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    Hamilton: A closer look

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    McHugh: Back doing what I love

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    McGhee: We’re full of optimism

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    Anderson in charge of Lanarkshire derby

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    Phil O’Donnell: 1972-2007

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    TV: Highlights from Caledonian Stadium

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    McGhee: We dug in for win

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    Inverness CT win in pictures

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    Inverness CT 1 – 2 Motherwell

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    Inverness CT: A closer look

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    Hamilton: A closer look

    The Steelmen face local rivals Hamilton tomorrow afternoon in the final match of the calendar year – looking to go in to the January break in winning form.

    And on the back of a hugely important 2-1 win over Inverness on Wednesday night, Mark McGhee’s side could not only move in to the top six with a win tomorrow, but could also put some breathing space between the bottom sides in the table.

    This is the second Lanarkshire derby of the season, following Louis Moult’s historic four goal haul back in September, when the ‘Well won 4-2 at Fir Park.

    The Steelmen have picked up five points in the last four games whilst Accies arrive on the back of a four game losing streak.

    The derby match will provide an opportunity for the hosts to put an end to their poor recent run whilst exacting revenge on the loss against Motherwell earlier this season.

    ‘Well boss Mark McGhee feels that the win earlier this week will give his side an element of optimism and is looking to end the year on a high.

    He said: “We didn’t train yesterday, we were travelling back down the road after a pool session yesterday morning so we need to get the energy back up.

    “It’s a short turnaround so we did it right, we stayed over after the game, we got straight to bed and then had the pool session yesterday morning. We’ve done the best we can to prepare so we’ll see how things are today.

    “I think on the back of that result they should go to Hamilton, a local derby, full of optimism.

    On the back of that result they should go to Hamilton, a local derby, full of optimism. You can only win the two games if you win the first one, so we’ve won the first one and that’s half the job done.

    [pullquote]If we could get another result and go in to the break on the back of two wins, then I think we can reassess, we can get people fully fit hopefully and then go in to the second half of the season full of optimism.[/pullquote]

    He added: “You can only win the two games if you win the first one, so we’ve won the first one and that’s half the job done.

    “We’re not trying to prove to anyone else, we’re only trying to prove to ourselves that what I’m saying about the boys is true – that we’re competitive with everyone in the division.

    “In order to keep saying that we have to have got decent results in these two games.

    “If we could get another result and go in to the break on the back of two wins, then I think we can reassess, we can get people fully fit hopefully and then go in to the second half of the season full of optimism.”

    ‘Well skipper Keith Lasley will likely miss tomorrow’s match as he works hard to recover from his shoulder injury.

    Dougie Imrie and Scott McMann will miss out through suspension for the Accies while Greg Docherty will likely be out through injury.

     

    Out of action for four months now, Carl McHugh is back and hungry to help his side to another victory.

    The Irishman vows to make up for lost time after suffering a head knock in the opening league game of the season against Kilmarnock.

    The combative midfielder has been battling symptoms of concussion since then but made his long awaited return to action on Wednesday night.

    Ahead of tomorrow’s big derby match, Carl is the one to watch as his influence on the team continues to shine.

    Hailed by manager Mark McGhee as the man of the match during his side’s 2-1 victory on Wednesday night, Carl admits he is delighted to be back in the team.

    He said: “It’s great to be back after being out for so long and to come back in for a win was great too so I’m delighted.”

    The 23-year-old revealed some of the challenges he faced with such a complex injury. He said: “It’s been really tough, it was a tough period because it was a strange injury.

    “It wasn’t a hamstring injury or something like that where you know when you’ll be back – there’s no real time scale on it and I was lucky with the support I had from the club.

    [pullquote]It wasn’t a hamstring injury or something like that where you know when you’ll be back – there’s no real time scale on it and I was lucky with the support I had from the club.[/pullquote]

    “From the gaffer and Alan Burrows to the medical staff of Aileen and JP, and Andy Boles too, the support was brilliant and I can’t speak highly enough of them.”

    He added: “I had great support at home from my family too and that made things a little easier for me.”

    Despite being out of action for four months, Carl managed to get himself back to match fitness in time for the Inverness match with only around a week of training.

    And the Irishman added that he initially wanted to play on during the Kilmarnock win back in August, but if he had, it may have caused him even more problems.

    He said: “It was strange to be honest because when I played the game against Kilmarnock I had that scar on my face but I felt all right after it, I felt grand.

    “It was about four days after that I just kind of went downhill, I started getting the symptoms of the post-concussion syndrome like the headaches and the dizziness and it just went from there and the symptoms just wouldn’t leave.

    “In a way I think getting the scar during the game was a blessing in disguise because that forced me to go off because at the time I didn’t feel anything, I didn’t feel like I was concussed and if you play on that’s when you can be in trouble.”

    [pullquote]When you sign for a new club you want to make an impression on everybody. Hopefully I can make up for lost time in the coming months and show that I’ll be a good signing for Motherwell.[/pullquote]

    He added: “There were some tough days and everybody can go through tough times but I’m just lucky now that I’m able to go out in the morning and do what I love doing, go to training and be involved in games so I’m just so, so happy that I’m back involved.

    “Hopefully it’s over me now, it’s behind me, I can move on and have a good start back to my career.”

    Looking ahead to tomorrow’s derby, the summer signing said: “It won’t have an affect on my game though, that’s the type of person I am.

    “It was a really important game on Wednesday night and it was a tough game too with the conditions and everything but it was just great to come out with a win and hopefully now we can kick on and get a bit of momentum before the break.”

    He added: “When you sign for a new club you want to make an impression on everybody – your teammates, the supporters and everything – and having that happen in the first game is just one of these things that can’t be helped.

    “Hopefully I can make up for lost time in the coming months and show that I’ll be a good signing for Motherwell.”

     

    Hamilton Accies don’t need much of an introduction to ‘Well fans, with the Lanarkshire Derby a standout in the fixture list for both sets of supporters.

    Since Hamilton’s promotion to the top flight in the 2008/09 season, the rivalry has intensified – with tomorrow’s visitors recording 35 wins in 121 league clashes.

    For Martin Canning and assistant Guillaume Beuzelin, it’s their third trip to Fir Park since they took charge at Hamilton back in January 2015.

    Recent derby clashes between the two sides have not been short of goals, with the most recent derby ending in a historic 4-2 victory for the ‘Well when four goals from Louis Moult secured the three points.

    Their first visit as coaches ended with the Steelmen notching a 4-0 victory in front of a jubilant home support.

    However, the next time the duo came to the home of the Steelmen, the outcome ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw.

    The club have been involved in some hugely positive results on their own patch though, with few ‘Well supporters needing a reminder of the 5-0 loss against Accies back on New Year’s day 2015.

    It’s been a mixed start to the season for tomorrow’s visitors, who currently occupy eleventh spot in the table and are in the middle of a four game losing run.

    On Tuesday night, Accies fell 2-1 to Aberdeen at the SuperSeal Stadium, when Dougie Imrie levelled from the penalty spot after Ash Taylor gave Dons the lead in the 34th minute. Adam Rooney gave his side the lead in the second half and Hamilton, who were reduced to ten men late on, failed to find a way back in to the match.

    While four losses on the trot makes for bad reading for Accies fans, it is certainly worth pointing out that the defeats have come against the Old Firm.

    Their trip to Parkhead ended in a narrow 1-0 loss and that was followed by an equally narrow 2-1 loss against Rangers on their own turf.

    A second meeting with Celtic followed, this time at home, but Canning’s side slumped to a 3-0 loss before losing to Aberdeen on Tuesday.

    Hamilton will likely look to strengthen in the upcoming January transfer window after welcoming a few new faces in summer.

    Georgios Sarris arrived from the Turkish leagues and Danny Seabourne from Partick Thistle – but perhaps the biggest signing was the arrival of ex-AC Milan and Celtic midfielder Massimo Donati, who penned a one-year deal with the club.

    The Italian defensive-midfielder, who has slotted in at centre-back at points this term, will be a key component for the hosts tomorrow, with the return of Carl McHugh to the middle of the Motherwell midfield making the battle in the middle of the park an interesting one.

    The two Lanarkshire sides will be keen to end the year on a high before the January break – and it is an enticing fixture awaiting the travelling ‘Well fans tomorrow afternoon.

     

  • Archive

    McHugh: Back doing what I love

    Carl McHugh vows to make up for lost time after returning from a four-month injury lay off.

    The combative midfielder, who suffered a head knock in the opening league game of the season against Kilmarnock, has been battling symptoms of concussion but made his long awaited return to action on Wednesday night.

    Hailed by manager Mark McGhee as the man of the match during his side’s 2-1 victory, Carl admits he is delighted to be back in the team.

    Speaking to the press this morning, he said: “It’s great to be back after being out for so long and to come back in for a win was great too so I’m delighted.”

    The 23-year-old revealed some of the challenges he faced with such a complex injury. He said: “It’s been really tough, it was a tough period because it was a strange injury.

    “It wasn’t a hamstring injury or something like that where you know when you’ll be back – there’s no real time scale on it and I was lucky with the support I had from the club.

    [pullquote]It wasn’t a hamstring injury or something like that where you know when you’ll be back – there’s no real time scale on it and I was lucky with the support I had from the club.[/pullquote]

    “From the gaffer and Alan Burrows to the medical staff of Aileen and JP, and Andy Boles too, the support was brilliant and I can’t speak highly enough of them.”

    He added: “I had great support at home from my family too and that made things a little easier for me.”

    Despite being out of action for four months, Carl managed to get himself back to match fitness in time for the Inverness match with only around a week of training.

    And the Irishman added that he initially wanted to play on during the Kilmarnock win back in August, but if he had, it may have caused him even more problems.

    He said: “It was strange to be honest because when I played the game against Kilmarnock I had that scar on my face but I felt all right after it, I felt grand.

    “It was about four days after that I just kind of went downhill, I started getting the symptoms of the post-concussion syndrome like the headaches and the dizziness and it just went from there and the symptoms just wouldn’t leave.

    “In a way I think getting the scar during the game was a blessing in disguise because that forced me to go off because at the time I didn’t feel anything, I didn’t feel like I was concussed and if you play on that’s when you can be in trouble.”

    [pullquote]When you sign for a new club you want to make an impression on everybody. Hopefully I can make up for lost time in the coming months and show that I’ll be a good signing for Motherwell.[/pullquote]

    He added: “There were some tough days and everybody can go through tough times but I’m just lucky now that I’m able to go out in the morning and do what I love doing, go to training and be involved in games so I’m just so, so happy that I’m back involved.

    “Hopefully it’s over me now, it’s behind me, I can move on and have a good start back to my career.”

    Looking ahead to tomorrow’s derby, the summer signing said: “It won’t have an affect on my game though, that’s the type of person I am.

    “It was a really important game on Wednesday night and it was a tough game too with the conditions and everything but it was just great to come out with a win and hopefully now we can kick on and get a bit of momentum before the break.”

    He added: “When you sign for a new club you want to make an impression on everybody – your teammates, the supporters and everything – and having that happen in the first game is just one of these things that can’t be helped.

    “Hopefully I can make up for lost time in the coming months and show that I’ll be a good signing for Motherwell.”

  • Archive

    McGhee: We’re full of optimism

    ‘Well boss Mark McGhee feels his side can go in to tomorrow’s derby match full of optimism after Wednesday’s win over Inverness.

    The manager described these two matches as “pivotal” to the season, and with a positive start midweek, he hopes to end the year on a high too.

    Speaking to the press this morning, McGhee said: “We didn’t train yesterday, we were travelling back down the road after a pool session yesterday morning so we need to get the energy back up.

    “It’s a short turnaround so we did it right, we stayed over after the game, we got straight to bed and then had the pool session yesterday morning. We’ve done the best we can to prepare so we’ll see how things are today.

    “I think on the back of that result they should go to Hamilton, a local derby, full of optimism.

    [pullquote]On the back of that result they should go to Hamilton, a local derby, full of optimism. You can only win the two games if you win the first one, so we’ve won the first one and that’s half the job done.[/pullquote]

    He added: “You can only win the two games if you win the first one, so we’ve won the first one and that’s half the job done.

    “We’re not trying to prove to anyone else, we’re only trying to prove to ourselves that what I’m saying about the boys is true – that we’re competitive with everyone in the division.

    “In order to keep saying that we have to have got decent results in these two games.

    “If we could get another result and go in to the break on the back of two wins, then I think we can reassess, we can get people fully fit hopefully and then go in to the second half of the season full of optimism.”

    With the season coming to a brief standstill in January, the Fir Park gaffer admitted he feels the season hasn’t fully got going.

    He said: “I don’t feel we’ve even started – we’ve been stop-start, stop-start, stop-start with injuries and the nature of the fixtures too.

    “I don’t feel we’ve had a proper run at it with the 13 or 14 players we want fully fit week-in, week-out.”

    On the return of Carl McHugh to fitness, McGhee said: “Carl should be fine to get at least some of the match tomorrow and I thought his performance the other night, both in sporting terms and in football terms it was heroic.

    [pullquote]Carl [McHugh] should be fine to get at least some of the match tomorrow and I thought his performance the other night, both in sporting terms and in football terms it was heroic. [/pullquote]

    “He hasn’t kicked a ball since he went off injured against Kilmarnock back in August, he’s trained for a week, and to be fair I thought he was man of the match.

    “It was a fantastic performance, I was delighted for him and to get the win on the back of him putting that effort in was brilliant for him.”

    With the transfer window opening soon, McGhee spoke of his preparations for a key stage of the campaign.

    He said: “Martin Foyle is here today so we’ll be speaking to him at length about his targets and his recommendations for January as well as looking at and assessing what we have already.

    “We won’t be going out and buying players, but we do have some flexibility with the budget that we’ll be able to bring in one or two players on a loan deal or perhaps permanently.”

    He added: “It is something I think we’d definitely consider, and I know that a few of the boys, including Faddy, have been in touch with him so over the next few weeks we’ll gather his thoughts and if he is thinking about coming back then we’d certainly be in the market for him.

    “We went and beat Hamilton there last year so we have no fears of going there, we also aren’t a team who have fears of playing on the surface because we train on that often.”

  • Archive

    Anderson in charge of Lanarkshire derby

    Referee for Saturday’s Lanarkshire Derby at the SuperSeal Stadium is Euan Anderson.

    Anderson, 33, will be handling his second Motherwell match of the season after he oversaw the Fir Parkers 1-2 loss against St Johnstone at Fir Park back in August.

    A goal from Chris Cadden gave the Steelmen the lead just after half time but St Johnstone responded through Danny Swanson to draw level before Steven McLean snatched the win with 15 minutes remaining.

    Saturday’s clash against Hamilton will be Anderson’s first ‘Well away match of the season, but the official took charge on three occasions last term – just one of those matches away from home for Motherwell.

    The first was a vital 3-1 home win over Dundee back in December, when goals from McDonald, Moult and Pearson gave McGhee’s men all three points.

    The second was a month later, when Motherwell again won at home, this time the comfortable 5-0 victory over Cove Rangers in the Fourth Round of the William Hill Scottish Cup.

    The third and final match was the Fir Parkers final league game away to Celtic, which ended in a 7-0 defeat.

    The Dumbarton-based whistler was promoted to category one in the summer of 2011 and has taken charge of a number of Motherwell matches in the past, his first coming in the Scottish Cup fourth round defeat to Albion Rovers at New Douglas Park on November 2013 where a first goal of the season for Albion’s Gary Phillips ensured the Coatbridge outfit’s qualification to the next round of the cup.

    He was also in charge of Motherwell’s 2-1 win away to Kilmarnock in 2014/15 season where goals from Stephen Pearson and Lee Erwin secured three points for Well’ on this occasion with an Anthony Straker own-goal being the only blotch to the copybook on that day.

    The win was part of a three match win streak that Well’ put together on the backend of the 14/15 season, commencing with a 4-0 victory over Hamilton and a 5-0 victory over St Mirren to bookend the Kilmarnock fixture.

    Euan will be assisted by Stuart Stevenson and Stephen Mitchell with Steven Reid on fourth official duties.

  • Archive

    Phil O’Donnell: 1972-2007

    Motherwell FC remembers the late, great Phil O’Donnell, who tragically passed away nine years ago today.

    O’Donnell came through the youth ranks at Fir Park before eventually making his senior debut against St Mirren 25 years ago.

    He would go on to famously score in the iconic ’91 Cup Final against Dundee United, which ‘Well eventually won 4-3 in such dramatic circumstances.

    Phil continued to develop, won the PFA Young Player of the Year Award in 1992 and 1994, and earned one cap for the Scottish national team, playing for 15 minutes as a substitute against Switzerland in September 1993.

    His form attracted the attention of bigger clubs and Tommy Burns and Celtic eventually paid £1.75m for his services in September 1994, a club record that still stands to this day.

    He spent five years in Glasgow, winning the Scottish Cup again and formed part of the Hoops side that famously denied Rangers ten-in-a-row under Wim Jansen back in 1998.

    [pullquote]Everyone at the Motherwell, including all the supporters, miss him dearly, but also remember all the good times we shared.[/pullquote]

    He would later join Sheffield Wednesday and spend four years at Hillsbrough before returning home to Fir Park under Terry Butcher in 2004.

    After being named Captain he enjoyed a real resurgence in form, before being tragically taken before his time in a game against Dundee United nine years ago this very day.

    ‘Well boss McGhee said: “I only got to work with Phil for a short period, but in those few months it was clear he was a great guy, but also a great captain and a very talented footballer.

    “His legacy is all the qualities he had and represented, which embodies exactly the type of club we’re trying to be; A family club who care passionately for each other, but also encourages determination to succeed and a drive for quality.

    “Everyone at the Motherwell, including all the supporters, miss him dearly, but also remember all the good times we shared.”

    As they are each and every day, the thoughts of everyone at Motherwell FC are with Phil’s wife Eileen, four children Megan, Olivia, Christopher and Luc and the rest of the close and extended O’Donnell family.

    Phil O’Donnell, brave as a lion. Our Captain, Forever 10.

  • Archive

    TV: Highlights from Caledonian Stadium

    Extended highlights from Caledonian Stadium where goals from Craig Clay and Scott McDonald give ‘Well a fine 1-2 win over Inverness CT.

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    McGhee: We dug in for win

    ‘Well boss Mark McGhee hailed his side’s 2-1 win away to Inverness tonight as one of the best results since his return to the club just over a year ago.

    Goals from Craig Clay and Scott McDonald secured all three points for the Steelmen at a blistering Caledonian Stadium.

    And speaking to MFC TV after the match, the manager didn’t hide his emotions, expressing his delight at the effort from his players and his desire to follow up on tonight’s win with another good result on Saturday in the Lanarkshire derby.

    McGhee said: “It’s a massive win and in many ways I think that’s the best result we’ve had since I’ve been back at the club.

    “It was a massive game for us tonight and it was a difficult game too. Inverness are a tough side, they’re strong and physical, the conditions were difficult, although the pitch was excellent, the conditions were still difficult.”

    [pullquote]It’s a massive win and in many ways I think that’s the best result we’ve had since I’ve been back at the club. It was a massive game for us tonight and it was a difficult game too.[/pullquote]

    He added: “The boys dug in and they eventually got the break through, then we stayed vigilant and got the second goal which looked to have killed the game.

    “Then of course they get that goal late on which makes things a little bit hairy and you always worry, but we’ve seen it through and it really was a fantastic performance.”

    The Fir Park boss admitted that the game was a bit scrappy, but his side put in a good performance in tough conditions.

    He said: “It was a team performance and Lee Lucas has got himself in the team now, Carl McHugh was back tonight and played the full 90 minutes.

    “It was a magnificent effort and it was a scrappy game at times with the weather, but it’s a really important result for us.

    [pullquote]In a sense it justifies everything I’ve said about the boys because I feel we could’ve beat St Johnstone, we could’ve beat Kilmarnock, we could’ve beat Celtic and we could’ve beat Aberdeen, and I can’t keep saying that unless we come here and get a result, but now I feel justified.[/pullquote]

    “In a sense it justifies everything I’ve said about the boys because I feel we could’ve beat St Johnstone, we could’ve beat Kilmarnock, we could’ve beat Celtic and we could’ve beat Aberdeen, and I can’t keep saying that unless we come here and get a result, but now I feel justified.”

    Goal scorer Craig Clay fired in a stunning effort to open the scoring for Motherwell, and McGhee hopes he can follow up his first goal in a ‘Well jersey with more this season.

    The boss said: “One of the things I said in the team talk at the hotel was directly to Craig. We see him scoring in training and yet he’s missed a few opportunities in matches.

    “Now that wasn’t quite an opportunity for him tonight, but I still expect goals from him, I asked him for goals before the game, and he’s delivered.”

    McGhee highlighted the return of Carl McHugh too, and said: “I thought Carl was absolutely magnificent. Keith Lasley was missing tonight and we miss Las massively, his energy and desire in the middle of the park, but Carl came in tonight and was an able substitute for him.

    [pullquote]Now we’ll regroup, we’ll stay up here tonight, do things properly and have a run down tomorrow morning before we travel back down the road.[/pullquote]

    “We’re glad to have him back, and to ask him to play 90 minutes on his first game back and for him to come through it the way he did is testimony to the type of lad he is.”

    Looking ahead to Saturday’s Lanarkshire derby, the ‘Well manager revealed the level of belief it will bring to the team, and the supporters too.

    He said: “A win like this gives you such belief and there’s a short period of time between now and the game on Saturday, which is the same for Hamilton.

    “Now we’ll regroup, we’ll stay up here tonight, do things properly and have a run down tomorrow morning before we travel back down the road.”

  • Archive

    Inverness CT win in pictures

    Images from today’s 1-2 win over Inverness CT in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

    Snaps courtesy of SNSPix

    [svgallery name=”inverness281216″]

  • Archive

    Inverness CT 1 – 2 Motherwell

    [tab:Match report]

    Motherwell secured a hugely important three points away to Inverness tonight – lifting the club to seventh in the table whilst lifting the spirits among the squad too.

    A wonder goal from Craig Clay and a late stike from Scott McDonald gave the Steelmen a two goal lead before Greg Tansey pulled a scrappy goal back for the hosts in the 90th minute.

    And during extremely difficult conditions at the Caledonian Stadium, Motherwell may not have hit scintillating form, but secured perhaps the most important win of the campaign so far.

    Mark McGhee named just one change to the side that lost 3-1 at home to Aberdeen. Injured skipper Keith Lasley was replaced by summer signing Carl McHugh who was making his long awaited return to action following a concussion suffered on the opening day of the season.

    Inverness named an unchanged eleven from the side who lost narrowly to Rangers on Christmas Eve.

    Despite making just the one change to his starting eleven, McGhee was forced to make an early substitution when Chris Cadden limped off after 26 minutes to be replaced by Lionel Ainsworth.

    In a quiet opening 45, Inverness went closest through a terrific freekick from Greg Tansey. The midfielder curled a fantastic effort on target and forced Craig Samson to pull off a tremendous save, scrambling across his line before leaping and palming the goal bound effort round his post.

    Ex-Well man Iain Vigurs went close with a header when he hit the woodwork in the 34th minute, but a slight touch from the head of Stephen McManus meant the midfielder had next to no time to react and did well to even get on the end of the cross.

    The story of the first half though was a debatable call from referee Barry Cook, who reached in to his pocket and booked Larnell Cole for what looked to be an extremely reckless foul on Lee Lucas. The Caley Jags wide man had both feet off the deck when he lunged in to challenge the Welsh Steelman in a 50/50 battle, but the official decided it only merited a yellow.

    Despite nearly falling behind, Motherwell could have went in with a one goal lead when Lee Lucas slipped in Ainsworth on the stroke of half time. The neatly threaded pass left the winger with a chance to burst in to the box and have an effort on goal, but Owain Fon-Williams was alert to rush off his line and gather the ball.

    The second half was far more eventful than the first and in the 50th minute Craig Clay broke the deadlock whilst opening his account in Claret and Amber.

    What a goal it was too. The Englishman collected the ball outside the box and launched a searching right-footed effort towards the far top corner. It appeared as though it was about to fly over the crossbar before it dipped just in time to go under the woodwork and ripple the net.

    It was a moment of class to undo a sturdy Inverness side who had held strong for the first period.

    But equally so had Motherwell, and centre backs Ben Heneghan and McManus in particular had outstanding matches in front of Samson, who had a terrific evening himself.

    Inverness didn’t carve out too many clear cut chances but a number of efforts were blocked superbly by ‘Well defenders and Samson was on hand to deal with a number of threatening deliveries from corners and freekicks – whipped in from the familiar left foot of Iain Vigurs.

    Aussie forward McDonald wrapped up the three points in the 87th minute and sent the travelling ‘Well fans in to party mode when he got on the end of a chipped Louis Moult pass to lash past Fon-Williams with his first touch after letting the ball take a bounce.

    However, celebrations became muted for the additional three minutes as Greg Tansey scrambled a consolation goal over the line from a corner in the 90th minute. Vigurs’ delivery in to the six yard box was surrounded by a number of bodies and the Caley Jags midfielder got the necessary touch to prod beyond Samson.

    It was too little too late for the hosts though on a hugely important night at the Caledonian Stadium.

    The victory means Motherwell find themselves seventh in the Premiership, one point off Partick Thistle in sixth and four points above bottom placed Inverness, with Hamilton awaiting the Fir Parkers in the final match of the year on Saturday afternoon.

    [tab:As it happened]

     Alastair Reilly at Caledonian Stadium

     

    Great three points to take home from the Highlands. Come on!!!!!

    FT: Inverness CT 1 – 2 Motherwell #ICTFCvMFC

    91′ | 1-2
    Three minutes added on.

    90′ | 1-2
    Goal – ICT pull one back after a scramble from a corner!

    87′ | 0-2
    Moult clips a curling ball into McDonald who steadies himself and fires past Fon-Williams!!!!

    GGOOOAALLLL!!!

    81′ | 0-1
    So close for Caley. Ball is headed onto the bar, comes back down and possibly crossed the line but no goal given.

    76′ | 0-1
    Fisher booked for a rash tackle on Lucas.

    75′ | 0-1
    Terrible indecision from McKay and ‘keeper lets in Moult who wins a corner.

    73′ | 0-1
    Mulraney needlessly shoves over Moult giving ‘Well a free-kick wide on the left…..Ainsworth whips it in but its nodded wide

    71′ | 0-1
    ICT sub, Polworth off for Mulraney.

    70′ | 0-1
    Ainsworth tries his luck from range which Fon-Williams makes a meal of before eventually gathering.

    63′ | 0-1
    Motherwell sub, Hammell makes way for McMillan

    60′ | 0-1
    Vigurs’ free-kick takes a huge curl with the wind which thankfully Samson is alert to. Palmed away for a corner.

    58′ | 0-1
    ICT sub, Doumbouya off for Fisher.

    58′ | 0-1
    Moult booked after he went to sweep Clay’s header on but caught Warren instead.

    55′ | 0-1
    ICT sub, Cole off for Doran

    50′ | 0-1
    WHAT A GOAL!!!!! Clay picks it up on the edge of the box and fires a beauty into the top corner!!!

    GGGOOOAAAALLLL!!!

    47′ | 0-0
    Glorious chance for Doumbouya as he breaks away but with only Samson to beat he drags his shot wide of the post.

    McDonald gets the second half underway.

    HT: Inverness CT 0 – 0 Motherwell #ICTFCvMFC

    44′ | 0-0
    Heneghan again with a great block, this time from Tansey as he burst clear in the box.

    39′ | 0-0
    McKay booked for grabbing a fistful of Clay’s shirt as he broke

    35′ | 0-0
    Poor challenge from Cole earns him a booking. ‘Well players not at all happy as Lucas lies injured.

    34′ | 0-0
    Vigurs heads into the side-netting from 5 yards after a fine deep ball in from Polworth. Great chance.

    32′ | 0-0
    Great save by Samson! Has to react quickly to Tansey’s free-kick and does superbly to dive and tip it wide of the post.

    27′ | 0-0
    Close! Ainsworth’s cross turns into a shot which drifts inches wide of the top left corner of the goal!

    26′ | 0-0
    Chance for Doumbouya but Heneghan does superbly to throw himself in front of it. Corner ICT.

    25′ | 0-0
    Motherwell sub, Cadden limps off and is replaced by Ainsworth

    23′ | 0-0
    Cadden gets some space on the right, slides inside to McDonald but the Aussie’s left-footed shot drifts wide of the post.

    20′ | 0-0
    Quite a low-key opening 20 minutes. Not an awful lot happening of note….

    13′ | 0-0
    ICT have the first corner of the game…..Tansey swings it in but Moult is on hand to nod it clear.

    3′ | 0-0
    Very nearly the opener as Hammell clips in a free-kick which is flicked on At second attempt, Fon-Williams saves.

    ICT get the action underway. #ICTFCvMFC

    Both sides are out the tunnel, kick-off is seconds away….

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    Motherwell manager Mark McGhee:

     

    Inverness manager Richie Foran:

     

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    Inverness CT: A closer look

    Motherwell travel to face Inverness Caley Thistle tomorrow as the two sides look to bounce back to winning ways after suffering defeats against Aberdeen and Rangers respectively.

    The Fir Parkers face an important double-header over the next few days – with Hamilton on Hogmanay following Wednesday’s league clash with the Northerners.

    For ‘Well boss Mark McGhee, tomorrow’s match and the final game of 2016 against Hamilton on Saturday are pivotal matches at this stage of the season.

    The manager said: “I think that this spell is pivotal and can define our season in a way because I think if we can get two good results, even a win and a draw, will allow us to look forward to the end of January and then February with a positive attitude and aim for the top six.

    “Regardless of whether we feel we’ve done well or not in some games – we probably should have won against Kilmarnock, should have won against St Johnstone and I don’t think we should have been beaten against Aberdeen but ultimately we’ve drawn two and lost one.

    He added: “I also see this next spell as an opportunity; it’s a chance to make that step up in to a position where you’re able to challenge seriously for the top six.

    “If we don’t get enough from these games we may not be able to sit here realistically and say we’re a top six team, but if we do get results then I will be sitting here saying that.”

    The manager also feels that as well as pushing his team up the table, points on the board will boost spirits in the dressing room.

    He said: “It’s more important about how much belief it can give us. For instance, if we were to go out and beat Inverness and Hamilton, I think we’d come back here with no fears.”

    On tomorrow’s opponents, the manager said: “I always think Inverness are difficult and we’ve struggled to play against them at times. Their shape, the way they play, physically they’re a good size, their three midfield players are 6 foot plus so even that’s a challenge.

    [pullquote]This spell is pivotal and can define our season in a way because I think if we can get two good results, even a win and a draw, will allow us to look forward to the end of January and then February with a positive attitude and aim for the top six.[/pullquote]

    “Inverness can mix it up – they have that physical challenge but they have players in good positions, they have players who can score goals and they’re a threat from set plays and if you go behind against them you can find it difficult.”

    He added: “We should have no fears physically when we face Inverness because we have become a team that is robust and can scrap our way out of it as well.”

    Tomorrow’s match will be an important fixture for both sides, as the Fir Parkers sit just one point ahead of Richie Foran’s Inverness.

    A win for the Steelmen could put some breathing space between the two sides and will bring confidence to the ‘Well ahead of Saturday’s derby clash too.

    The Caley Jags are now without a win in eight matches, but the last time Foran’s side picked up a win was in the shape of an emphatic 3-0 win over the Steelmen back in October.

    The Fir Parkers could be without skipper Keith Lasley, who faces a late fitness test after injuring his shoulder against Aberdeen on Friday forcing him to be substituted at half time.

     

    ‘Well defender Stephen McManus wants to go in to the winter break in a positive frame of mind – starting with a good result tomorrow night.

    And during the busy schedule, the centre-back focussed on the positives of being able to put the loss against Aberdeen right tomorrow.

    Speaking to the press this morning, he said: “The games are coming thick and fast which is great as a player, you want to play in the games and you don’t mind when it goes Saturday-Wednesday, Saturday-Tuesday because there’s not a lot of training to be done and it’s just about recovery.

    “We’re coming in to a break as well so we’ve got two games to go and it’s two games that we feel are winnable.”

    Inverness find themselves in a similar position to the Steelmen – hungry to bounce back to winning ways – and McManus admits that the Caley Jags will be up for tomorrows match.

    He said: “It’s going to be difficult and Inverness will be feeling the same, Hamilton will be feeling the same too but in the past few weeks our performances have been fine.

    [pullquote]The campaign this year is going to be very tight and at the moment in every match, whether you win, lose or draw, you seem to be moving position in the table.[/pullquote]

    “We’ve just been missing that wee bit of quality, that wee bit of something different in the final third to turn the draws in to wins, and the defeats like on Friday night in to draws.”

    With a mere four points separating sixth placed Ross County from 12th placed Inverness, matches like tomorrow and the upcoming Lanarkshire Derby can prove to be hugely important.

    McManus said: “The campaign this year is going to be very tight and at the moment in every match, whether you win, lose or draw you seem to be moving position in the table.

    “You want to go in to the break with your form being decent and psychologically you want to look at the table and, now that it’s taking shape, you want to go in with a few more points on the board to give you that bit more belief coming back in to the Rangers games towards the end of January.”

    Ahead of tomorrow night, the defender added: “We’ll do our video analysis on Inverness in their last few matches and we’ve already looked at our own performance against Aberdeen and looked at the aspects which were positive and negative too.

    “At this period of time when the games are coming thick and fast if you have a bad result you don’t need to wait a week or ten days to put it right.”

     

    Inverness Caley Thistle currently sit at the bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership, but are only one point behind the Fir Parkers in tenth.

    For both sides, tomorrow presents an opportunity to bounce back to form and move up the table in the penultimate match of 2016.

    For manager Richie Foran, who took over in May following the departure of John Hughes, tomorrow marks the challenge of a club he knows well.

    Foran spent three seasons in Claret and Amber, making 90 appearances and scoring 23 goals, and as a manager it is his second meeting with his former employers following the 3-0 win at Fir Park back in October

    His side arrive on the back of a narrow 1-0 defeat against Rangers at Ibrox and are now without a win since October.

    Foran got off to a good start in his new role at the helm of the Caley Jags, securing some important signings over the summer.

    Billy King arrived on a season-long loan deal from Hearts, Kevin McNaughton came in from Wigan, Jake Mulraney arrived from QPR and Scott Boden signed from Newport County.

    And it all looked good for Caley Thistle, as Foran managed to get off to a winning start at the helm with a 2-1 away win to Cowdenbeath in the League Cup. In their group, Inverness drew with Dundee United at home and lost the bonus point penalty shoot-out, but things turned around as they won 5-1 away against Dunfermline and then registered a 7-0 thrashing of Arbroath to end July on a positive note.

    In August, the Inverness boss lost his first league game in charge in the shape of a 2-0 away loss to Partick Thistle.

    Things didn’t get better for the club as that result was followed by a shock 1-0 away loss to Alloa, knocking Caley out of the League Cup.

    Foran then lost his first Highland derby as a manager when his side slumped to a 3-2 home defeat to Ross County.

    Things went from bad to worse when a trip to Tynecastle ended in a 5-1 defeat to Hearts.

    After the first International break of the season, Foran’s side sparked into life as they managed their first win of the season in early September with a hard-fought 2-1 home win against St Johnstone thanks to a late goal from Josh Meekings – who scrambled the ball over the line from a corner to seal the three points.

    The next weekend the North derby away at Aberdeen ended in a 1-1 draw and was a big point for the Caley Jags. Ex-Well midfielder Iain Vigurs scored a great strike from 25-yards to level the score-line.

    Foran also managed to record another impressive result, a 2-2 draw with Scottish Champions Celtic, being the first team, and currently only team, to take points away from Brendan Rodgers side in the league this season.

    But as the season has surged on, the northerners have started to drop some important points and have picked up just three points in their last eight matches.

    But with the ability to challenge every team in the league, and the incredibly tight nature of the top flight, Inverness will be confident ahead of every match and will be keen to bring the year to a strong conclusion.

    It’s an important match for both sides, postponed due to the Dons progression in the League Cup, where they got all the way to the final but lost 3-0 against Celtic.

    With the chance to move in to the top six, it is enough inspiration for Mark McGhee’s side and will be an intriguing encounter at Fir Park tomorrow night.