Action pictures from today’s 3-1 SPFL Premiership defeat to Dundee United at Tannadice.
Snaps courtesy of SNSPix.
Action pictures from today’s 3-1 SPFL Premiership defeat to Dundee United at Tannadice.
Snaps courtesy of SNSPix.
Phil McGhee at Tannadice
Despite a vastly improved performance, ‘Well crashed to their fifth straight defeat at Tannadice this afternoon.
A second-half double from midfielder Charlie Telfer allied to defender Jaroslaw Fojut’s header proved enough for Jackie McNamara’s men, despite Simon Ramsden’s goal on 79 minutes for the visitors.
That doesn’t tell the story of the game though with ‘Well posing a threat throughout what turned out to be a controversial afternoon.
Motherwell started the brighter of the two teams and most of the play was towards the Eddie Thompson stand. The first effort came via Stephen Pearson, but his goal bound looking shot hit a deflection on route and spun away to safety.
‘Well then had the first of two penalty shouts when Lee Erwin was tackled inside the area. On first viewing, it looked like a good interception, although the award of a goal kick was certainly puzzling. Minutes earlier, United had a claim when the ball struck McManus’ arm, but it certainly appeared to be ball to hand, with the defender just a yard or so away.
Then, nine minutes later, there was another claim but this one was far easier to call – it was a stonewaller! Lee Erwin cut the ball back for Pearson inside the area, and after beating Morris to the ball; the midfielder was cleaned out by Callum Morris.
Referee Craig Thomson, who was right up with play, inexplicably waved the claims away.
It was all Motherwell at this stage, who were regularly getting into the final third, but a lack of composure would cost them. Lee Erwin was the creator for both Pearson and John Sutton, but their touch deserted both of them at the vital stage.
It took the Terrors almost until the half hour to settle into the game. Morris had a header straight at Twardzik. Ten minutes later, Blair Spittal brought out an excellent stop from the Czech keeper, who turned away his curling effort at full stretch.
The Steelmen stopper had to look smart to stop from Stuart Armstrong before a huge moment of controversy minutes from the interval.
‘Well thought they had taken the lead when Pearson’s run and square ball for Sutton was prodded goalwards by a combination of the striker and the recovering Sean Dillon. As it bounced up, Morris hooked it off the line.
Craig Thomson initially awarded the goal, then after consultation with his assistant, David McGeachie, chalked it off. The visitors were furious and to make matters worse, and even more confusing, a drop ball was awarded on the edge of the six-yard box, which Motherwell weren’t allowed to contest.
Bizarre stuff to end the half, but the Steelmen would certainly go into the dressing room feeling content with a very positive first half.
They continued that vein of form as the second kicked off, with Erwin firing wide after good build-up play by Pearson again.
Then, on 57 minutes, the Steelmen passed up yet another excellent opportunity. Good harassing front play from Sutton, holding off Fojut, allowed Pearson to wriggle free on the edge of the area. With just Cierzniak to beat, the 10-times capped for Scotland International fired straight at the Pole who blocked.
It was to prove a pivotal miss as with virtually their next attack, United took the lead.
Telfer collected a loose ball from 20 yards after Connolly has started an attack and the former Rangers midfielder picked his spot to send an accurate right-foot effort through a ruck of bodies and into Twardzik’s bottom corner.
On 69 minutes the home team went 2-0 ahead in simple fashion, as Fojut’s free header from Connolly’s corner beat Twardzik low down.
After all their good work, it looked as if the Steelmen would crumble but to their credit, they dusted themselves down and battled back into the game.
Indeed, they pulled a goal back when substitute Lionel Ainsworth dispossessed Dillon out wide, before crossing for Simon Ramsden to fire home a half-volley from 12 yards.
There was a sense that ‘Well could go on and earn the point they probably deserved. The hosts looked nervy, particularly at the back, and gave the ball away cheaply, much to the frustration of the 7,000 home crowd.
However, with ‘Well throwing everything at it, including a tantalizing low ball across the face from Moore that only just eluded the sliding Pearson, United sealed the win with a late third.
Ryan Dow made progress down the left and laid the ball into Telfer’s path to allow him to pick his spot from 18 yards.
It was a bitter blow for Baraclough’s men. However, they will travel home to Lanarkshire knowing similar battling performances, coupled with new faces and the return of some key personnel from injury, will hopefully see them in with a better chance of a return to winning ways.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Tannadice
FT: Dundee Utd 3 – 1 Motherwell #DUFCvMFC
92mins: Goal – Utd counter and Telfer slides it into the back of the net to make it 3-1 #DUFCvMFC
3 minutes added on #DUFCvMFC
82mins: Moore gets the better of Fojust and cuts the ball across goal. Inches away from Pearson! #DUFCvMFC
79mina: Dundee Utd sub, Armstong off for Paton #DUFCvMFC
77mins: Ramsden volleys home Ainsworth’s cross to make it 2-1. #DUFCvMFC
75mins: Motherwell sub, Ainsworth on for Carswell #DUFCvMFC
71mins: Pearson tries his luck from 25 yards and its not far wide of the post #DUFCvMFC
70mins: Dundee Utd sub, Mackay-Steven on for Connolly #DUFCvMFC
69mins: Goal – Fojut heads home a corner to make it 2-0 #DUFCvMFC
67mins: Morris is booked for wiping out Pearson on the half way line #DUFCvMFC
66mins: Motherwell sub, Law off for Moore #DUFCvMFC
64mins: Free-kick to ‘Well in a decent area, 25 yards out….Law drills it straight at Cierzniak #DUFCvMFC
61mins: Goal – Telfer makes it 1-0 with a low shot from distance #DUFCvMFC
60mins: Ball falls to Armstrong inside the box and he opts to hit it on the spin. Thankfully it is well over the bar #DUFCvMFC
57mins: Great chance for Watt as he barged his way through the defence. With Cierzniak to beat, he fired straight at him! #DUFCvMFC
55mins: Dundee Utd sub, Anier off for Ciftci #DUFCvMFC
47mins: Pearson bursts past the defence and sets up Erwin who skews his shot wide of the post #DUFCvMFC
Second half is underway #DUFCvMFC
HT: Dundee Utd 0 – 0 Motherwell #DUFCvMFC
..then for whatever reason went back over to him and chopped it off. Still 0-0 #DUFCvMFC
Pearson squared in Sutton who poked it goalwards and Morris cleared. Ref seemed to take inial advice from linesman and give goal….
Chopped off! Shambles! Ref gave the goal then changed his mind as the celebrations we in mid swing!
42mins: Twardzik again is called into action, this time to save from Armstrong, whose powerful strike was right at him #DUFCvMFC
38mins: Great save from Twardzik as Spittal had burst forward from right back and got a good shot away #DUFCvMFC
27mins: Morris gets on the end of a corner but his header is too weak to trouble Twardzik #DUFCvMFC
23mins: Utd win a corner….Connolly collects it at the back post and shoots but it’s deflected wide for another corner #DUFCvMFC
20mins: Another half chance. Erwin curls a ball over the Utd defence but it’s awkward for Sutton to control and Cierzniak gathers #DUFCvMFC
19mins: Erwin hooks in a deep cross which finds Pearson but his touch eludes him and the ball rolls out for a goal kick #DUFCvMFC
16mins: Another pen shout! Pearson looked to have been tripped as he went past Morris with only Cierzniak to beat but ref waves it away!
15mins: More positive play from ‘Well, this time the ball gets caught under Law’s feet as he jinked into the box looking to shoot #DUFCvMFC
13mins: Good work from Erwin down the right to cut the ball back across goal but there is no takers! #DUFCvMFC
Ref waves both away… #DUFCvMFC
8mins: Pen claims for both teams within a minute! Ball appeared to his McManus’ hand in the box then ‘Well counter and Erwin hits the deck
5mins: Utd win a free-kick wide on the right which Connolly bends in. Pearson is on hand to head clear the danger #DUFCvMFC
Law and Carswell get the game underway. COYW! #DUFCvMFC
The teams are out the tunnel, ‘Well in their white away kit, Utd in their Black and Orange #DUFCvMFC
Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough:
“It was one that got away. I’m not going to sit here and cane the officials. It was one we had a good grip on. We created chances. We’ve got a bit of spirit about us.
“There was a lot of endeavour and desire to win individual battles. On another day it would have gone for us.”
Dundee Utd manager Jackie McNamara:
“This is a great three points. Motherwell were probably the better team in the first 15 minutes but after that I thought we came into it more and created enough chances to be deserved winners.”
Ahead of Saturday’s match at Tannadice, ‘Well boss Ian Baraclough admits he wants his side to be more like Dundee Utd.
The Tannadice club has had some great success in both unearthing and developing young, exciting talent that not only have helped them to league and Cup success, but have also sold on at a healthy profit.
Although only recently appointed, the former Sligo boss is working extensively with club management and new perspective owner Les Hutchison to put similar solid foundations in place at Fir Park.
However, before that, there’s the important matter of three points this weekend, with the Fir Parkers desperate to return to winning ways after a run of poor results.
Speaking to the broadcast media, he said: “Dundee United have built it up (their infrastructure) and have been very successful.
“They have talented young players who are hungry and want to progress their careers and Dundee United have given them a platform to go and do that.
“The likes of Gary MacKay-Steven, who has just won his big move and Stuart Armstrong, who is apparently being courted by several clubs, names just two and demonstrates they have got it right.
“That’s exactly where we want to be and we’ll strive for that. Obviously it has to fit in with our finances and it will be our own identity.”
[pullquote]You find a way of winning games and you see the fact you are up against a bigger club, and people are writing you off, as a motivator.[/pullquote]
With United flying high at the top and ‘Well struggling near the foot, few will give the Fir Parkers much hope.
However, Barclough hopes to draw on his own personal experiences, and that of Motherwell’s in previous season, to demonstrate how things can turn against the odds.
He added: “You draw on all your experiences. I was managing Scunthorpe when they were in the Championship competing against teams with far superior budgets and you go into games wondering how you are going to compete against them, but you do.
“You find a way of winning games and you see the fact you are up against a bigger club, and people are writing you off, as a motivator.
“I used the analogy this morning that last season they got beat by Albion Rovers and lost 5-0 to Celtic and all of a sudden everything seemed on a slippery slope. The then went on a run of six wins in a row and it can turn like that. If you believe in yourselves and work hard, you will get through it.”
A huge part of the problems facing the Steelmen this season has been the horrendous injury list.
Keith Lasley suffered a broken toe several weeks ago and although is progressing well, is facing a real race against time to be fit. Stevie Hammell’s return from long-term injury has suffered a setback with the news that the defender’s groin will need a second operation.
They join the likes of Iain Vigurs (sciatic nerve), Zaine Francis-Angol (groin), Paul Lawson (calf), Jack Leitch (knee) and Bob McHugh (groin) on the sidelines, with both Henrik Ojamaa and Mark O’Brien unavailable through suspension.
The club’s strength and conditioning and sports science provision is another area Baraclough and the club is currently reviewing, with the unavailable list proving hugely testing for everyone.
“We need as many bodies as possible so the situation is a real frustration,” Baraclough admitted.
“Particularly Ojamaa and O’Brien, who are both suspended. We just need to manage things as best we can. It gives opportunities to either a young boy or another experienced head coming in; they’ve got to be ready to take it.”
Simon Ramsden insists hard work and character can pull ‘Well away from the bottom end of the table.
The Englishman joined in 2012 and in that time has helped steer ‘Well to two second place finishes but the season so far has been a different story with the Steelmen languishing near the bottom of the table.
“I don’t think anyone could have imagined how this season has panned out”, admitted Ramsden, speaking to the broadcast press this afternoon.
“I’ve been here nearly three seasons and over that period we’ve had some great success and I think when you are up there, a lot of teams give you a little bit of respect and maybe sit off you. When you are low in confidence and are down near the bottom, teams sense there is an opportunity there to try and capitilise on it.
[pullquote]That’s something we have to deal with. It’s a different pressure from when you’re at the top of the league and you can go and play your free-flowing football and express yourself.[/pullquote]
“Sometimes it is about digging in and showing a bit of character. We’d all like to go out there and play pretty football but if it takes a 1-0 scrappy effort where you have to get stuck in, that’s what we’re going to have to do.
We know what Utd are capable off and we will no doubt be written off but as a club, we need to stay together and getting stuck in and putting in some hard work will hopefully result in wins.”
Referee for Saturday’s SPFL Premership clash with Dundee Utd at Tannadice is Craig Thomson.
The 42-year old will be handling his second Motherwell match of the 2014/15 season, his previous game being against Dundee Utd in the Scottish Cup.
Thomson, arguably the highest rated amongst the Scottish officials, regularly hosting Champions League, Europa League and International matches, will be a more than familiar face to ‘Well fans, having being a top-flight whistler for over 13 years.
He handled three Motherwell matches last season.
The first was the 1-0 at St Mirren Park in September 2013 when John Sutton’s first-half header secured the points.
The second was the fine 2-1 win at the Caledonian Stadium last April, Henri Anier and Iain Vigurs doing the damage and, most recent, was the enthralling 3-3 draw with Celtic in the same month, when a last-minute Sutton goal earned the Steelmen a point in a topsy-turvy match.
It would have been his fourth but a New Year appointment between ‘Well and Caley was the postponed due to heavy rain.
He took charge of three ‘Well matches the previous term too.
The first was the 4-1 demolition of Aberdeen on Boxing Day when goals from Tom Hateley, Michael Higdon and a Jamie Murphy swept Craig Brown’s side away.
The second was the 2-1 win at Tynecastle, when two early goals from Michael Higdon and a Dylan McGowan own-goal was enough to see off the Jambos.
The third and final was the 2-0 home victory over Ross County in the last home game of that campaign – James McFadden and Chris Humphrey amongst the scorers.
His record in charge of the Steelmen is a bit of a mix bag with fourteen wins from 39 matches. There have been sixteen defeats and nine draws too.
Not included in that list was the 2007/08 Scottish Cup fourth round replay win against Hearts at Fir Park, when he replaced the injured Stuart Dougal midway through the second-half.
In those games, Motherwell have scored 56 and conceded 55.
138 players have gone into the book, 68 were wearing claret and amber, while five players, including former and current captains Stephen Craigan and Keith Lasley, have been dismissed.
Craig will be ably assisted by David McGeachie and Stuart MacMillan with George Salmond on fourth official duties.
Fans are reminded that season ticker holders can enter Tannadice at a discounted rate.
The joint scheme between the two clubs will allow Motherwell Season Ticket holders to gain entry to Tannadice on Saturday for just £10 for adults and £5 concessions/juveniles.
Steelmen should present ‘Special Voucher A’ from the back of their ‘Well Season book at the turnstile at Tannadice to receive the discount – one voucher per fan.
Action pictures from this evening’s 4-0 SPFL Premiership defeat to league-leaders Celtic at Celtic Park.
Snaps courtesy of SNSPix.
Ian Baraclough thinks his ‘Well players have got to be far braver if they’re to get out their torrid run of form.
The Steelmen have endured an awful January thus far, losing four games and shipping poor goals.
And although the Fir Parkers have as many as ten players unavailable, the recently appointed Baraclough is in no mood the make excuses.
‘Well now face Dundee United at Tannadice on Saturday and the former Scunthope and Sligo boss wants his big players to stand up and be counted.
[pullquote]We lack confidence and in that situation, you look to your big characters to say: ‘I want to be the one that makes the difference’. That’s real bravery.[/pullquote]
He said: “We’ve got to be brave, we’ve got to get on the ball. We’ve got to make things happen when we do win the ball back and certainly not lose in cheaply.
“We need more competition for places and that comes from getting some back off the treatment table, coupled with a couple of new, fresh faces.
“Over and above that, we need to be prepared to roll up the sleeves and be prepared for a scrap. We’re giving things away far too cheaply and that’s not good enough.
“We lack confidence and in that situation, you look to your big characters to say: ‘I want to be the one that makes the difference’. That’s real bravery.”
Phil McGhee at Celtic Park
Motherwell couldn’t prevent Celtic returning to the top of the Premiership table and make it a miserable three consecutive away defeats.
Apart from some resolute and organised defending for the opening quarter, there were few positives for Ian Baraclough, except for the fact that at the end of the ninety minutes he had three teenagers and a twenty year old in his line-up.
Stephen Pearson made his return to the ‘Well midfield, almost exactly 11 years after he left Fir Park, coincidently to join Celtic.
Some touches and runs from midfield suggest that his experience will be an asset in the coming months.
Simon Ramsden and Luke Watt were also in the starting line-up covering for the injured Keith Lasley and suspended Henrik Ojamaa.
With five across the midfield ‘Well were content to give Celtic possession and restrict them to long range efforts. Two 25 yard drives from Kris Commons and Anthony Stokes drifted harmlessly wide of target, but it was a fairly calm opening.
Dan Twardzik was finally forced into action after 17 minutes when raced from his line and then bravely dived to punch clear as Leigh Griffiths was about to capitalise on Commons’ through ball.
Although not venturing beyond their own half, Motherwell looked comfortable until conceding the lead after 26 minutes.
Stokes was afforded far too much time and space following a cleared corner, and he picked out Virgil Van Dijk unmarked at the back post and the Dutch defender had the easiest of tasks nodding the ball home to open the scoring.
That forced the Fir Park men to be more adventourous and a couple of breaks from Pearson offered some hope.
On the half hour he was sent clear by John Sutton and the midfield strongly held off Jason Denayer to the left of the box before floating the ball over Craig Gordon and byond the ‘keeper’s post.
Seven minutes later the pair combined again but when Pearson sent the ball across the six yard box Danayer slid in front of Sutton to deny him a strike at goal.
The visitor’s hopes of getting back into the game took a dent three minutes from half time when Celtic grabbed a second goal. Stokes was again the provider with a cross from the left and Griffiths nipped across Stephen McManus to steer a header well beyond Twardzik.
Dom Thomas replaced Lionel Ainsworth at half-time and the 18 year-old immediately brought some attacking flair. Twice in the opening minutes Thomas had shots at goal and after his first floated wide he collected a pass from Craig Reid at the corner of the box before slamming a drive into the side netting.
Twardzik’s goal then had a lucky escape when, after some poor defending, the unmarked Stefan Johansen headed the ball against the foot of the post with the ‘Well ‘keeper relieved to turn and gather the rebound.
After 62 minutes Twardzik produced his first save spreading himself brilliantly to block Johansen’s thumping drive from 10 yards.
As the pressure mounted on the visitors goal Emilio Izaguirre’s shot deflected off the face of the crossbar.
The unlucky Mark O’Brien was again in the wars, this time a clash of heads with Johansen resulting in both players being substituted, Craig Moore coming on for his first appearance since damaging his cruciate.
And it was the young striker’s 20 yard drive which forced Gordon into his first save after 74 minutes.
Celtic delivered the sucker punch, though, when they moved straight upfield for Mikael Lustig to sweep home number three.
Nine from time the Celtic defender dived to power a header past Twardzik to round off another disappointing away day for ‘Well.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Celtic Park
FT: Celtic 4 – 0 Motherwell #CFCvMFC
1 minute added on #CFCvMFC
83mins: Law is booked for a shirt pull on Lustig. From the free-kick, Lustig fires off the bar #CFCvMFC
80mins: Goal – Lustig scores again, this time a diving header to make it 4-0 #CFCvMFC
75mins: Goal! Lustig makes it 3-0, finished low into the left corner from an Izaguirre cutback #CFCvMFC
74mins: Slack pass out of Celtic’s defence straight to Moore but he can only shoot straight at Gordon #CFCvMFC
And both are subbed off. O’Brien off for Moore and Johansen off for Scepovic #CFCvMFC
69mins: Bad headknock there between Johansen and O’Brien. Blood shed on both parts….
66mins: Motherwell sub, Erwin on for Sutton #CFCvMFC
65mins: Izaguirre rattles the bar from a low cross only 10 yards out. Should have been 3 #CFCvMFC
64mins: Celtic sub, Forrest on for Stokes #CFCvMFC
63mins: Twardzik has to dive low to his left to beat away Johansen’s low drive from just inside the box #CFCvMFC
58mins: Johansen sees his header come back off the post and roll along the line into the hands of Twardzik #CFCvMFC
56mins: Commons cuts in from the right hand side but again lacks composure as he pulls the trigger. Well over again #CFCvMFC
48mins: Carswell dispossesses van Dijk and slides in Thomas who fires into the side netting from 15 yards. Unlucky. #CFCvMFC
47mins: Good passsing moves sets up Brown in the ‘Wel box but he awkwardly volleys over #CFCvMFC
Second half is underway #CFCvMFC
Half-time subs, Thomas on for Ainsworth and Lustig on for Matthews #CFCvMFC
HT: Celtic 2 – 0 Motherwell #CFCvMFC
42mins: Goal! It’s 2-0, Griffiths heading home another Stokes cross #CFCvMFC
Corner falls to Ainsworth at the far post but his volley is fired into the ground and is cleared #CFCvMFC
38mins: Another ‘Well corner after Pearson whips in a lovely low ball for Sutton which is intercepted. #CFCvMFC
35mins: First corner of the game for ‘Well…….headed clear by Denayer at the front post #CFCvMFC
31mins: Close to an equaliser! Pearson drives forward and with no options in the box attempts a lob over Gordon. Not far wide! #CFCvMFC
26mins: Goal! van Dijk puts Celtic 1 up here at Celtic Park. Headered home Stokes’ cross at the back post #CFCvMFC
20mins: Izaguirre gets down the wing and squares to Commons who is off ballance and fires well over #CFCvMFC
17mins: Twardzik comes off his line and bravely gets in front of Griffiths to punch clear Commons’ cross #CFCvMFC
10mins: Commons wins a free-kick in a dangerous position 25 yards out….Stokes curls it inches wide of the post #CFCvMFC
7mins: A long range shot from Commons flashes past the post. From the stand, looked closer than Twardzik’s manner suggested. #CFCvMFC
6mins: ‘Well break and then get countered and concede another corner, which is cleared to safety #CFCvMFC
5mins: Corner to Celtic after O’Brien nods it behind at the back post #CFCvMFC
And we are underway. COYW! #CFCvMFC
Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough:
“We have to put it right the next game. You can’t keep relying on others not picking up points, you have to pick up points yourself.
“No-one is kidding ourselves, we are part of that group of three who are fighting for their lives.”
Celtic manager Ronny Deila:
“I feel more comfortable now before games. I feel more safe and trust the team more than I did before.
“We are more together and understand what we expect of each other. The training is also good quality now so if we keep what we have got it’s going to be hard to beat us.
“We want to be number one and now everything is in our hands. If we win the rest of the games we are champions and that’s the best position we can have, even though we know there are so many games left.
“We just have to keep performing like today and winning games then we will see at the end of the season whether it’s a race or not.”