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    TV: Highlights from Rugby Park

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    Johansson delighted with youngsters

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    Kilmarnock U20s 0 – 4 Motherwell U20s

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    Under 20s to face Kilmarnock

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    Luke Watt pens extended deal

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    TV: Highlights from Fir Park

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    Inverness CT win in pictures

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    TV: Manager delighted with team spirit

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    Motherwell 2 – 1 Inverness CT

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    TV: Baraclough previews Caley clash

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    TV: Highlights from Rugby Park

    Highlights from Rugby Park as goals from Nathan Thomas, Dylan Mackin and a Dom Thomas double give the U20s an 0-4 win over Kilmarnock.

    MFC TV

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    Johansson delighted with youngsters

    Under 20s boss Jonatan Johansson was full of praise for his young side after they won convincingly at Rugby Park.

    Goals from Nathan Thomas, Dylan Mackin and a Dom Thomas double gave ‘Well an impressive 0-4 win over the Ayrshire side.

    The team are now unbeaten for almost three months, not losing in the calendar year to date and with first-team places and contracts up for grabs, the former Finnish international striker is encouraged by his side’s recent form.

    Speaking to MFC TV after the match, he said: “There were some really good performances, a great attitude and the work rate was top class.

    [pullquote]There were some really good performances, a great attitude and the work rate was top class[/pullquote]

    “We are a better team when we aggressively press the ball. It can be hard to do it with the shape we played tonight, but full credit to the boys, their fitness levels were excellent.

    “Regardless of whatever team you’re playing for, be it going for Championships, prizes of fighting at the wrong end of the table, this is the time of year footballers need to play at their best.

    “For our kids, this is the time they’re looking to progress to the first-team, looking at their future in terms of new contracts either at Motherwell or elsewhere and this is the time to do.

    “When the pressure is on, the best will do so and the team are really showing that at the moment. Long may it last!”

    MFC TV

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    Kilmarnock U20s 0 – 4 Motherwell U20s

    Motherwell Under 20s maintained their excellent run of form to beat Kilmarnock 0-4 at Rugby Park this evening.

    Goals from Nathan Thomas, Dylan Mackin and a Dom Thomas brace gave Jonatan Johansson’s side all three points from the Ayrshire clash.

    The win means the young Steelmen haven’t lost a game since mid December as they aim to finish the 2014/15 campaign on a high.

    ‘Well made two changes to the side that drew with Rangers last midweek. Jack McMillan and Stuart Carswell dropped out; replaced by January signings Anthony Straker and Nathan Thomas.

    But it was another Thomas, Dominic, who got the Steelmen off to the best possible start. The young forward capitalised on a loose pass from the hosts, allowing him to hare in on goal. With Devlin MacKay rushing off his line, Thomas picked his spot, slotting into the corner for 0-1, with just three minutes on the clock.

    The Fir Parkers’ explosive start continued and Bob McHugh, Nathan Thomas and Steven Higgins all passed up chances to extend the lead further, but none could capitalise.

    However, such was ‘Well’s dominance of the opening stages, a second goal seemed inevitable and it eventually came after 28 minutes.

    Straker’s quick-thinking throw got Dom Thomas in deep in Killie territory. He wriggled away from a challenge before squaring it for the supporting McHugh. The striker’s attempted shot somehow squirmed back out to Nathan Thomas who fired home from close range.

    Both Thomas’ were creating all sorts of problems and Nathan came close to adding his second of the night, hitting the accelerator to ghost past two despairing defenders, only for his stinging drive to be palmed around by MacKay.

    The home side did finish the half slightly stronger though and after Greg Kiltie tested Max Currie for the first time in the game was a long-range shot, Lee Miller passed up a great chance to reduce the arrears.

    The former Dundee Utd, Hearts and Aberdeen striker found himself in space inside the area and with just the keeper to beat, he struck his low shot off the base of the post before Straker eventually cleared.

    It looked like a pivotal miss and it proved to be. It wasn’t the last action of the half though; Nathan Thomas created another chance for himself in the last second, nut-megging his marker before curling a lovely shot that deflected just over.

    For all ‘Well were superb in the first-half, thoroughly meriting their 0-2 advantage, they were sloppy at the start of the second, allowing Killie to dominate possession.

    However, for all the ball they had, the hosts never really created too much in the way of clear-cut chances.

    Lee Miller fired a close-range free-kick over the bar, Euan Smith ballooned a shot high over from a similar distance and Dylan Pooler trundled a low effort harmlessly wide of Currie’s right-hand post. That was it, really.

    A goal for the home side might have changed things at that stage, but ‘Well all but killed the game with a decisive third, and it was a goal of some beauty.

    Dom Thomas won the ball deep in his own half, before quickly setting ‘Well on the attack with a positive pass to Ross MacLean. He kept the move going, spraying it across the park to the right flank where Nathan Thomas was in space. The former Plymouth man picked out sub Dylan Mackin with a terrific ball, and after an excellent touch, he coolly prodded it past MacKay for 0-3. A clinical counter-attacking goal! Game over.

    There was still enough time for ‘Well to add an exclamation point to the victory and the Thomas’ again combined. Nathan collecting deep, cutting across the park from right to left before picking out Dom in the box. He took one touch to move the ball away from his marker, before lashing it home past a helpless MacKay.

    It was a ruthless, clinical and at times, extremely impressive victory for Johansson’s men who are full of energy, pace, endeavour and attacking intent. They face St Johnstone at home next week full of confidence, looking to work their way up the table.

    Motherwell: Currie, Watt (McNulty – 76mins), Straker, Ferguson, Hall, Cadden, N.Thomas, Higgins (McCall – 76mins), McHugh (Mackin – 66mins), D.Thomas, MacLean

    Subs Not Used: B. Long, McMillan, Anderson

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    Under 20s to face Kilmarnock

    The Under 20s will aim to maintain their unbeaten run in 2015 when they take on Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Tuesday night.

    Jonatan Johansson’s youngsters have drawn with Dunfermline, Hibs and Rangers and beat Inverness in their last four matches, scoring nine goals in the process.

    They sit just five points behind joint-sixth placed Killie, but have a game in hand over their Ayrshire rivals as they the Steelmen look to finish the season strongly.

    The match will take place at Rugby Park, with kick-off set for 7pm.

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    Luke Watt pens extended deal

    Motherwell FC is pleased to confirm young defender Luke Watt has signed a new three-and-a-half year deal at the club.

    The 17-year old right full-back, who performed fantastically well on the left side during January, is in his first full season at Fir Park after being promoted through the Elite Academy, turning professional last summer.

    Although his existing contract still had another fourteen months to run, his new deal will take him through until May 2018.

    Speaking to motherwellfc.co.uk, manager Ian Baraclough said: “This deal is very much in line with the clubs’ refocused strategy on developing young players and doing everything we can to maximise their worth, both to themselves and to the club.

    [pullquote]Whilst we acknowledge Luke is still developing, he’s a very exciting prospect and one we think will go on to have a great career in the game.[/pullquote]

    “This new contract is very much a reward for his progress and for the way he handled himself when asked to step into the first-team in fairly difficult circumstances.

    “I’ve said continuously that a part of my remit is to ensure the when young players develop through the ranks, there is a pathway for them to go and play, develop and kick-on.

    “We’ve got this deal done and are working on several others too.”

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    TV: Highlights from Fir Park

     Extended highlights from Fir Park where 10 men Motherwell overcome Inverness CT with a 2-1 win.

    MFC TV

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    Inverness CT win in pictures

    Action pictures from this afternoon’s 2-1 SPFL Premiership win over Inverness Caley Thistle at Fir Park.

    Snaps courtesy of SNSPix.

    [svgallery name=”invernessct280215″]

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    TV: Manager delighted with team spirit

     Gavin McCafferty at Fir Park

    Ian Baraclough felt match-winner Lionel Ainsworth’s attitude typified the togetherness that saw his side secure their first victory of 2015.

    Ainsworth came off the bench to hit an 84th-minute winner as the Scottish Premiership bottom club beat Inverness 2-1 at Fir Park.

    The winger has dropped out of the starting XI in recent weeks but his response thrilled Baraclough.

    The Englishman, whose side had only taken one point from the previous eight games, said: “I give him the credit for being in the right frame of mind to be that impact player. He has gone on there and shown the positivity to have a go.

    “It’s not easy coming off the bench and Lionel has got the rewards for showing that professionalism.

    “He has worked hard in training and he has perhaps felt he has been overlooked again, but he has gone and got the rewards for the group. I’m really pleased for him.”

    Motherwell started with recent signings Scott McDonald and Stephen Pearson and, even though they remain on the foot of the table after the rest of the bottom four won, the home fans went home with renewed optimism after a far superior display than the previous week’s 1-0 defeat by Dundee.

    [pullquote]It was a real effort, not just from the 11, those that were on the bench, those that were disappointed not even to be in the squad, but everyone rallying round before the game. Everyone knows what it means[/pullquote]

    Louis Laing headed them into the lead in the 48th minute and Motherwell refused to buckle when Edward Ofere headed a debut goal in the 76th minute, and held out after Simon Ramsden’s late red card for a second bookable offence.

    After a rollercoaster 90 minutes, Baraclough said: “It’s an emotional game and there was a full range of emotions going through, I can tell you.

    “But the biggest one was pleasure for the lads because it was a real effort, not just from the 11, those that were on the bench, those that were disappointed not even to be in the squad, but everyone rallying round before the game. Everyone knows what it means.”

    Baraclough felt it was shaking off the fear factor was crucial. When put to him that the players looked to have rediscovered their fighting spirit, he said: “Possibly looks that way but that’s been there in abundance in previous weeks, but we have just not transferred that into the match.

    “I said it last week, we have got to throw those shackles off and get people backing us and that’s what we did today.”

    MFC TV

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    Motherwell 2 – 1 Inverness CT

    [tab:Match report]

    Phil McGhee Fir Park

    A Lionel Ainsworth winner six minutes from time earned 10-man Motherwell their first win of 2015.

    More importantly, in halting third placed ICT’s impressive unbeaten run of 10 games, the Fir Park side’s performance brought hope to the much-maligned support, who watched their side battle for the whole ninety minutes at a rain-drenched Fir Park.

    Undoubtedly, the return of Scott McDonald in a ‘Well shirt had a major influence. But the commitment and passion of the entire team was commendable.

    And having watched Louis Laing’s 48th minute opener cancelled out by Edward Ofere’s equaliser 15 minutes from time, it would have been easy to settle for a point. However, on a sodden pitch, ‘Well showed great grit and determination, especially playing the final five minutes with 10 men after Simon Ramsden was sent off.

    Not surprisingly, Scott McDonald came straight into the home attack but it was alongside Lee Erwin at the expense of John Sutton. Stephen Pearson returned from injury and Josh Law was recalled as Craig Moore and Anthony Straker dropped out of last week’s line-up.

    And literally from the kick-off ‘Well put Caley under immense pressure. Following a couple of corners from Connor Grant, Pearson had the first chance but he volleyed over the bar. Marvin Johnson, who showed great touches in spells, was next to threaten the visitor’s goal but his low drive from outside the box skimmed past the far post.

    It was almost a dream second debut for McDonald when, after only 10 minutes, he latched onto Erwin’s knock down but from the angle of the six yard box he hooked his shot over the bar.

    Motherwell’s pressing game, with McDonald making his presence felt in and around the visitor’s box, had Caley looking unusually ragged.

    Indeed it took John Hughes’ men about 30 minutes to get into their stride and make any threat on George Long’s goal.

    However, after Greg Tansey had fired a couple of efforts harmlessly over the bar, the ‘Well ‘keeper produced a crucial save to prevent his side falling behind two minutes from the interval.

    Josh Law, who had an otherwise solid game at right back, was short with a headed pass back and Danny Williams looked certain to capitalise as he side stepped round the grounded ‘keeper but Long’s outstretched hand somehow clawed the ball away from the striker’s feet for a stunning save.

    ‘Well then had a chance to head for the dressing room with a lead their first half efforts deserved but Grant’s low free kick round the defensive wall was well held by Ryan Essen low to his right.

    It took the home side only three minutes into the second half to take the lead when Grant’s magnificent curling cross was met full on by the inrushing Louis Laing whose thundering header flashed past Essen and high into the net.

    That forced Caley to be a bit more positive and the Fir Park goal had a couple of lucky escapes when efforts from Williams and Ofere hit the frame of the goal.

    The Caley centre was not to be denied and when Graeme Shinnie swept his cross into the six yard box Ofere rose highest to powerfully head the ball beyond Long.

    Ian Baraclough used all three substitutions bringing on Sutton, Moore and Ainworth. And it was the introduction of the latter which was the most dramatic snatching the winner within five minutes of coming on.

    Grant’s corner from the right eluded everyone in a packed penalty area. But when Ainsworth collected the ball at the other side of the box he had only one thought, taking a couple of strides before drilling his shot low through a ruck of legs, with a slight deflection taking it beyond Essen and into the corner of the net.

    In a dramatic final few minutes ‘Well performed heroics to defend their lead especially when Simon Ramsden was shown a second yellow card.

    But Baraclough’s boys held on for their first win of the year and although the three points wasn’t enough to lift them off the foot of the table, the performance and result could prove to be a significant turning point in ‘Well’s season.

    The Fir Park boss will be in the ears of his players trying to ensure they look to build on their win when Kilmarnock visit next Saturday.

    [tab:As it happened]

     Ally Reilly at Fir Park

    Special mention to the fans again who were great. Drove the team right to the final whistle. Superb! #MFCvICTFC

    Had to grind it out in the end but a great three points for The Steelmen! #MFCvICTFC

    FT: Motherwell 2 -1 Inverness CT!!

    93mins: Great tackle from Laing to deny Ferguson at the last second #MFCvICTFC

    92mins: ICT win a corner after shot is deflected wide #MFCvICTFC

    3 minutes added on. #MFCvICTFC

    88mins: Red card! Ramsden is sent marching for his second booking. #MFCvICTFC

    84mins: AINSWORTH cuts in on his right foot and fires low past Esson to make it 2-1!! #MFCvICTFC

    GGOOAALLLL!!

    80mins: Final Motherwell sub, Johnson off for Ainsworth #MFCvICTFC

    76mins: Motherwell sub, Moore on for Erwin #MFCvICTFC

    75mins: Goal, Ofere heads home the equaliser. 1-1 #MFCvICTFC

    74mins: Devine is booked for throwing the ball away in anger #MFCvICTFC

    72mins: ICT sub, Ross off for Doran #MFCvICTFC

    70mins: Ofere picks the ball up about 20 yards out but shoots incredibly well wide #MFCvICTFC

    68mins: Motherwell sub, McDonald makes way for Sutton #MFCvICTFC

    60mins: Esson does well to deal with Grants long range shot which bounces just in front of him #MFCvICTFC

    59mins: Tansey is booked for deliberate hand ball #MFCvICTFC

    57mins: ICT sub, Williams off for Ferguson #MFCvICTFC

    54mins: Finally the ref gets his card out and produces a booking to Draper for a bad tackle on Lasley #MFCvICTFC

    53mins: Ofere’s header comes back of the base of the post. Thankfully McManus scoops clear. #MFCvICTFC

    52mins: Raven hauls down Johnson. It’s cynical, and again no card is shown by ref #MFCvICTFC

    51mins: Tansey’s long range strike hit the top of the bar. Close, but never looked like going in #MFCvICTFC

    47mins: Grant’s cross is met by the head of LAING who bullets it into the net! 1-0. #MFCvICTFC

    47mins: Erwin’s shot is deflected wide for a corner…GGOOOAALLL!!

    Second 45 is underway. COYW!!! #MFCvICTFC

    A vastly improved first 45, just lacking the killer touch. Positive signs nonetheless #MFCvICTFC

    HT: Motherwell 0 – 0 Inverness CT #MFCvICTFC

    46mins: Grant gets it on target but Esson saves #MFCvICTFC

    46mins: Draper yanks Erwin down by his shirt. Surely a booking but no, just a free-kick on the edge of the box. #MFCvICTFC

    Just as well, would have been completely against the run of play and a real sore one to take. #MFCvICTFC

    44mins: Magnificent save from Long as Williams latched onto a slack backpass and should have scored. Long got an arm to it and gathers!!

    33mins: Incredibly Ramsden is booked for what again looked like a good challenge. Gifts ICT a free-kick on the edge of the box #MFCvICTFC

    28mins: Great battling and harrying from Johnson to get the ball back. He opts to shoot form narrow angle and it goes just wide #MFCvICTFC

    26mins: Pearson booked for what looked like a fair tackle on Ross. #MFCvICTFC

    23mins: Tansey finds some space 20 yards out but blasts well over. Normally does better in those situations #MFCvICTFC

    19mins: Johnson slides in a lovely low cross which Shinnie only just gets to ahead of McDonald. #MFCvICTFC

    16mins: Ofere with a horribly clumsy challenge on Lasley but not even booked? #MFCvICTFC

    13mins: McDonald wins another corner. From the delivery, Laing’s shot is blocked then he is penalised for being stronger in the tackle.

    11mins: Great chance for McDonald as he latches onto Erwrin’s flick on but can’t keep his volley down. Just over! #MFCvICTFC

    9mins: Quick passing allows McDonald to setup Johnson whose first time shot trickles inches past the post. An entertaining start #MFCvICTFC

    8mins: Caley break up the park and Tansey uleashes a great effort from 30 yards which flies just over the bar #MFCvICTFC

    6mins: From that corner, ball pingballs to Pearson inside the box but he volleys over #MFCvICTFC

    6mins: McDonald wins a free-kick, wide on the right…Grant delivers and Devine slices clear for a corner. #MFCvICTFC

    Ball falls to Laing but his volley is blocked. Seconds later, Grant whips in a ball which is just too high for McDonald#MFCvICTFC

    3mins: Law wins the first corner of the game. #MFCvICTFC

    The Steelmen look to be shaping up in a 4-4-2 formation, Erwin and McDonald up front. #MFCvICTFC

    Ofere and Christie get the action underway. COYW! #MFCvICTFC

    [tab:Reaction]

    Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough:

    “It’s an emotional game and there was a full range of emotions going through, I can tell you.

    “But the biggest one was pleasure for the lads because it was a real effort, not just from the 11, those that were on the bench, those that were disappointed not even to be in the squad, but everyone rallying round before the game. Everyone knows what it means.

    “I said it last week, we have got to throw those shackles off and get people backing us and that’s what we did today.”

    Inverness CT manager John Hughes:

    “We certainly deserved to take something from the game – hitting the woodwork twice. But our passing was sloppy and I was disappointed that we never got our football going.”

    [tab:Man-of-the-match]

    [poll id=”222″]

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    TV: Baraclough previews Caley clash

    ‘Well boss Ian Baraclough thinks hard work on the training pitch is the key to a reversal in his side’s fortunes.

    After hitting bottom of the table courtesy of last weekend’s home defeat to Dundee, the Steelmen now face Inverness Caley on their own patch.

    The ‘Well squad have been hard at it all week, with a rejigged schedule and the introduction of a certain Scott McDonald over the last two days.

    And Baraclough hopes a combination of sharp sessions at Dalziel Park and proper grit and determination on matchdays is the key to getting the Claret & Amber men away from the foot of the table.

    “I think any supporter who turns up on a Saturday wants to see hard work first and foremost,” he said.

    [pullquote]The group look as though they enjoy working together and they are now just looking for the rewards for their hard work Monday to Friday. I believe in them, I really do, and hopefully they can go out there, show what they’re all about and begin to believe in themselves again[/pullquote]

    “If they see that then at certain times, certain deficiencies can be forgiven. If you are showing the grit and determination to take yourself out your comfort zone, whether it is chasing lost causes or denying space, that will generally get the supporters going and then it is the added bits of quality like finishing off chances you are creating that’ll get you three points on a Saturday.

    “If a pass goes astray or a goal goes in, you have got to be big enough to take the knocks and say alright, we can go and handle that. That should spur you on to greater endeavour. The first goal in any game is important but it doesn’t mean the game is over. Hopefully supporters can help us in that respect.

    “Don’t get me wrong, I hate losing games of football and I’ve not been used to it. Neither are our players. As I’ve said, training has been very good and standards have been high.

    “The group look as though they enjoy working together and they are now just looking for the rewards for their hard work Monday to Friday. I believe in them, I really do, and hopefully they can go out there, show what they’re all about and begin to believe in themselves again.”

    MFC TV