Action images from this evening’s 1-3 win over Ross County in Dingwall.
Snaps courtesy of SNSPix
Action images from this evening’s 1-3 win over Ross County in Dingwall.
Snaps courtesy of SNSPix
Mark McGhee praised his players after their impressive 1-3 victory at the Global Energy Stadium secured fifth in the SPFL Premiership.
The Steelmen took an early lead through Stephen Pearson before skipper Keith Lasley doubled their advantage with the game barely sixteen minutes old.
County improved at the break and substitute Liam Boyce reduced the arrears, but ‘Well restored their two goal advantage late on to secure the win, courtesy of a Pearson header.
The victory means ‘Well cannot be caught in fifth place, but St Johnstone’s win over Celtic means they Perth side can’t be caught with one game left to play.
[pullquote]I think our win was deserved, it was certainly better than the last time we were here, that’s for sure.[/pullquote]
“I think our win was deserved, it was certainly better than the last time we were here, that’s for sure,” he smiled.
“We started the game very brightly, some of the football was flowing and we scored two goals which gave us a great lead.
“County, as you might expect, changed their shape to try and cope with what we were doing to them and that made things a bit more difficult for us. That said, even when they were creating chances, I felt we defended resolutely and looked a threat on the break.
“Obviously we learn afterwards that fourth is out of the equation with St Johnstone beating Celtic, but the bigger picture is fifth represents a very good season for us and we’ll try and finish on a high this weekend.”
Phil McGhee at Global Energy Stadium
Stephen Pearson scored twice as ‘Well took the points to cement fifth in the table with a 3-1 win away at Ross County.
The 33-year old gave ‘Well a fourth-minute lead and Keith Lasley quickly doubled the advantage with a wonder strike from 25 yards.
County improved in the second half and substitute Liam Boyce headed one back but the Steelmen finished the job in stoppage time when Pearson scored again.
The visitors forced a couple of corners in the opening exchanges but from the second flag kick Steven Hammell’s cross was headed over by Stephen McManus.
But ‘Well did not have long to wait for the opener. A good move down the right ended with a Louis Moult cut-back which left Pearson with a simple finish. It got better for the visitors in the 16th minute when they doubled their lead with a fantastic strike from Lasley.
A Hammell corner was only partially cleared and the Motherwell captain fired a low drive into the corner of the net. County made a tactical switch in the 36th minute with Raffaele De Vita replacing Stuart Murdoch to give the home side an added attacking option.
The hosts came close to getting one back in the final minute of the half when De Vita crossed for Michael Gardyne but his knock down was too hard for Alex Schalk who hooked it over the crossbar.
County had the first real chance of the second half when Gardyne found David Goodwillie in space in the box but the forward lost control of the ball at the vital time.
Goodwillie then got on the end of a chip from Martin Woods but he could not get his shot on target.
The chances kept coming for the home side and it was Goodwillie again who had the chance to net when he was put through by substitute Boyce but Well goalkeeper Craig Samson pulled off a fantastic one-handed save at point-blank range.
It was all County now and Schalk should have done better when he latched on to a Brian Graham knock on but he blasted his shot wide of the upright.
But County got the goal their play deserved in the 70th minute when Samson could only parry a Gardyne shot and Boyce was left to nod in from close range.
Well almost restored their two-goal lead a minute later when Pearson drove the ball wide of target from well inside the box. Marvin Johnson then missed two great chances, firing wide on both occasions, to make the game safe.
At the other end, Boyce had a great chance to level in the 79th minute when he latched on to a Woods pass but he blasted the ball high and wide. Graham almost caught Samson out with a deep cross cum shot that the keeper scrambled to turn over the crossbar.
In the dying seconds Boyce got on the end of a Chris Robertson cross but his header was well saved by Samson again. But in stoppage time Pearson scored his second of the game, his ninth of the season, when he headed home from close range after Scott Fox saved from Johnson.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Global Energy Stadium
Lasley and Pearson with the goals to give ‘Well a 3-1 win at Dingwall. #RCFCvMFC
FT: Ross County 1 – 3 Motherwell #RCFCvMFC
90+2′ | 1-3
Johnson’s shot is saved and it falls to PEARSON who heads home!!
Three minutes added on.
89′ | 1-2
Boyce’s header from 12 yards is comfortably saved by Samson.
85′ | 1-2
Samson does well to adjust his footing and tip Graham’s looping cross/shot over the bar
77′ | 1-2
McDonald plays in Pearson who shoots straight at Fox. County break and Boyce blazes well over from a good position.
73′ | 1-2
Johnson goes close, cutting in off the right but his shot drifts just wide of the post.
72′ | 1-2
Motherwell sub, Chalmers on for Hammell.
71′ | 1-2
Great chance for Johnson as he gets on the end of a ball looping out the air. but he volleys just wide.
69′ | 1-2
Goal – Gardyne’s shot is palmed out to Boyce who takes a touch and volleys home. Thats been coming.
68′ | 0-2
Quinn booked after flying into a tackle on Moult
67′ | 0-2
Close again or County, Graham with the knock down and Schalk volleys just past the post.
63′ | 0-2
Hammell booked for impeding Boyce as he broke away down the right.
60′ | 0-2
County sub, Graham on for Goodwillie
59′ | 0-2
Schalk jinks around the edge of the box, but looks off balance as he shoots and it’s well over. Decent spell for County.
57′ | 0-2
Great save by Samson! Goodwillie looked like scoring but the big goalie spread himself well to smother the chance
55′ | 0-2
Ross County sub, Boyce on for Franks
50′ | 0-2
Close! Gardyne with the ball in but Goodwillie’s control is too heavy which allows Samson to gather.
Motherwell get the second 45 underway. COYW!! #RCFCvMFC
HT: Ross County 0 – 2 Motherwell #RCFCvMFC
44′ | 0-2
Very nearly 3! Pearson is played in but Fox does well and beats his low shot away.
44′ | 0-2
Good chance for County! Gardyne’s knock-down is a fraction ahead of Schalk and he can’t get enough on it to test Samson
43′ | 0-2
County with a succession of corner but can’t fashion a chance from any of them.
37′ | 0-2
McDonald just back on the pitch and is booked for an aerial challenge on Irvine.
35′ | 0-2
Ross County sub, De Vita on for Murdoch
34′ | 0-2
Now Irvine is booked for a high boot on McDonald’s face.
32′ | 0-2
Murdoch booked for clattering Johnson wide on the right.
28′ | 0-2
Chance for County! Free-kick in a great area but Schalk drills it right into the wall
22′ | 0-2
From that corner, Moult has a free header but can’t get it on target!
22′ | 0-2
Motherwell well on top here. Moult goes close but his shot is deflected over the bar!
(surprised we had that goal graphic made up)
16′ | 0-2
A rare one for LASLEY!! Some strike from the edge of the box, thundering into the net!! 0-2 ‘Well!!
10′ | 0-1
Indecision in the County defence concedes another corner. Motherwell with a bright start.
4′ | 0-1
PEARSON opens the scoring! Moult is slid in, cuts it back and Pearo does the rest from 10 yards. COYW!!
2′ | 0-0
Slack touch from Foster hands Motherwell the first corner of the game….headed clear by Robertson but it’s another corner.
County get the game underway. COYW!!
Out come the teams at a sunny Dingwall. Moments away from kick-off.
Motherwell manager Mark McGhee:
“We should have got the third goal earlier to put it beyond doubt. We missed good opportunities but over the piece deserved to win the game.”
Ross County Manager Jim McIntyre
“We got off to a really sloppy start. We handed Motherwell the initiative by being really careless, giving away needless corners and possession of the ball which gave them a lot of play in our half and they punished us.”
Mark McGhee is still targeting fourth spot in the SPFL Premiership but knows they will have to perform much better in Dingwall tomorrow night.
The Steelmen have lost their last two games, to Aberdeen and St Johnstone, and turned in one of their poorest showing at the season the last time they were at the Global Energy Stadium, losing 3-0 back in November.
And the Fir Park boss is eager to see that disappointing run ended, and put pressure on Saints with the season finishing this Sunday.
“Our last trip up there was probably one of our worst results of the season but we went there with a weakened squad, all our senior guys were missing so we discount that one a wee bit,” he said.
[pullquote]”But we still need to go there and put on a performance. We’ve not done well against them, they won here at Fir Park too. So our record isn’t great against County and we know it will be a difficult game.”[/pullquote]
With over £100,000 difference in prize money between finishing fourth and fifth in the table, the manager hopes his players use it as an incentive to win their final two matches and help with contract negotiations.
“It’s on-going, we’ve got a starting point and things can change,” McGhee explained. “If we finish fifth or fourth it makes a difference and we will factor that into the offers we can make them.
“It’s not a figure we have plucked out of the air, there are real numbers that we can put to this. Those numbers are affected by whether we finish sixth, fifth or fourth.
“This is what we’ve been able to offer at this moment in time but if our situation changes then we will factor that in to offers we make them. If nothing changes nothing will change. The difference in prize month in places is significant. On our budget it could be three players.”
Motherwell’s summer pitch renovations have began with contractors Souters Sports hard at work since Sunday morning.
Head Groundsman Paul Matthew worked wonders during the 2015/16 campaign, with Fir Park widely recognised amongst the best pitches in Scotland.
Such was the quality of the work, ‘Well were able to go the whole season without losing a single match to the weather, despite the wettest winter on record; the first time that’s been the case for over a decade.
However, Paul’s hard work, care and attention masked difficulties beneath the surface and the focus of the summer work is concentrated on improving drainage. 67 eight-inch deep sand slits are being introduced across the entire pitch, connecting to the existing lateral drains.
[pullquote]We’ve been slightly fortunate that we can start a week earlier than we might have, and our colleagues at Souters Sports have been hard at work for the past few days, trying to meet the tight deadlines we’ve set them[/pullquote]
The pitch will then be power harrowed, with new fibre reinforcement added for the first time in a number of years, further improving stability before re-seeding in around two weeks time.
Head Groundsman Paul Matthew: “Although we managed to get every game on as scheduled during the campaign, it was a real struggle at times. Over December and January, we had several inches of rain, which really took its toll, and only a collective effort from everyone at the club made it possible.
“With such a short window for renovations, it will be extremely difficult for all Groundsmen to have their pitches prepared for the new early season start.
“However, we’ve been slightly fortunate that we can start a week earlier than we might have, and our colleagues at Souters Sports have been hard at work for the past few days, trying to meet the tight deadlines we’ve set them.
“From my point of view, I’d also like to acknowledge the support of the football club in striving to improve the surface all the time. We all work very hard in here to give our players the best possible platform for every match at Fir Park, and we hope to make it even better during 2016/17.”
‘Well fans, please note ticket Information for the last two SPFL Premiership matches of the 2015/2016 season.
Tickets for the Ladbrokes Premiership match with Ross County at the Global Energy Stadium on Wednesday 11th May (7.45pm KO) will be available on the gate with admission prices:
Tickets for the Ladbrokes Premiership match with Celtic on Sunday 15th May at Celtic Park (12.30pm KO) are available now from the Fir Park Ticket Office priced at:
|ADULTS:||£26 / £23|
|CONCESSIONS:||£17 / £14|
|JUVENILE:||£10 / £7|
Referee for Wednesday’s penultimate SPFL Premiership clash with Ross County at the Global Energy Stadium is John Beaton.
John will be handling his third Motherwell match of the campaign so far, the first being a 2-2 draw with Dundee back in late January. The Steelmen were on course to take all three points when Chris Cadden and Stephen Pearson had the visitors ahead, but a controversial late penalty from Kane Hemmings levelled things up at 2-2.
His other ‘Well game was also in the Highlands, when McGhee’s men all but secured top-six with a terrific 1-2 win at the Caledonian Stadium.
It was role reversal this time though with Motherwell scoring late on; Marvin Johnson’s ‘last kick of the game’ winner added to Lionel Ainsworth’s opener in what turned out to be a vital three points in the race to finish in the top half.
Those games came on the back of two games last season too.
The first was a 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock at Fir Park in March 2015 when Scott McDonald’s free-kick earned ‘Well a share of the spoils.
The other was the instantly forgettable 2-0 loss to Hamilton at New Douglas Park a month later, when a large visiting support watched Jason Scotland and Ali Crawford score to give the South Lanarkshire side the win.
His overall record in charge of Motherwell matches reads four wins, three defeats and three draws from ten matches. ‘Well have scored eighteen and conceded fourteen.
Thirty-two players have gone into the book during those games, sixteen of them wearing Claret and Amber, with just two red card: Joe Shaughnessy in a League Cup tie against Aberdeen in 2013/14 and Darryl Westlake last season, in the aforementioned 1-1 draw with Killie at Fir Park.
John will be ably assisted by Alastair Mather and Ralph Gordon with David Lowe on Fourth Official duties.
Highlights from Fir Park as Motherwell sign off the home season with a 1-2 defeat to St Johnstone.
‘Well boss Mark McGhee was left disappointed his side lost the game after making such a bright start.
The Fir Parkers were on the front foot, took an early lead and have several chances to extend that in a high tempo first 20 minutes.
However, Saints hit back before going ahead in a topsy-turvy first half.
Saints shaded a fairly uneventful second forty-five, to run out 1-2 winners and all but secure fourth spot.
[pullquote]But they thoroughly deserve their lap of honour, even though it was a disappointing day, they put in a great effort even to get within touching distance of fourth spot.[/pullquote]
McGhee said: “I was disappointed with today as I thought we made a lot of chances in the first half, even at 1-0, to finish it and didn’t take them. The second half was a tired and disjoined slog; a typical end-of-season sort of second half.
“But they thoroughly deserve their lap of honour, even though it was a disappointing day, they put in a great effort even to get within touching distance of fourth spot.
“Mentally, it’s been a tough one. It took so much for us to get away from the bottom and then again into the top six. However, we will go again this week with the aim of finishing as strongly as possible.”
Action images from this afternoon’s 1-2 defeat to St Johnstone at Fir Park.
Snaps courtesy of SNSPix