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    TV: Highlights from McDiarmid Park

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    St Johnstone U20s 3 – 3 Motherwell U20s

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    TV: Highlights from Fir Park

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    St Johnstone win in pictures

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    TV: McCall happy with Saints win

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    Motherwell 2 – 1 St Johnstone

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    TV: Vigurs wants to make amends

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    TV: McCall wants final push

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    Club Statement: New General Manager

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    Clancy to officiate Saints clash

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    TV: Highlights from McDiarmid Park

    Extended highlights from McDiarmid Park where ‘Well and Saints U20s played out an entertaining 3-3 draw


    MFC TV

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    St Johnstone U20s 3 – 3 Motherwell U20s

    Nine-man Motherwell finished their season with an entertaining 3-3 draw at McDiarmid Park.

    The Steelmen were behind when Dale Shirkie headed past his own ‘keeper before he atoned for his error by bringing ‘Well level on the stroke of half-time.

    Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson put Saints in front ahead five minutes into the second half, before two goals in two minutes from Shirkie and Euan Murray had the visitors in front for the first time.

    But in a topsy-turvy game, Saints were quick to draw level themselves level when Dylan Easton slotted home after a good move down the left.

    Under 20s boss Jonatan Johansson made three changes to the side that lost to Rangers last Tuesday. Ross Stewart, Craig McCall and Craig Moore dropped out, replaced by Brett Long, Frazer Johnstone and Steven Higgins.

    Motherwell started the game the brighter and Steven Higgins had the Steelmen’s first half chance after eighteen minutes, firing a 30-yard shot high over the bar and into the stand.

    However, it was Saints who would take the lead five minutes later. Dwayne Coultress’s free-kick towards the six yard box was inviting and Fortnam-Tomlinson nipped in ahead of Shirkie but it was the ‘Well forward who would inadvertently head past Long from close range.

    Saints kept up the pressure and Easton tried his luck from distance, only to fire over the bar.

    The Steelmen were struggling to test Saints stopper Mark Hurst and even when Lee Erwin had a free-kick in a good position, he could only smash his effort off the wall.

    Neil did came close to leveling after getting on the end of a Dom Thomas cross but it went wide and down the other end, Coultress did so well to cut in from the left, but his shot curled inches wide of Long’s right-hand post.

    It was an important miss as, with their next attack, ‘Well drew level. Erwin’s long, diagonal pass had McCafferty in on the right flank. He did well to hold off Andrew Steeves before cutting it back for Shirkie who slotted home from eight yards.

    Saints made a great start to the second half and took the lead just five minutes in. Fortnam-Tomlinson collected a neat Coultress reverse pass, sprinted towards goal before coolly lifted it over the outrushing Long for 2-1.

    ‘Well wasted no time in the search for another leveler and Erwin almost got it within seconds, only for his curling shot to drop just wide of the post. Then, minutes later, Higgins had a shot well blocked by Easton.

    The equaliser did eventually come on the 63rd minute. Saints failed to clear their lines at Cadden’s cross. Johnstone and Higgins combined to set-up Shirkie and he smashed it home with aplomb from twenty yards out.

    Incredibly, ‘Well made it 3-2 just a minute later. A Thomas corner was flicked on by Morgyn Neill for Euan Murray, who smashed a venomous volley hard past the goalkeeper and into the net.

    Unbelievably, Saints hauled themselves back into things almost straight from kick-off. Coultress did well on the flank again, and his pull back to the edge of the area found Fortnam-Tomlinson, who teed up Easton who smashed home a lovely right-footed shot.

    As the game neared its conclusion, ‘Well were reduced to nine men. Morgyn Neill was first to go, shown a straight red for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. Then, three minutes later, Frazer Johnstone walked after picking up a second booking.

    Incredibly, despite their two man disadvantage, ‘Well could have nicked it late on. Erwin bundled his way into the penalty box, but could only blaze an effort of the bar.

    Motherwell: Long, Cadden, Ferguson, Murray, Neill, Johnstone, McCafferty, Erwin, Shirkie, Thomas, Higgins (McCall – 79mins)

    Subs: Currie, Hall, Mackin, McNulty

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    TV: Highlights from Fir Park

    Extended highlights from Fir Park as ‘Well grind out an important 2-1 win against Tommy Wright’s St Johnstone.


    MFC TV

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    St Johnstone win in pictures

    Action pictures from this afternoon’s hard-fought 2-1 win over St Johnstone at Fir Park.

    Snaps courtesy of SNSPix.

    [svgallery name=”stjohnstone030514″]

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    TV: McCall happy with Saints win

    ‘Well boss Stuart McCall was pleased with his side’s hard-fought victory over an in-form St Johnstone this afternoon.

    The Fir Parkers weren’t at their fluid best, but were deserving of their half-time advantage after goals from Lionel Ainsworth and Stephen McManus sandwiched a Dave MacKay header for Saints.

    The second half was tight, with the visitors edging possession but they couldn’t get through a stubborn Steelmen rearguard.

    McCall admitted he was just happy to take all three points, setting up a fascinating final week of SPFL Premiership action.

    “It just goes to show what a rollercoaster of emotions football can be at times,” he told MFC TV after the match.

    [pullquote]Over the full ninety minutes, I felt we just about deserved the three points, but it was tough[/pullquote]

    “Two weeks ago we were on a high after a good point against Celtic, then we go from that to the doom and gloom and dejection of last Saturday at Tannadice.

    “Then today we’re back with a win and at this stage of the season, it’s the three points that is all important.

    “I felt the first-half performance was very good, we created some good chances and we merited our half-time lead.

    “The second half was more of a struggle; they changed their shape and had a little more domination without really cutting us open or creating many clear-cut opportunities.

    “Over the full ninety minutes, I felt we just about deserved the three points, but it was tough.”


    MFC TV

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    Motherwell 2 – 1 St Johnstone

    [tab:Match report]

    Motherwell edged out top-six rivals St Johnstone 2-1 in a tense afternoon at Fir Park.

    Lionel Ainsworth gave Motherwell the lead early on before Dave Mackay headed Saints level midway through the first half.

    Stephen McManus got the decisive goal in controversial circumstances before half-time, his headed effort adjudged to have crossed the line before being punched clear by defender Steven Anderson.

    The win sees Motherwell tighten their grip on a European spot, sitting third place in the standings with just two games to play and also takes them to within a point of second-placed Aberdeen.

    Motherwell started the match brightly as the aerial prowess of John Sutton caused problems, and they passed up a couple of decent early openings before James McFadden was presented with a great chance to put the Steelmen ahead after nine minutes.

    Great work by Zaine Francis-Angol down the left saw the ball forced back to McFadden on the edge of the area, but with time and space his side-footed effort was tame allowing Alan Mannus to gather.

    St Johnstone had a good opportunity minutes later as they won the ball in midfield and released Stevie May on the right wing. The in-form striker ran at the Motherwell defence who backed off allowing him to get a shot away, but his effort was skewed well wide.

    Ainsworth then had an effort for the home side, cutting in from the right before unleashing a strike that Mannus could only parry, and with the ball bouncing loose in the six-yard area Mackay reacted quickest to get the ball to safety.

    Ainsworth did have the beating of Mannus to open the scoring in the 21st minute, although there may have been a touch of fortune about the winger’s looped finish.

    Sutton laid the ball back to McFadden on the edge of the box, and his quick feet allowed the forward to skip over a challenge before laying the ball wide to Ainsworth. It looked as though the winger attempted to hang a cross up towards the far post, but it looped over Mannus into the net to give the Englishman his 11th goal of the season.

    The lead lasted just five minutes, the visitors getting back on level terms in the simplest fashion.

    An inswinging corner from the right by David Wotherspoon was met by the head of Mackay, who nodded home his third goal of the season unchallenged from the middle of the box.

    There was a moment of controversy as the Steelmen moved ahead again on 35 minutes. Iain Vigurs’ free-kick to the far post found McManus unmarked and his headed effort bounced over Mannus before appearing to be punched off the line by Anderson.

    With the whole stadium waiting for referee Kevin Clancy to point to the spot and send the defender off, assistant referee Andrew McWilliam signalled that the ball had crossed the line before Anderson made contact and the goal was awarded.

    St Johnstone were the brighter side at the start of the second half and had Motherwell pinned back without creating any clear-cut chances, and their frustration was evident as May attempted to win a penalty by going over Keith Lasley’s planted left leg only to be shown a yellow card for simulation. It was hard to tell if ‘Well got a break or not, television pictures will prove one way or another.

    The visitors did carve out a decent opportunity after 70 minutes, Wotherspoon dancing his way along the Motherwell 18-yard line before firing a low left-foot effort wide of Lee Hollis’s left-hand post.

    Motherwell were looking content to sit on their lead and attempt to hit St Johnstone on the break, and the visitors were offering little in the way of a serious threat to the home goal in a largely uneventful second half.

    Saints almost hit the equaliser they may have felt they deserved with four minutes remaining, Hollis’s punch clear being met on the half-volley on the edge of the area by Gary Miller, but the goalkeeper recovered to make a great stop low to his left to ensure the points stayed in Lanarkshire.

    [tab:As it happened]

     Alastair Reilly at Fir Park

    FT: Motherwell 2 – 1 St Johnstone

    3 minutes added on

    88mins: Quality stuff from Hollis to punch clear then get down superbly to gather Miller’s shot!

    85mins: Last St johnstone sub, Dunne off for McDonald

    83mins: Anier wins ‘Well a corner,….doesn’t quite fall for Kerr allowing McKay to sweep it clear

    80mins: St J sub, Hasselbaink on for Wotherspoon

    76mins: Decent deep ball into the box but Kerr does enough to put May off and he heads well wide

    74mins: Motherwell sub, Francis-Angol off for Kerr

    69mins: And a ‘Well sub, McFadden makes way for Anier

    68mins: St J sub, Croft on for O’Halloran

    7,201 here at Fir Park Thanks to all as always!

    59mins: May booked for taking a dive in the box. Did look theatrical.

    49mins: A let off as May skips past Hollis but the linesman’s flag is up to deny him as he has strayed offside

    Second half now underway #MFcvSJFC

    Having seen the McManus goal back, delay in giving it looked like he was trying to decide if it was a pen and red card for Anderson or a goal as it was over the line. It was well over so correct decision in the end.

    HT: Motherwell 2 – 1 St Johnstone #MFCvSJFC

    42mins: Easton booked for a bad tackle on Sutton. Big man is getting some treatment…

    39mins Tidy bit of footwork from McFadden in the box to set up Lasley but his shot his well closed down and blocked

    It’s 2-1 now anyway!

    35mins: A real strange moment as McManus heads the ball goalwards, and its headed away. Looked to be over the, ref says no, then says yes!


    29mins: ‘Well looking to respond through Hutchinson but his header from Ainsworth’s corner is well over

    26mins: A corner to Saints now, GOAL! McKay heads the delivery into the net 1-1

    24mins: Corner to ‘Well, won by Francis-Angol….headed well clear by Miller

    21mins: AINSWORTH makes it 1-0!! It’s maybe a cross but it’s looped over Mannus and into the bottom corner!!


    17mins: Another superb chance for ‘Well! Ainsworth brings its down on thwe edge of the box and stings the palms of Mannus.Rebound is cleared

    11mins: Counter attack from St J but from a narrow angle, May drags his shot well wide of the far post

    8mins: Great chance for Faddy as he’s set up nicely 10 yards out. Tries to find a corner but fires straight at Mannus

    3mins: Decent start for ‘Well. Some good pressure and Las has blasted on over from range. Bit of internet troubles today….

    Underway here at Fir Park!! #MFCvSJFC


    Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:

    “My first reaction was penalty kick, he’s off and they’re down to 10 men, which you get quite excited about!” said McCall.

    “I got even more excited when I saw the linesman sprinting towards the halfway line, so I knew he had given a goal, or I thought he had given a goal, and obviously there was a bit afterwards where Anderson got booked and I wasn’t really sure what happened.

    “It was a bit puzzling on the sidelines why the delay took place. I would have been more happy if they had just came back and took the kick-off.

    “I asked the fourth (official) about five minutes later what had happened and he said ‘well the goal was given!’ I said ‘well, yeah, I know the goal was given!’

    “At first I thought that it was a penalty kick and Sutty (John Sutton) has been practising his penalties all week so I was quite confident, and you think ‘here we go, 10 men’, and especially that it was Anderson because I think he’s been a rock for them of late, but we’re obviously happy that was the winning goal.”

    St Johnstone assistant manager Tommy Wright:

    “The controversy is that there’s a foul on Dave MacKay in the build-up to it,” said Wright.

    “I think there’s confusion with what happens after that, but I think it should have been a foul on Dave MacKay.

    “He goes to ground, and I thought actually that was what the referee was pointing to. Then I thought it was a penalty kick, and if it was going to be a penalty kick it was going to be a sending-off and I think that’s maybe what he did, he thought it would be a penalty kick and his assistant’s told him it was over the line.

    “So he’s right then to award the goal, but we’re disappointed that there was a foul on Dave MacKay we thought, he doesn’t just go to ground for no reason, and obviously (McManus) is his man and he’s been blocked.

    “We didn’t do enough in the first half though, so they probably deserved to be ahead at that time.”


    [poll id=”191″]

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    TV: Vigurs wants to make amends

    Iain Vigurs insists there is a real desire amongst the Motherwell squad to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat.

    The Steelmen crashed to a disappointing defeat in Dundee to leave the battle for European spots wide open.

    But for former Inverness and Ross County maestro spoke of the determination to get back to winning ways against St Johnstone at Fir Park tomorrow.

    [pullquote]Everyone was really disappointed with last week but we have an opportunity now to put that right over these next three games.[/pullquote]

    Speaking to the broadcast press, the midfielder said: “Everyone was really disappointed with last week but we have an opportunity now to put that right over these next three games.

    “It’s a real big one against St Johnstone, but there are no easy games in this league – everyone can beat everyone and you’ve seen that in the last few weeks.

    “They’re a good side, well drilled and hard to beat. Boys that defeat really stung last week and there is a real desire to go out there and try and make amends for what happened at Tannadice last week.”


    MFC TV

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    TV: McCall wants final push

    ‘Well boss Stuart McCall wants to finish the season with a hat trick of wins, starting tomorrow against St Johnstone.

    The Steelmen sit in third spot, four points behind Aberdeen and four ahead of Dundee United with three games still to play.

    ‘Well will meet Saints and Inverness at home, before a final day fixture against the Dons at Pittodrie

    And the Steelmen boss wants his side give themselves the best possible chance of a European finish by repeating their achievement from earlier in the campaign.

    [pullquote]However, we’ve got three games left and the marker is there for us. We’re not asking the players they’ve not already done this season.[/pullquote]

    Speaking to the gathered press at Motherwell’s weekly news conference, McCall said: “We’re against an in-form side in St Johnstone; they’ve had fantastic results of late and are playing with a lot of confidence and belief.

    “I have watched their last few games and we are under no illusions as to what we will be up against. However, we’ve got three games left and the marker is there for us. We’re not asking the players to so anything they’ve haven’t already this season.

    “We’ve played St Johnstone at home and performed really well to win. We’ve beat Inverness at home already and we have also been to Pittodrie and won.

    “It’s a big ask of the lads, but it’s not impossible and we go out tomorrow to try and kick that off.”


    MFC TV

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    Club Statement: New General Manager

    Motherwell FC is today pleased to confirm Alan Burrows has been promoted to the role of General Manager, replacing Leeann Dempster.

    Burrows has worked at the club for over six years as head of the Press and Media department, winning numerous awards whilst significantly increasing the role of his department within the club.

    In his time at the club, Alan has worked closely with Leeann and a handover process has begun and will continue until the end of May 2014, when he will take on the role on a full-time basis.

    The board sees the appointment as continuation of the excellent work that has gone on in recent years, much of which Alan has played a pivotal and central role in.

    Commenting, Alan Burrows said: “Needless to say, it is a huge honour for me to be asked by the board to take up this role at the club.

    [pullquote]Needless to say, it is a huge honour for me to be asked by the board to take up this role at the club.[/pullquote]

    “I have been a full-time member of staff at Fir Park since September 2007 and have enjoyed some really fantastic times.

    “For the majority of that period, I have worked closely with the Leeann, I have a good understanding of the club and its needs, whilst working hard to improve my own department at the club.

    “Whilst my aim is to keep that continuity, I also have fresh ideas that I feel can help improve not only the club, but the experience for supporters too.”

    Outgoing Chief Executive Leeann Dempster added: “Once my own position was clear, the board asked me to work towards recommending a strong successor.

    “Alan’s commitment to Motherwell is second to none and he is extremely intelligent, very capable and more than willing to learn. All of which are qualities that will be indispensable. I genuinely wish him and the club, every success.”

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    Clancy to officiate Saints clash

    Referee for this Saturday’s clash against St Johnstone at Fir Park is Kevin Clancy.

    It will be Kevin’s fourth ‘Well appointment of the current campaign after previously taking charge of the swashbuckling 2-2 draw with Dundee United in September.

    Henri Anier had ‘Well ahead at the interval but two quick-fire goals from United had McNamara’s men ahead. Step forward substitute Lionel Ainsworth, who smashed home a brilliant leveller to give the Steelmen a deserved point.

    The second was the excellent 1-0 win at Pittodrie on Boxing Day when a resolute Steelmen came away with all three points thanks to Henri Anier’s winner.

    The third, and most recent, was against today’s opponents at McDiarmid Park back in February when Tommy Wright’s men ran out convincing 3-0 victors.

    It would have been his fifth game, but John Beaton replaced him at the last minute ahead of the Aberdeen match back in August, after a hectic midweek European jaunt.

    Prior to this season, his last Motherwell match was against Aberdeen at Pittodrie (again), back in March, when the teams drew a blank in a 0-0 draw.

    It was one of two ‘Well fixtures the 30-year old took charge of last season, his other being the 2-1 away win at Dundee when Michael Higdon bagging a double as Stuart McCall’s men came back from a losing position to pick up all three points.

    His only other Motherwell match was in the 2011/12 Scottish Cup, where he was the man in the middle as the Fir Parkers demolished Queen’s Park 4-0, a certain Henrik Ojamaa smashing home a debut goal.

    His overall record in charge of Motherwell reads six matches in total, Motherwell winning three, drawing two and losing one. ‘Well have scored nine and conceded six.

    There have been eighteen cautions dished out in those five matches, eleven of them to a man wearing Claret and Amber and zero dismissals.

    He’s had a busy season in 2013/14, with some high profile matches including on Europa League duty when he handled Lokomotiva Zagreb’s match with Dinamo Minsk, managed by ex ‘Well defender Bob Maaskant. The Belarusian side ran out 3-2 winners.

    Coincidentally, Kevin was in Russia the same time ‘Well faced Kuban Krasnodar. He was appointed to take charge of FC Rubin Kazan vs Randers in the second leg tie of the 3rd Qualifying Round of the Europa League.

    He was also the man in the middle for the UEFA Under 21 Qualifier between Montenegro and Germany as well as the UEFA Youth Champions League matches Real Madrid vs FC Copenhagen and Man Utd vs Real Sociedad.

    Kevin will be ably assisted by Alan McWilliam and Billy Baxter with Kevin Graham on 4th Official duties. The referee observer is Eddie Smith and the SPFL Delegate is George Douglas.