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    Motorpoint Player of the Month: September

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    Celtic: A closer look

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    McGhee: Ready for “massive challenge”

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    McManus: Anything can happen

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    True Steelman: Davie Cooper

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    Pre-order ’91 Cup winning scarves

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    Beaton in charge at Parkhead

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    TV: Highlights from Excelsior Stadium

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    Craigan: Pushing for consistency

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    Motherwell U20s 4 – 0 Dunfermline U20s

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    Motorpoint Player of the Month: September

    Motorpoint’s Player of the Month award was presented to Louis Moult this afternoon, after the striker won the fans vote for his performances in September.

    And it was a successful month for the forward – with five goals to his name including a historic four goal haul in the Lanarkshire derby.

    Moult was presented the award by Motorpoint’s Jason Livingstone earlier today.

    The 24-year-old striker said: “It feels good but first and foremost it was just great to get back playing and get back fit again. I managed to score a few goals this month which was an added bonus for myself.”

    He added: “It makes a difference knowing that it’s a fan voted poll too and they’ve been absolutely brilliant from the day I joined the club, so yes I’m really enjoying my football at the moment.

    “Looking ahead, hopefully I can manage to keep playing the way I am and maybe even better my four goals in one game record, that would be nice.”

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    Celtic: A closer look

    The Steelmen travel to Parkhead on Saturday to face table-topping Celtic in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

    And after suffering a 3-1 home defeat against Hearts two weeks ago, the Fir Parkers will be keen to returning to winning ways.

    But it will be a tough fixture, with Saturday’s opponents in fine form and four points clear at the summit of the Premiership with a game in hand.

    Brendan Rodgers has earned his fair share of plaudits for the job he’s done since arriving at Celtic, qualifying for the Champions League group stages and following that up with an impressive and exciting 3-3 draw with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

    But the Fir Parkers know fine well that results can go either way at Parkhead, after registering both a 2-1 victory and a 7-0 defeat against the Scottish Champions on their patch last season.

    McGhee will be without Carl McHugh, who is still returning to fitness after suffering from a concussion, and Joe Chalmers, who could face up to six weeks out with a groin injury.

    But the manager will be boosted by the return of Jacob Blyth and Kieran Kennedy, who have both got game time under their belts recently for the U20s, giving the manager some extra options for the bench. There is also the added bonus of the form of Stephen Craigan’s U20s, with youngsters like Ross MacLean, Dylan Mackin and Jake Hastie all staking a claim for a call-up to the first team.

    The two sides have already met at Parkhead this season, when Celtic won 5-0 in the Betfred League Cup, and manager Mark McGhee believes that his side have to become harder to break down, starting on Saturday.

    He said: “We’ve got to go there and we’ve got to find a way of making ourselves more difficult to beat, so if we do lose then it has to be better than in the two previous games.

    “We can also have a little bit in mind that we went there and won last season too, so who knows, but we do understand the difficulty of the task.”

    He added: “Celtic have a bench now where recently Leigh Griffiths hasn’t been getting game time and any team in the league would jump at the chance of having him.

    “I said to Leigh the other night when he went on for Scotland to go and get us a couple of goals but then tweak a wee hamstring, but then he said ‘you don’t need to worry about me you need to handle Moussa’.

    “I have no idea what their budget is but I’d say it’s at least ten times what ours is, so they have a better opportunity to be better than us. But that was the same case last season too and we went there and won, so we have to cling to that.”

     

    Ex-Celtic captain Stephen McManus returns to face his former side on Saturday and admits that the obvious difference about the Hoops under Brendan Rodgers is their intensity.

    But the 34-year-old believes the Fir Parkers have had a good break in terms of preparation ahead of Saturday’s league match.

    And while the defender admits the trip to Parkhead is a difficult one, he also believes that Motherwell can get something from the game.

    McManus said: “We had a good week, obviously the manager was away but Faddy took training which was good.

    “We had a tough, high intensity week which was just to get our head right for the big game on Saturday – a hard game against Celtic – so everything was getting geared up for that really.”

    He added: “It’s been a good break for us and Saturday is going to be a difficult one for us, but at the same time we have nothing to lose.

    “You kind of base it on the last two games that you play against teams and those are the last game of last season and the cup match this season.”

    But despite suffering two heavy defeats on these occasions, the 34-year-old felt there was a different atmosphere and feel between the two matches.

    He said: “The one on the last game of the season for our players it was the last game but for Celtic they were in a party mood.

    “For us not a lot was riding on the match and that gave Celtic the ability to play on the front foot and for us it was a case of once the game’s done, the season is done and it’s been a long hard season, so I don’t think we were properly at it that day.”

    [pullquote]We have nothing to lose. We can go there and play with freedom, be relaxed and of course you need to be very well organised, which hopefully we will be on Saturday.[/pullquote]

    Under Brendan Rodgers, McManus admits Celtic are hitting a higher level.

    He said: “We then played against them in the cup and our boys were at it 100% but we couldn’t get near Celtic that night.

    “They were moving the ball at a tempo, they were passing it to hurt you, they were looking to penetrate and they were keeping possession to score goals. I think there’s a big, big difference this season and it’s clear for everyone to see.”

    But that doesn’t change anything for Mark McGhee’s side, and the experienced ex-Celtic defender knows that on the day, anything can happen.

    He said: “We have nothing to lose. We can go there and play with freedom, be relaxed and of course you need to be very well organised, which hopefully we will be on Saturday.

    “We’ll give it our best shot  and on the day anything can happen. We know how difficult it’s going to be but we certainly believe we can get something out of the game.”

     

    Celtic come in to Saturday’s match undefeated in the league and in the middle of a five game unbeaten run in all competitions.

    Scoring freely under new manager Brendan Rodgers, the Parkhead outfit look every bit like the league favourites they are tipped to be, registering some impressive victories including a 6-1 victory over Kilmarnock as well as 5-1 and 4-1 victories over Rangers and Aberdeen respectively.

    Summer signing Moussa Dembele has slotted in to Rodgers team with ease so far this season and is the Northern Irishman’s main source of goals.

    The French forward has bagged 12 in 17 appearances this season, including a hat-trick in the Old Firm victory and a brace against Manchester City.

    One of the threats Celtic possess is their strength in depth, with last seasons top scorer Leigh Griffiths limited to 246 minutes of action in the league so far, compared to Dembele’s 492 minutes.

    Then there are players like Patrick Roberts, Stuart Armstrong, Gary Mackay-Steven and Kris Commons who have all seen their game time limited due to the form of James Forrest, Scott Sinclair and Tom Rogic.

    But Saturday’s opponents will come in to the match knowing that the last time they lost a home league game at Parkhead was against the Steelmen last season, when a Louis Moult brace brought the Fir Parkers from behind to beat Ronny Deila’s Celtic 2-1 on their own patch.

    A narrow 1-0 victory over Dundee two weeks ago and a 2-2 draw with Inverness suggest Rodgers Celtic side have struggled to hit the same free scoring form they have found at home this term.

    And of all the teams to have faced them at Parkhead, Alloa Athletic have boasted the best scoreline, a 2-0 defeat which took late strikes from James Forrest and Moussa Dembele to progress in the League Cup.

    Saturday’s opposition could be without right-back Mikael Lustig, who picked up a knock on international duty which saw him miss Sweden’s clash with Bulgaria.

    But other than that, manager Brendan Rodgers will have a full strength side to pick from.

    It makes for an interesting encounter this weekend, and one that Motherwell fans will be hoping will be a different scoreline from the last two visits to Glasgow.

     

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    McGhee: Ready for “massive challenge”

    ‘Well boss Mark McGhee feels his side need to become harder to beat when they travel to Parkhead on Saturday.

    And while the club have enjoyed good results there as recently as last season, the Fir Parkers boss admits Celtic will be a “massive challenge”.

    Speaking to the press this morning, McGhee said: “We play Celtic on Saturday and we lost seven goals on the last game of last season, we’ve lost five already this season so we’ve got a massive challenge ahead of us.

    “We went there last season and won but it was a different Celtic mentality that was afoot then.”

    He added: “I said it after we lost in the League Cup there that a lot of teams will lose a few goals there this season, and I think the average is about five, so in that sense we haven’t done too bad.

    [pullquote]We’ve got to go there and we’ve got to find a way of making ourselves more difficult to beat, so if we do lose then it has to be better than in the two games that I’ve mentioned.[/pullquote]

    “Equally we saw Celtic go to Barcelona and lose seven so that was a lesson to them that there can be a difference in teams, even at their level.”

    Having lost heavily in the league cup in August, the manager insists that becoming harder to beat is a must for his side.

    He said: “We’ve got to go there and we’ve got to find a way of making ourselves more difficult to beat, so if we do lose then it has to be better than in the two games that I’ve mentioned.

    “We can also have a little bit in mind that we went there and won last season too, so who knows, but we do understand the difficulty of the task.”

    When asked if he felt the gap was growing between Celtic and the contenders in the league, McGhee admitted a gap is to be expected, but when it comes down to Saturday, anything can happen.

    [pullquote]Celtic have a bench now where recently Leigh Griffiths hasn’t been getting game time and any of us would jump at the chance of having Leigh Griffiths.[/pullquote]

    He said: “Celtic have a bench now where recently Leigh Griffiths hasn’t been getting game time and any of us would jump at the chance of having Leigh Griffiths.

    “I said to Leigh the other night when he went on to go and get us a couple of goals but then tweak a wee hamstring, but then he said ‘you don’t need to worry about me you need to handle Moussa’.”

    He added: “I have no idea what their budget is but I’d say it’s at least ten times what ours is, so they have a better opportunity to be better than us.

    “But that was the same case last season too and we went there and won, so we have to cling to that.”

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    McManus: Anything can happen

    Stephen McManus believes the Fir Parkers have had a good break in terms of preparation ahead of Saturday’s clash with Celtic.

    And while the defender admits the trip to Parkhead is a difficult one, he also believes that the club can get something from the game.

    Speaking to the press this morning, McManus said: “We had a good week, obviously the manager was away but Faddy took training which was good.

    “We had a tough, high intensity week which was just to get our head right for the big game on Saturday – a hard game against Celtic – so everything was getting geared up for that really.”

    He added: “It’s been a good break for us and Saturday is going to be a difficult one for us, but at the same time we have nothing to lose.

    [pullquote]It’s been a good break for us and Saturday is going to be a difficult one for us, but at the same time we have nothing to lose.[/pullquote]

    “You kind of base it on the last two games that you play against teams and those are the last game of last season and the cup match this season.”

    But despite suffering two heavy defeats on these occasions, the 34-year-old felt there was a different atmosphere and feel between the two matches.

    He said: “The one on the last game of the season for our players it was the last game but for Celtic they were in a party mood.

    “For us not a lot was riding on the match and that gave Celtic the ability to play on the front foot and for us it was a case of once the game’s done, the season is done and it’s been a long hard season, so I don’t think we were properly at it that day.”

    Under Brendan Rodgers, McManus admits Celtic are hitting a higher level.

    [pullquote]We’ll give it our best shot and on the day anything can happen. We know how difficult it’s going to be but we certainly believe we can get something out of the game.[/pullquote]

    He said: “We then played against them in the cup and our boys were at it 100% but we couldn’t get near Celtic that night.

    “They were moving the ball at a tempo, they were passing it to hurt you, they were looking to penetrate and they were keeping possession to score goals. I think there’s a big, big difference this season and it’s clear for everyone to see.”

    But that doesn’t change anything for Mark McGhee’s side, and the experienced ex-Celtic defender knows that on the day, anything can happen.

    He said: “We have nothing to lose. We can go there and play with freedom, be relaxed and of course you need to be very well organised, which hopefully we will be on Saturday.

    “We’ll give it our best shot and on the day anything can happen. We know how difficult it’s going to be but we certainly believe we can get something out of the game.”

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    True Steelman: Davie Cooper

    In many supporters eyes the transfer fee paid to secure the services of Davie Cooper was the best piece of business Tommy McLean ever did as Motherwell manager. 

    Signed in August 1989 the wing wizard joined Motherwell from Rangers for a mere £50,000 and his influence quickly helped the club progress to the next level.

    Having been a bit part figure in the latter part of his time with Rangers in some quarters the signing was viewed as something of gamble but Davie found himself revitalised at Fir Park. ‘Well fans marvelled at the displays Cooper and his team-mates produced and with a new found belief Motherwell registered wins against both halves of the Old Firm and topped the table for the first time in decades following a memorable win against his old side Rangers.

    In that first season at the club Cooper helped the Steelmen come within a whisker of European football and his form so impressive he regained his place in the Scotland squad after an absence of more than two years.

    Indeed, barring injury, he would also have been part of the Scotland squad that travelled to the 1990 World Cup Finals in Italy.

    The club continued to progress the following season culminating in winning the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1952 and in doing so allowed Coop to fulfil a lifetime’s ambition in celebrating a Cup win in an open-top bus.

    After more than 150 league appearances and having assisted so much in the development of countless Motherwell players, perhaps most notably attack minded full-backs such as Tom Boyd and Rob McKinnon, Cooper returned to his first club Clydebank in late 1993 on a free transfer.

    As is often the case fate would have it that he’d have one last match at Fir Park when ‘Well drew Clydebank in the League Cup where of course he was given a wonderful reception.

    In March 1995 when filming a TV show aimed at developing the talents of future generations, Cooper tragically passed away aged just 39 after suffering a a brain haemorrhage. Motherwell FC moved quickly to mark his passing renaming the newly built North Stand, the Davie Cooper Stand, in his memory.

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    Pre-order ’91 Cup winning scarves

    Our limited-edition 1991 commemorative tartan scarf is available again and you can pre-order yours now.

    The first batch completely sold out but by placing your order now, you can receive this fantastic memento, made to celebrate the 25th anniversary scarf of that glorious day in May, in time for Christmas.

    The scarves are 100% lambs wool and are fantastic quality, priced at £25.

    When you pre-order, we will issue you a voucher that can be redeemed when delivery of scarves arrive.

    Please contact the club directly on 01698 333333 or you can buy online from motherwellbuyonline.co.uk

    ‘Well fans should note there has been a delay with a recent order and production run to which the club apologises to those who currently hold a voucher but assure them these will be distributed shortly.

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    Beaton in charge at Parkhead

    Referee for Saturday’s Ladbrokes Premiership clash with Celtic at Parkhead is John Beaton.

    John will be handling his first Motherwell match of the campaign so far and took charge on three occasions last term.

    The first was 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.

    And the last time Beaton officiated a Motherwell match was the penultimate game of last season, when a brace from Stephen Pearson and a goal from skipper Keith Lasley secured all three points away to Ross County, as well as a fifth placed finish in the league.

    His overall record in charge of Motherwell matches reads five wins, three defeats and three draws from eleven matches. ‘Well have scored twenty-one and conceded fifteen.

    Thirty-seven players have gone into the book during those games, eighteen of them wearing Claret and Amber, with just two red cards: Joe Shaughnessy in a League Cup tie against Aberdeen in 2013/14 and Darryl Westlake last season, in a 1-1 draw with Killie at Fir Park.

    John will be ably assisted by Alastair Mather and Gary Hilland, with Kevin Graham on Fourth Official duties.

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    TV: Highlights from Excelsior Stadium

    Extended highlights from Excelsior Stadium as Dylan Mackin scores a hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Dunfermline U20s.

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    Craigan: Pushing for consistency

    Stephan Craigan insists he will keep pushing his players after they put in a brilliant performance to win 4-0 against Dunfermline.

    A hat-trick from Dylan Mackin and a strike from Jake Hastie secured all three points for the youngsters at the Excelsior Stadium.

    But it wasn’t all plain sailing for Craigan’s side, with both sides struggling to create too much in the opening 45 minutes.

    Speaking to MFC TV, Craigan explained that he expected changes from his side after the break.

    He said: “The message at half time was that we were taking too many negative touches and by that I mean our first touch was always back the way towards our goal.

    [pullquote]Once the goal goes in it opened them up a bit, the game opens up a bit in general and we have players that we feel can hurt people.[/pullquote]

    “We wanted to try and change that in the second half by having a positive touch by having a different body language and looking forward instead, but then if you can’t go forward that’s when you can then look back.”

    He added: “I just felt that early on they pressed us high and we couldn’t break their line of midfielders or get beyond them and because we were taking negative touches we couldn’t get that final ball in behind them.

    “The goal naturally changed things. Once the goal goes in it opened them up a bit, the game opens up a bit in general and we have players that we feel can hurt people.”

    The second half performance was up there with the best his side have played this season, the manager admitted.

    He said: “We deserved to win it tonight, even in the first half when we didn’t have as much threat we still looked like we could score goals.

    [pullquote]Even after a performance like this I’m going to keep pushing them. We’ll be back in on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday – we’ll get ourselves shaped up and we go again.[/pullquote]

    “But it’s just another building block – we scored four goals and got three points. Parts of our performance tonight were as good as it’s been this season. The first time we spoke back at the start of the season I mentioned consistency and players are doing that now, they’re putting in consistent performances, but its consistent performances at a high level, it’s not regular 6s or 7s, we’re getting 8s or 9s, and when you get that you’re always going to be a threat.”

    And even after such an emphatic result, the Northern Irishman insisted he wants more and more from his team.

    He said: “I’m pleased because I see what the boys do and what they’re trying to do but that’s also why I get frustrated and I told them this today. I see them in training and how good they are but then they can go in to games and be sloppy and give the ball away.

    “But even after a performance like this I’m going to keep pushing them. We’ll be back in on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday – we’ll get ourselves shaped up and we go again.”

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    Motherwell U20s 4 – 0 Dunfermline U20s

    Motherwell U20s returned to winning ways in emphatic style tonight, overcoming an experienced Dunfermline side 4-0 at the Excelsior stadium.

    And there were some spells of terrific football from the youngsters, who hit their stride in the second half and comfortably picked up three points thanks to a goal from Jake Hastie and a Dylan Mackin hat-trick.

    Manager Stephen Craigan named a young team, looking to extend his sides unbeaten run to five matches, with David Ferguson the only over-aged player in the starting eleven.

    Visitors Dunfermline, on the other hand, had five first-team players included in their squad, in the shapes of Richards-Everton, Fordyce, Hopkirk, Weddeburn and Hutton.

    And it was David Hopkirk who had the first shot on goal of the night, arriving in the fifth minute, but it deflected kindly in to the arms of PJ Morrison and never troubled the young stopper.

    Down the other end, Jordan Armstrong – starting on the left of the back four – won the Steelmen a corner after eight minutes when the youngster played a delicate through ball towards Mackin, forcing Richards-Everton to turn it behind. From the following delivery, David Ferguson rose well but couldn’t get on the end of Tom Fry’s cross.

    It took nearly half an hour for the first real opportunity of the game to arise, when Mackin slipped in Jake Hastie in the 28th minute, with the winger lacing a left-footed shot at goal from quite a tricky angle. David Hutton got a good hand to the ball to push it away and keep the game goalless.

    A few minutes later and a sandwich between a number of players resulted in a free kick for the visitors just outside the Motherwell box. Hopkirk stepped up but his curled effort was wayward and soared comfortably over the bar.

    A number of neat interchanges nearly led to a brilliant goal for Motherwell with just over ten minutes left in the half. MacLean’s dinked effort would have been the final touch to a fantastic team goal, but it was off target.

    Hutton produced another good save in the 41st minute of the match, getting down low to deny Jake Hastie yet again. On the rebound, Dylan Mackin had an opportunity to test Hutton once more but the big forward struck high and wide.

    It was level going in to the break, with neither side really doing too much to deserve a lead but Motherwell edging the match in terms of chances.

    In stark contrast to the first 45 minutes, it took just five minutes for there to be a real opportunity, with Jake Hastie being fouled clumsily in the box by Richards-Everton in the 50th minute and the referee awarding a penalty. Hutton did well to save the penalty but Mackin was on hand to nod home the rebound and give Craigan’s side the lead.

    And just minutes later it was 2-0. Jake Hastie surged forward on the break, avoiding a couple of challenges to get his cross-field ball away towards MacLean. What seemed like a good interception to stop Hastie’s pass turned out differently for Dunfermline, with Dylan Mackin stepping up to thunder a first-time left-footed rocket low and hard past the helpless Hutton.

    Jake Hastie, looking as lively as ever, was inches away from adding a third for the ‘Well, twisting and turning and getting away from Richards-Everton with ease, before sending a terrific effort narrowly wide of the post.

    In the 67th minute, it looked like it was three for the hosts. A Tom Fry free kick was flicked on by Dylan Mackin towards MacLean at the back post who side footed from close range past Hutton, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag.

    But before long it actually was three, and it was a terrific goal too. Ross MacLean collected the ball out on the right, skipping past a challenge and threading an inch-perfect diagonal through ball into the path of Jake Hastie who was cutting in from the left flank and rifled high past Hutton in to the top corner.

    Substitute Ciaran Lafferty looked like he was going to pull one back for Dunfermline but his effort from just inside the box was over the crossbar and the Steelmen remained three goals ahead.

    And then came Stephen Craigan’s first change of the night, replacing Tom Fry with Dylan Falconer in the 76th minute.

    Three minutes later and it was time for Jake Hastie to leave the park. The youngster was replaced by James Scott after a stunning performance.

    With just under ten minutes remaining, Dylan Mackin grabbed his third of the night and his side’s fourth. Falconer fed MacLean the ball out on the right and the midfielder looked up, curled a great ball on to the head of Dylan Mackin who had a simple header to complete his hattrick.

    Ryan Watters made his return from a long injury lay-off, replacing hat-trick hero Mackin with eighth minutes left.

    And the Steelmen saw out the game keeping their clean sheet intact. A brilliant second half performance and a deserved win which see’s Craigan’s side remain second in the Development League table, just one point off leaders Ross County.

     

    Motherwell: Morrison, McMillan, Ferguson, Maguire, Armstrong, Campbell, Fry (Falconer ’76), Turnbull, Hastie (Scott ’79), MacLean, Mackin (Watters ‘ 82)

    Unused subs: Trialist, Watt, Livingstone

    Dunfermline: Hutton, Duncan, Duthie, Richards-Everton, Fordyce, Horne (Galloway ’65), Lochhead (Crawford ’71), Wedderburn, Smith, Hopkirk, Luke (Lafferty ’65)

    Unused subs: Dunn, Morrison, McLair