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    McGhee: Expecting Dundee at their best

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    Heneghan: Got to be at our best

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    Motherwell FC will remember

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    Cadden signs contract extension

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    Last time at Dens Park

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    Beaton in charge at Dens Park

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    True Steelman: John Gahagan

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    TV: Highlights from Firhill

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    Craigan: What a great game

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    Partick Thistle U20s 1-2 Motherwell U20s

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    McGhee: Expecting Dundee at their best

    ‘Well boss Mark McGhee knows his side have to expect Dundee at their best on Saturday when his side travel to Dens Park.

    With mixed results in recent weeks, the manager is well aware that any side in the league can play well or poorly on the day.

    Speaking to the press this morning, McGhee admitted it was hugely important to bounce back to winning ways against Ross County and hopes the run can continue into the weekend.

    He said: “We played well against Hearts, we played well against Celtic but we didn’t get good results of course – but because of the nature of the opposition it tends not to affect your confidence quite as much.

    “The Inverness game was neck and neck until the last half hour where it was like a balloon was popped and that was hugely disappointing, so it was just making sure that we were a bit more robust than that mentally against Ross County. We started the game really, really well then we got the first goal which was very important.”

    [pullquote]We’ve got to go in to every game thinking whoever we’re playing will play well, that they’re capable of it and that day they will play well – that way we won’t be taken by surprise.[/pullquote]

    He added: “It wasn’t too long between the matches, it was only a couple of days so it wasn’t like a week or it wasn’t the international break and we had two weeks to fester, it was a case of getting in the next day and knowing that we were better than that, let’s get up to training, let’s get on with it, get together again and go out and batter, to the best of our ability, Ross County.”

    Dundee currently sit bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership on nine points, but a win on Saturday could lift them to ninth.

    McGhee said: “Dundee aren’t any different to the rest of us in this league, I’ve seen Dundee play poorly but I’ve seen them play well, I’ve seen the same with Inverness, Ross County, Partick Thistle.

    “We’ve got to go in to every game thinking whoever we’re playing will play well, that they’re capable of it and that day they will play well – that way we won’t be taken by surprise. Dundee have that in them, they’re at home and the first goal is really important I feel.”

    [pullquote]When I came here a year ago he was the one I targeted and he’s done everything I’ve asked of him. We’re delighted with him, I’m delighted for him and we’re starting to see him develop on and off the pitch.[/pullquote]

    On the day Chris Cadden penned a new deal with the club, Mark McGhee expressed his delight at securing the star’s future until 2019.

    He said: “It’s thoroughly deserved. He signed a contract back in March and he deserves a new deal – he’s playing every week, he’s starting most weeks and he’s applying himself.

    “When I came here a year ago he was the one I targeted and he’s done everything I’ve asked of him. We’re delighted with him, I’m delighted for him and we’re starting to see him develop on and off the pitch.”

    He added: “He’s just got to keep improving cause I still think there’s aspects of his play that he can work really hard on. At the moment he’s most effective on the outside but I still think he can develop his game in a 360 degree basis and play in the centre of the park where I think he could be a great asset.

    “He needs to add some goals, he’s got goal potential and I see that every day in training, but he’s still young and he’s still working at it and he’s still developing so I’m sure he’ll keep improving.”

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    Heneghan: Got to be at our best

    ‘Well defender Ben Heneghan insists it is important to get another big three points on the board this weekend.

    The Steelmen travel to Dens Park for a clash with bottom of the table Dundee, but Ben is well aware of the difficulty of the task at hand.

    Speaking to the press this morning, the 23-year-old admitted the squad need to keep their momentum going following the 4-1 win over Ross County last weekend.

    He said: “I think the team played really well on Saturday, it was a positive result and we need to build on that.

    “Obviously we know we’ve got to start getting the points on the board and a positive result on Saturday will hopefully push us on.

    [pullquote]Obviously we know we’ve got to start getting the points on the board and a positive result on Saturday will hopefully push us on.[/pullquote]

    “To be honest I think it was just the second half against Inverness where we were really poor, but we built on it on Saturday with a good performance.”

    He added: “Cadds and Lionel did really well and Lee coming in I thought he was class. I think it helped having wingers on either side, for my personal performance I like having a winger on either side but we play like the manager says and it was a positive result – that’s what matters.

    “After a loss everyone’s head goes a bit but you just know that the next game is around the corner and you have to build on it – the next day you’re in training, you’re getting ready for that next game and we done it right and it showed.”

    [pullquote]Dundee are not going to be an easy game so we’ve got to bring our A-game, be the best we can be, take it to them, win the game and hopefully have a nice break.[/pullquote]

    Despite Dundee’s position in the table, the English defender knows it is important for everyone to be at their best.

    He said: “We need the three points on Saturday, Dundee are not going to be an easy game so we’ve got to bring our A-game, be the best we can be, take it to them, win the game and hopefully have a nice break.

    “We’ve had a few not so good results, but you’ve just got to build on it. There’s only 12 teams in the league so it’s very close – Celtic are obviously up there but everyone else is still fighting for it so we just have to focus on the three points.”

    The change in pace is something Ben admits he is still adjusting to. He said: “There’s been a lot of breaks, I’m not used to it to be honest I’m used to Saturday-Tuesday every week but it’s good for recovery and you can get a bit more training in as well so I’ll take the positives from it.”

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    Motherwell FC will remember

    As we do every season, Motherwell FC will commemorate Remembrance Day by wearing special poppy shirts against Dundee on Saturday.

    The Steelmen have a close relationship with the Armed Forces and in particular The Royal Regiment of Scotland (both 1 & 2 SCOTS) who receive 30 season tickets for soldiers in Scotland and four season tickets for each of the soldier’s families.

    Although the poppy has been the subject of much debate over the last week, the club choose to wear one every November simply out of respect to anyone who has made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty anywhere across the world.

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    Cadden signs contract extension

    Motherwell FC is today delighted to confirm Scotland U21 star Chris Cadden has extended his contract at the club.

    Cadden, 20, has been a tremendous performer for Mark McGhee’s side since cementing a regular place in the starting eleven almost one year ago.

    Since then, the Academy Graduate has gone from strength to strength and has agreed to extend his deal until the summer of 2019.

    Speaking on his new contract, Cadden said: “I am so pleased to have this all sorted now.

    “I am more than happy to stay and continue to develop at Motherwell, a club I’ve been involved with for almost all my life.

    [pullquote]“I want to work hard for the team, the club, the supporters and also for the manager, who I am indebted to for giving me a chance and believing in me.”[/pullquote]

    ‘Well boss Mark McGhee added: “Chris has performed unbelievably well and has shown an outstanding level of consistency for such a young player.

    “Not only that, he’s imposing himself on games and is one of the most dangerous and explosive attacking forces in the division. You need only look at last Saturday’s game to see the sort of impact he can make.

    “We’re delighted he has agreed to extend his stay with us and we will continue to try and develop him both personally and professionally.”

    Chief Operating Officer Alan Burrows commented: “We have worked on this extension almost from the day the Summer Transfer Window closed, as we recognise what an asset Chris is to the club.

    “His new deal rewards Chris for his performances, but also protects the club.

    “His rise from the Academy to first-team regular epitomises the direction of travel at Motherwell and is very much our model going forward.

    “Everyone at Fir Park will work hard to ensure there are more young players who go on the same journey with hopefully similar success.”

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    Last time at Dens Park

    Motherwell take on Dundee this weekend in the Ladbrokes Premiership, looking to follow up on an impressive 4-1 victory over Ross County last weekend.

    We take a look at the last time the Steelmen travelled to Dens Park ahead of the second clash between the two sides in the league this season, following the goalless draw at Fir Park in late August.

    A highly controversial 88th minute penalty denied Motherwell all three points back in January when the ‘Well made the trip north.

    But it was also the afternoon when Chris Cadden scored his first goal for the Fir Parkers.

    Having raced into a 1-2 half-time advantage thanks to goals from Chris Cadden and Stephen Pearson either side of Paul McGowan’s close-range strike, the Steelmen failed to add to their lead and were punished with just minutes remaining.

    The Dark Blues went all the second half without really testing Connor Ripley’s goal and it looked as if the Steelmen were going to hold on for what would’ve been a big three points.

    However, with just two minutes left, match official John Beaton, who takes control again on Saturday, harshly awarded a penalty when Cadden and Kevin Holt both tangled for the ball. Kane Hemmings was in no mood for mercy, coolly slotting home the resulting kick to earn his side a share of the spoils.

    Marvin Johnson’s cross from the left missed everyone and landed at the feet of Cadden who took a good touch before volleying home his first ever goal for the Fir Parkers high past Bain.

    Unfortunately, ‘Well couldn’t hold their lead for long as Paul Hartley’s side hit back inside two minutes. Great play by Greg Stewart released McGowan in the inside right channel and after it held up perfectly in the wind, he controlled the pass before hooking the ball home from a tight angle.

    Motherwell regained their composure and only a terrific Bain save denied Lasley after the skipper’s free-kick bounced through and almost into the net, but for the outstretched arm of the former Alloa stopper.

    Soon after that, and down the other end, Stewart went on a mazy run and crossed from the right for Rory Loy, but somehow his shot came back off of the underside of the bar from just a few yards.

    Then, in 13 minutes, Stewart was again involved with a darting run into the box, skipping by several Motherwell challenges, only to see his eventual shot saved by Ripley.

    It was end-to-end stuff and Motherwell twice almost got in front when McDonald found himself with the freedom of the six-yard box but his shot on the spin was straight at Bain.

    However, it was Pearson who eventually put the Steelmen back in front with another excellent goal in 23 minutes. The veteran midfielder burst through the Dundee defence, played a one-two with Moult, before drifting past Darren O’Dea and angling in his seventh goal of the campaign.

    Both teams created chances as the snow-ridden first half raged on. Bain had a stinging long-range shot that forced Ripley to turn over. At the other end, Moult’s curler looked to be sneaking into the corner, but again Bain scrambled across his goal to turn it around.

    The second half was dominated by Dundee but the visitors defended doggedly to limit their clear-cut chances while trying to hit on the counterattack.

    Harkins did go close to snatching an equaliser with a couple of typical flashes of skill, chipping over from right of the goal then volleying wide from the other side.

    For all Dundee had the ball, it was ‘Well who had the best chance. McDonald’s bursting run from midfield started the chance and when his slid ball found Pearson on the left, ‘Well were in at goal. When Pearson pulled it across goal, Moult slammed home for what he thought was his 14th of the campaign, but the assistant’s flag thwarted him.

    The game was heading for a finish when Dundee were afforded the chance to level in controversial circumstances. Moult had headed clear a Dundee corner with Cadden and Holt competing for the loose ball just inside the area. Incredibly, John Beaton pointed to the spot, much to the dismay of the Motherwell players. Cadden was even booked for the challenge.

    Kane Hemmings stood up to take it and slammed it hard down the middle with Ripley going to his right to earn his side a point.

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    Beaton in charge at Dens Park

    Referee for Saturday’s Ladbrokes Premiership clash with Dundee at Dens Park is John Beaton.

    John will be handling his second Motherwell match of the campaign so far – after overseeing the 2-0 loss at Parkhead last month – and took charge on three occasions last term.

    The first was a 2-2 draw with Dundee back in late January as the official takes charge of the same fixture this weekend. 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, four defeats and three draws from eleven matches. ‘Well have scored twenty-one and conceded seventeen.

    Fourty-one players have gone into the book during those games, twenty 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 Alan Mulvanny and Ross Haswell with Scott Millar on Fourth Official duties.

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    True Steelman: John Gahagan

    Winger John Gahagan was able to fulfil the dream that many Motherwell fans had as children, namely playing for the team he supported.

    Johnny had a false start in the senior game with Clydebank but after an impressive spell with Shettleston juniors joined Motherwell in 1979.

    His time at Fir Park lasted twelve seasons in total during which he served under Ally MacLeod, David Hay, Jock Wallace, Bobby Watson and Tommy McLean; a contribution that fully merited the testimonial he was awarded in 1990.

    John would help Motherwell to the First Division title on two occasions in 1981’82 and again in 1984’85. He was there for almost the full journey as the Steelmen rose from the First Division to become an established top flight side; and then pushed on to win silverware and secure European qualification.

    Better known for his creative wing play John was well capable of finding the net too and scored 38 times in 291 league games, a very respectable tally given  a remarkable number of John’s performances came as a substitute.

    It was on one such occasion as a sub his passion for the club was clear for all to see.  Warming up behind the goals as stand-in keeper Stevie Kirk saved a spot-kick at Tynecastle, Gahagan could be spotted leaping off the ground and celebrating as wildly as any fan behind the goal.

    If anyone in the Motherwell squad who posed for 1990’91 season team photo was deserving of a place in ‘Well folklore for winning the Scottish Cup it was Gahagan. Yet his contribution to Motherwell’s Cup run was actually as an opposition player, having moved on to Morton earlier in the season.  Netting an equaliser in the Scottish Cup Quarter Final replay Gahagan came as close as anyone to ending Motherwell’s Scottish Cup aspirations.

    After initially moving into coaching upon his retirement from playing Gahagan has become an after dinner speaker delighting and entertaining audiences every bit as much he did when playing for Motherwell.

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    TV: Highlights from Firhill

    Extended highlights from Firhill and goals from Jake Hastie and Dylan Mackin seal a 2-1 win for the young Steelmen over Partick Thistle.

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    Craigan: What a great game

    U20s manager Stephen Craigan was happy to see his side win 2-1 away from home against Partick Thistle tonight.

    But the Northern Irishman made sure to stress just how entertaining he thought the match was.

    Speaking to MFC TV after the match, the coach said: “First and foremost I want to say what a great game that was – I really, really enjoyed watching that tonight.

    [pullquote]We played Thistle in pre-season up at Dalziel Park and it was two young teams really opening up, really having a go and it was end-to-end and entertaining so I expected more of the same tonight.[/pullquote]

    “It’s easy to say that when you’ve won but we played Thistle in pre-season up at Dalziel Park and it was two young teams really opening up, really having a go and it was end-to-end and entertaining so I expected that tonight.”

    He added: “They can move the ball, they can hurt you, but most importantly I think for any neutral coming to watch that tonight they saw some great stuff from both sides – it was a great advert for U20s football.

    “I’m delighted in the end that we’ve come out with a 2-1 win and based on the number of chances we created I think we deserved it.”

    [pullquote]I think for any neutral coming to watch that tonight they saw some great stuff from both sides – it was a great advert for U20s football.[/pullquote]

    The U20s start their defence of the Scottish FA Youth Cup on Sunday morning, and Craigan admits he may be lighter in terms of options than normal.

    He said: “We’re a little bit short in numbers with Jack McMillan breaking into the first team and Ross MacLean being in and around the first team so they’ll likely not be available on Sunday.

    “That gives an opportunity for others to come in to the team and make a name for themselves.”

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    Partick Thistle U20s 1-2 Motherwell U20s

    Motherwell U20s returned to winning ways tonight after an impressive performance resulted in a 2-1 win over Partick Thistle.

    And it was an all the more impressive win under the floodlights at Firhill for the youngsters due to the form of the hosts, who occupied second spot in the Development League prior to kick-off.

    Stephen Craigan included five first-team players in his starting eleven but it was the youngsters who secured the points – as Jake Hastie and Dylan Mackin continued their fine goalscoring form.

    That being said, it was an all round impressive showing from Kieran Kennedy, Jacob Blyth, Dean Brill, Dom Thomas and David Ferguson, who all got some valuable minutes under their belts. The story of the match though was perhaps summed up by the fact that Thistle goalkeeper Conor Cullen was the best player on the park for the Jags.

    Straight from the first whistle it was clear that Dom Thomas was eager to continue on from the electric performance he put in against Ross County last week for the U20s. Bursting through the middle, the midfielder unleashed a powerful effort that forced a good save from Cullen early in the match.

    And it was another senior player who got involved early on and, in truth, should have given Motherwell the lead. Some superb footwork by Dylan Mackin on the left created the striker a yard to put in a pinpoint cross for Jacob Blyth, who was ever so slightly on the stretch, and headed over the bar from close range.

    Luckily, the miss wasn’t punished and just a minute later Jake Hastie opened the scoring. It would have been hard for the midfielder to miss and he was rewarded for his awareness and movement after Dylan Mackin’ low ball across the six-yard box was tapped home from all of three yards.

    Craigan’s side enjoyed the majority of possession and chances and before long had a two goal cushion. Dylan Mackin collected the ball 20 yards out and dribbling toward goal before blasting a powerful effort on goal leaving Partick stopper Cullen scrambling and unable to get a hand to it due to the power from the striker’s left foot.

    At the start of the second half, Partick changed shape and shifted to a back three which evidently pushed the home side forward. And it only took till the hour mark for Thistle to pull one back. Ian Stokes putting the finishing touch on a decent team move, leaving Brill unable to save at his near post.

    Sensing the shift of control slipping from his side’s grasp, Stephen Craigan decided to pull striker Jacob Blyth off and bring on defender Luke Watt – and it was a wise move from the Northern Irishman.

    Soon, the balance of the match looked to be back in the Steelmen’s favour and a number of good chances and a couple of wonder saves from Thistle keeper Conor Cullen kept the margain between the sides to just one.