Pictures from the 3-0 win over Inverness Caley Thistle in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at Fir Park.
Pictures from the 3-0 win over Inverness Caley Thistle in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at Fir Park.
Kris Jack at Fir Park
A Michael Higdon double inspired Motherwell to a stunning 3-0 victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Fir Park.
Higdon’s seventeenth and eighteenth goals of the season sandwiched a Nicky Law strike at the start of the second half, to make it three wins out of three over Terry Butcher’s side this season, and pushed them two points clear of the visitors in second place in the SPL.
Having had both Fraser Kerr and captain Keith Lasley sent off in the defeat to Kilmarnock last time out, Stuart McCall could have been forced to wring the changes. However, he opted only to replace Lasley by giving Kallum Higginbotham his first SPL start for the club. Steven Hammell took the captain’s armband, while Steven Saunders return from long-term injury to earn a spot on the bench.
Inverness were unchanged from their midweek draw with Kilmarnock, with Nick Ross looking to make it a goal for the third consecutive match, having scored two in two prior to this match. Former Motherwell favourite Richie Foran missed out through injury as the Caley Jags looked to move four points clear of the hosts in second place.
Inverness were first to threaten, earning a corner in the first minute, which Gary Warren volleyed over the bar from eight yards. A few moments later, Kallum Higginbotham had the crowd on its feet when he flashed a speculative drive inches wide of Ryan Esson’s goal from 25 yards, as both teams looked to take an early lead.
Higginbotham then did well to burst through the Caley defence only to cut the ball back behind the waiting Higdon and Ojamaa in the six-yard box. As Motherwell took a grip on the game, Higdon then headed a Steven Hammell free kick on to the roof of the net.
Inverness then created a couple of opportunities, firstly Billy McKay heading over from a neat Aaron Doran cross, before Owain Tudur Jones shot narrowly wide from about 20 yards. Andrew Shinnie then had the ball in the net after Randolph had parried out a shot from Draper, but the recent Scotland cap was well offside when he tucked away the rebound.
Gary Warren was booked for the visitors for a foul on Ojamaa and the risk of a red card a few minutes later led to the opening goal. The Estonian burst past Warren again, who had to opt out of the tackle or face an early bath, before finding Higdon all alone six yards form goal to prod home after 29 minutes.
It was just about a deserved lead, as the ‘Well’s top scorer bagged his fifth of the season against Inverness. The visitors tried to respond, but Doran wasted their best chance, firing well over the bar from David Raven’s pull-back at the edge of the box.
Higginbotham could have and should have made it 2-0 on his first SPL start when Carswell picked him out in acres of space on the left hand side. However, with too much time to think, he miscued an attempted lob and shot the ball right at Esson who was well out of position.
The Caley keeper had to look sharp to keep out Ojamaa, before Nicky Law flashed a Humphrey cross just wide, as The Steelmen finished the half on the front foot.
Just like the first half, it was Inverness who threatened first when Draper picked out the run of Nick Ross,who got in behind the home defence only to blaze over and in to the Maxim Office Park Stand, when he should have at least worked Randolph.
The visitors had a big penalty shout soon after when it looked like the ball struck Stuart Carswell on the arm in the box, but referee Calum Murray waved play on, much to the chagrin of the away players and support.
The early Caley danger was heeded as Nicky Law made it 2-0 on 51 minutes. The former Rotherham man found himself with the ball at his feet in the box, before drinking the ball past Esson, evading two challenges and firing high in to the net from six yards. It was Law’s fifth SPL goal of the season, and few defences will give him an easier chance to score.
Five minutes later, the game was wrapped up for ‘Well as Higdon bagged his second goal of the game. A ball in from the left hand side was head up in the air by Gary Warren, and as it dropped at the edge of the box, the former St Mirren and Falkirk man boomed his volley in to Esson’s bottom left corner. It was a fantastic strike, which sapped the confidence and composure out of Inverness’ game.
With still half an hour left to play, the home side came under little threat from the Caley forward line, and could have made the scoreline even more emphtaic. Chris Humphrey was unlucky to only find the side netting after winning a foot race with Graham Shinnie to catch a Law through ball, while the pint-sized midfielder himself cracked a great effort off the underside of the bar, after a one-two with sub Zaine Francis-Angol.
Three goals, a clean sheet and three points were well-earned.
The Steelmen surge ahead of Inverness in to second spot with a game in hand against Dundee United still to come. The only negative was the loss of Simon Ramsden midway through the second half with fears the experienced defender may have a broken hand.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 3 – 0 Inverness CT. The Steelmen cruise into second place with a victory over Caley
90mins: 2 minutes added on.
89mins: Jinking run from Humphrey wins us a corner after his cross/shot is deflected wide
81mins: Woah! Great curling effort from Law, who has ran the show, crashes off the bar. So close!
77mins: Humphrey almost completes the rout but his shot hits the side netting after he latched onto Law’s through ball.
75mins: Ojamaa also off for McHugh
75mins: Motherwell sub, Higginbotham off for Francis-Angol
70mins: Good break from a combination of Ojamaa, Law and Higginbotham ends with the latter’s cross being plucked out the air by Esson
68mins: Motherwell sub, Cummins on for Ramsden
67mins: Hammell does enough to take the sting out of Tudor Jones’ shot from 20 yards allowing Randolph to gather comfortably
66mins: Inverness subs, McKay and Doran off for Roberts and Sutherland
61mins: Quick counter from Inverness but Doran narrows his angle with a heavy touch and Randolph makes a regulation save.
59mins: Tudor Jones booked for hacking down Higginbotham. Looked more like out of frustration than anything else.
56mins: It’s time to show your tekkers as Higdon connects as sweet as you like with a left footed volley into the bottom corner. 3-0!
51mins: Nicky Law juggles the ball around the box and eventually pokes it home! 2-0
46mins: Ross scoops the ball over the bar when more composure would surely have seen him score!
46mins: Second half underway!
HT: Excellent first-half – both teams playing some lovely stuff at times. Higgy’s 17th of the season, moves ahead of last season’s tally.
HT: Motherwell 1 – 0 Inverness CT
42mins: Straight after than, a one-two from Higdon and Ojamaa ends with Esson blocking from close range from the Estonian.
42mins: Great chance for Motherwell! Carswell hooks the ball through to Higginbotham who tries to clip it over Esson. Straight to ‘keeper!
33mins: Doran almost replies for Caley but see’s his shot dip too late and onto the roof of the net.
29mins: Just before that Esson had to beat away Hateley’s free kick and Higdon inadvertently deflected law’s shot just past the post.
29mins: 1-0 Ojamaa rolls in Higdon who slots home into the empty net with ease!
26mins: Randolph makes a fantastic save from Doran! Shinnie finishes the rebound but is offside, A let off!
24mins: Corner to Motherwell after Warren slides in to intercept Ojamaa’s cutback to Higdon. Cleared by Caley.
16mins: And up the other end, Warren has to throw himself in front of Ojamaa’s effort which looked goal bound
15mins: Jones fires too close for comfort from 25 yards, Just past.
13mins: Good counter from Caley there! Doran almost slipping in McKay but was intercepted by the sliding Shaun Hutchinson.
12mins: Shinnie finds a bit of space in front of the ‘Well defence and tries his luck from 20 yards. Low and straight at Randolph.
11mins: Sharp turn in the box from McKay almost deceives Hutchison. The big man does well to slide in and clear the danger though.
9mins: Hammell floats in a free-kick from the left. It’s a little too high for Higdon and he can only head over.
8mins: Randolph has to react sharply to come out and gather Ross’ low cross into the box ahead of McKay.
4mins: Higginbotham muscles himself into a crossing position in the box. He cuts it back but Higdon or Ojamaa aren’t there to slot home
1min: Higginbotham looking to get his home debut off to a flyer. He’s unlucky as his 30-yard effort curls wide.
1min: Hammell deflects the ball out for a corner. Warren is on the end of it but volley’s well wide.
1min: And we’re off, courtesy of McKay and Shinnie. #COYW
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“Inverness were good in the first half, they knocked it about well and it was an open game. They are free-scoring this season and to keep a clean sheet and get three goals is really pleasing.
“Some of our football was exceptional at times and we merited the victory. I thought we had some big performances today. I thought Shaun Hutchinson was a tower of strength, Nicky Law in the middle of the park, ably assisted by Stuart Carswell, who covered acres of ground.
“We’ve got a big game here against Dundee United on Tuesday. The park is in decent nick for this time of year and we’ve averaged three goals in our last five home games.
“We’re not only winning games; hopefully we are entertaining as well and that’s what fans pay the money for.
“We want them to get right behind us and I’m sure they will.”
Inverness CT manager Terry Butcher:
“They showed more hunger and appetite for the game and got the goal at the crucial time. I thought we started the game very well.
“You could see our lads were a little bit leggy after the midweek game, they put a hell of a lot into the Kilmarnock game and there was a lot of heartache when we didn’t win the game.
“We kept the same team because they played so well. There have not been many times we have come up second best against a team and unfortunately it has always been Motherwell.
“The pivotal moment was the first goal, we defended like amateurs. It gave them a lift and knocked us back.
“Motherwell were very cute and organised and although we had a lot of possession we couldn’t really create anything when we were chasing the game.”
Motherwell return to Fir Park this afternoon for the BBC Live clash with Terry Butcher’s Inverness CT.
Motherwell are without the suspended Keith Lasley and Fraser Kerr for the visit of Inverness.
Steven Saunders played another 90 minutes in a midweek under-20 match, with the defender continuing his comeback from a knee injury.
Inverness will still be without captain Richie Foran, who has missed the last two games with a knee injury.
Long-term injury absentees Simon King and Chris Hogg remain on the sidelines for the Highlanders.
Tickets are still available on the gate at Fir Park. Admission is priced at:
ADULTS: £22 / £18
CONCESSIONS: £15 / £14
JUVENILE: £12 / £9
FAMILY: £28 / £24
There are no anticipated travel problems in and around Fir Park is clear. A parade planned for Wishaw might make roads around 1 / 2pm very busy. Fans travelling from that area are advised to use Shields Road.
It will be a cloudy day in North Lanarkshire. It will be a crisp afternoon, temperatures settling at around 7 degrees at kick-off.
FOLLOW THE MATCH:
Motherwell Media will bring you all the action from Fir Park. Graham Barnstaple and Kris Jack will call every kick off the ball live on MFC TV.
All the pre, during and post match chat will be on our Facebook page. You can also follow match updates on Twitter and join in the debate on our Foursquare and listen out for Stuart McCall’s pre-match thoughts on Audioboo.
After the match, the official website and MFC TV will bring you reports, pictures, reaction and highlights.
Another jam-packed edition of the 68-page Steelmen Matchday Magazine returns against Inverness Caley this weekend.
‘Well boss Stuart McCall and Captain Keith Lasley both return with the regular columns.
The feature interview is with defender Simon Ramsden. The former Bradford City man looks forward to a busy schedule that could shape Motherwell’s season.
But that’s not where the features stop!
There is a 13-page section dedicated to our visitors, Inverness.
Kris Jack goes through four players to watch from opponents, as we as a player-by-player breakdown of their squad, including three former Steelmen.
Caley captain, and former ‘Well front man Richie Foran is the man in the spotlight in our opposition Q&A and Liam Morrison gives us a fans-eyed view of Caley’s season so far.
We also have a scout report from the Highland clubs’ last match with Celtic last weekend that the Glasgow club eventually won 3-1.
The features and big names keep coming…
In our Interview Alumni section, we caught up with former defender Brian Martin. ‘Buff’ looks back on his successful time at Fir Park and recalls one or two funny stories with the dad of a current ‘Well star.
Gavin McCafferty returns with his From the Press Box feature and talks about league reconstruction and new signing Kallum Higginbotham is the latest to give his top five’s in the iPlayer
Graham Barnstaple’s Cult Heroes this week focuses on popular winger Peter Marinello who graced Fir Park in the 1970s.
But wait, there’s more! We take a look back at last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Kilmarnock and the Under 20s midweek win at Hibs. There are ten tough questions in our Quiz, the latest news section as well as an in-depth statistical look at referee Calum Murray.
We have the latest from The Ticket Office, the Commercial Department, and update from the Well Society as well as the latest stats, facts and figures for the 2012/2013 campaign.
The programme is available for £3 and is currently on sale from the Club Shop as well as the usual sellers located in and around the ground pre-match.
You can also order back editions or take a season-long subscription to the magazine by visiting the website of our publishers – Curtis-Sports –http://www.curtis-sport.com/
Assistant boss Kenny Black is certain ‘Well will have to be at their best against a pumped up Inverness.
‘Well have won both matches between the sides this season.
The first at Fir Park back in September, a 4-1 success for the home side, was perhaps a little flattering for McCall’s men.
However, the 5-1 win at The Caledonian Stadium two months later was arguably Motherwell’s best performance of the season.
Black is certain that will be motivation enough for the Highlanders going in to tomorrow’s second versus third clash.
[pullquote]Terry will be pleased with their performances and certainly we are aware of the players they have that can cause us problems.[/pullquote]
“We’re desperate to get back on track after a disappointing result last week,” he said.
“Inverness will be looking to do the same after Wednesday.
“We’ve came out on top of the two games we’ve played against them this season, but I’m sure Terry will be looking to address the balance tomorrow.
“I went up to the game (versus Kilmarnock), and how they never managed to win was unbelievable. They created so many chances and got sucker-punched with the late equaliser.
“Over the last few weeks they’ve not had the best of results, but their form has been good.
“Terry will be pleased with their performances and certainly we are aware of the players they have that can cause us problems.
“They’re shown incredible consistency, and that is a tremendous credit to the players and staff.
“As always though, we will concentrate on our own game and hopefully set the agenda.”
Midfield maestro Nicky Law reckons tomorrow’s Fir Park clash against Inverness is the SPL’s match of the weekend.
Caley are second in the SPL with the Steelmen one point behind in third.
There’s added spice from the previous two matches with ‘Well winning handsomely both at Fir Park and the Caledonian Stadium; former ‘Well management duo of Butcher and Malpas will certainly have their troops fired up.
Although the Highlanders have hit a sticky spell in recent weeks in terms of results, their performances have still been of a high standard.
The 24-year old former Sheffield Utd and Bradford City man expects a tough match.
[pullquote]It’s second against first and arguably game of the day, so it is one we’re looking forward too.[/pullquote]
“It’s second against first and arguably game of the day, so it is one we’re looking forward too,” he told the broadcast media at ‘Well’s weekly news conference.
“We always have good games against them, and they are always tough. I’m sure tomorrow will be no different.
“People think we’ve had a good season, but they’re a point ahead of us, so that’s a demonstration of how good they’ve been, especially considering they have probable one of the lowest budgets in the league.
“When we played them here, 4-1 probably flattered us. They played well and missed a penalty and the game was probably closer than the scoreline suggested. Everything just clicked for us that day. In the league, their consistency has been superb, and they do not concede much, apart from us so far.
“They’re a big threat with the three stand out players of the season so far in Shinnie, Doran and McKay. I’m sure tomorrow won’t be as high scoring as the last two games have been with maybe just the odd goal in it.”
Referee for Saturday’s Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with Inverness at Fir Park is Calum Murray.
The experienced Murray has already taken charge of two Motherwell matches this campaign, the instantly forgettable 2-0 defeat to Rangers at Ibrox in the Scottish Communities League Cup and the 3-2 victory over Ross County at Fir Park.
Motherwell fans will also be familiar with the 45-year old; he handled three ‘Well game last season.
The first was a 2-1 win at Pittodrie with goals from Michael Higdon and Omar Daley.
The second was a 1-1 draw with St Mirren last December, Michael Higdon grabbing
Motherwell’s goal and the last was the 3-2 win over St Johnstone, Keith Lasley and a Henrik Ojamaa double separating the sides.
He was the man in the middle four times the previous season, including the Scottish Cup Final last May.
His overall record in charge of the Steelmen is fairly decent. Of the 20 games he has taken charge of, Motherwell have won nine, drawn four and lost seven. The Fir Parkers have scored 28 whilst 27 have hit the back of the ‘Well net.
58 players have seen yellow on those fourteen matches, 31 of which were shown to a player wearing Claret and Amber. Only one player has been sent for an early bath, Bob Malcolm in the famous 1-0 win over Celtic back in early 2008.
Calum will be ably assisted on the day by Gordon Middleton and Francis Andrews with Barry Cook on fourth official duties.
Extended highlights from Newtongrange as a treble from Bob McHugh and a late Josh Watt goal gives Motherwell an impressive 4-1 victory over Hibernian.
Under 20s boss Jonathan Johansson paid tribute to his side after coming from behind to beat Hibs 4-1 at Newtongrange.
The home side took the lead after just thirteen minutes when Caldwell scored from just inside the area.
But a Bob McHugh hat-trick and a late Josh Watt cross-cum-shot rounded off the result of the season so far against a side battling for second.
Johansson was thrilled with the way his side played the conditions to record such a convincing victory.
[pullquote]Before the game I saw the pitch and was worried about how it would go, but I am proud about the way we played and the way we fought.[/pullquote]
He told MFC FC: “I’m delighted with everything about the game.
“Before the game I saw the pitch and was worried about how it would go, but I am proud about the way we played and the way we fought.
“The pitch was not ideal, but it’s part of the players learning process to be able to play on all surfaces.
“We had to go more direct, and although we were a little bit naive in the beginning the more the match went on, the more we got into it. It was a battle, but one we fought well.
“Bob did great with his hat-trick, but for me Lee Hollis, when the game could have gone either way, pulled out some fantastic saves and really shone.”
A Bob McHugh hat-trick helped Motherwell U20s pick up all three points in a super 4-1 win against Hibs at Newtongrange.
The hosts took the lead on the thirteenth minute but a treble from the in-form McHugh and a late Josh Watt goal secured just the fourth victory of the campaign.
Jonatan Johansson made eight changes from the side that played well but lost against Celtic in Glasgow three weeks ago.
Out went Stewart, Kerr, Cummins, Hetherington, Carswell, Daley, Higginbotham and Moore and were replaced by Hollis, Devlin, Murray, Ashgar, Leitch, McCafferty, Shirkie and McHugh.
Indeed, only Saunders, Francis-Angol and Watt kept their place for the match, which would be played on a very heavy, bobbly pitch at Newtongrange.
It was a fairly even opening to the match with both teams struggling to get any rhythm.
It was the hosts who posted the first opportunity of the match on twelve minutes; Dean Horribine’s low shot deflected just wide of the post. The midfielder was to prove vital a minute later though as it was his forward pass that paved the way for the opening goal.
Euan Murray’s attempted clearance cannoned off Ross Caldwell, allowing the striker a free run at Hollis. The Bellshill-born 19-year old kept his composure to stroke it beyond the outrushing ‘Well keeper and into the net.
‘Well had to weather a bit of a storm and Pa Kujabi almost doubled the advantage on the 20th minute. However, the Gambian was thwarted by the first of many excellent Lee Hollis saves at the expense of a corner.
As the first-half wore on Motherwell were growing into things, and McCafferty signaled intentions with a bouncing shot from the edge that forced a smart save from Sean Murdoch.
With ten minutes left until the interval, Asghar must have though he had brought his side level with a curling shot from the edge that landed just the wrong side of the post, courtesy of a slight deflection off a Hibs defender.
Motherwell would draw level from the resulting corner.
A well-worked move came to an end with a lovely reverse ball into the left channel by Watt had McHugh. Opening up his body, he coolly tucked it past Murdoch and into the net.
Hibs had an incredible opportunity to get themselves back ahead just two minutes later, but Caldwell, normally ruthless, missed a glorious opportunity. Kujabi got himself to the touchline and his square ball across the face found the young striker but instead of grabbing his brace; he blazed it over when a goal seemed certain.
It was the last real chance of the first-forty five, but it was the Steelmen, through Scotland cap Steven Saunders, who posted the first chance of the second. An out-swinging corner from Josh Watt landed at the feet of the former Queen’s Park man, but his half volley flew high over the bar.
After that early scare, Hibs began to exert their authority. Forster close-range headed flew over the bar from close range, Jack Leitch hooked another header off the line and Kujabi fired wide of target after finding himself with acres of time and space inside the area.
The game changed with the introduction of Lee Erwin, the striker making his return after six-months on the sidelines.
The Scotland Youth International showed a hunger and desire to pull Motherwell up the park, and he was to play an influential part in the Steelmen taking all three points.
His first piece of action shortly after coming on was to almost set-up strike-partner. A lovely mazy run, leaving three in his path, eventually spun to McHugh, but the shot was fizzed wide.
Kujabi had a driving run of his own shortly after but he lacked composure and fired a shot over the bar from the edge when he should have worked the ‘keeper.
At this stage, it was all Hibs and Hollis was again in top form to deny Gold’s near post flick after Kujabi’s whipped cross towards the near post.
It was to prove a vital block from the former Airdrie man as the Steelmen went ahead somewhat against the run of play. A corner eventually worked its way out to Watt on the right. His deep, hanging cross found Saunders who prodded it down for McHugh to smash home from a few yards out.
Feeling a little aggrieved, Hibs went in search of an equaliser but found Hollis again in super form.
In fact, it was Motherwell who sensationally added a third and fourth. McHugh completed his hat-trick, collecting a fantastic Erwin pass to slot beyond Murdoch before a Josh Watt cross-cum-shot in the dying seconds looped over the keeper and in to add an exclamation point to the win.
In truth, the scoreline flattered the young Steelmen side, but with a season full of bad luck, Johansson will have been delighted to see his fortunes changes. The win lifts ‘Well above Ross County and into thirteenth in the SPL Under 20s table.
Motherwell: Hollis, Devlin, Francis-Angol, Saunders, Murray, Asghar, McCafferty, Leitch (Johnstone 87mins), McHugh, Shirkie (Erwin 62), Watt
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Green, Thomas, Higgins
Goals: McHugh (35, 80, 85), Watt (89)
Booked: Watt, Devlin