sitting where we are in the league through hard work and it’s very much deserved,”
[pullquote]Saturday could be up there with one of the biggest games of my career, we need to get three points and we will set ourselves up to do that.[/pullquote]
You have to go back 36 matches to find the last time Motherwell overturned Rangers in the SPL.
The former Reading man admits he was astonished to learn of that statistic and believes Saturday is the perfect time to end their baron run.
“There would be no better time to end that, it’s a run that blows your mind to be honest,” he added.
There has been a few occasion where we have come close and not quite get over the line and we have to make sure that if we get into that kind of situation on Saturday that we take advantage of it and try keep that win.
“Rangers have obviously had problems away from the park and that’s not nice to see happen to anyone, I’m sure their players will just be concentrating on playing football.
“It was quite weird and my dad (Mark Hateley) was there at the game, it really doesn’t matter how many times I went to Ibrox to watch my dad when I was younger though.
“Obviously those times hold great memories for me, but I am an employee of Motherwell Football Club and if the chance arises during a game I am going to do everything I can to take it for the team that I play for – I am sure anyone in the same situation in the time would say the same.
“It’s my career now and I need to do all I can to create a successful career for myself.”
Young defender Nicky Devlin will join Second Division side Stenhousemuir on loan until the end of the current season.
The former Dumbarton full-back, who missed several months of the season with a knee injury, returned to the U19s fold at the beginning of 2012 and has turned in some excellent displays.
However, as tomorrow’s match with Rangers U19s at Murray Park is the last in the current season, Devlin will join fellow loanee Gary Smith at Ochilview to gain much-needed competitive football.
As well as the aforementioned Smith, Motherwell also have Jamie Pollock out on loan to Clyde until April 20th and Ross McKinnon at Alloa Athletic until the end of the season.
Motherwell FC are delighted to announce that the club’s matchday programme has landed the ‘Most Improved’ award in the Scottish Football Programme of the Year awards.
With a new editorial team and a new producer in Curtis Sport, the 64-page magazine has been a hit with fans this season and this award recognises the excellent work by all involved.
The Scottish Programme of the Year Awards are in their 39th season and it is the 31st consecutive season they have been sponsored by the Programme Monthly and Football Collectable magazine.
Andy Ross, editor of the Motherwell Matchday Programme said: “We are all delighted to have won the title of ‘most improved programme.’
“A number of people have put a fantastic amount of work into the programme – it’s been a real team effort.
[pullquote]We are continually looking at ways we can improve the programme and hope by engaging with the Motherwell support we can build on this achievement.[/pullquote]
“This is the first season in which we have teamed up with Curtis Sport and I think this award demonstrates how much progress we have made in a short space of time.
“Our Senior Designer Karl Wheeler has worked tirelessly with myself and the club’s Press and Media Manager Alan Burrows in helping to provide a product that the Motherwell supporters will want to pick-up at every home game.
“We have also introduced an extensive section on our opposition for each of our matches and hopefully visiting fans to Fir Park have also enjoyed reading the programme.
“We are continually looking at ways we can improve the programme and hope by engaging with the Motherwell support we can build on this achievement.”
The Scottish Premier League (SPL), Association of European Football Leagues (EPFL), European Commission’s humanitarian aid department (ECHO) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have joined forces to organise the European Match Day Against Hunger.
This weekend (March 31 – April 01) over 300 professional football clubs in 20 leagues across 16 countries in Europe will dedicate their matches to the fight against hunger in the Sahel.
The aim of this year’s campaign is to highlight the plight of the people in the Sahel region of Africa, where over 11 million people face acute hunger due to drought, poor harvests and rising food prices.
This is a special weekend on the football calendar, now a permanent fixture. This is the third Match Day Against Hunger. Each year of the campaign has built on the previous year’s success. From Moscow to Lisbon to Vienna to Motherwell, clubs and leagues from all over Europe are uniting against hunger.
Neil Doncaster, Chief Executive of the SPL, said: “Our clubs play an important role in helping the communities that surround them. However, given that our clubs have extensive fan base worldwide, the Match Day Against Hunger provides an excellent means through which we can raise awareness of the millions in the Sahel that are at risk from becoming victims of famine”.
For further information on the campaign, click here: http://www.endinghunger.org/en/actagitate/match_day_against_hunger_2012.html