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    Coach Jim Hollman departs

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    McManus: Next game is most important

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    McGhee: We’ll start again

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    TV: Highlights from Station Park

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    Craigan: Professional performance

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    Dundee Utd U20s 0 – 3 Motherwell U20s

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    Collum to officiate Gers clash

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    Craigan: Looking forward to every game

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    Youth Cup semi-final draw

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    Motorpoint Player of the Month

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    Coach Jim Hollman departs

    Motherwell FC can today confirm the departure of Goalkeeping Coach Jim Hollman, who has joined English League One side Northampton Town.

    After spells with Ipswich Town, Norwich City and Cardiff City, Hollman arrived at Fir Park in the summer of 2015, appointed by then boss Ian Baraclough to replace Gordon Marshall who had moved on to Aberdeen.

    Jim was a popular figure amongst the players and staff at the club, and leaves with everyone’s very best wishes. The club will now look to appoint a replacement as soon as possible.

    ‘Well boss Mark McGhee said: “We have all really enjoyed working with Jim and thank him for his tremendous work with the club over the past eighteen months.

    “He was offered a position at Northampton and wished to give it a go. We have a few potential candidates in mind to replace Jim and as soon as we can, we’ll appoint his successor.”

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    McManus: Next game is most important

    Stephen McManus admits he can’t wait to get back to business on Saturday after last weekend’s Scottish Cup exit.

    The defender doesn’t feel it matters that the Steelmen play Rangers again, insisting that the next game is always the most important one regardless of opposition.

    And speaking to the press at Motorpoint this morning, the ex-Scotland captain revealed his heartbreak last weekend, but his desire to push past it.

    McManus said: “It was good to get back in to training on Monday, that was the big thing because we were devastated as a group, really disappointed.

    “That was probably the worst I’ve felt in my full career after a game.”

    He added: “Saturday was tough, Saturday night was tough, Sunday was tough – so it was good to come in to work on Monday and get back to training.

    [pullquote]Saturday was tough, Saturday night was tough, Sunday was tough – so it was good to come in to work on Monday and get back to training.[/pullquote]

    “Some of us don’t always train on a Monday but for me it was a big, big thing to get back on the pitch, back among the boys in preparing for Saturday.”

    Reflecting on the final five minutes of the match, McManus said: “When the second goal went in and as soon as the ball had left my boot I could see it happening that they were going to score so at that point of the game it was difficult.

    “For me it was really disappointing and yes mistakes happen in the game so you have to put it behind you and move on – you need to face up to the music and that’s how it goes.”

    He added: “I’ll make mistakes in the future and I’ve made mistakes in the past, everybody does, but it’s about how you react from it and that’s the biggest thing.

    “At 34 you’re sitting there, you’ve experienced a lot in your career from the highs of winning leagues, losing leagues, losing cups and winning cups – pretty much everything, but for me Saturday was the toughest thing I’ve had to take.”

    The 34-year-old admitted that it doesn’t matter who the Steelmen play this weekend, it’s just important to get back to action quickly.

    [pullquote]I think everybody that comes to our place knows that they’ll be up against a side that will give their all for the manager, for the supporters and now it’s just about us finding that blend of consistency.[/pullquote]

    He said: “For me it wouldn’t matter if we were playing Manchester United, Real Madrid or whoever – the next game is always the most important one.

    “It’s good to get back to league business now, it’s good to have the winter break out the road and we know where we’re at as a squad.

    “Hopefully we can get a couple of new faces in for the remainder of the season and we’ll look to kick on.”

    He added: “We’ve not really hit top form consistently this season when you see how well we’ve played against Celtic – that’s the level we can play at and we know that.

    “The manager has tinkered with his formation and his line-up at times and that’s just to try and find the right blend, the right style of play that suits us with the players we’ve got at our disposal.”

    On Saturday’s opposition, McManus said: “Rangers are a good side, there’s no doubt about it and they have players that can hurt you.

    “I think everybody that comes to our place knows that they’ll be up against a side that will give their all for the manager, for the supporters and now it’s just about us finding that blend of consistency.”

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    McGhee: We’ll start again

    ‘Well boss Mark McGhee admits that he is over last weekend’s cup loss and is just focussing on moving up the league table.

    The Steelmen face Rangers for the second time in the space of a week as Premiership football gets back underway in 2017.

    And speaking to the press this morning at Motorpoint in Glasgow, McGhee revealed his hopes for another good performance on Saturday.

    He said: “We were back in yesterday and we’re over it. It was a huge disappointment but we’ve got another important game on Saturday, another opportunity, so we’ll start again.

    “I’m experienced enough to get over it because it’s not the end of the world and I know there’s other games, but you just have to be honest in these situations and at that time that was how I felt.”

    [pullquote]We were back in yesterday and we’re over it. It was a huge disappointment but we’ve got another important game on Saturday, another opportunity, so we’ll start again.[/pullquote]

    He added: “It was an opportunity missed in all sorts of ways because I was very ambitious about the cup this year – I had high expectations and I felt if we could get past that one and maybe get a little bit of luck in the draw then who knows what could have happened.”

    With competitive football firmly back in business after a three-week winter break, McGhee expressed his feelings about the stop-start flow this season.

    He said: “I’ve said this before but I don’t feel our season has started. It’s stalled and stalled with international breaks, injuries and all sorts and I just don’t feel like there’s been a flow yet.

    “On Saturday I saw it as an opportunity to really kick on, I saw it as a starting point for the proper performance of our season.

    “All of these things went through my head at the time, I was disappointed, but I’m over it.”

    It was Rangers of course who inflicted the cup heartbreak on McGhee and his side, but the manager is under no illusions that playing Rangers so soon after will play any part on this weeks game – it is a fresh fixture and bears no relevance.

    The boss said: “The fact it’s Rangers on Saturday isn’t all that important. We just move on, it’s about the three points and we’ve just got to get up the table.

    [pullquote]They’ll have seen us up close on Saturday and learnt some things about us so there’s that as well, but we just have to see what we can learn from Saturday and perhaps even improve our performance.[/pullquote]

    “You can say all you like about revenge but it won’t be revenge – if we win on Saturday it won’t be revenge for last Saturday because that’s done – it’ll be three points that will contribute to our safety and our push for a top six spot.

    “The fact it’s the same opposition is coincidental but they’ll have one or two back so their team might be slightly different.”

    He added: “They’ll have seen us up close on Saturday and learnt some things about us so there’s that as well, but we just have to see what we can learn from Saturday and perhaps even improve our performance.”

    Looking ahead to Saturday following last weekend, McGhee said: “I can look at all the positives from last weekend but just as importantly I’m looking at the first half from Saturday and thinking about what didn’t work well because I was disappointed with our first half performance.

    “On Saturday the best team won, there’s no doubt about that, but the best team doesn’t always win and we set ourselves up for a certain type of performance which we didn’t fully execute in the first half but we did in the second half, to give ourselves a chance to beat opposition who are proving week-in, week-out that they’re better than us.”

    He added: “So you can beat teams that are better than you and it’s those things that I thought about before the game, that we didn’t do in the first half, that I’ve got to reinforce this week to make sure we do in the first half this week.”

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    TV: Highlights from Station Park

    Extended highlights from Station Park where Stephen Craigan’s Under 20s overcame Dundee Utd in a 0-3 win.

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    Craigan: Professional performance

    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.”

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    Dundee Utd U20s 0 – 3 Motherwell U20s

    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

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    Collum to officiate Gers clash

    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.

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    Craigan: Looking forward to every game

    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.

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    Youth Cup semi-final draw

    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.

     

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    Motorpoint Player of the Month

    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.