Extended highlights from Station Park where Stephen Craigan’s Under 20s overcame Dundee Utd in a 0-3 win.
TV: Highlights from Station ParkWednesday 25 January 2017
Craigan: Professional performanceWednesday 25 January 2017
U20s boss Stephen Craigan was happy with his youngsters win in the Development League this afternoon but admitted they didn’t quite hit their heights.
A 3-0 victory over Dundee United in Forfar this afternoon means the young Steelmen have now scored sixteen goals in their last three matches and sit second in the league – four points behind leaders Hibs.
Speaking to MFC TV at full time, Craigan admitted it wasn’t the best game, but the performance was “professional”.
He said: “I think if we’re honest it wasn’t the best of games.
“And without being overly critical of the surface it was a bit sticky, a bit dry, and I think sometimes when you play on astroturf you expect the pitch to have a bit of grease on it and the ball will move a little bit quicker.
[pullquote]When you come away from home sometimes you need a professional performance and we defended reasonably well – Jordan had a really good save early on in the game.[/pullquote]
“But like I said it was a bit stop-start, a bit sticky and the ball got caught under people’s feet.”
He added: “When you come away from home sometimes you need a professional performance and we defended reasonably well – Jordan had a really good save early on in the game.
“Apart from that we didn’t really feel tested – there wasn’t an awful lot in the game but I just felt going forward we had a little bit more than they did.
“It certainly wasn’t one for the purists, and I think the boys are still adapting and learning how to play on a Sunday and then a Wednesday and how they recover in that time but if you’d told me before we came up here that we’d win 3-0 I’d have been delighted.”
With the quick succession between games, Craigan hailed his sides ability to keep battling towards the final few minutes and grab late goals in the manner they did.
He also praised the players who came in to the team.
[pullquote]We managed to freshen things up a bit from Sunday with David Ferguson and Lee Lucas coming in to the team, having a trialist in and Tom Fry coming back in to the team so it just kind of reenergises you a bit.[/pullquote]
He said: “We managed to freshen things up a bit from Sunday with David Ferguson and Lee Lucas coming in to the team, having a trialist in and Tom Fry coming back in to the team so it just kind of reenergises you a bit.
“At the start of the game, having had a two hour bus journey up here, there’s a lot of sitting around and you tend to start these games a little bit slower but once we got control of the game and got a foothold in it we looked better.”
He added: “Considering we went a month without games and then had two in four days was always going to be a test for them.
“We have a game on Monday against Hamilton so they’ll get a rest for that but it’s all a learning curve.
“I’m pleased we got the two late goals and Dylan Falconer was a bit unlucky to start but we had to give the chance to our trialist so it was good for Dylan to come on and get a goal.”
Dundee Utd U20s 0 – 3 Motherwell U20sWednesday 25 January 2017
Motherwell U20s returned to Development League action with a comfortable 3-0 win over Dundee United at Station Park in Forfar.
Late goals from Lee Lucas and Dylan Falconer rounded off a strong showing from the youngsters after trialist gave Craigan’s side a first half lead.
And the 20s coach named four changes to the side which won 4-3 at Partick on Sunday, bringing in David Ferguson, Lee Lucas, Tom Fry and a trialist in place of Jack McMillan, Allan Campbell, Ross MacLean and Dylan Falconer respectively.
It was a relatively quiet opening ten minutes, with United’s Smith having the first notable chance when he struck a freekick narrowly over the crossbar.
That seemed to spur the Fir Parkers into life and immediately down the other end Davie Turnbull saw his deflected effort blocked on to the post after a terrific bit of skill and work by the trialist on the right flank.
And he was lively throughout the first half, heading narrowly wide of the United goal when he swapped roles with Turnbull and this time got his head on the end of the midfielders cross.
A cheap freekick from a Dundee United perspective nearly led to the opening goal. Fry positioned himself over the ball and curled a terrific effort from 25-yards, but United stopper Josh Donaldson was well positioned and saved fairly comfortably.
Five minutes later though and Motherwell’s trialist gave Craigan’s side the lead in the 32nd minute. It came from a stunning through ball from Turnbull which the winger managed to latch on to the end of by beating the offside trap and, first time, struck a left footed shot low and hard past Donaldson.
The home side were limited to efforts from set pieces and Ali Coote was the next one up to try his luck, but he blazed it well over Jordan Pettigrew’s crossbar.
Just a minute before the break, it looked as though ‘Well would double their lead when Jake Hastie smashed a dangerous low ball across the face of goal after he was played in down the left thanks to Mackin’s hold up play. The wingers cross was just a yard too far for Fry to stretch and prod home and it remained 1-0 as the half time whistle was blown.
Right at the start of the second half, Hastie tore down the left flank and cause the Dundee United defence all sorts of problems. Racing in to the box, the winger fired a low strike at goal but, from a tight angle, it didn’t trouble Donaldson too much and he gathered it well.
The match quietened down in the 15 minutes that followed that chance, but when United were a little slack in possession in the 62nd minute, Luke Watt, advancing from right back, did well to nick the ball deep in the opposition half. Graham Taylor was left no option and hacked down the defender, and had no arguments when he was shown a yellow card.
From the following freekick, Hastie wasted the chance and overhit his cross wildly out for a goalkick.
Taylor went in a little strong on Watt as the defender beat him to a challenge at the half way line, but the referee ignored calls for a second yellow. Watt then looked up and delivered a neat cross with the outside of his right boot towards the head of Mackin. The tall striker, who was stretching to reach the ball, couldn’t get enough on his header and it went wide of the mark.
It was the forwards last bit of action as he was replaced by James Scott with 20 minutes remaining in the match. Hastie also left the field of play to be replaced by Dylan Falconer.
The hosts were continually frustrated by a resolute ‘Well defence, and substitute Dominic McMeekin attempted a spectacular overhead kick when the ball set up for him from a dinked ball over the top, but it was wasteful and well off target.
They were made to pay for their lack of cutting edge when Craigan’s youngsters doubled their lead with just four minutes left on the clock. The ball fell nicely for Lucas on the edge of the United box and the Welshman struck it low and hard and, thanks to a deflection, it flew past Donaldson.
Less than a minute later, substitute Falconer got on the scoresheet when his scuffed shot sat up nicely for him to then thunder in to the top corner at the second attempt.
It rounded off the afternoon and sealed the points as Craigan’s youngsters capped off a good week with another win and yet again lots of goals.
Motherwell: Pettigrew, Watt, Livingston, Maguire, Ferguson, Lucas, Fry, Turnbull, Hastie (Falconer ’70), Mackin (Scott ’70), Trialist
Collum to officiate Gers clashWednesday 25 January 2017
Referee for Saturday’s league clash with Rangers at Fir Park is the experienced Willie Collum.
One of Europe’s most recognisable officials, Willie will be handling his third ‘Well fixture of the campaign, after taking charge of the Lanarkshire derby back in September and the away trip to St Johnstone in December.
An early own-goal from Saints keeper Zander Clark was cancelled out by an equally fortunate goal from forward Chris Kane as the two sides played out for a point at McDiarmind Park.
The clash before that, against Hamilton, was a historic day as star forward Louis Moult bagged a phenomenal four goals as the Steelmen stormed to a 4-2 victory over local rivals Hamilton.
Last season, Collum took charge on three occasions – all resulting in 2-1 defeats.
The first was a defesat to eventual Champions Celtic, who clinched a 2-1 victory on a day when the Steelmen put in a sound display.
The other two fixtures also ended in 1-2 home defeats. The first was at the hands of Aberdeen when Marvin Johnson’s early opener was cancelled out by Niall McGinn and Ash Taylor.
The second, at the end of January, ended with Ross County taking the points when Stephen Pearson’s late goal wasn’t enough to earn the Fir Parkers anything after Jackson Irvine and Brian Graham had put the Staggies into a commanding lead.
Those results are on the back of the six he took charge of in the 2014/15 campaign too.
His overall record in charge of the Steelmen reads ten wins, eighteen defeats and eight draws from thirty-six matches (in all competitions).
In those games, Motherwell have scored 51 and conceded 65.
80 players have gone into the book, 37 wearing Claret and Amber, while six players have been dismissed – Ian Murray of Hibs at Easter Road seven years back, Jerard Aafjes at Falkirk seven seasons ago, Paul Dixon at the end of 2009/10, Henrik Ojamaa at the Caledonian Stadium and Fraser Kerr down at Rugby Park. Stephen McManus was shown a red card against Aberdeen but that was later rescinded after an appeal.
Willie will be assisted by David McGeachie and Gordon Crawford with Ewan Anderson listed as fourth official.
Craigan: Looking forward to every gameTuesday 24 January 2017
U20s boss Stephen Craigan is looking forward to see his youngsters get back to Development League action tomorrow afternoon.
The Steelmen face a trip north to take on Dundee United at Station Park in Forfar after they recorded an impressive 4-3 victory over Partick Thistle on Sunday in the Youth Cup quarter final.
And it has set up the manager and his players in a good frame of mind for the match up north.
Speaking to MFC TV, Craigan said: “We’re looking forward to it and I think when you’re in a good run of form and the players are feeling good about themselves and they’re content with how they’re doing, I think every game you look forward to.
“It’s an opportunity and I’ll probably have to mix things up a little bit because there was a lot of energy taken out of the legs on Sunday, so we’ll probably mix one or two up just to try and freshen it up and keep people at the top of their game.”
[pullquote]We’re looking forward to it and I think when you’re in a good run of form and the players are feeling good about themselves and they’re content with how they’re doing, I think every game you look forward to.[/pullquote]
He added: “It’s important when you are in a good run of form that you keep that going, you try and maintain that and the players have got themselves in to good habits, they’re replicating things that we regularly speak about and in every game you want to see that and that’s all part of the young players development – finding consistency.
“We had a light training session today and because the boys had Monday off just to recover, but you can tell that the boys are buoyant – we’ve seen the draw for the semi final and they’re all speaking about that.
“It’s like we’re dangling a little carrot in front of them to say, listen, that’s all ahead for you and you have to make sure that you perform in the league games – we perform away to Dundee United and we perform at home to Hamilton next week to make sure you’re in the side for that cup game.
“We’re not really bothered about who we get, we’ve worked ever so hard to get where we are, the players have put so much in and Sunday was a huge task going 2-0 down and then missing the penalty, there were so many lows in the game at the start and for the kids to mentally cope with that and still have enough to punch back when the game was quite open was pleasing.”
[pullquote]The reason I enjoy working with these young players is that I had the chance to be a professional footballer for so many years and I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the lifestyle and playing in front of the fans, I enjoyed the training aspect of it – everything about it is terrific.[/pullquote]
In light of a number of his young players penning contract extensions at Fir Park, the 20s boss admitted his delight with the development of his squad.
He said: “The reason I enjoy working with these young players is that I had the chance to be a professional footballer for so many years and I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the lifestyle and playing in front of the fans, I enjoyed the training aspect of it – everything about it is terrific.
“For these young players to get this opportunity, that’s the message that I try and drill home – if you don’t do it and you don’t do well someone else will just come along and take your contract.”
He added: “By doing the extra work and being more diligent in your diet and your sleep and all your stuff away from the park, you benefit.
“We’ve seen them benefitting this year because they’ve played well, they’ve been very consistent in their performances and I think they’ve all deserved it – starting from Allan Campbell and Jack McMillan right through to Ross MacLean, David Turnbull and most recently Jake Hastie, there has to be a carrot there for the other boys in the dressing room to encourage them to keep their form up for that bit longer and be the next one to get that contract.”
In terms of team news – Ross MacLean will be out after dislocating his shoulder and Craigan expects to have some first team stars step in to get game time.
Youth Cup semi-final drawMonday 23 January 2017
Motherwell U20s have been drawn against Hibernian or Celtic in the semi-final of the Scottish FA Youth Cup.
The youngsters defence of the trophy they lifted last season will have to overcome the challenge of either the Edinburgh or Glaswegian sides after Stephen Craigan’s youngsters progressed in dramatic fashion at Firhill yesterday.
A late strike from Dylan Mackin overcame an early 2-0 deficit to win 4-3 in front of a number of travelling ‘Well fans.
Hibs face Celtic in their postponed quarter final fixture, with the date of the clash to be confirmed.
Motorpoint Player of the MonthMonday 23 January 2017
Louis Moult has won the Motorpoint Player of the Month award for December, decided by you, the fans.
And now you have the chance to win something yourself – the opportunity to present Louis with his award!
Before the next home league clash on January 28, you will get to meet Louis, go trackside ahead of kick-off against Rangers and present the striker with his prize in front of the fans.
You will also be able to bring a friend to Fir Park because you’ll be awarded two complimentary tickets to watch the match.
Marketing and Fan Engagement manager Ryan Murrant said: “So far, this has been a great hit among the fans, getting to meet the player himself, walking on the park ahead of kick off in front of a busy Fir Park crowd and of course winning tickets too.
“Congratulations to Louis who has won back-to-back player of the month awards – it’s a terrific achievement.”
He added: “You’ll be presenting the striker with his great award and we would like to thank our friends at Motorpoint for helping us get our fans more and more involved. It’s something for the lucky winners to look forward to!”
To enter the competition, click here and follow two simple steps.
TV: Highlights from FirhillSunday 22 January 2017
The best of the action from Firhill as the Under 20s come from behind to secure a 3-4 win over Partick Thistle Under 20s.
Craigan: Youngsters are full of heartSunday 22 January 2017
U20s boss Stephen Craigan watched his side put in a spirited performance to battle back from an early setback to win 4-3 in the Scottish FA Youth Cup this afternoon.
His side, who are now in the semi-final of the competition they won last season, were two down within nine minutes but a late winner from Mackin sealed a stunning comeback victory.
Speaking to MFC TV, Craigan hailed the attitude of his players who he believes would run through brick walls for each other and for him too.
He said: “It’s funny because I spoke to the players just before we left Fir Park and while we were having our pre-match meal and a chat, I said to them that they haven’t played a competitive game since we beat Aberdeen in the league in December so there would be questions asked today.
“Physically, mentally, how could they cope? Can you go through periods of the game when you’re feeling tired and you’re mentally fatigued, can you raise yourself through that?”
He added: “The opponent you’re playing against is going to ask you questions today, do you have the answers? And then can you go on and ask them questions?
[pullquote]The one thing you learn about this group of players, and I said this to them after the game, is that no matter how many people fire questions at them or throw accusations at them – they always have an answer.[/pullquote]
“I didn’t expect to be 2-0 down after six or seven minutes but that happens in football sometimes.”
Speaking about the attitude of his players, to not only come back to lead at the break but to win the game late on, Craigan said: “The one thing you learn about this group of players, and I said this to them after the game, is that no matter how many people fire questions at them or throw accusations at them – they always have an answer.
“They go through brick walls for you, they’re determined, they’re full of heart and they’re full of desire and that makes me proud to say that about them.”
He added: “You can’t give them that, that’s something you have within, that’s something that makes you ask those questions – do I want to go that extra little bit? Do I want to be a football player on a tough day when the pitch is heavy and we’re two goals down?
“At 3-3 do you have the bottle to really go for that winning goal? And they did.
I wasn’t surprised they had it, but at times you question do they and they certainly answered that today.
“It was a tough day, it was an emotional day for both managers, but I’m just delighted to be through.”
[pullquote]Thistle move the ball well, Scott McKenzie has them playing terrific football and Nesbit up front is a real handful you can tell he’s played first team football. [/pullquote]
Falling behind within just a few minutes was a blow but, as outlined by U20s assistant Keith Lasley, the fact it came early doors allowed the youngsters to kick on and respond.
Craigan said: “It really doesn’t give them much of a chance. After the opening goal that they scored early on, which was a soft goal to concede, Keith said to me that the positive about it was that it was so early in the game, it gives you a chance to get back in to it.
“But yet when we score the winning goal with three or four minutes to go, it’s difficult for them to raise themselves up again and psychologically you feel you get the better of them.
“Over the piece, to come to an away fixture at a tough venue against a team who I would class as one of the best 20s teams in the league is pleasing.”
He added: “Thistle move the ball well, Scott McKenzie has them playing terrific football and Nesbit up front is a real handful you can tell he’s played first team football.
“So you have to cope with all of this, and we did.”
Partick U20s 3 – 4 Motherwell U20sSunday 22 January 2017
Motherwell U20s booked their spot in the Scottish FA Youth Cup semi-final with a dramatic 4-3 win against Partick Thistle this afternoon.
Dylan Mackin’s 87th minute winner secured the all important victory as the youngsters got 2017 off to a winning start.
And it was the forward who bagged the crucial first goal for the ‘Well after Partick found themselves two up after just ten minutes, before Davie Turnbull and Jake Hastie fired Craigan’s youngsters in to a 3-2 half time lead.
Thistle equalised early in the second 45 but the U20s didn’t give up and kept their defence of the cup alive in stunning fashion and have scored 13 goals in their last two games.
Stephen Craigan recalled Ross MacLean and Jack McMillan to his starting eleven following the duos impressive spells in the first team, while Jordan Pettigrew replaced PJ Morrison in goals for the young Steelmen.
But it was Partick who started brightest and it was an unfortunate opening few minutes for Pettigrew, who spilled a cross only to see Callum Wilson arrive to tap in from a yard.
And before ten minutes had passed, the hosts had two. A cross from the right flank was headed on goal from Kevin Nisbet and it flew past Pettigrew courtesy of a slight deflection and after a mixture of both and unlucky and poor start the Steelmen had given themselves a hugely uphill task at Firhill.
However, in the 16th minute, Dylan Mackin rose well to head home Davie Turnbull’s pinpoint corner and raise the spirits for Craigan and his cup holding youngsters.
That kicked the Fir Parkers in to life and they were unfortunate not to be level in the 20th minute when MacLean tried his luck from range and Conor Cullen produced a wonderful save to tip the deflected strike round his post.
With just under ten minutes of the half remaining, Hastie gifted the Steelmen a terrific chance to draw level when he beat Thistle full-back McInally with ease and was dragged to the deck, forcing referee Ross Hardie to point to the spot.
Turnbull, on fine form of late, was denied by keeper Conor Cullen and the hosts remained ahead.
However, the youngster made amends when he got on the end of a loose ball after Cullen produced a fine save and levelled with just under five minutes left in the half.
And, on the stroke of half time, the youngsters managed to drag themselves in to a half time lead when Hastie lashed high and hard in to the roof of the net.
It was an action packed first half and the spectators were afforded the chance to take a breath as the half time whistle was blown.
The second half got off to a slower start and the first action of the period was a substitution, when MacLean was forced to leave the field of play with an injury – he was replaced by Reece Rintoul.
In the 57th minute, Thistle drew level and it was a scrappy build up completed by a neat finish. ‘Well failed to clear and Nisbet bagged his second of the match with a guided, low in near the base of the post.
After an hour, it looked like Motherwell may get back in front though if it wasn’t for some alert defending from full-back Ross Fleming, who steered Hastie’s cutback clear of the danger.
In a fairly quiet second period, perhaps the best chance of the second 45 fell for Allan Campbell with just over ten minutes remaining, but the midfielder had to stretch as he was faced up against the onrushing Thistle stopper. He didn’t get enough on it and Cullen gathered the ball.
Thislte hadn’t really tested Pettigrew too much after the equalising goal until the 82nd minute when a good cross was headed on target by Nisbet but it was straight at Pettigrew who saved comfortably.
Up the other end of the pitch and with just a couple of minutes left, Mackin tapped in the winning goal after Campbell’s terrific ball across goal.
Making no mistake, the tall forward passed in to the open net to book the Steelmen’s place in the semi-final of the Scottish FA Youth Cup.