Action pictures from this evening’s nervy 2-1 win over Inverness Caley Thistle at Fir Park.
Snaps courtesy of SNSPix.
Action pictures from this evening’s nervy 2-1 win over Inverness Caley Thistle at Fir Park.
Snaps courtesy of SNSPix.
Stuart McCall was delighted to take all three points in a hard-fought fixture against Inverness this evening.
Both teams slugged it out in a horrible Lanarkshire night, as the rain battered down on Fir Park.
John Sutton opened the scoring from the penalty spot before Gary Warren turned an Iain Vigurs corner into his own net.
The visitors rallied in the second half and pulled one back thanks to Graeme Shinnie’s deflected shot, but ‘Well held out, despite a late scare when Billy McKay hit the post in the 94th minute.
“I am delighted with the three points,” a relieved McCall told MFC TV after the match.
[pullquote]We obviously get the wee bit of luck right at the death, but the boys deserve that for the way things have gone this campaign.[/pullquote]
“We started like we have done for many of the matches at Fir Park this season. We got good crosses into the box and created one or two chances.
“We said prior to the match that it might be a frustrating one as the way they play, with one up and the extra man in midfield, it makes it difficult.
“There was a little spell before half-time, when we were two ahead, where we started looking after the ball better and using the extra man at the back.
“We come out second half, we have some ideas in mind for changes then they score with a big deflection.
“At that point, they have nothing to lose and really go for it. We had to weather that storm but again, we’ve defended well. We obviously get the wee bit of luck right at the death, but the boys deserve that for the way things have gone this campaign.”
Phil McGhee at Fir Park
Motherwell edged out Inverness in a nervy ninety minutes that keeps the Steelmen within touching distance of second place.
It might have been a miserable Motherwell May evening but the Fir Park fans were celebrating before the kick-off looking forward to another European adventure in July.
However, despite the dream start of a John Sutton goal after four minutes and a Gary Warren own goal after the half hour mark, ‘Well failed to build on their first half lead.
And when Graeme Shinnie pulled one back ten minutes into the second half, the Fir Park crowd had to suffer a nervous closing stage as the home side clung on to their slender lead to make Sunday’s trip to Pittodrie worthwhile.
The weather and the second half performance, though, failed to dampen the spirit of the Motherwell fans who remained after the final whistle to celebrate another fabulous Premiership season as the players returned to the pitch for the final time.
The fans should have been celebrating a comfortable three points as the home side made the perfect start.
Warren lost out to Zaine Francis-Angol on the touchline before tripping Sutton as he dragged the ball into the six-yard box. Sutton then calmly swept the resultant spot kick away from Dean Brill to claim his 23rd league goal and put ‘Well in front.
Francis-Angol then wriggled clear in the box only to curl his shot over the bar as McCall’s men looked to dominate.
However, it was Inverness who then enjoyed the bulk of the possession although it was 23 minutes before they produced their first attempt at goal, Aaron Doran driving the ball over Lee Hollis’ bar.
Iain Vigurs had a free kick palmed away by Brill and when Lionel Ainsworth fired the ball across goal Shaun Hutchison leapt highest to head wide.
Then after 31 minutes and courtesy of an own goal, ‘Well doubled their lead. Iain Vigurs curled a corner into a packed box and as Hutchison and Sutton threatened the unfortunate Warren headed the ball high into his own net.
‘Well were out of luck five minutes later when the width of the cross bar saved Caley.
Francis-Angol laid the ball back into the path of Ainsworth whose measured side foot from 15 yards sent the ball crashing off the underside of the bar and deny him a 12th goal of the season. A third then would surely have killed off Inverness.
However, Motherwell looked comfortable on their two goal lead until ten minutes into the second half when Graeme Shinnie was allowed to run from the half way line before his trundling shot from 18-yards deflected off Stephen McManus to wrong foot Hollis to make it 2-1.
McCall immediately sent on Fraser Kerr for James McFadden to shore up the midfield.
As the rain lashed down and Caley sensed an equaliser, Hollis had to beat down a strike from Greg Tansey. The ‘keeper’s goal was then put under some sustained pressure as Warren headed narrowly past and Billy McKay fired into the side netting.
With twelve minutes remaining and his men hanging on, McCall made a double substitution bringing on the attack minded pairing of Henri Anier and Craig Moore.
But it was Inverness who looked more likely to score and a terrific Tansey free kick from 30 yards forced Hollis to block with his foot.
In a dramatic final minute John Hughes’ men were denied a deserved equaliser when Billy McKay nudged the ball past Hollis only to watch as it rebounded from the inside of the post and roll back across the goal line but stay out.
That was much to the relief of the ‘Well players and fans who thought that the three points and the chance to overtake Aberdeen for second spot had just slipped from their grasp.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 2 – 1 Inverness CT. Three points which sets up a second place showdown at Pittodrie!!
Unbelievable! McKay hits the post and it rolls back into play!!
3 minutes added on.
90mins: Moore’s been slumped on the ground for the last minute after a tackle but ICT refuse to put the ball out.
88mins: Corner to ‘Well, opted to keep it in the corner but possession lost
85mins: An nervy last 5 minutes then…
84mins: Free-kick to ICT in a dangerous looking position…..Tansey denied by the feet of Hollis!!
81mins: Warren heads just over but the ref says he had fouled in the process anyway
79mins: Double ‘Well sub, Anier and Moore on for Francis-Angol and Ainsworth
76mins: Vigurs finds his way into the ref’s book. Booked.
75mins: ICT sub, Christie on for Watkins
67mins: A bit of a let off there as McKay breaks into the box but can only find the side-netting from 16 yards
65mins: ICT sub,Doran off for Williams
62mins: Warren should have made it 2-2. Deep free-kick into the box and he heads inches wide.
56mins: Free-kick about 25 yards out for ‘Well…..Sutton scoops it well over the bar.
55mins: Motherwell sub, McFadden off for Kerr.
54mins: GOAL! Shinnie pulls one back for ICT. Game on. 2-1
49mins: Corner to ICT……low ball in swept clear by Vigurs
McKay and Shinnie get the action back underway
Teams are back out…..ready for the second half. #MFCvICTFC
HT: Motherwell 2 – 0 Inverness CT
41mins: McFadden lays it off to Vigurs 25 yards out but he balloons his effort well into the Maxim Office Park Stand
37mins: Ainsworth crashes a shot off the bar after a teasing ball across from Francis-Angol finds him 12 yards out
35mins: Ainsworth’s ball into the box gives Brill something to think about. The ‘keeper opts to claw it away
31mins: An own goal from Warren by the looks of it, headed high into the net
30mins: Ainsworth’s cross is deflected wide. Corner….GGGOOOAAALll!!
29mins: Tremarco rises highest to meet a deep ball to the back post but his header lacks the power needed to trouble Hollis.
26mins: Lovely sliding challenge by McManus to clear from McKay as he raced through on goal
24mins: Good effort from McKay. From just inside the box on the left hand side, he curls it inches over the bar.
23mins: Vigurs takes the free-kick and Brill has to react quickly to tip it by the post.
22mins: Tansey booked for a foul on Hammell right on the edge of the box
20mins: Close one as McKay is ruled to be offside with only Hollis to beat.
11mins: Dogged defending from Hammell and McManus as they combine to stop Watkins cutting the ball back to McKay
10mins: Francis-Angol cuts in on his right foot, on his weaker side, it’s a decent effort but floats harmlessly over.
Plenty of colour on show in the “Bois” section! Superb vocal backing as well. “We’re all going on a European tour!”
6mins; Hollis races off his line to gather at the feet of Tansey
4mins: GOOOAAALLL!!!! Sutton slots it home from the spot. 1-0!
3mins: Tansey with what you’d call a tactical foul, impeding Reid as he looked to break away.
1min: First sign of intent from ‘Well.Francis-Angol curls in a great ball into a dangeroue area but no takers!
Vigurs and Lasley kick-off #COYW
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“Tonight wasn’t the prettiest but we got the job done and we got that little bit of luck at the end. I think we have merited that over the season.”
McCall added: “We have taken it to the last game, we are proud to be in Europe and the only downside is wee Craig Moore looks like he has tweaked his cartilage and will probably need that out.”
Inverness CT manager John Hughes:
“The full-back stopped a cross like a goalkeeper, so for me that’s a penalty. But we put enough into it, dominated the whole second half, had them right on the back foot, played with a little more hunger and desire.
“Everything I’m looking for from an Inverness team. We played with more purpose and pace in the second half.
“I felt we were the better team, especially in the second half, but goals win games and if we keep conceding like that, we’ll not win many.”
Top scorer John Sutton is under no illusions as to the task ahead as John Hughes’ Inverness are again the visitors tomorrow.
The Steelmen are battling it out with Aberdeen and Dundee United for European spots with two games left of the current campaign but face the Highlanders tomorrow.
It’s the third time in seven weeks that the two teams have locked horns and Sutton says his teammates know exactly what to expect.
Speaking to the gathered press, the former St Mirren and Hearts front man said: “We’re always confident going into games but Inverness are a very good team and with the way John Hughes has the side playing, they might just be a tougher opponent on your own patch as opposed to the Highlands.
[pullquote]We’ve faced them twice in recent weeks and it’s a much changed side from the start of the campaign. It’s still a very difficult fixture, just a different type of game.[/pullquote]
“We’ve faced them twice in recent weeks and it’s a much changed side from the start of the campaign. It’s still a very difficult fixture, just a different type of game.
“But we’ve got to concentrate on what we do well and if we do, there is no reason why we can’t win the match.
“Hopefully we will have another good crowd in. I know there was an offer on Saturday, but having four stands almost full was a real boost to the player. More of the same tomorrow would be brilliant.”
‘Well boss Stuart McCall has called for the Fir Park fan base to get out and roar the team on against Inverness tomorrow night.
The Steelmen are in a three-way battle for a European spot, a point behind second-placed Aberdeen and six ahead of Dundee United in fourth, with two games left to play.
Wednesday is the last home match of the 2013/14 campaign and the former Scotland midfielder has urged the ‘Well support to come out in their numbers.
Speaking to the gathered press at the pre-match news conference, the 49-year old said: “We’ve got to try and put ourselves in the position where we can go to Pittodrie on the final day of the season and for it to mean something.
[pullquote]It would be nice if we could finish the season with a good victory, with a big crowd behind us. It could be that little edge that we need to win.[/pullquote]
“We said to prior to Saturday that we needed to win all three games and there is no doubt they will be tough opponents, both Inverness and Aberdeen.
“Fir Park has been a good venue this season, with the amount of goals we score and, unfortunately, concede.
“I just hope we can get a big crowd along tomorrow; as big as we can. It would be great if the fans that only watch us on occasions come out and give the lads the backing, as they really deserve it.
“It would be nice if we could finish the season with a good victory, with a big crowd behind us. It could be that little edge that we need to win.”
Willie Collum will take charge of Wednesday’s Scottish Premiership meeting with Inverness CT at Fir Park.
Regarded as one of Scotland’s best officials, it will be Willie’s third Motherwell match of the 2013/14 campaign.
His first was a 3-0 win over St Mirren back in December when Lionel Ainsworth and a Henri Anier double separated the sides.
The other was at Tynecastle a few weeks later, John Sutton scoring the game’s only goal.
Willie is no stranger to ‘Well fans having been a top-flight whistler for a number of years, taking charge of six Motherwell matches last term too.
The first was the 1-0 defeat at Tynecastle in October 2012 when Danny Grainger’s long-range effort separated the sides.
He also took charge of both William Hill Scottish Cup clashes with Aberdeen last December.
In the first meeting at Pittodrie, Niall McGinn headed home a late equaliser to cancel out Jamie Murphy’s opener 10 minutes from time.
There would be disappointment for the Steelmen in the replay as goals from Rory Fallon and Joe Shaughnessy helped the Dons progress to the next round.
Motherwell were handed a lifeline in injury-time when Michael Higdon netted from the penalty spot, however Craig Brown’s side held firm in the final minutes.
He was also the man in the middle for the narrow 3-2 win over St Johnstone in January; Michael Higdon’s hat-trick sealing a terrific three points and also the disappointing 3-0 defeat at Ross County shortly after.
He also handled the James McFadden-inspired 4-1 victory over Hibs in March and, finally, the 4-3 defeat to Inverness Caley in the Highlands in May.
His overall record in charge of the Steelmen reads seven wins, twelve defeats and five draws from twenty-four matches (in all competitions).
In those games, Motherwell have scored 35 and conceded 43.
48 players have gone into the book, 22 wearing Claret and Amber, while four players have been dismissed – Ian Murray of Hibs at Easter Road five years back, Jerard Aafjes at Falkirk four seasons ago, Paul Dixon at the end of 2009/10 and, most recently, Henrik Ojamaa in that game at Caley last season.
Stuart Stevenson and Stuart Hodge will run the lines with George Salmond on fourth official duties. The referee observer is Gerry Evans and the SPFL Delegate is Kevin Collins.
Season Ticket holders heading to the Inverness CT game on Wednesday can claim a free tea or coffee.
All you need to do to claim your free drink is produce MFC Matchday Kiosk Voucher #5 when buying any hot food item (Pie / Hotdog).
Please note this offer does not include other hot drinks such as Soup or Bovril.
Extended highlights from McDiarmid Park where ‘Well and Saints U20s played out an entertaining 3-3 draw
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
Extended highlights from Fir Park as ‘Well grind out an important 2-1 win against Tommy Wright’s St Johnstone.