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    Steven Saunders ‘Steelmen’ Interview

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    Last chance to shoot for glory

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    McCall gets PFA nomination

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    TV: Highlights from Fir Park

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    TV: Johansson reflects on Killie win

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    Motherwell U20s 4 – 2 Kilmarnock U20s

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    Under 20s take on Killie

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    TV: Highlights from Fir Park

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    TV: McCall proud of his players

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    Motherwell 3 – 1 Celtic

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    Steven Saunders ‘Steelmen’ Interview

    An exclusive interview with Steven Saunders which first appeared in Issue 23 (vs Celtic) of ‘Steelmen’ – Motherwell’s matchday magazine.

    Steven Saunders’ future will lie away from Fir Park, but the former Scotland International insists he will look back on his time at Motherwell with great fondness, despite two-years of injury hell.

    The former Queen’s Park youngster has been told his contract will not be renewed when it expires at the end of May, bringing to an end a five-year stint in North Lanarkshire.

    In that time, the 22-year old has played 74 times in Claret and Amber, including ten in European competition, scoring two goals.

    After playing for both the Scotland U19s and 21’s whilst a ‘Well player, he won his first full Scotland cap against the Faroe Islands back in November 2010, introduced as a second-half sub for Phil Bardsley in a three-nil win when Craig Levein was boss.

    Lining up in those games, involved in matches against the likes of AS Nancy, Steaua Bucharest and the Cup Final squad were certainly the high points, but his career at Fir Park will always be tainted with the harrowing tale of a succession of horrific injuries.

    He sustained a groin injury two months before McCall arrived and an ankle ligament injury two months after his appointment,

    At the start of the 2011/12 season, the big defender had just won his spot back in the side when disaster struck – a ruptured Achilles whilst on Scotland U21 duty against Norway kept him out for almost nine months. He would only feature once more that campaign, a last-minute sub appearance against Hibs as the season drew to a close.

    His luck wouldn’t improve this year when, after feeling a niggle during a pre-season match at Starks Park, a scan revealed he would require a clean-up operation on his knee that ruled him out until Christmas.

    In that time, Simon Ramsden, Shaun Hutchinson and Adam Cummins have cemented their spot in the first-team meaning Saunders’ options have been limited to the Under 20s.

    And although there is a resigned acceptance that he won’t be a Motherwell player beyond the summer, he doesn’t hold any grudges.

    Steven Saunders Interview“I’ve been told my contract won’t be renewed at the end of the current season,” he told ‘Steelmen’, Motherwell’s Matchday Magazine.

    “To be fair, I was expecting it as I have hardly played first-team football in two years and the gaffer was honest enough to tell me that I wasn’t likely to feature ahead of the boys there just now.

    “I certainly wouldn’t change anything about it [the last five years]. I joined a good club and got a really good grounding and played a lot of matches for the first-team when I initially arrived – I made my debut about six months after moving from Queen’s Park.

    “The last two years have been very frustrating but I can see things from the manager’s point of view. I was available for the first few months that he was here but have spent the best part of two years out injured. It’s understandable given he’s not seen a lot of me and has his own ideas and plans which is fair enough.

    “I don’t look back with any anger or regrets though. Injuries are part and parcel of the game and you just need to get on with it.”

    Saunders will now spend the rest of the campaign with Jonatan Johansson’s Under 20s side as he keeps himself fit.

    His next big career goal is to find a new club and kick-start his career, possibly down south.

    “Obviously it has been tough to battle back from two pretty bad injuries but I have been back training every day since November and playing regularly for the Under 20s.

    “When I first got back at Christmas, the weather made things worse for me.

    “I wasn’t able to play on the Astro but I am now almost in double figures in terms of games for the Under 20s and feel sharp and approaching something like my best.

    “I need to keep myself ticking over. I am hoping someone; somewhere will take a look at me, maybe a trial so I can get myself going and get my career back on track.

    “To be honest, I’ve not had any contact from any other clubs. Agents tell you this and that but certainly there has been nothing concrete.

    “I would certainly consider taking a chance and moving down south. I know there was a bit of talk about a few clubs interested in me a while back I am hoping I can maybe reignite some of that.

    “They will all ask the same questions though; are you fit, why have you not featured but I hope to answer all those questions.”

    Saunders will be able to draw on several experiences during his time at Fir Park that he hopes will set him up for his future career.

    The defender has achieved a lot in his five years, and worked with no less than four managers, alongside Academy Director Gordon Young who initially brought him to the club to play with the Under 19s.

    “I’ve enjoyed some brilliant times here,” he recalled.

    “I have worked under four different managers – Mark McGhee, Jim Gannon, Craig Brown and Stuart McCall – and like to think I’ve picked up things from all of them. They have all different ideas about the game and that’s been an advantage.

    “I was part of the squad that got to the Scottish Cup Final but I think the European adventures was probably my highlight.

    “Playing against Llanelli AFC, Flamurtari and Steaua Bucharest was great – I was only 18 and racked up about ten matches in European competition. That experience will hopefully set me in good stead for the future, as will the Scotland cap.”


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    Last chance to shoot for glory

    There is less than 24 hours left for you to win a shot at glory at Fir Park with Weatherseal.

    Make home advantage count!

    The SPL’s newest competition is set for Fir Park during half-time of the next SPL fixture at Fir Park when Ross County come a calling (Sunday 12th May, kick-off 4.05pm).

    You can be a part of the Weatherseal Home Advantage Challenge – on the pitch in front of a big-match crowd!

    But hurry, entries closes Thursday at 12pm.

    Three lucky winners will face the toughest of challenges – to score through our Weatherseal windows in front of thousands of supporters and win some big Well prizes including:

    * Home SPL match tickets

    * A signed home shirt

    * Hospitality for four at a home SPL game

    So, do you fancy the ultimate shot at glory?

    For your chance to win a pair of tickets to Motherwell v Ross County (Sunday 12th May, kick-off 4.05pm) and your big moment on the park at half-time simply visit www.facebook.com/weatherseal.

    The closing date is Thursday 2nd May at 12pm. Winners will be notified by Monday 6th May at 12pm.

    Weatherseal is a proud supporter of Motherwell FC as official home improvement partner of the SPL. Visit Weatherseal’s website – www.weatherseal.co.uk.

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    McCall gets PFA nomination

    Stuart McCall has made the PFA Scotland manager of the year shortlist along with Terry Butcher, Neil Lennon and Allan Johnston.

    It’s the second successive season the ‘Well boss has made the shortlist.

    His side sit second in the SPL table having already secured a spot in next season’s Europa League.

    PFA Scotland chief executive Fraser Wishart said: “Having counted the votes, these are the top four as far as the current managers across the SPL and SFL are concerned.

    “Each manager was asked to vote for the best across all divisions.

    “This was the closest-run contest we have ever had.

    “It speaks volumes about the quality of managers we have in our game in Scotland and, in fact, there are a few more managers who I am sure could also lay claim to the title.

    “All four nominees have had outstanding seasons and thoroughly deserve the accolade of being voted the best by their peers.”

    The winners of both the managers and player awards will be announced at a dinner in Glasgow’s Hilton Hotel on Sunday 5 May.

    Everyone at Motherwell Football Club would like to warmly congratulate Stuart, and the other three candidates.

  • Archive

    TV: Highlights from Fir Park

    Highlights from Fir Park as Motherwell Under 20s continued their recent good run with a 4-2 victory of Kilmarnock.


    MFC TV

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    TV: Johansson reflects on Killie win

    Jonatan Johansson praised his side after they battled away for three points against Kilmarnock this evening.

    The Steelmen looked to be cruising to the three points after an hour, three goals (a Bob McHugh double and Paul McCafferty’s first of the campaign) to the good and playing some attractive, attacking football.

    To their credit, Killie plugged away and were rewarded with two goals from Robbie Muirhead, making the closing stages a little nervier than they perhaps ought to have been.

    It took an injury time strike from substitute Steven Higgins to settle everyone down and confirm three points, the U20s tenth from the last four matches.

    [pullquote]If you look back at it, we had about seventy or eighty minutes of good football with ten minutes not so good.[/pullquote]

    Johnasson told MFC TV after the match: “Up until Kilmarnock scored their first goal, I thought we played some really nice football.

    “At 3-0 we looked very comfortable and I felt at that stage that we might even go on and get more.

    “As can happen in football, when they get one back, they start to take more risks, the confidence goes up and we started to panic a little bit.

    “If you look back at it, we had about seventy or eighty minutes of good football with ten minutes not so good.

    “Overall, I’ve got to be pleased with how we performed and obviously delighted with another victory.”


    MFC TV

  • Archive

    Motherwell U20s 4 – 2 Kilmarnock U20s

    Graham Barnstaple at Fir Park

    Motherwell Under 20s continued their recent good run with a 4-2 victory over Kilmarnock at Fir Park.

    The Steelmen roared into a three-goal lead, Paul McCaffery’s solo goal sandwiched in between a Bob McHugh double.

    ‘Well looked comfortable but Robbie Muirhead’s deflected goal gave the visitors hope.

    Then, with just a minute left on the clock, Muirhead pulled another back making for a nervous ending.

    But, with virtually the last kick of the ball, substitute Steven Higgins fired home from close range

    The Fir Parkers were looking to build on their recent good run and Jonatan Johansson made just one change from the side that smashed four past St Johnstone. Adam Cummins dropped out and was replaced by the returning Euan Murray.

    Both sides had chances in the opening five minutes, with Lee Hollis saving at close range from Rory McKenzie after a strong run down the right by the Killie man.

    At the other end, Dom Thomas played in a cross for Lee Erwin but the big striker’s effort was hit straight at keeper Devlin MacKay.

    The game then went to sleep for the next thirty minutes with neither side creating anything at all of note.

    It eventually sparked back to life when ‘Well passed up a few half chances, McHugh shooting off target and Erwin firing just wide from a tight angle.

    Then, with twelve minutes left to the break, Johansson’s men took the lead.

    McHugh played a neat one-two with Erwin on the edge of the area, collecting the return on the byline. The striker cut back, beat two markers before firing in off the leg of Caoimhin Bonnar.

    Two minutes before the break, the hosts doubled their lead thanks to a fine solo effort from Paul McCafferty. The winger collected the ball wide on the right, skipped past a couple of defenders before wrong-footing keeper MacKay from 15 yards out.

    Motherwell made it three on the hour mark; Frazer Johnstone robbed Craig Slater on the edge of the box. The midfielder took his time and looked up before squaring to McHugh for a simple tap in from 12 yards out – his seventeenth goal of the campaign for the Under 20s.

    Killie pulled one back with just over 15 minutes left, Robbie Muirhead cut in from the left flank and his low shot from a narrow angle took a wicked deflection off substitute Morgyn Neill to beat the stranded Lee Hollis.

    Five minutes later Lee Erwin almost restored the three goal lead but his shot from the edge of the box skimmed the top of the cross bar with keeper MacKay well beaten.

    In the dying minutes Hollis was called into action once again as he tipped a Greg Kiltie header over the bar. From the resultant corner Hollis pulled off a fine save from Kiltie again but the rebound fell kindly for Muirhead who tapped in from close range.

    The win was sealed in stoppage time when ‘Well added a fourth; Thomas won the ball on the left edge of the box and his cross was stabbed home by Higgins to make it four unbeaten for the under 20s.

    The youths finish the season with two matches next week, Falkirk away on Tuesday before closing the season against Ross County at the Excelsior Stadium on Thursday.

    Motherwell: Hollis, Kerr, Francis-Angol (Higgins – 80), Murray (Neill – 59), Saunders, Johnstone, McCafferty, Erwin (Shirkie – 80), McHugh, Leitch, Thomas

    Sub not used: Stewart

  • Archive

    Under 20s take on Killie

    The Under 20s face Kilmarnock at Fir Park tomorrow (Tuesday) in what is the penultimate home match of the campaign.

    The young Steelmen side have hit a bit of form in recent times, taking seven points from the last nine available, including impressive wins at both Inverness and St Johnstone.

    Killie came from behind to beat 10-man Motherwell the last time the teams met back in February.

    The match will take place at Fir Park Stadium, kick-off is 7pm.


    Adults and Concessions:

    Season book holders or Well Society membership: £2
    Standard: £3

    Under 16:

    Season book holders or Well Society membership: £1
    Standard: £2

  • Archive

    TV: Highlights from Fir Park

    Extended highlights from Fir Park as Motherwell turn in a superb performance to beat Celtic 3-1.


    MFC TV

  • Archive

    TV: McCall proud of his players

    ‘Well boss Stuart McCall spoke of his pride as Motherwell recorded back-to-back wins over Celtic.

    The Steelmen were brilliant again and goals from Henrik Ojamaa, Michael Higdon and a Lustig own-goal gave ‘Well the vital win.

    The win leaves the Fir Parkers nine points ahead of Inverness Caley in the race for second spot. It also confirmed Motherwell’s participation in the 2013/14 Europa League.

    [pullquote]I’m delighted and proud for all the staff, players and everyone connected to the club.[/pullquote]

    McCall told MFC TV after the match: “I’m delighted and proud for all the staff, players and everyone connected to the club.

    “To put in a performance like that, especially after going a goal down to a team like Celtic, was brilliant. It was a good open day with some great performances and it’s a day we’ve got to cherish.

    “The players covered the ground, got around the park, got into players and I thought the desire and hunger was terrific but I also thought some of the football was outstanding.

    “It was a combination of good play from goalkeeper to attackers and it was a joy to watch.”


    MFC TV

  • Archive

    Motherwell 3 – 1 Celtic

    [tab:Match report]

    Phil McGhee at Fir Park

    Motherwell completed a rare home double win over Celtic to ensure a place in next season’s Europa League.

    After falling behind to a Gary Hooper goal, the Fir Park side stunned Neil Lennon’s men with three goal inside twelve minutes either side of half-time.

    Motherwell sportingly welcomed the newly crowned SPL champions on to the pitch with a guard of honour, but it was the ‘Well players who took all of the plaudits after a terrific ninety minutes.

    Despite resting four players, Celtic made the brighter and more determined start with Tony Watt shooting over the bar within a couple of minutes.

    An early booking for Shaun Hutchison put the defender under a bit of pressure for the remaining 87 minutes but, despite having to contend with the Greek International Georgios Samaras, the central defender was commanding throughout and might even have opened the scoring after seven minutes.

    Nicky Law’s inswinging cross flashed across a begging goal and just beyond Hutchison’s lunge. Then, amidst a first half downpour, James McFadden brightened up the proceedings, weaving past a couple of defenders before driving his right foot shot narrowly past.

    On the half hour mark, Samaras fell to the ground 25 yards out allowing Charlie Mulgrew to produce a trade mark curling free kick which Darren Randolph leapt to palm away.

    The ‘Well keeper then produced a fabulous save spreading himself to block Gary Hooper who looked certain to sidefoot the ball home form four yards.

    ‘Well had strong appeals for a penalty after 34 minutes when Henrik Ojamaa’s drive into the box was glanced by Keith Lasley onto Thomas Rogne’s arm but a spot kick would have been harsh on the Norwegian.

    Six minutes from half time Celtic took the lead. Watt raced away from Simon Ramsden and as Randolph elected to leave his line the ball was chipped over him to the waiting Hooper who crashed his header off the cross bar before hooking the rebound into the net.

    A minute before the break the sides were back on level terms. Lasley’s incisive pass sent Ojamaa darting between Mulgrew and Rogne before drilling a superb finish inside Forster left hand post.

    In an incredible turnaround, Motherwell grabbed the lead four minutes into the second half. Ojamaa tussled with Mulgrew for the ball just inside the box and as the Estonian fell to the ground Euan Norris pointed to the spot.

    Although Forster saved Tom Hateley’s penalty at Parkhead in January, the Celtic ‘keeper had no chance this time as Michael Higdon confidently swept his kick high over the diving Foster to claim his 25th league goal of the season.

    In an amazing spell, ‘Well made it three after 55 minutes. Rogne’s glancing header from Hateley’s cross almost cost him an own goal but his effort rebounded off the foot of the post and back off Foster and into the net.

    As Celtic threw on forwards to try and recover the game the Parkhead defence was carved open as ‘Well chased more goals.

    A terrific run and drive from Humphrey took a wicked deflection off Mulgrew and only an acrobatic save from Foster prevented the ball from dipping under the bar.

    Ojamaa the sent McFadden stealing in behind the visitors defence but with plenty of time to pick his spot he hammered the ball off the keeper.

    Another great save from Foster denied Higdon a second goal but the points and European football were well wrapped up before an Anthony Stokes shot bounced off the post in the final minute.

    [tab:As it happened]

    Alastair Reilly at Fir Park

    Coming Soon


    Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:

    “You demand energy and commitment, but some of the football was outstanding,

    “I normally say you have to score the first goal to win against the Old Firm; what character to go behind, come back and put in a performance like that.

    “I could go through the team. There were some huge performances. I said to the lads ‘enjoy that but don’t get carried away with three games to go’. But they’re special moments, to play as well as that against Celtic.

    “It’s a really proud moment. We beat Celtic a few years ago, 2-0. One was a mistake by them and one was a dodgy penalty, but today I thought we won in style.

    “As a coach, as a person and as a player, you always want to try and improve.

    “We looked at the points tally of 62 we got last season – the highest we’ve ever had in the SPL. We’re on 60 now with three games to go. So I can’t speak highly enough of the group of players we’ve got.”

    Celtic manager Neil Lennon:

    “I don’t know where that came from. I felt we dominated the first-half and could have been two-up but a really poor call has cost us a goal. And then, for some reason, we didn’t come out the traps in the second half and lose it with a penalty and an own goal.

    “From an attacking point of view, I thought we were really good and dangerous; defensively we were poor. Some players knew that there are Cup final places up for grabs but I am not too sure they took that today. A few of them looked as if they had switched off in the second-half and that is unacceptable.”


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