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    TV: McCall wants a positive reaction

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    McLean in charge for Celtic clash

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    Turnstiles operators required

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    Erwin facing lengthy injury layoff

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    TV: Highlights from Excelsior stadium

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    TV: Johansson delighted with reaction

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    Motherwell U20s 4 – 1 Partick Thistle U20s

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    TV: Highlights from Rugby Park

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    TV: Johansson gutted at Cup exit

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    Kilmarnock U20s 3 – 1 Motherwell U20s

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    TV: McCall wants a positive reaction

    Stuart McCall has challenged his side to bounce back after ‘letting people down’ last weekend against Albion Rovers.

    The Steelmen were shocked by the Third Division side at New Douglas Park last Saturday, in what was one of the worst results in the clubs’ 127-year history.

    There has been little time to mope though as undefeated league-leaders Celtic visit Fir Park for a Friday night showdown.

    And McCall is desperate for his men to get back to winning ways and hopes to make it a hat trick of home wins against the Parkhead club.

    [pullquote]I’ve had a whole load of emotions this week, the worst is the sense of despair at letting everyone down.[/pullquote]

    Speaking to the broadcast press at today’s pre-match news conference, McCall said: “We’ve had our time of wallowing and feeling sorry for ourselves, but now we need to go out and play football.

    “I’ve had a whole load of emotions this week, the worst is the sense of despair at letting everyone down, and that will never leave I don’t think.

    “But I look at the league table and we’ve managed to get 25 points with well over 50% wins, five points better off than at the same stage last campaign.

    “With all the changes we’ve had this summer, there was always going to be ups and downs and that will probably continue for the rest of the campaign, but if we can continue that level in the league then that’s the way forward for us.”

    -WATCH HIS INTERVIEW EXCLUSIVELY ON MFC TV

    MFC TV

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    McLean in charge for Celtic clash

    Referee for this Friday’s SPFL Premiership clash with Celtic will be Steven McLean.

    McLean, the brother of former ‘Well defender Brian, is handling his second Motherwell game of the current campaign. His first was the last time ‘Well turned out at Fir Park – a depleted Steelmen crashed 4-0 to Dundee United.

    He is a very familiar face to most Motherwell fans having taken charge of six matches last term too.

    His first was the exceptional 5-1 success over Inverness CT back 12 months ago. Henrik Ojamaa, Adam Cummins, Omar Daley and a Jamie Murphy double completed the rout.

    His second was perhaps even more memorable as Motherwell came back from 2-0 down at Easter Road to win 3-2. A Doyle double had the home side in a commanding position but a Murphy brace and a late Bob McHugh winner handed the Steelmen all three points.

    Third was the New Year fixture against today’s opponents Celtic when a brave ‘Well went down 1-0 after Tom Hateley had missed a second half penalty.

    Fourth was the instantly forgettable 2-0 defeat at Rugby Park in February whereas the fifth was a comfortable 3-0 win at Dens Park – Michael Higdon heading home before a Nicky Law double sealed the three points.

    His last was the season finale at McDiarmid Park as the Steelmen went down 2-0 to a Saints side that won the race for Europe ahead of Inverness and Ross County.

    McLean began his refereeing career back in 1997, aged just 16, but had to wait six years before being promoted to the SFA Senior List.

    It took him a further four years (June 2007) to get promoted to a Category 1 where he has spent the three years handling old SFL and Challenge Cup games as well as gaining experience as a fourth official at SPL matches. He is now regarded as one of the country’s top officials.

    He has had an extremely busy start to the season already – handling eleven SPFL Premiership matches in the first twelve weeks.

    He has also had two League Cup matches, both at the Falkirk Stadium, and two Europa League Qualifiers – Omonia Nikosia’s 1-2 defeat by Romania’s Astra Giurgiu and Serbian side FK Vojvodina’s 2-2 draw with Bursaspor.

    McLean will be ably assisted by Willie Conquer and Graham Chambers with Brian Colvin on fourth official duties.

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    Turnstiles operators required

    Motherwell Football Club are looking for additional staff for our matchday operation to man turnstiles.

    Ideal candidates will be able to work to concise instructions and have good literacy and numeracy skills.

    They must also be available on all weekend matchdays (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) alongside occasional midweek fixtures (Tuesday and Wednesday) – the typical days allocated for matches at Fir Park.

    Suitable people should have no issues interacting with the public. Cash handling experience would also be a benefit, but not essential

    In return the successful candidate would be paid above the industry average.

    Anyone interested please contact Alan Marshall at the Club on 01698 3380683 or email alan.marshall@motherwellfc.co.uk.

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    Erwin facing lengthy injury layoff

    Lee Erwin’s season could be over after going under the knife to repair a knee cartilage injury picked up in Sunday’s Youth Cup game at Kilmarnock.

    The striker, who spent a successful period on loan at Scottish League One side Arbroath, scoring eight goals in eleven starts for the Red Lichties, had just returned to the club to fight for a spot in the first-team.

    He netted at Rugby Park in that ultimately unsuccessful 4th Round match, but was carried off with just over ten minutes left on the clock.

    He was successfully operated on today and the surgeon was able to repair the damage, but his rehab will likely run until the end of the current 2013-14 season.

    [pullquote]That loan and playing first-team football was exactly what he needed, so it’s a big blow for both the lad and us that he will miss such a large part of the season.[/pullquote]

    It’s a devastating blow for the nineteen-year old, who missed four months of last season with a similar injury in his other leg.

    ‘Well boss Stuart McCall said: “It’s a real shame as we were looking forward to having him back in the fold after a real prolific run at Arbroath.

    “That loan and playing first-team football was exactly what he needed, so it’s a big blow for both the lad and us that he will miss such a large part of the season.

    “The positive is that he has battled back from this sort of setback before and has shown a real strength of character.

    “He is in the best possible hands with John Porteous and Adam Stokes who will, no doubt, get him fighting fit again as soon as possible.”

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    TV: Highlights from Excelsior stadium

    Extended highlights from Excelsior Stadium as Motherwell U20s cruise to a 4-1 victory over Partick Thistle.

    -WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS EXCLUSIVELY ON MFC TV

    MFC TV

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    TV: Johansson delighted with reaction

    Jonatan Johansson praised his side after they bounced back from Sunday’s Cup exit with an impressive win over Partick Thistle.

    The Steelmen had lost to both Celtic and Kilmarnock in recent weeks, but were back to their best against the table-topping Jags, who were reduced to ten men after just seventeen minutes.

    Goals from Paul McCafferty, Steven Higgins, Dale Shirkie and Liam Anderson made sure of the three points.

    Prior to the match, the 106-times capped Johansson had asked his side to show their mettle and they did just that.

    [pullquote]I was really down after losing at Kilmarnock and so were the boys but we picked ourselves up and this was a really pleasing performance.[/pullquote]

    Speaking to MFC TV, the former Charlton striker said: “It was an excellent performance and most aspects of it pleased me.

    “The way they reacted to Sunday’s defeat, the way they were positive and how they worked was really good to see.

    “I was really down after losing at Kilmarnock and so were the boys but we picked ourselves up and this was a really pleasing performance.”

    -WATCH HIS INTERVIEW EXCLUSIVELY ON MFC TV

    MFC TV

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    Motherwell U20s 4 – 1 Partick Thistle U20s

    ‘Well returned to winning ways with a thumping 4-1 win over table-toppers Partick Thistle at the Excelsior Stadium this evening.

    The Jags were already behind courtesy of Paul McCafferty’s first goal of the season when they were reduced to ten men after seventeen minutes.

    Steven Higgins added a second before the break before Dale Shirkie netted a third twenty-five minutes from time.

    Thistle reduced the arrears four minutes later but substitute Liam Anderson secured the win with a neat strike late in the game.

    Jonatan Johansson made three changes to the side that lost at Rugby Park on Sunday. Ben Hall, Craig Moore and Lee Erwin all dropped out, replaced by Adam Cummins, Jack Leitch and Steven Higgins.

    Motherwell made the best possible start, opening the scoring after just four minutes.

    Jack Leitch spread the ball wide for Dom Thomas on the left flank and he wasted no time whipping a cross towards the six-yard box. Keeper Waters came out to collect but spilled it, allowing Paul McCafferty to prod home into an empty net from a few yards out.

    It was the only noteworthy action of the opening stages, before the game exploded to life on the seventeen-minute mark.

    Steven Higgins managed to wriggle clear of former ‘Well youngster Darren Brownlie, only to be tripped inches outside the area. Referee Colin Steven was up with play and quickly brandished the red card for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity with Brownlie the last defender.

    Jack Leitch took the resulting free kick, but it smashed off the wall before the rebound was fired wide.

    Despite going down to ten men, the visitors still look threatening in attack and Ross Stewart had to look smart to deny David Wilson, who had got in behind the ‘Well rearguard.

    However, it was the Steelmen who were doing most of the attacking and Higgins was denied twice inside sixty seconds. The first was a weak effort from the edge of the box after a quick counter; the second was a good save by the Thistle keeper who was quick to narrow the angle.

    However, Higgins wouldn’t be denied shortly after as he grabbed Motherwell’s second. Thomas was the creator again, skipping past a couple of challenges before weighting a slide rule pass perfectly for the 17-year old hitman who took a touch before firing it low into the corner.

    Dale Shirkie almost made it three a few minutes later, collecting a lovely through pass and deftly dinking it over Waters, only to watch it bounce into the side net.

    At the other end, Thistle could only manage two long-range efforts from Gary Fraser, both of which flew high and wide.

    The second forty-five took a while to get going – seventeen minutes had been and gone before McDaid lashed a thirty-yard effort high over the bar, when he had better options right and left.

    Motherwell’s first real effort at goal in the half ended up in the net and effectively killed the match as a contest.

    Ferguson played Cadden in on the right flank with a terrifically weighted ball. The marauding fullback hung up a cross to the back post where Shirkie was lurking. He took a touch, turned his marker and poke home from close range.

    To Thistle’s credit, they didn’t throw in the towel and indeed, scored a terrific goal four minutes later courtesy of Declan McDaid, who lashed a fizzing strike high past Stewart into the top corner.

    The last twenty minutes may have been a little more uncomfortable for Johansson’s men had McDaid’s low effort crept in as opposed to the inches wide just two minutes later as Thistle stepped up their efforts.

    But the game’s final goal came with eight minutes left on the clock, substitute Liam Anderson collecting on the left flank and turning in the park with a lovely first touch. As space opened up in front of him, he took the invitation to shoot, smashing it low under Waters to complete the scoring.

    The win will go some way to banishing memories of disappointing performances against Celtic and Kilmarnock in recent weeks. The Under 20s return to action next Tuesday night when they have an early shot at revenge when Killie travel to Fir Park.

    Motherwell: Stewart, Cadden, Ferguson (McCall – 72mins), Murray, Neill (Hall – 86mins), Cummins, McCafferty, Leitch, Higgins, Thomas (Anderson – 72mins), Shirkie

    Unused Subs: Currie, Watt

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    TV: Highlights from Rugby Park

    Extended highlights from Rugby Park as Motherwell lost 3-1 to Kilmarnock in the SFA Youth Cup 4th Round.

    -WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS EXCLUSIVELY ON MFC TV

    MFC TV

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    TV: Johansson gutted at Cup exit

    Jonatan Johansson bemoaned his side’s defending as the Steelmen crashed out the Youth Cup to Kilmarnock.

    To their credit, Killie scored some cracking strikes from distance but the Finn will look at all three goals and feel they could have been dealt with far better.

    The defeat ends Motherwell’s participation in the Youth Cup for another season and adds an exclamation point to what has been an atrocious weekend for the football club.

    Speaking to MFC TV, Johansson said: “I am very disappointed, especially with the defending at the goals we lost.

    [pullquote]Our build-up play was poor and you can’t expect to win when five or six of our players weren’t really performing. After we lost the third goal, our response was very disappointing too so it was a poor day all round.[/pullquote]

    “Our build-up play was poor and you can’t expect to win when five or six of our players weren’t really performing. After we lost the third goal, our response was very disappointing too so it was a poor day all round.

    “At 1-1 I though we might have had a chance, but straight after we scored we conceded a really poor goal and went in at half-time losing.

    “That was a big blow but I still felt we had enough in us to come back and that’s why the second half was so bad in my view.

    “There is no time to feel sorry for ourselves though. We play on Tuesday against Partick Thistle so that will be a big test and we’ll have to be much better.”

    -WATCH HIS INTERVIEW EXCLUSIVELY ON MFC TV

    MFC TV

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    Kilmarnock U20s 3 – 1 Motherwell U20s

    Motherwell U20s crashed out the SFA Youth Cup at Kilmarnock to complete an utterly miserable weekend for the club.

    After the first-team’s desperate defeat to Albion Rovers yesterday, the youngsters were hoping to restore a bit of pride but lost 3-1 to an in-form Killie who have now won six on the bounce.

    The Rugby Park side took the lead early on through left-back Dempster only for Lee Erwin to level matters ten minutes before the break.

    Muirhead restored Killie’s lead just four minutes later before Greg Kiltie assured Kilmarnock’s progression to the Quarter Final’s with a third on the hour mark.

    Johnasson made four changes to the side that lost to Celtic twelve days ago. Cummins, Lawson, Leitch and McHugh all dropped out, replaced by Hall, Thomas, Moore and Erwin.

    Motherwell made a positive start and almost took the lead inside sixty seconds when Thomas’ shot forced Brennan into a low save with Moore unable to turn home the rebound.

    But it was the home side that took the lead almost out of nothing after just eight minutes. Dempster collected a pass on the left flank, cut inside both Hall and McCafferty before unleashing a stunning effort high past Stewart into the top right corner.

    It was a shock to the system for the young Steelmen but, to their credit, the reaction was first class, led by Dom Thomas who was excellent on the wing.

    He stung the palms of Brennan with a low shot before watching a cross-cum-shot come back off the underside of the bar as ‘Well pushed for a leveler.

    Erwin them almost poked home an equaliser but was stopped by a super last-ditch sliding challenge from goalscorer Dempster.

    It was all Motherwell by the thirty-minute mark as the Claret and Amber men forced numerous corners and free kicks in dangerous areas but Killie held firm.

    The leveler did eventually come on the 35th minute.

    Craig Moore quickly turned a clearance back into an attack as Lee Erwin split the Killie centre backs. Racing in on Brennan, he kept his composure and calmly slotted the ball into the far corner.

    Incredibly, after being dominated for thirty minutes, Killie restored their lead just four minutes later with a swift counter-attack.

    Breaking quickly from a Motherwell corner, Kiltie stepped away from two challenges before sliding in the supporting Muirhead with a lovely pass. The striker raced clear of the ‘Well rearguard, rounded Stewart before smashing it high into the unguarded net.

    Seconds before the half-time whistle, Killie keeper Brennan had to acrobatically turn a Moore header over the bar to keep his side ahead.

    At that point, there was little to suggest ‘Well wouldn’t have more chances to score in the second forty-five but, in truth, Johansson’s men never really got going.

    It took almost ten minutes before there was anything of note; a cross from substitute Luke Watt, introduced at the break for Ben Hall, flew over the head of Moore and almost found Thomas, but the winger couldn’t control his shot at the far post.

    A minute later, there was a huge shout for a penalty when O’Hara handled a Thomas free-kick but, despite prolonged and loud Motherwell protests, there was nothing doing from the referee.

    That would prove to be a significant decision as the home side extended their lead shortly after.

    Kiltie collected a pass some thirty yards from goal and despite David Ferguson for company; he drilled a stinging effort high past Stewart to all but seal the game for the hosts.

    To complete a thoroughly miserable afternoon, Lee Erwin had to be carried off with what looked like a serious injury, replaced by Liam Anderson with ten minutes left to go.

    ‘Well had a few half-chances at the death, but never forced Brennan into any save of note.

    After encouraging wins in the previous two rounds, it was a disappointing and sad end to Motherwell’s participation in this season’s Youth Cup. The side only a few days before they are back in action against Partick Thistle.

    Motherwell: Stewart, Hall (Watt – 46mins), Ferguson, Murray, Neill, Cadden, McCafferty (Higgins – 71mins), Shirkie, Moore, Thomas, Erwin (Anderson – 78mins)

    Subs Not Used: Currie, McCall