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    Highlights from Gayfield

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    Arbroath 1-0 Motherwell

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    Highlights from Cliftonhill

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    McGhee – A decent workout

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    Albion Rovers 1 – 3 Motherwell

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    McGhee – Business not finished

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    McDonald – Happy to be back

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    McDonald extends his ‘Well contract

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    2016/17 squad numbers confirmed

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    Pearson departs for India

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    Highlights from Gayfield

    Highlights from Gayfield as a young Motherwell side lose 1-0 to Arbroath.

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    Arbroath 1-0 Motherwell

    A trip north for Mark McGhee’s men resulted in a 1-0 defeat in their second pre-season fixture.

    In windy conditions on the coast, a large number of youngsters got a run out, with the average age of the starting eleven that ended the game just 18.

    Teenager Jack McMillan was the only unchanged player for the Fir Parkers and new signing Dean Brill made his Motherwell debut and put in a good display in front of the travelling fans.

    In the opening exchanges, Ainsworth broke down the right but his attempted ball was cut out by the back tracking defence.

    Brill was called into action after three minutes, but Hester’s effort from outside the box never looked to trouble the debutant, who gathered comfortably.

    The home side won the ball in midfield in the fifth minute and Omar Kader broke down the right, but his dinked effort dropped well over the bar.

    Some neat football down the left for the Fir Parkers culminated in a good challenge on Mackin on the edge of the area.

    Ainsworth curled an accurate cross into the area in the 15th minute, but the Arbroath stopper Robbie Mutch gathered it well.

    Both sides were looking to get the ball on the deck and play good football, with the Steelmen enjoying some great spells of possession, but generally hadn’t tested the Arbroath keeper too much in the opening quarter of an hour.

    In the 20th minute, Brill was quick to rush off his line to gather an over-hit ball over the top, as the new signing settled in quickly.

    Switching to the left, Ainsworth tormented the opposition right-back as he worked his way to the by-line, putting in a fine cross that was well defended and cleared by the home side.

    Lionel Ainsworth looked to be the greatest threat in the opening 25 minutes, as the winger put in another fine cross, but on the stretch, Mackin headed over.

    Just before the half-hour mark, Arbroath had their first real chance of the afternoon, but Wilson’s shot was collected easily by Brill.

    A corner straight off the training ground resulted in a flick at goal from Moore after Kennedy headed Turnbull’s deep cross back across goal.

    A fizzing cross into the box from the right looked destined to be headed home by the onrushing Ainsworth, but a slight head on the cross took it out of the midfielder’s path.

    In a quiet first half, neither keeper had too much to do as the two sides went in to the break goalless.

    Mark McGhee made just the one change at half-time, as Allan Campbell replaced Dylan Mackin.

    The Fir Parkers won a corner early in the half, after a neat ball from Kennedy was picked up by Ainsworth, who’s cross was deflected behind.

    The manager made his second change of the day on the 50th minute, as youngster Josh Stachini replaced Jack McMillan.

    And immediately after the substitution, ‘Well broke on the counter, as Ainsworth collected the ball just inside the opposition half and drove into the box, but his low driven shot was blocked behind for a corner.

    On the 60th minute, a Motherwell corner was headed behind and from the following set-play, Arbroath broke away on the counter, but the danger was quelled by the recovering defence.

    Another change on the hour mark saw Craig Moore make way for 15-year-old striker James Scott.

    And five minutes later, McGhee brought on Luke Watt for David Ferguson.

    A short header from Kieran Kennedy was picked up by Arbroath substitute Junior Oder and the best opportunity of the game led to nothing, as the shot past Brill failed to hit the target.

    But the visitors responded well, as Cadden broke forward but his effort on goal lacked the desired power and was saved.

    In the 70th minute, the home support thought they had taken the lead.

    A fierce strike on goal from Wilson rippled the side netting, with a few cheers cut short by the referee’s whistle indicating a goal kick for the Fir Parkers.

    And after that chance, Motherwell made another change, with Ainsworth departing for Jake Hastie.

    On the 77th minute the deadlock was nearly broken. MacLean’s loose pass was collected by Doris, who watched on as his speculative effort from 25 yards came crashing back off the crossbar.

    With six minutes remaining, a scramble in the box following a corner wasn’t cleared by the ‘Well and a good effort on goal from Hamilton forced a brilliant reaction save from debutant Brill, who tipped it over the bar and saw his clean sheet remain intact.

    The manager then made another substitution, as youngster Jordan Armstrong replaced Davie Turnbull.

    But with just minutes to go, the home side took the lead on an afternoon of few chances.

    Doris was allowed too much time at the back post, and he curled a neat finish past Brill into the far corner.

    Arbroath’s confidence grew and it could have been two for the hosts, as Oder fired a shot over the bar in the dying seconds.

    But it remained 1-0 as the final whistle went at Gayfield. It was a quiet afternoon for the fans in Arbroath, but as the pre-season preparations carry on, there was a lot of positives for Mark McGhee and the squad to take from their trip north.

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    Highlights from Cliftonhill

    Highlights from Cliftonhill as Motherwell open their pre-season friendly schedule with a 1-3 win over Albion Rovers.

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    McGhee – A decent workout

    ‘Well boss Mark McGhee was pleased with the attitude and work rate of his players as his side ran out 3-1 winners in their opening pre-season fixture against Albion Rovers.

    Pre-season is not always plain sailing and hiccups can be easy to come-by, but after a comfortable victory at Cliftonhill, the 59-year old was full of praise for his team.

    Debuts were handed to Ben Heneghan and Jacob Blyth, and youngsters Jack McMillan and Allan Campbell started for the Fir Parkers on a wet and windy afternoon that resulted in a lot of positives for the Steelmen.

    McGhee said: “I’ve been manager of a lot of teams that have lost games like this. All round I think we had a little bit of energy and a lot of people got a run-out – some more than I intended, Lasley went the 90 minutes for instance – but generally speaking, yes, we’ve scored three goals and we’ve won the game.

    [pullquote]We’ve introduced one or two of the new players to the crowd and to each other in a game, so yes a lot of positives.[/pullquote]

    Despite falling a goal behind, the Fir Parkers showed great fighting spirit to turn the game around convincingly – something the manager highlighted towards the attitude of his team.

    The boss said: “I wasn’t concerned if we’d won or lost the game, I’d be more concerned about attitude and all those sorts of things, but there was nothing wrong with that. Right from the first minute, even in the preparation, the boys looked as if they were at it.”

    He added: “It was obviously disappointing to lose that first goal but that’s what we’re here for, to iron out the wrinkles and hopefully improve on that.

    “They went on and showed a lot of resolve and a lot of energy and won the game deservedly.”

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    Albion Rovers 1 – 3 Motherwell

    The Steelmen got their pre-season fixtures underway with a short trip to Coatbridge to take on League One outfit Albion Rovers.

    On a windy, wet afternoon, Mark McGhee’s men put in a dominant performance and ran out 3-1 winners.

    Debuts were handed to Ben Heneghan and Jacob Blyth, and youngsters Jack McMillan and Allan Campbell started for the ‘Well.

    It took around 20 minutes for the game to settle down, with some scrappy play in the opening exchanges.

    Blyth looked hungry from the start, chasing down every ball and winning his aerial battles well.

    And in defence, Ben Heneghan settled in comfortably alongside veteran McManus, and on the tenth minute the young centre-back thwarted an Albion chance by stepping up and catching trialist Calum Ferguson offside.

    Blyth found himself through down the left-channel, but from a tight angle failed to test Albion stopper Ross Stewart.

    Dom Thomas received the ball from Marvin Johnson after some tricky play down the right, and the midfielder curled an ambitious attempt on goal that found the target, but also the hands of Stewart.

    Samson’s first real threat came just before the 20th minute, when a curled cross bounced its way in to the box, but the keeper gathered reliably with an onrushing Albion forward striding in looking for the follow-up.

    Marvin Johnson produced a fine moment of individual skill to evade a number of challenges and drive towards goal, but sound defending stopped the midfielder from bursting into the box.

    Thomas and Johnson swapped sides after 20 minutes, and the latter fed a neat through ball into the path of Louis Moult who found himself one-on-one with the keeper, but he fired over the bar.

    Despite Motherwell’s strong start, Albion’s Paul Willis slotted the ball past Samson in the 25th minute after a fine pass left the midfielder with just the keeper to beat.

    Albion grew confident after their goal, and a stinging cross was headed clear by McManus on the half hour mark.

    But from then on, it was all Motherwell and Mark McGhee’s side strolled the rest of the match.

    Blyth worked himself into some pace just outside the box after Lasley found the strikers feet, but the 23-year-old dragged his shot wide.

    With ten-minutes of the opening half left to play, the Steelmen enjoyed a confident spell of possession around the edge of the Albion Rovers box, but a number of brave blocks kept the ‘Well out and eventually the ball ran out of play for a goal-kick.

    And the growing pressure paid off just before the break as the Fir Parkers equalised.

    Some hard-work in the box from Johnson to shrug off a number of challenges left the midfielder with a yard of space, and he swung the ball across goal. The cross was met by the head of Louis Moult who drew the ‘Well level with 5 minutes of the half remaining.

    And a couple of minutes later, Mark McGhee’s men took the lead. Marvin Johnson turned on the edge of the area and fired low past Stewart, who could only get finger tips on the ball.

    It nearly looked to be three for Motherwell in the space of 5 minutes, after Moult nearly scored a great solo goal. The forward dribbled past a number of challenges and fired on goal, but his powerful strike was well held by Stewart.

    The ‘Well boss made a couple of changes at the break, with Cadden and Kennedy coming on for McMillan and goal-scorer Johnson.

    Albion looked to tire after the first 20 minutes as the Steelmen grew in to the game and the second half got off on the same foot in which the first ended, with Motherwell firmly on top.

    Moult dribbled in to the box and got a shot away from a tight angle on the 54th minute, but the shot was collected comfortably.

    Ainsworth was brought in to the action on 56 minutes. The winger replaced youngster Allan Campbell.

    Cadden was drafted in to Campbell’s spot to allow Ainsworth to occupy the right flank, and the tricky winger didn’t take long to get involved, as he danced his way to the by-line, but his attempted cross was blocked.

    Albion made a trio of changes on the hour mark and McGhee made a couple more himself, as Chalmers and Ferguson came on for McManus and Hammell.

    A wonderful lofted ball from Moult to Blyth in the 65th minute was a stretch too far for the Englishman, who failed to get a strong, first-time shot on goal and the ball went wide of the mark.

    Another change was made as debutant Ben Heneghan made way to a great reception from the travelling ‘Wells fans. The big centre-back was replaced by Davie Turnbull after a fantastic performance.

    And not long after, Louis Moult and another ‘Well debutant Jacob Blyth made way to a similar reception from the fans. The forwards were replaced by Moore and Mackin.

    Mackin had an ambitious strike at goal just minutes after being introduced, but it never looked to trouble the keeper and flew wide.

    But before long Motherwell had three, thanks to a wonder goal from the captain.

    A corner from Dom Thomas was headed clear only as far as Keith Lasley on the edge of the box, who showed incredible composure to stroke a volley into the bottom corner.

    A free-kick was awarded to the Steelmen on 70 minutes, and a dipping strike on target from 25-yards from Ainsworth tested the Albion stopper.

    Dithering defensive work almost rewarded Motherwell with a fourth, as Mackin looked to sniff out a chance before the ball was eventually hooked clear.

    A corner from Thomas was headed away and eventually worked its way back to the youngster, who hit a neat swerving strike on the bounce to bring out a good save from Stewart.

    Ainsworth’s inch perfect cross found the head of Moore, who headed just over the bar.

    Some great forward play by 19-year-old Mackin fed in Ainsworth, who fired straight at Stewart.

    And the youngster was involved immediately again, as he teed up Moore who fired over the bar.

    Moore had another good attempt with just minutes left to play, but he failed to find the target.

    The full-time whistle signalled the end of a strong first outing for Mark McGhee’s men, who showed mental strength to come back from an early set-back and then never looked in doubt as they dominated at Cliftonhill.

    Motherwell: Samson, McMillan (Kennedy – 46mins), Hammell (Chalmers – 57mins), Heneghan (Turnbull – 64mins), McManus (Ferguson – 57mins), Campbell (Ainsworth – 52mins), Thomas, Lasley, Johnson (Cadden – 46mins), Moult (Moore – 69mins), Blyth (Mackin – 69mins)

    Subs Not Used: Brill

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    McGhee – Business not finished

    Mark McGhee is “delighted” with the business conducted at Fir Park this summer – but insisted he is not finished yet.

    Having secured the signatures of Ben Heneghan, Richard Tair and Jacob Blyth, as well as tying down veteran stars Scott McDonald, Keith Lasley and Steven Hammell to new contracts, the Steelmen boss is feeling good despite losing Stephen Pearson to the Indian Super League.

    He said: “So far I’m delighted with the business we’ve done, I really am, both in terms of the ones who’ve resigned and those we’ve signed.

    “Losing Pearson was a bit of a surprise but we’ve managed to resign the others we wanted to resign and then in addition we’ve added Tait, Heneghan and Blyth who all look like they’ve been good signings for us.

    “We’ve watched them, we’ve done our due diligence and we think they can fit in at this level.”

    The manager, who spoke to the press on Friday afternoon, outlined his plans to add to the squad further.

    [pullquote]So far I’m delighted with the business we’ve done, I really am, both in terms of the ones who’ve resigned and those we’ve signed.[/pullquote]

    “I’m not entirely finished, I think we need another couple.” He explained; “Now that Scott’s here I don’t think we need another striker. We have Scotty , Moultsy and Blyth now too as well as Craig Moore and Dylan Mackin all competing for places in the squad.”

    McGhee added: “Central midfield we’re a little bit light after losing Pearson. Early last season we had Grimshaw but Cadden stepped in there and now Allan Campbell’s competing in there for a place so we’ll see how he does. But I think it’s in central midfield where we’re a little bit light.”

    One of the biggest boosts for the Fir Parkers this summer was the announcement that Scott McDonald would be extending his stay with the club, and the manager believes the club have an identity with the Aussie forward in the starting eleven.

    The manager said: “Scott is a player who is important not only in terms of his ability and his performance on a Saturday, but Scott is one of these player in a sense that dictates how we can play. He’s a boy that gets us up the park, allows us to get out, he keeps the ball.

    “There’s not a lot of defences in the SPL who enjoy playing against Scott McDonald when he’s playing well, so we’re delighted obviously and it also means that we have that natural consistency to the way we want to play – we don’t have to start scratching our heads and wondering how Jacob Blyth and Moult and [the others] are going to combine.

    “The starting point is Scott McDonald and we can build the rest around that.”

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    McDonald – Happy to be back

    ‘Well striker Scott McDonald is happy to be back at Fir Park – a place he described as “special” to his career.

    In his first press conference of the new season, the Aussie forward spoke of his fond memories with the club, and his aims for this season.

    The 32-year-old said: “It’s a special place that kick-started my career. We had a great season last year and hopefully we can replicate that once again.”

    [pullquote]I have so many good friends and memories in this building and there’s still a lot of good friends here and hopefully there’s a few more memories to be made.[/pullquote]

    McDonald also took the opportunity to address the rumours circulating a proposed move to Hibs.

    He said: “To clarify everything, there was an offer on from last season that was still there over the summer. A couple of other opportunities arose and we spoke and I looked at them, but as it was, I wanted to come back and I’m happy to be back.

    “Yes [Hibs] was a possibility but being down the line with it like someone was saying, I don’t think it was ever there. I never spoke to a chief-executive or a manager.

    “I had time to think about it and reflect and I wanted to come back here and that’s why I am here.”

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    McDonald extends his ‘Well contract

    Motherwell FC is today delighted to confirm Scott McDonald has renewed his contract for season 2016/17.

    McDonald, 32, was a hugely important figure for the Fir Parkers last term, helping the Steelmen back into the top-six with a fourteen-goal return.

    The 26 times capped former Aussie international returned to the club in February of 2015, scoring five goals in eleven league games to help stave off the threat of relegation before forming a formidable partnership with Louis Moult that returned over thirty goals during 2015/16.

    McDonald, who has also played for Southampton, Bournemouth, Celtic and Middlesbrough, had several offers from elsewhere, but after lengthy discussions, opted to stay at Fir Park and aiming to build on his 64 goals in 160 starts in Claret and Amber.

    [pullquote]There were a couple of serious offers on the table for me, but I always had it in my mind that Motherwell was a club where I love being, playing with players and a manager who I respect and supporters who have been very good to me.[/pullquote]

    Skippy, who can operate in midfield or attack, told motherwellfc.co.uk: “I am so happy to be back at the club and can’t wait to get started again.

    “There were a couple of serious offers on the table for me, but I always had it in my mind that Motherwell was a club where I love being, playing with players and a manager who I respect and supporters who have been very good to me.”

    Mark McGhee added: “Scotty is one of the best players in the country, so we’re naturally delighted he has chose Motherwell over the other options he had.

    “We can’t compete with some of the bigger sides in Scotland for cash, but Motherwell is a special club that draws people to it, particularly those who have been here for a period of time. It’s a welcoming, family environment that both players and staff enjoy.

    “We have real competition in the goalkeeping, defensive and forward areas now. We are working hard on central midfield targets and hope to announce some new additions soon.”

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    2016/17 squad numbers confirmed

    Squad numbers for the forthcoming 2016/17 season have been confirmed.

    These numbers are subject to change should players arrive or depart.

    The list thus far reads:

    1. Craig SAMSON (GK)
    2. Richard TAIT
    3. Stevie HAMMELL
    4. Ben HENEGHAN
    5. Louis LAING
    6. Stephen McMANUS
    7. Lionel AINSWORTH
    8.
    9. Louis MOULT
    11. Marvin JOHNSON
    12. Chris CADDEN
    13. Dean BRILL (GK)
    14. Keith LASLEY
    15. Joe CHALMERS
    16. Kieran KENNEDY
    17.
    18. Josh LAW
    19. Jacob BLYTH
    20.
    21.
    22. Craig MOORE
    23. Dom THOMAS
    24.
    25. David FERGUSON
    26. Allan CAMPBELL
    27. Ross MacLEAN
    28. Luke WATT
    29. Dylan MACKIN
    30. Jack McMILLAN
    31. Josh STACHINI
    32. David TURNBULL
    33. Barry MAGUIRE
    34. Jake HASTIE
    35. Dylan FALCONER
    36. Ryan WATTERS
    37. Jordan ARMSTRONG
    38. James SCOTT
    39.
    40.
    41. Peter MORRISON (GK)
    42. Josh MOORE
    43. Adam LIVINGSTONE

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    Pearson departs for India

    Motherwell FC can today confirm it has reluctantly allowed midfielder Stephen Pearson to join Indian Super League side Atlético de Kolkata.

    Lanark-born Pearson, who turns 34 in October, was under contract until next May, and as such, the club have been compensated for releasing him.

    Two long-term injuries (knee and rib) restricted the influential former Scotland International to 28 appearances in all competitions last term, pitching in with an important ten goals (eight in the SPFL Premiership and two against Cove Rangers in the Scottish Cup).

    Pearson will join the ISL side, who are owned and are a franchise of La Liga outfit Atlético de Madrid, for their four-month 2016 season that runs between September and December.

    ‘Well boss Mark McGhee said: “We are desperately disappointed to lose Stephen, but we’ve known for some time now that this move was on the cards.

    [pullquote]It was very much our first option that the player remained at Motherwell, but when we spoke with Pearo it was clear he really wanted to go over there.[/pullquote]

    “There was absolutely no fall out, it was all extremely amicable, and we understand his personal circumstances. He leaves with the best wishes of everyone at Motherwell FC.

    “However, it was then incumbent upon us to try and recoup something to help us find someone else, and that’s what we’ve done. We have been and are engaged in trying to secure a replacement and the midfield area is our priority.”

    Pearson added: “This was something I was really keen to do and I want to thank everyone at Motherwell for the way they’ve handled this.

    “It’s with a heavy heart that I go, but at the same time, I am confident the club is in decent shape, with a very good manager and some exciting young talent bubbling under the surface waiting to get their chance, alongside the excellent senior professionals already there.

    “I’ve enjoyed my second spell at Fir Park; I want to thank the fans for all their support and who knows, one day I may be back for another go at it.”