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    Aberdeen 1 – 0 Motherwell

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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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    Aberdeen 1 – 0 Motherwell

    [tab:Match report]

    Gavin McCafferty at Pittodrie

    An early Jonny Hayes goal gave Aberdeen all three points in an insipid evening at Pittodrie.

    The Irishman capitalized after Stephen McManus’ intervention ricocheted off Steven Hammell, sending the Inverness man in on goal and he finished by slotting his shot through Dan Twardzik’s legs.

    ‘Well looked far more organized, with the Dons rarely troubling the visitors goal. However, the Steelmen could only muster one shot on target the whole night from Craig Reid.

    The win was Aberdeen’s first over Motherwell in almost six years and consigns ‘Well to another week in 11th spot.

    Stuart McCall made four changes to the side that lost to Dundee six days ago but once again found his team behind almost instantly.

    It turned out to be the only goal of a game unlikely to live long in the memory arrived in the third minute. David Goodwillie fed Hayes at the edge of the penalty area and the Irishman profited from a fortunate ricochet off Steven Hammell before sending a low eight-yard shot underneath Dan Twardzik.

    Hayes was in the mood in the early stages and he skipped past two challenges before clipping the ball narrowly over the crossbar. Moments later, Goodwillie saw a low angled shot smothered by Twardzik after latching on to Ryan Jack’s pass.

    Motherwell, who had conceded 10 goals in three outings prior to their Pittodrie visit, began to settle after a shaky start and Stephen McManus lashed a right-footed shot over from 12 yards after the Dons failed to clear a corner.

    Hayes created another Aberdeen opening in the 18th minute, bursting forward from his left wing-back role and sending in a teasing delivery for Niall McGinn, whose scuffed effort trickled wide.

    While the hosts carried purpose in attack, they were far less convincing at the back and their failure to deal with a Josh Law corner almost proved costly as Simon Ramsden peeled off his marker to loop a back-post header inches too high in the 21st minute.

    A lull in the play followed in the period leading up to half-time with both teams struggling to find any rhythm and Aberdeen’s chief creators kept equally as quiet as Motherwell’s main attacking threats.

    The Dons conjured up a chance four minutes after the restart following a well-worked move. Peter Pawlett picked out McGinn on the right flank and his cutback found the advancing Shay Logan, whose near-post shot was comfortably stopped by Twardzik.

    The visitors saw as much of the ball as their opponents but their inability to test goalkeeper Scott Brown on his first league start must have frustrated manager McCall as Henrik Ojamaa fired a 20-yard shot well wide of the target in the 55th minute.

    Having struggled to make an impact, Pawlett was replaced just after the hour mark with Adam Rooney as Dons boss Derek McInnes switched back to a two-pronged attack, which he had previous matches.

    Goodwillie ought to have done better with a 64th-minute effort, which he blazed over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area after being spotted by McGinn.

    With time starting to run out, the Steelmen made a double change, Lee Erwin and Bob McHugh coming on for Ojamaa and Law in the 75th minute, just before Craig Reid hit a long-range shot which had to be closely watched by Brown.

    McGinn went close to making the points safe for McInnes’ men with six minutes remaining but he saw his crisp 20-yard shot flash wide after Rooney linked with Willo Flood, but Aberdeen were able to see the match out.

    [tab:As it happened]

    Ally Reilly at Pittodrie

    FT: Aberdeen 1 – 0 Motherwell #AFCvMFC

    3 minutes added on

    86mins: Motherwell sub, Ainsworth is on for Francis-Angol #AFCvMFC

    82mins: Aberdeen make their final change, Hayes off for Smith #AFCvMFC

    75mins: Reid has a shot on target, not sure he entirely meant it though. Brown dives low to make the save #AFCvMFC

    74mins: Motherwell double sub, Ojamaa and Law off for McHugh and Erwin #AFCvMFC

    72mins: Aberdeen sub, Goodwillie off for Robson #AFCvMFC

    69mins: Lasley is booked for dissent aimed at the fourth official #AFCvMFC

    64mins: Goodwillie works his way into the ‘Well box and sees his shot fly well over the bar #AFCvMFC

    60mins: Aberdeen sub, Rooney on for Pawlett #AFCvMFC

    55mins: Ojamaa’s shot from 25 yards trickles into the hands of Brown #AFCvMFC

    49mins: Logan gets on the end of McGinn’s cutback but can only shoot tamely at Twardzik #AFCvMFC

    47mins: Aberdeen have a free-kick in a central position, about 30 yards out….Law gets in front of Hayes’ shot #AFCvMFC

    46mins: McManus is booked for a foul while jumping for a header #AFCvMFC

    Second half is underway #AFCvMFC

    HT: Aberdeen 1 – 0 Mothewell #AFCvMFC

    41mins: Law tries to pounce on a through ball but Brown is alert and gets to it first #AFCvMFC

    38mins: Very little action worth talking about here. All very flat #AFCvMFC

    20mins: Ramsden heads Law’s corner just over the bar. #AFCvMFC

    17mins: Hayes’ cross finds McGinn in the centre of the box but he can only flick the ball wide of the post #AFCvMFC

    11mins: Decent chance there for ‘Well as the ball fell to McManus on the edge of the box but he volleys just over #AFCvMFC

    9mins: Goodwillie creates some space on the right but the angle is too tight to test Twardzik and the ‘keeper deals with it #AFCvMFC

    5mins: Hayes goes close again, this time with a little dink over Twardzik which lands on the roof of the net #AFCvMFC

    2mins: GOAL! Hayes breaches the ‘Well defence with only 2 minutes on the clock. 1-0 to Aberdeen #AFCvMFC

    Lasley and Law get the game underway #COYW #AFCvMFC


    Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:

    “I was a bit lost and helpless after last Saturday and when you are on the run that we are, to lose a goal as early as that, it would have been easy to fold and lose by four or five.

    “But we spoke after the game and there is a real belief there.

    “The first 11 games have been a disaster, there is no doubt about that, but our season starts against St Johnstone next Friday and it can’t come quickly enough.

    “I know words are cheap but I sense a real desire, determination and hunger in the dressing room. We have got lots of players back now and competition for places.

    “Yes, obviously, confidence with the run we are going through is still fragile but with the desire and determination that is in those lads, I know once we turn it around, we can go on a run.”

    Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes:

    “We were rightly accused of sloppiness and a lack of concentration against Hamilton and I thought we were stretched far too often. I thought we were the exact opposite tonight.

    “Motherwell played a lot of the game in front of us which can cause an anxiety but we never really gave them an opportunity.

    “It was the same back four that played last week and while they could possibly have been criticised in that match, here they were solid and full of concentration, discipline and aggression.

    “All in all we kept Motherwell at arm’s length and after last week I think we were needing that.”


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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)

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    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