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    Heneghan: Relishing the battles

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    McGhee: We’re feeling positive

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    Topps KICK Digital Trading Card App

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    True Steelman: Charlie Aitken

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    Madden in charge against Dons

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    TV: Highlights from Links Park

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    Craigan: Youngsters deserve credit

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    Aberdeen U20s 1 – 9 Motherwell U20s

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    Dons await ‘Well U20s

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    TV: Highlights from McDiarmid Park

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    Heneghan: Relishing the battles

    ‘Well defender Ben Heneghan is looking forward to finally facing up against Aberdeen for the first time tomorrow night.

    After the trip to Pittodrie ended after ten minutes of play due to floodlight failure earlier this month, tomorrow’s match is the first meeting between the two sides.

    And the 6ft 4in Motherwell centre-back is raring to go.

    Speaking to the press this morning, he said: “I heard there have been warns of high speed winds so hopefully the match won’t be called off yet again and we’ll finally play 90 minutes, so I’m looking forward to the game.”

    The defender believes that three points would be “massive” not only in terms of the league table, but also in terms of the confidence it would give the squad.

    [pullquote]We’ve shown what we can do, especially in the first half against Celtic when I think we were quality, so we’ve just got to carry on progressing, keep the momentum and play like that for the full games ahead.[/pullquote]

    He said: “We need the three points to be honest and it would be a nice early Christmas present for the club, but we’ve just got to play our best.

    “We’ve shown what we can do, especially in the first half against Celtic when I think we were quality, so we’ve just got to carry on progressing, keep the momentum and play like that for the full games ahead.”

    He added: “We’ve got to be at our best – there’s no doubt about it. We need to make this our fortress and keep all the clean sheets that we can.”

    Coming up against a new side is something Ben relishes, and he admits that as much as he’ll prepare, it all boils down to him making sure he wins his battles on the park.

    He said: “Apart from the ten minutes the other week, we’ll look at some video clips to prepare us but at the end of the day it’s just you against the man on the field so you just have to win your battles.

    [pullquote]I relish the challenges, especially against the sort of physical forwards Aberdeen have, that’s why I’m here, I look forward to the battles and hopefully I can come out on top.[/pullquote]

    “I relish the challenges, especially against the sort of physical forwards Aberdeen have, that’s why I’m here, I look forward to the battles and hopefully I can come out on top.”

    This season, his first in Scotland, the centre-back admits he has found it equally enjoyable and frustrating.

    He said: “It’s been good so far and I’m enjoying it. When it comes to points it’s been a bit frustrating, like losing the odd game or conceding late for a draw.

    “But like I said before we’ve just got to keep our momentum going and hopefully get clean sheets and get those three points on the board.

    “I’ll keep working hard over the break, train hard, keep my fitness up and come back the same way I left.”

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    McGhee: We’re feeling positive

    ‘Well boss Mark McGhee believes his side can be positive going in to tomorrow night’s match with Aberdeen.

    The Steelmen are currently two matches unbeaten in the Ladbrokes Premiership and the manager is confident ahead of the important league clash.

    Aberdeen are tangled in what appears to be a poor run due to the Dons high standards, but that isn’t something that McGhee refuses to read in to.

    Speaking to the press this morning, he said: “Even though it was only ten minutes, we got a flavour of it up there and we felt competitive so I think we’ll give them a good game.

    “They are no doubt one of the top four teams and will finish in the top four, so it will be a difficult game.

    “But we’re at home, generally we’ve been doing well at home so I think we can be positive going in to the game and we’ll do well.”

    He added: “I don’t really know about their difficulties – they lost against Ross County but they had a couple of draws too.

    [pullquote] We’ve just got to assume that they’ll be at their best, they have a great pitch to come here and play on so they will maybe be thinking that they can come here and get back their form but we have to make sure that they don’t.[/pullquote]

    “I’ve said it about us all, and it includes the top teams as well, but what happens in one game practically has no relevance on the next game. We can all go from winning one game to losing the next and so on and it will be no different for Aberdeen.

    “We’ve just got to assume that they’ll be at their best, they have a great pitch to come here and play on so they will maybe be thinking that they can come here and get back their form but we have to make sure that they don’t.”

    This is the third meeting between the clubs over the last few weeks, yet is the first league clash this season.

    Following the trip north earlier this month, which was cut short due to floodlight problems at Pittodrie, the two U20s sides met and Stephen Craigan’s youngsters caught wide spread attention when they stormed to a 1-9 victory up in Montrose on Tuesday night.

    McGhee insists the game plan will be different tomorrow compared with how he had set up his team for the match that was eventually abandoned.

    [pullquote] It will be hard to second guess how they will set up because once you go on what is deemed to be a poor run, you look to see how you can change it and that can mean personnel or shape.[/pullquote]

    He said: “It won’t be the same game plan as we had at Pittodrie when the game was abandoned.

    “It will be hard to second guess how they will set up because once you go on what is deemed to be a poor run, you look to see how you can change it and that can mean personnel or shape.”

    He added: “With the way we set up there a few weeks back they’ll maybe not be sure how we’ll line up tomorrow night either.”

    And on the phenomenal 9-1 victory over Aberdeen U20s midweek, the manager said: “We just wish we’d all been there, and the pleasing thing with the result is the fact there were no overage players playing, and in fact the two senior members of that squad – Jack McMillan and Ross MacLean weren’t playing either.

    “So from that point of view I think that shows you the good work that’s going on in terms of recruitment, development and the work that Stephen Craigan is doing – really a good job.”

    He added: “A couple of those youngsters have been included and been on the bench, I don’t think that they’re quite ready but I think our introduction of these players to the team has to be incremental.”

    “We have to just dip out toes in the water and for us to make up the numbers for the squad on any given Saturday, it relies on a percentage of those boys so they will get their chances.”

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    Topps KICK Digital Trading Card App

    Topps has officially added the Scottish Professional Football League to its arsenal of leagues in Topps KICK® 2017 app.

    For the first time, SPFL fans can collect and trade digital cards featuring all the top stars including the likes of Motherwell’s Scott McDonald, Craig Clay, and Richard Tait, and all their Scottish Premiership opponents.

    Topps will be producing uniquely designed digital cards of Scottish Premiership players in KICK 2017, the only real-world, real-time soccer trading card app. There is new and exciting content released daily, featuring players from every club in the Scottish Premiership, Premier League, Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and Major League Soccer (MLS).

    This year Topps KICK 2017 has introduced innovative features such as Topps Card Exchange, where fans can trade-in and upgrade cards instantly with or without the need for a trading partner. The latest updates in Topps KICK also include player experience levels to help sports fans keep track of their progress and compare their collection, trading, and accomplishments with fellow fans in an active and competitive online community.

    KICK also captures the most memorable moments to be swapped and collected from a roster of football greats both past and present. Fans have already collected more than 1.5 billion cards in KICK and opened more than 250 million packs.

    Topps KICK 2017 is available for free on the App store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and in the Google Play Store for Android devices.

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    True Steelman: Charlie Aitken

    A one club man, Charlie Aitken served the Steelmen for 17 years and was one of the finest players to wear the claret and amber.

    Signed in 1949 from Arniston Rangers, Charlie was just seventeen when brought to the club by George Stevenson.

    It was in April 1951 he broke through into the ‘Well first team and made a goal-scoring debut in a 3-1 loss to Celtic at Parkhead.

    Aitken’s career was interrupted for a time as he undertook two years of national service but following his return he helped help Motherwell to the 1954 League Cup Final where the Gorgie side ran out 4-2 victors.

    Having converted from inside-forward to wing-half Charlie came into his own as Bobby Ancell’s ‘Ancell Babes’ caught the imagination of the Scottish football public.

    An instantly recognisable figure thanks to his flowing golden locks, Aitken was a key component of Ancell’s side and was respected by his peers as a terrific all round footballer.  Tigerish in the tackle and a superb passer he was  also greatly feared by defenders for his prowess in the air.

    Charlie was the recipient of just a single booking throughout his whole career, a fact that rankled with him as he protested his innocence and insisted referee ‘Tiny’ Wharton had erred in issuing the single black mark.

    Charlie played his final competitive game for Motherwell in February 1966 against St Johnstone and his long service was rewarded with a Testimonial Match a year, a measure of the esteem in which he was held, given the rarity of such matches at that point in time.

    Surely deserving of greater recognition internationally Charlie did gain one Scotland B cap and two Scottish League caps.

    Aged 75, Charlie passed away in January 2008.

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    Madden in charge against Dons

    The referee for Friday night’s Ladbrokes Premiership clash with Aberdeen is Bobby Madden.

    The match will be Bobby’s second in charge of the Steelmen this campaign – after the 38-year-old took charge of the 3-0 loss away to Hearts last month.

    The referee took charge on five occasions last term too.

    The first was the second game of the season and the first at Fir Park which ended in a disappointing 2-0 loss to Dundee United.

    The official then took charge of a further four matches in the 2015/16 season – all away from home.

    The second match Madden oversaw was a 1-0 win against Kilmarnock, when a late strike from Louis Moult secured all three points for the Fir Parkers.

    The ‘Well met Madden next at Celtic Park, on a memorable day for Mark McGhee’s men. Nir Bitton gave Celtic the lead before Moult equalised and then fired Motherwell in to the lead from the penalty spot.

    The English striker enjoys scoring when Madden is in charge, as he bagged another goal the next time the Scot was in charge. His strike away to St Johnstone wasn’t enough for the Steelmen though, as the hosts won 2-1.

    The last time Madden officiated a ‘Well match though ended with a disappointing 4-1 loss against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

    His overall record in charge of the Steelmen reads six wins; twelve defeats and one draw from nineteen games. The Fir Parkers have netted 25 times, and conceded 39. In those nineteen games, he has booked 50 players, 24 of those cautions flashed at players wearing Claret and Amber.

    Three players have been sent for an early shower, Anthony Stokes for a lunging tackle on Keith Lasley at Celtic Park last season, Stuart Carswell – who came off the bench against Partick and picked up two yellows – and Keith Lasley in the last match Madden was in charge for, after the skipper picked up a late red card for a late challenge on Kenny McLean.

    Bobby will be ably assisted by Willie Conquer and Jordan Stokoe, with Nick Walsh on Fourth Official duties.

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    TV: Highlights from Links Park

    Extended highlights from Links Park as the Under 20s thrash Aberdeen 1-9 with goals from Falconer, Mackin, Watt (2), Hastie (2), Campbell, Armstong and  Scott.

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    Craigan: Youngsters deserve credit

    U20s boss Stephen Craigan admitted that he urges his players to be “relentless in their pursuit of success” after he watched his side storm to a 1-9 victory away to Aberdeen.

    And despite all his hard work with the youngsters, the Northern Irishman insisted his players deserve the credit.

    Speaking to MFC TV after the match, Craigan said: “These kids deserve a lot of credit, they’ve achieved and achieved and continue to achieve, and in a sense have at times punched above where they should be in the sense that there are bigger clubs with bigger resources.

    “But they keep coming back and they keep pushing on and from the very start of this season, they came back in after winning the Youth Cup and kicked on.

    He added: “Yes we’ll have set backs and when we lose games I’ll get frustrated and there will be fall outs but the message that we’ve given to the boys over the last few weeks is ‘can they take care of themselves?’, ‘can they all improve on two or three things each?’, and I felt today there was a lot of stuff from the players that improved dramatically – whether its pass choice, whether it’s body strength, whether it’s willingness to run in behind.”

    Craigan admitted that his entire team performed at an outstanding level today, but he touched on one player who he felt took on board the advice offered to him in recent weeks.

    He said: “With big Dylan Mackin, I’m constantly on his case and I sat down with him yesterday and I told him I was going to be on his case consistently because I want him to be a first team player at this football club and there’s things you have to do to be first team quality.

    “You have to fight, you have to scrap you’ve got to do the dirty work, you have to be willing to run in behind even when you think you won’t win the ball – today he done all of that and he was an absolute handful.”

    With a number of wonder saves from Dons keeper David Craddock and some goal line clearances too, the scoreline could have been even bigger.

    Craigan said: “We had chance after chance and I think their keeper actually played quite well.

    “Over the piece I’m delighted, I wouldn’t have thought 9-1 before the game though. I was confident we would come here and win after last week’s win against Rangers and we’ve trained well ahead of this game.

    “Today’s result came as a surprise, it was a pleasant surprise and I’m pleased for everybody.”

    The boss may have seen his team go in to the break four goals ahead, but Craigan admitted he wanted to make sure they didn’t slack off.

    He said: “The message I gave at half time was be relentless in your pursuit of success, whether it was to win the game 4-0, or to go on and add more or to keep a clean sheet – be relentless, do not let up, you don’t win points after 45 minutes.”

    The result and performance was even more impressive due to the fact that Craigan hadn’t called on a single first team player – fielding a team with an average age of 17.

    He said: “Apart from Tom Fry, every player on the park came through the youth set up at the club and at the end of the match we had three players under the age of 17 on the park, one of those boys, Kyle McDonald, making his debut.

    “It’s extremely pleasing and exciting as a coach to watch these boys develop and we are always passing these boys on to the manager who never hesitates to put them in the first team if he thinks they are ready and it’s a great club for these boys to develop.”

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    Aberdeen U20s 1 – 9 Motherwell U20s

    Motherwell U20s put in an outstanding performance as they put nine goals past Aberdeen away from home this afternoon.

    Goals from all over the park put the Dons to the sword at Links Park, Montrose, where the young Steelmen were virtually unplayable and ran out 1-9 winners.

    The youngsters got off to a strong start in the opening 20 minutes, and could have had three or four.

    Dylan Falconer had the ball in the net after 15 minutes but the linesman’s flag cut celebrations short as the youngster was adjudged to have strayed too deep when Dylan Mackin’s low cross allowed him to tap home.

    Three minutes later, some outstanding play by Tom Fry on the edge of the box nearly produced a wonder goal. The midfielder received the ball from Jake Hastie before playing a neat one-two with Falconer in and around a number of Aberdeen defenders, which created enough space for him to strike a vicious effort on goal, but Aberdeen stopper David Craddock produced a brilliant save to palm it wide.

    Less than a minute later, Craigan’s side should have doubled their lead when Hastie pinched the ball off Craig Storie, allowing the youngster a one-on-one opportunity, but he hit it too straight and Craddock stood up when called upon to pull his side out of danger by spreading himself to block.

    It was all Motherwell at Links Park, with Craigan’s youngsters looking hungry for victory, and two minutes later it was so nearly 0-2. Mackin rose superbly to head at goal from a corner, but his effort was cleared agonisingly off the line.

    However, a minute later it was 0-2.

    Falconer was involved again as he nipped in to intercept Joe MacPherson’s stray pass, and he selflessly squared for the unmarked Mackin to take a touch and pass it neatly beyond Craddock.

    The game settled a little after the second goal as the Steelmen looked comfortable on the ball and also in defence, limiting Aberdeen to virtually no shots on target.

    But when Hastie picked the ball up out on the left, his trickery and pace was too much for Omoluken who could only hack the midfielder to stop him racing into the box. From the resulting free kick, Fry’s delivery was tapped beyond Craddock to give the Steelmen a resounding three goal lead with five minutes of the first half still to play.

    But they weren’t finished there, and neither was right back Watt, who headed beyond Craddock for a brace and Motherwell’s fourth on the stroke of half time.

    It seemed like Aberdeen were in dire need of a break but even at the start of the second half the Steelmen didn’t let up.

    An outrageous ball from Mackin carved Aberdeen apart and Hastie, on the same page as the forward, latched on to the pass, took a touch and passed it beyond Craddock from a tight angle.

    Two minutes later and it was six for the visiting Fir Parkers.

    Hastie had two in two minutes after a free kick fired in to the box was touched down by Mackin and Hastie rifled it high into the far top corner.

    Jordan Armstrong, who had been solid at the back all afternoon, got involved at the other end of the park when he struck low past Craddock to make it seven for the visitors.

    Down the other end though, the young defender conceded a penalty for a soft bit of contact in the box and Scott Wright stepped up to bag a consolation goal for the hosts and snatch Morrison’s clean sheet away from him.

    However, Craigan’s side responded immediately as Allan Campbell prodded beyond Craddock following a ball in to the box. Aberdeen had struggled to deal with them all afternoon.

    With two minutes remaining, substitute James Scott was picked out by a stunning pass from Barry Maguire over the top. The young forward beat his man and fired brilliantly in to the top corner.

    It was the final bit of action from an action packed afternoon where Craigan’s youngsters were unstoppable.

    The scale of the achievement is summed up by the fact that the average age of the starting eleven was just 17 years of age.


    Motherwell: Morrison, Watt, Livingstone, Maguire, Armstrong, Campbell, Fry, Turnbull, Hastie (Agyeman, ’75), Falconer (Scott, ’68), Mackin (K. McDonald, ’85)

    Unused subs: Pettigrew

  • Archive

    Dons await ‘Well U20s

    Motherwell U20s take on Aberdeen U20s tomorrow afternoon in the Development League as Stephen Craigan’s youngsters look to build on an impressive victory over an in-from Rangers side last week.

    First half goals from Jake Hastie and David Turnbull secured all three points and despite a much better Rangers performance in the second half, the Steelmen held strong for a much deserved 2-1 victory.

    Stephen Craigan named a young team to face the Glaswegians, with Dom Thomas the only over-age Steelman on the park.

    And ahead of the league outing against Aberdeen, midfielder Turnbull, fresh on the back of penning a two-and-a-half-year deal, will be keen to see his form in front of goal continue, with four to his name in his last three matches in all competitions.

    Aberdeen, on the other hand, come in to tomorrow’s Development League clash tenth in the table and on the back of a 0-2 victory against Hearts.

    Goals from Connor McLennan and Bruce Anderson brought an end to the Dons poor run of three straight defeats and will leave the Northern youngsters hungry to follow that up with three points tomorrow.

    The match, kicking off at 2pm, will be played at Glebe Park, Brechin and all the action can be followed live on Twitter @MotherwellFC and also on Snapchat – MotherwellFC

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    TV: Highlights from McDiarmid Park

    Extended highlights from McDiarmid Park as Zander Clark’s early own goal is cancelled out by Chris Kane’s second half goal earning ‘Well a point away from home.