In the first of a new series of feature interviews, ‘Well boss Stuart McCall chats in depth about his team’s disappointing start to the season.
The Big Interview: Stuart McCallWednesday 22 October 2014
Celtic & Dons games on Sky SportsWednesday 22 October 2014
Two games over the Christmas and New Year period will be shown live on Sky Sports.
The game against Celtic at Fir Park on Saturday 6th December will now go ahead (on the same day) at 12.45pm.
Similarly, the home game against Aberdeen on Sunday 4th January will now take place half-an-hour later, at 3.30pm as opposed to 3pm.
Allan takes charge at PittodrieWednesday 22 October 2014
Referee for Friday’s SPFL Premiership clash with Aberdeen will be the experienced Crawford Allan.
It will be Crawford’s first Motherwell match of the 2014/15 season, although he will be a familiar face over the years, including two games last term.
The first was a narrow 1-0 win over Hibs last November when a Stephen McManus header gave the 10-man Steelmen all three points.
The other, five weeks later, was the important 1-2 victory at Ross County, which kicked off an incredible six game winning run. A brace from John Sutton was enough to edge out the Staggies and got ‘Well back to winning ways after the disappointment of an early Scottish Cup exit and a thumping from Celtic.
Allan, one of the country’s best referees for over a decade, handled two matches the previous season to.
His first was the goalless draw with Hearts last November, which will be remembered for the collision between Darren Randolph and Calum Paterson.
Randolph was later handed a two match suspension following an enquiry by the then SFA Compliance Officer Vincent Lunny, Motherwell did appeal the decision, however were unsuccessful in their attempts to have the ban overturned.
The second will be remembered for the on-field exploits as Motherwell and Kilmarnock shared a 2-2 draw just after Christmas last year.
Kenny Shiels’ Killie had raced into a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals from Perez and Heffernan but a close-range goal from Jamie Murphy and a Henrik Ojamaa stunner levelled things up.
Tragically, Allan took charge of the ‘Well game on the 29th December 2007, forever etched in history as the date when Phil O’Donnell tragically passed away in the 5-3 victory over Dundee United.
Speaking publically, Allan admitted Phil’s death had a profound effect on the whistler but won heartfelt praise for the way he handled what was an extremely difficult situation and his sensitive approach will be forever appreciated by everyone at Motherwell Football Club and is recognised each time he returns to Fir Park.
In another twist of fate, Crawford is only one of two referees to have ever taken charge of a Motherwell away game at Fir Park as the Steelmen faced hosts Gretna during the 2007/2008 campaign.
His record in charge of the ‘Well is a fairly decent one, with the Fir Parkers winning eight, drawing six and losing four (which all came in the 2011/12 season) of the eighteen games in total. In those games, 52 players have seen yellow, 30 in Claret and Amber, whilst four have been sent for an early bath including Shaun Hutchinson in that match against Hibs last term.
Allan will be ably assisted by David Watt and Graeme Stewart with Brian Colvin on fourth official duties. Referee Observer is Alan Freeland and SPFL Delegate is Tom Purdie.
TV: Johansson upbeat despite Killie lossTuesday 21 October 2014
Jonatan Johansson was in a philosophical mode after watching his side lose to Kilmarnock this evening.
A very young ‘Well side – with the average age of the outfield players just 17.4 years, matched their more experienced counterparts and we desperately unlucky not to take a deserved point from the game.
Killie had gone ahead when Jack Whittaker scored midway through the first-half. Chris Cadden would draw the Fir Parkers level with just fourteen minutes left on the clock, only for Killie to win it shortly after thanks to Robbie Muirhead’s calm finish.
[pullquote]The energy was there, the attitude was there and the aggression was there, just not the result.[/pullquote]
Asked if he was frustrated that his side didn’t take at least a point, The 106-times capped Finn said: “I can’t really be too unhappy; almost everything we set out to do, we did.
“We lost two really sloppy and simple goals which cost us the game.
“It was two basic mistakes that you might see from a sixteen-year old when they play. If they were first-teamers, you would have a right go at them, but at this age you have to get on with it and try and learn from it.
“That being said, the way we played, particularly the second half when we’re trying to fight back from going a goal down, I felt we played well. The energy was there, the attitude was there and the aggression was there, just not the result.”
Motherwell U20s 1 – 2 Kilmarnock U20sTuesday 21 October 2014
It would be a frustrating night for the Motherwell Under 20s as they lost 1-2 to Kilmarnock at the Excelsior Stadium.
Few at the match would argue that the young Steelmen merited a point from the game, but individual errors at the back would cost them dear.
Jack Whittaker put Killie ahead midway through the first half.
It stayed that way until Chris Cadden brought his side level with fourteen left on the clock, although the sting in the tale would come four minutes later when the visitors won it through Robbie Muirhead.
The result is all together more frustrating when, over the ninety minutes, despite Killie seeing a lot of the ball, ‘Well created the better chances.
Jonatan Johansson made two changes to the starting eleven that lost to Rangers the previous midweek.
Gunnar Nielsen made his first ever Under 20s appearance between the sticks, replacing Ross Stewart. The other change was enforced with Dylan Mackin picking up an injury, replaced in the side by Luke Watt.
It was a fast-paced start and Steven Higgins had the ball in the net as early as the third minute, but the goal wouldn’t stand with the forward rightly flagged offside.
Two minutes later, down the other end, Mark O’Hara probably should have done better with a shot from the edge of the area, but he could only screw his effort over Nielsen’s crossbar.
However, it was the hosts who were looking most likely and the visitors had their keeper to thank for keeping the scorers level, saving well from Higgins.
Ross MacLean was the architect, winning the ball deep in Killie territory before hitting the touchline and cutting it back. Cadden fluffed his shot, but still managed to tee up Higgins whose stinging drive was well blocked by Devlin MacKay.
MacLean followed that with a shot of his own just two minutes later, but after doing well to turn inside his marker, he fired his shot just over.
After surviving those scares, Alan Robertson’s side worked their way back into things and after both Ross Davidson and Muirhead had flashed long-range efforts wide of target, Killie got their noses in front.
Motherwell were playing possession football but when Dylan Pooler robbed Ben Hall at the edge of the area and rolled it square for Whittaker, the Killie winger was left with the simplest of tasks, tapping it home past Nielsen.
To their credit, ‘Well went chasing a quick equaliser; Luke Watt sending a thirty-yard shot high over and into the stand before Cadden headed a Dom Thomas corner over the bar at the back post.
Motherwell made an equally positive start to the second half when McLean’s trickery on the right created space, Cadden was again the recipient of a neat cut back but his curling shot was a yard or so wide of MacKay’s right hand post.
Muirhead sent another bouncing shot at Nielsen who gathered comfortably before Killie survived again, this time Pooler heading off the line after Morgyn Neill flicked on Thomas’ whipped corner.
To be fair to Killie, they could have doubled their advantage on the 74th minute when Pooler raced clear of the ‘Well defence, but couldn’t find a way past the outrushing Nielsen who made an excellent block.
It would prove crucial as with their next attack, ‘Well did net the equaliser.
Cadden started the move, sliding in Craig McCall with a lovely though ball. Just as the midfielder was about to pull the trigger, he was tackled but when the ball spun back for Cadden, he coolly slotted it home from the edge of the area.
‘Well players were rushing into the net to get the ball, sensing a winner, but just four minutes later, Killie would grab the decisive second.
Muirhead’s pressure forced young Jack McMillan into the error. The striker raced down on Nielsen and kept his composure, sliding the ball into the far corner for 1-2.
Motherwell would throw on an attacking sub in the shape of Robbie Leitch for Watt, but they failed to create any more chances of note, as Killie held out for the three points.
Motherwell: Nielsen, McMillan, Watt (R.Leitch – 85mins), Hall, Neill, Ferguson, Cadden, McCall, Higgins, Thomas, MacLean
Subs Not Used: Currie, McNulty, Campbell, Anderson
Goal: Cadden (76)
Booked: Neill (90)
Dundee defeat in picturesSaturday 18 October 2014
Action pictures from this afternoon’s 3-1 defeat by Dundee at Fir Park in the SPFL Premiership.
Snaps courtesy of SNSPix and Ian McFadyen.
TV: McCall bemoans early goalSaturday 18 October 2014
Stuart McCall cursed Dundee’s early goal, which shattered his side’s already fragile confidence.
The Steelmen had lost the last three games, so a goal in the second minute from former ‘Well hitman David Clarkson made it an uphill task from the beginning.
Paul Hartley’s side went on to score a further two and although Henrik Ojamaa reduced the arrears with his first since returning to the club, it wasn’t enough.
It was another hugely frustrating afternoon, and the Fir Park boss said: “When you have got two teams playing with a lack of confidence based on results, you want to get a foothold in the game and get a good start.
[pullquote]“Then, within two minutes, we’ve lost a goal and almost automatically you can see confidence almost drain out of players.[/pullquote]
“There’s no magic formula that cures that.
“It’s just got to come with a belief that things will turn around with individuals taking the game by the scruff of the neck but that can be difficult when you are going through a rough period both individually and collectively.
“I am obviously desperately disappointed with the result but more so with the way we defended.
“At times they went through us like a knife through butter and when you are not creating a great deal of chances, albeit today I thought we were far better in that area, it’s difficult.”
Motherwell 1 – 3 DundeeSaturday 18 October 2014
Gavin McCafferty at Fir Park
Motherwell’s wretched run of form continued as they crashed to a fourth consecutive home defeat in the Scottish Premiership.
Goals from former ‘Well ace David Clarkson, Clarkson, Gary Harkins and Greg Stewart had Dundee three goals ahead before the hour mark amid yet more individual errors and lax Motherwell marking. The home side could not find a way back despite Henrik Ojamaa quickly reducing the deficit back to two.
Clarkson played over 200 games in Claret and Amber and the goal against his former club took little over two minutes and was among the best he scored at Fir Park, although he was allowed yards of space on the edge of the box.
Motherwell failed to clear an attack and Harkins nodded the ball to Clarkson, who turned and sent a left-foot volley into the top corner.
The goal did nothing for the confidence of a side which had lost seven goals in their previous two games and it was not until the final 15 minutes that they exerted any sustained pressure.
Motherwell were without Steven Hammell, Craig Reid and Lee Erwin after being hit by injury and illness late in the week while Dundee were missing James McPake and saw goalkeeper Kyle Letheren pull out minutes before kick-off, allowing Scott Bain to make his league debut.
Motherwell had some half-chances to level after Clarkson’s opener, Ojamaa getting two shots on target but both times Bain got down well to save.
Motherwell defender Simon Ramsden had a shot cleared off the line by Jim McAlister after a corner but Dundee generally looked more dangerous when they went forward and they doubled their lead in the 29th minute.
Paul McGowan beat Iain Vigurs to a challenge and the ball fell for Stewart just inside the Motherwell box. The forward cut inside and poked a shot that was blocked by Dan Twardzik, but Harkins was on hand to power the rebound home from 10 yards.
Dundee, who brought on Cammy Kerr for Paul McGinn in the 42nd minute, had two good chances to add a third before the interval but Twardzik saved well from Clarkson’s header after the striker was left completely unmarked at a Harkins corner.
Harkins then set up McGowan inside the box but former Dundee keeper Twardzik got down well to save.
McCall, who uncharacteristically watched the first half from the stand, made a double switch at half-time with Stuart Carswell and Fraser Kerr replacing Stephen McManus and Jack Leitch.
But Dundee threatened to cut Motherwell open twice inside the first two minutes of the half and went further ahead in the 59th minute thanks to some more dreadful marking.
Stewart was all alone inside the box when Clarkson picked up the ball on the left wing and the former Bristol City player managed to get the ball across for his strike partner to stab home.
Some home fans departed but their team got a lifeline three minutes later.
Ojamaa forced a corner with an excellent long-range strike that Bain tipped over and the Estonian turned and steered Kerr’s header in off the bar following Lionel Ainsworth’s delivery.
Dundee tried to hit back and Twardzik saved from both Harkins and substitute Kevin Thomson, making his first appearance for two months following a calf injury.
They were pressed back in the final 15 minutes, however Bain saved from Ojamaa, Vigurs and substitute Josh Law as Dundee held out to leave last season’s runners-up in second-bottom spot.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 1 – 3 Dundee #MFCvDFC
90mins: Great football between Law, Ojamaa and Carswell but Law can only shoot straight at Bain from a narrow angle #MFCvDFC
4 minutes added on #MFCvDFC
83mins: Great bit of play from Ojamaa but again the finishing touch is lacking as he curled a cross in #MFCvDFC
82mins: Vigurs finds a bit of room just inside the box but can only fire straight at Bain! #MFCvDFC
81mins: Irvine is booked for a clumsy tackle on Ainsworth #MFCvDFC
77mins: Dundee sub, Harkins off for Boyle #MFCvDFC
76mins: Ball eventually falls to Vigurs on the edge of the box but from an awkward bounce, he can only volley over the bar #MFCvDFC
74mins: Motherwell sub, Law on for Francis-Angol #MFCvDFC
68mins: Harkins’ front post shot is tipped past by Twardzik #MFCvDFC
67mins: Dundee sub, Stewart off for Thomson #MFCvDFC
Ojamaa flicks it into the net. 3-1 now. Could there be a comeback?
60mins: Ojamaa’s long range shot is well tipped over by Bain. Corner….GOOAAL!
58mins: GOAL! Stewart taps it home from close range. All too easy as ‘Well pushed forward. 3-0. #MFCvDFC
‘Well would have had a throw-in in a good position but instead have to make do with a drop ball which is cleared. Unbelievable.
53mins: Ridiculous refereeing as the a Dundee player takes a ball to the face and as it’s going out, ref blows for play to stop.
Second half is underway. #MFCvDFC
Half-time subs, McManus and Leitch off for Carswell and Kerr.
HT: Motherwell 0 – 2 Dundee #MFCvDFC
45mins: Great save by Twardzik to deny goal number 3! McGowan should have scored but was blocked by the foot of the ‘keeper #MFCvDFC
44mins: Leitch is pulled up and booked after the ref had played an advantage for a foul on McGowan as Dundee countered #MFCvDFC
43mins: Francis-Angol does well to win a corner. Letheren punches Vigurs’ delivery to safety #MFCvDFC
42mins: Dundee sub, McGinn off for Kerr #MFCvDFC
Ainsworth’s free-kick is driven straight into the wall #MFCvDFC
40mins: Konrad is booked for a foul on Vigurs just outside the box.#MFCvDFC
38mins: McGowan watches it drop out the sky and tries a volley from just inside the box but he slices it harmlessly wide #MFCvDFC
29mins: GOAL! Harkins drills home form 15 yards following a bit of a scramble. 2-0 to Dundee #MFCvDFC
28mins: Ojamaa tries a clever reverse pass to Ainsworth but perhaps the shot looked the better option. Dundee clear
23mins: Ojamaa finds space 25 yards out and has a pop at goal but never really looked like troubling Letheren as he dived to save.
17mins: McManus’ header form Ainworth’s corner is heading into the top corner until Letheran plucks it out the air. Good chance! #MFCvDFC
16mins: Shouts for a penalty there as a ‘Well player looked to have been pushed from a corner but ref says no.#MFCvDFC
10mins: Ojamaa goes close! He does well to shrug off Konrad but can only drill his shot straight at Letheran from 20 yards #MFCvDFC
6mins: Could so easily have been 2! Clarkson gets past O’Brien and cuts it back to Stewart who was inches away from connecting #MFCvDFC
3mins: GOAL! Clarkson makes it 1-0 to Dundee with a great finish on the spin just in side the box #MFCvDFC
Underway here at Fir Park! #COYW #MFCvDFC
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
Dundee manager Paul Hartley:
“It’s a great three points for us after a sticky run.
“We played really well today, we scored three great goals and I thought some of our play was great.
“I felt if we started the game well we could cause Motherwell problems and not let them get into their stride. They’ve been on a difficult run as well and we felt if we could start well the fans might get on their back. We did that and got an early goal.
“We’ve been playing well and we’re pleasing on the eye as we try to pass the ball. I’m delighted with the way things are going so far.”