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    TV: McCall backs players to reverse slide

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    TV: Reid keen to rekindle Pittodrie spirit

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    The Big Interview: Stuart McCall

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    Celtic & Dons games on Sky Sports

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    Allan takes charge at Pittodrie

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    TV: Highlights from Excelsior Stadium

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    TV: Johansson upbeat despite Killie loss

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    Motherwell U20s 1 – 2 Kilmarnock U20s

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    TV: Highlights from Fir Park

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    Dundee defeat in pictures

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    TV: McCall backs players to reverse slide

    Stuart McCall has reaffirmed his belief in the players and backed them to turn Motherwell’s season around.

    The Steelmen enjoyed one of their most memorable wins of recent years when they triumphed at Pittodrie on the final day of last season to snatch second place in the Scottish Premiership from their hosts.

    But they return to the north-east second from bottom in the standings after an indifferent start to the campaign got even worse in the past few weeks with three consecutive league defeats.

    McCall knows his team have to retain belief in their ability if they are to avoid getting dragged further down, and he has told them to be mentally strong on Friday night.

    “The message is ‘stick together and dig deep’,” he said. “I’ve been in runs like this before and it might take an own goal or a debatable penalty decision or whatever it is just to get out of it.

    “I’ve got great belief in those players. We’ve got leaders in that dressing room. We have character and great quality. They have shown that season after season and I think it’s time we all stand up and be counted.”

    McCall is one of Motherwell’s most successful manager in league competition since the Second World War, so he is on new territory at Fir Park as he looks to ride out the storm.

    “I hate losing, no matter what I do, so the run we are on is difficult,” he said.

    [pullquote]”I’ve got great belief in those players. We’ve got leaders in that dressing room. We have character and great quality. They have shown that season after season and I think it’s time we all stand up and be counted.[/pullquote]

    “But bigger and better managers than me have been through it, so you have just got to believe in yourself. I’ve had a lot of support from my family, people within the club and other people in football.

    “Everyone goes through periods like this and it’s how quickly you can come out of them. It’s a test of character.

    “As you can see from the bags, you sleep less and your mind is always on it. But I always put myself under pressure to succeed and that’s how I always will be.

    “But I’ve got belief in the lads and we have to be strong. We can’t be fearful of losing – we’ve got to relish the challenge of being winners again. That’s the challenge – to get the bit between our teeth – and we have to rise to that.”

    Motherwell won at Pittodrie in May, when Craig Reid netted the only goal in stoppage time after a turgid 90 minutes, and, although McCall would not complain about a repeat, he recognises they might have to play better.

    “I’ve watched the last two minutes of that game 1000 times but I never watched the game back until this week,” he said.

    “We defended really well, which we will need to do again, but we didn’t play particularly well. The bottom line was the result and this might be the case (on Friday) night.

    “We’ve lost 10 goals in three games, which is unlike us. We need to defend better, but all round we need to improve. Going to Pittodrie, as difficult as it might be, might be the kick-start we need.”

    MFC TV

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    TV: Reid keen to rekindle Pittodrie spirit

    Craig Reid has some special memories of Pittodrie and the defender is hoping to create more this Friday.

    The former Celtic and Morton man scored the winning goal back in May that dramatically handed the Steelmen second place in the SPFL Premiership.

    Unfortunately, since then, it’s been a period of real frustration with ‘Well’s stuttering start to 2014/15.

    However, the 28-year hopes he and his fellow teammates can rekindle the spirit of that day and finally get the campaign into second gear.

    [pullquote] Obviously going back to Pittodrie is nice given what happened there back in May. It was a fantastic moment for me personally and also the club; I’ll remember that day for a long time.[/pullquote]

    Speaking to the broadcast press at the pre-match news conference, Reid said: “It has been difficult, we go into the match down the other end of the table and it’s a position most of the lads aren’t used to.

    “We deserve to be there though, we haven’t been playing as well as we can do and haven’t won enough games.

    “We’ve not scored as many goals as we would have liked and lost silly goals at bad times in the match and that’s an all team problem, not just one area.

    “Friday is a chance to hopefully put that right. Obviously going back to Pittodrie is nice given what happened there back in May. It was a fantastic moment for me personally and also the club; I’ll remember that day for a long time.

    “We know Aberdeen is going to be extremely tough but we’ll go there looking for all three points.”

    MFC TV

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    The Big Interview: Stuart McCall

    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.

    MFC TV

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    Celtic & Dons games on Sky Sports

    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.

    >> Updated Fixture List

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    Allan takes charge at Pittodrie

    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.

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    TV: Highlights from Excelsior Stadium

    Highlights from Excelsior Stadium as Motherwell U20s lose 1-2 to Kilmarnock in the SPFL Development League.

    MFC TV

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    TV: Johansson upbeat despite Killie loss

    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.”

    MFC TV

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    Motherwell U20s 1 – 2 Kilmarnock U20s

    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)

  • Archive

    TV: Highlights from Fir Park

    Extended highlights from Fir Park as Motherwell slump to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Dundee

    MFC TV

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    Dundee defeat in pictures

    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.

    [svgallery name=”dundee181014″]