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  • Women

    Montgomery gets Northern Ireland call

  • Women

    Johnston says women can mirror cup success

  • First team

    Scene setter: 2018/19’s first Lanarkshire derby

  • First team

    Motherwell recruit defender Christian Mbulu

  • First team

    Aldred thrilled to be back

  • First team

    Tom Aldred returns to Motherwell

  • First team

    In Numbers: Preparing for the derby

  • First team

    Hartley: Win the battle, win the derby

  • First team

    A coffee and a chat with Keith Lasley

  • Well Society

    Bid for player dressing room boards

  • Women

    Montgomery gets Northern Ireland call

    Montgomery gets Northern Ireland call

    Kerry Montgomery has been selected for Northern Ireland squad for their forthcoming World Cup qualifying double header against the Republic of Ireland and Slovakia.

    Montgomery, 30, joined ‘Well ahead of the 2018 campaign and has already bagged four goals in eight stars for the women of steel.

    The nine-times capped midfielder has been included in Alfie Wylie’s squad to face the Republic at the Tallaght Stadium in Dublin on Friday, 31 August, before heading back across the border to face the Slovaks at Shamrock Park, Portadown on Tuesday 4 September.

  • Women

    Johnston says women can mirror cup success

    Johnston says women can mirror cup success

    Motherwell Ladies defender Niamh Johnston believes the women of steel can mirror their male counterparts’ success in cup competitions this season.

    Eddie Wolecki Black’s side travel to Aberdeen on Sunday, as they aim to book their place in the quarter finals of the SSE Scottish Women’s Cup.

    Having seen Stephen Robinson guide the men to both the League Cup and Scottish Cup finals last season, Johnston is determined for the ladies to continue the trend.

    “It’s quite bizarre when you look at it, we are almost replicating the success of the men’s team,” she said. “I think it would be fair to say that due to their cup runs the men enjoyed one of the best seasons in their modern history and we are looking to mirror that success.

    “We’ve enjoyed a really successful league campaign so far, but as a footballer you love playing in cup competitions. I remember saying after the Rangers game in the League Cup back in February that I felt we just needed a few more weeks of working together to be at the level required – we’ve had that in abundance now.

    “We’re not going to get too ahead of ourselves, but we know when you get into the latter stages of a cup then anything can happen, our focus is firmly on beating Aberdeen and making sure we are in the draw for the last eight.”

    Motherwell returned to action last Sunday with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at St Johnstone. Despite moving another three points closer to the SWPL2 title, Johnston admits the players weren’t satisfied at the performance and now aim to put matters right against the Dons.

    “I think on Sunday a lot of us came into the dressing room after the game as if it had been a loss or a draw,” she added. “We had to look at the positives though, we came away with the three points, it was always going to be difficult and there was always going to be a bit of rust.

    “Tensions got pretty high on the park and that’s because we expect so much of ourselves, but it’s important to remember a lot of football is about momentum and it will take a few games for us to get back into our stride.

    “It’s also important to keep in mind that several our squad work full time and the break was an opportunity for some of them to go on their summer holidays – so even though we’ve been worked very hard in the past few weeks, that momentum has been broken up a little bit.”

    The two meetings between Motherwell and Aberdeen this season have been hugely contrasting. ‘Well cruised to a 6-0 victory in the clash at Braidhurst before a fiery 1-1 draw at the Aberdeen Sports Village in June in which three players in claret and amber saw red.

    Johnston, who served a two-match ban following her dismissal that day, admits it was a game that she struggled to get over, but insists the only focus on Sunday is reaching the last eight.

    “It took about a week to recover from the last Aberdeen game, it’s one that I will never forget,” Johnston reflected. “I think we must remember that we came away from it with a draw at a difficult venue, I’ve been up there with both Celtic and Rangers and never has it been easy to come away with a positive result.

    “We aren’t going their looking for revenge, we’ll remain professional having prepared well and looked at both meetings with Aberdeen this season, all our attentions are on reaching the next round.”

  • First team

    Scene setter: 2018/19’s first Lanarkshire derby

    Scene setter: 2018/19’s first Lanarkshire derby

    The first Lanarkshire derby of the season takes place on Saturday as Motherwell host Hamilton at Fir Park.

    The Steelmen play host for the first time in the Ladbrokes Premiership this campaign, having kicked off the season at Hibernian last week.

    A solid home record

    Motherwell have played two home games so far in 2018/19 in the Betfred Cup, racking up seven goals and keeping two clean sheets.

    A 5-0 win over Edinburgh City was followed up with a 2-0 victory against Queen of the South, as progression to the knockout stage was secured.

    Hamilton’s mixed results

    Accies, meanwhile, have endured a up and down start to the season. A 1-0 defeat at Annan Athletic started the campaign off, before a 0-0 draw with Livingston.

    Martin Canning’s side clicked into gear away at Berwick Rangers in their third match, with Mikel Miller bagging a hat-trick in a 4-0 win, before they were eliminated from the Betfred Cup after a 1-1 home draw with Airdrieonians.

    Both with points to prove

    Hamilton’s first league match of the season ended in a 4-1 home defeat to an impressive Hearts side, while Stephen Robinson’s men went down 3-0 at Hibernian.

    Both teams, however, showed their capabilities in flashes. Hamilton earned praise for their performance early on at home, while the ‘Well were impressive in the final 30 minutes at Easter Road, with Danny Johnson having a number of chances to get back in the game.

    Head to head

    There were five Lanarkshire derbies in the 2018/19 campaign, with Motherwell edging things with three wins and two defeats.

    The last encounter came towards the tail end of last season, when Nadir Ciftci bagged a double and the returning Tom Aldred scored in a comfortable 3-0 victory.

  • First team

    Motherwell recruit defender Christian Mbulu

    Christian Mbulu is the latest summer signing at Motherwell Football Club.

    The defender has joined after impressing during a short training stint at Fir Park, penning a deal until the end of the season.

    The 22-year-old will initially form part of Stephen Craigan’s young reserve group, but manager Stephen Robinson is hopeful he will push for a first team spot given time.

    “I’m excited, it’s a good platform for me to play some games,” Mbulu said as he signed on.

    “The manager told me how previous defenders who have been here have done, and how they have developed. So it’s a great opportunity for me to come here and try and realise my potential.”

    Mbulu was last with Millwall, leaving the English Championship club in the summer. Signed from Brentwood Town in 2015, he also spent time on loan in the National League with Braintree Town in 2017, making three appearances.

    Powerful and pacy, the London-born player was regularly involved in matchday squads with the Lions during the 2017/18 season.

    “I’m pleased to have Christian on board,” manager Robinson said. “He’s shown already what he’s capable of and, given time to settle and develop, I fully expect to see him pushing for first team contention.

    “He played in a reserve bounce game against Dundee during the week and he really impressed, so we are excited to see what he is capable of.”

  • First team

    Aldred thrilled to be back

    Speaking for the first time since sealing his return to Fir Park, Tom Aldred revealed his delight to be back in familiar surroundings. 

    The centre-back, who made 17 appearances in a six-month stint with the Steelmen last term, joins the club on a season long loan.

    The 27-year-old said: “I’m buzzing to be honest. Just walking back in to the stadium gave me a reminder of the memories I had here last season.

    “I’m really excited to be starting a campaign here compared to join half way through like I did last year, so I can’t wait to get going.”

  • First team

    Tom Aldred returns to Motherwell

    Tom Aldred returns to Motherwell

    Motherwell Football Club are delighted to confirm the return of defender Tom Aldred.

    The 27-year-old joins on loan from Bury for the remainder of the 2018/19 campaign.

    Tom is of course no stranger to ‘Well fans, having spent the second half of last season also on loan from the Shakers.

    The former Scotland youth international won many admirers amongst the Fir Park faithful for his wholehearted, aggressive style in the heart of the claret and amber rearguard.

    The ex Carlisle, Watford and Blackpool man, who will wear the number five shirt this season, will go straight into the squad for Saturday’s Lanarkshire derby with Hamilton.

    “I’m buzzing to be back,” Tom said. “It doesn’t feel as if I have been away.

    “Just getting back into the ground, it reignited great memories of last season here and I am keen to kick on again.

    “I am excited to start a season in Scotland and my hope is we can kick on again this term.”

    The commanding centre back was a standout in the second half of the 2017/18 campaign for the Steelmen, forming a formidable part of the defence that reached the Scottish Cup final and achieved a club record 20 clean sheets.

    During his first stint, Aldred ranked as the top defender outside of Celtic players for defensive duels won, winning 33% of his challenges.

    “We’re delighted to welcome Tom back to the club,” ‘Well boss Stephen Robinson added.

    “When Cédric Kipré left for Wigan late last week, we immediately turned to Tom.

    “He knows the club, the supporters and the majority of the players, so we hope he can transition in fairly quickly.”

  • First team

    In Numbers: Preparing for the derby

    In Numbers: Preparing for the derby

    The first home fixture of the season pits the Steelmen against local rivals Hamilton in the Ladbrokes Premiership. 

    Here are some key numbers and stats you need to know ahead of the first Lanarkshire Derby of the 2018/19 campaign.

    17

    The number of cards shown by a referee in the meetings between ‘Well and Accies last season.

    16 of those were yellows, with a perfect split of eight apiece shown to both the Steelmen and Accies.

    Peter Hartley picked up the only red card between the two last term, in an off-the-ball incident during the Hogmanay encounter.

    Three

    The consecutive run of games Motherwell have gone without conceding a goal at Fir Park.

    That run started with a 3-0 victory over Hamilton, in the final home fixture of the 2017/18 campaign.

    Since then, Stephen Robinson’s side haven’t had to pick the ball out of the net on their own turf.

    264

    The combined number of goals Motherwell have scored against Hamilton, dating back to the first encounter between the two back in 1888.

    The two rivals have met on 145 occasions, meaning the Steelmen have averaged 1.8 goals per game in the derby.

    One

    Hamilton’s solitary goal scored is the only difference between the two clubs ahead of Saturday’s encounter.

    Both ‘Well and Accies have the same goal difference, which piles added incentive on to both sides in the second game of the season.

  • First team

    Hartley: Win the battle, win the derby

    Hartley: Win the battle, win the derby

    From joining on deadline day a year ago to becoming captain and spending almost six months on the sidelines in between, Peter Hartley has had a rollercoaster time at Fir Park already.

    Now back at the forefront of the action and back at the heart of the defence, the 30-year-old is leading a team where expectations have risen after a fantastic 2017/18 campaign.

    After coming through the Betfred Cup group stage this season undefeated, an opening league defeat to Hibernian had the potential to knock the team back, but Hartley says nobody is concerned and the weekend’s result is already consigned to history.

    “Obviously nobody likes a defeat but it’s done and dusted,” he said. “Obviously it’s not nice stuff but it’s three points gone, and it’s only three points, and you move on.

    “Regardless of losing three goals, we also had chances and maybe we could have got something on a different day.

    “We have to keep perspective. Especially with the injuries we had and the players missing for whatever reason.

    “But we also know that the expectation levels are higher. Those are expectations we’ve earned as a team because of what we did last year, and we know the fans might expect more.

    “Obviously in the dressing room we have targets and then we got off to a start which wasn’t the best. But our mindset doesn’t change. You go out wanting to win but you come out of it knowing that sometimes you don’t, but you always keep the mindset going forward that any game is winnable.

    “Let’s be realistic also. We know the season isn’t going to be determined by one result.”

    Having made his move to ML1 permanent in January, and becoming an overnight internet star with his signing video, Hartley suffered a setback with a foot injury which ruled him out of the remainder of the campaign.

    The road back to fitness had its ups and downs but the Englishman says he’s feeling almost back to his old self.

    “In the first few weeks, I’d say I was quite leggy, just getting back up to speed in terms of the way our team plays,” he explained. “We do a lot of running and there’s a lot of physical play. I feel like I’m getting up to top speed now. I am improving every game and I can feel the progression.

    “There have been times I can feel little bits of frustration. There’s peaks and troughs, and it’s all about how you deal with it mentally. I’ve learned with experience not to get too frustrated, just keep doing what I do and it’ll come, and not expect too much too soon.

    “It’s a cliche but it’s true – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’ve got 38 games to play. You can’t expect to hit the ground running every game. I’m just trying to just get myself back to the standard I know I can set.”

    Taking over the captaincy in the summer from close friend Carl McHugh could have been a difficult situation for a player to be in. But with the situation handled with care, and his team-mate fully behind his replacement after taking his own decision to stand down, Hartley says there’s been no noticeable adjustments in the dressing room.

    “I haven’t changed anything personally,” he explained. “I’m quite natural with the way I do things anyway. I’m not going to change because I’ve got a responsibility. I felt like I had that responsibility anyway last season being part of the group, so i’ll just keep doing what I do.

    “We’ve got a lot of people in the dressing room that anyone can speak to. We’ve got a good team with leaders and experience players. It’s a great group and there’s been no transition period for me.

    “It’s been easy. Especially with Carl and how everything has been handled. I’ve been in dressing rooms before where there can be resentment when changes like this happen. But it’s honestly been great and the dressing room dynamic hasn’t changed at all.”

    Hartley is fond of a derby clash, taking the game with Hamilton in particular as one that requires a mentality that you’re in an all-or-nothing clash from the off.

    “When you play Hamilton, the team that generally wins the battle wins the derby. You seen it last season when we beat them three times and then got beat twice. You’ve got to try and get the first goal and you’ve got to win your battles.

    “As players know that it in a derby, you have to play as a team. If you go out as individuals, you’re going to get smashed to pieces.

    “We have to have a high tempo but also keep it simple. We haven’t conceded at home yet this season and we’ve won all our games, so we’ve set a standard that Fir Park is a hard place to come.

    We can already see that across the league, everyone is making improvements. The standard of of the so-called big teams in this league has just gone through the roof. You see improvements at Hibs, at Celtic, at Rangers, at Aberdeen.

    “I think the standards have been raised again and then it falls to us. We can’t stand still. Everything we have done this summer tells you we know we won’t settle for it. We’ve got to keep moving forward and improve ourselves as a team, and we know we’re capable of it.”

    Now back at the forefront of the action and back at the heart of the defence, the 30-year-old is leading a team where expectations have risen after a fantastic 2017/18 campaign.

    After coming through the Betfred Cup group stage this season undefeated, an opening league defeat to Hibernian had the potential to knock the team back, but Hartley says nobody is concerned and the weekend’s result is already consigned to history.

    “Obviously nobody likes a defeat but it’s done and dusted,” he said. “Obviously it’s not nice stuff but it’s three points gone, and it’s only three points, and you move on.

    “Regardless of losing three goals, we also had chances and maybe we could have got something on a different day.

    “We have to keep perspective. Especially with the injuries we had and the players missing for whatever reason.

    “But we also know that the expectation levels are higher. Those are expectations we’ve earned as a team because of what we did last year, and we know the fans might expect more

    “Obviously in the dressing room we have targets and then we got off to a start which wasn’t the best. But our mindset doesn’t change. You go out wanting to win but you come out of it knowing that sometimes you don’t, but you always keep the mindset going forward that any game is winnable.

    “Let’s be realistic also. We know the season isn’t going to be determined by one result.”

    Having made his move to ML1 permanent in January, and becoming an overnight internet star with his signing video, Hartley suffered a setback with a foot injury which ruled him out of the remainder of the campaign.

    The road back to fitness had its ups and downs but the Englishman says he’s feeling almost back to his old self.

    “In the first few weeks, I’d say I was quite leggy, just getting back up to speed in terms of the way our team plays,” he explained. “We do a lot of running and there’s a lot of physical play. I feel like I’m getting up to top speed now. I am improving every game and I can feel the progression.

    “There have been times I can feel little bits of frustration. There’s peaks and troughs, and it’s all about how you deal with it mentally. I’ve learned with experience not to get too frustrated, just keep doing what I do and it’ll come, and not expect too much too soon.

    “It’s a cliche but it’s true – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’ve got 38 games to play. You can’t expect to hit the ground running every game. I’m just trying to just get myself back to the standard I know I can set.”

    Taking over the captaincy in the summer from close friend Carl McHugh could have been a difficult situation for a player to be in. But with the situation handled with care, and his team-mate fully behind his replacement after taking his own decision to stand down, Hartley says there’s been no noticeable adjustments in the dressing room.

    “I haven’t changed anything personally,” he explained. “I’m quite natural with the way I do things anyway. I’m not going to change because I’ve got a responsibility. I felt like I had that responsibility anyway last season being part of the group, so i’ll just keep doing what I do.

    “We’ve got a lot of people in the dressing room that anyone can speak to. We’ve got a good team with leaders and experience players. It’s a great group and there’s been no transition period for me.

    “It’s been easy. Especially with Carl and how everything has been handled. I’ve been in dressing rooms before where there can be resentment when changes like this happen. But it’s honestly been great and the dressing room dynamic hasn’t changed at all.”

    Hartley is fond of a derby clash, taking the game with Hamilton in particular as one that requires a mentality that you’re in an all-or-nothing clash from the off.

    “When you play Hamilton, the team that generally wins the battle wins the game. You seen it last season when we beat them three times and then got beat twice. You’ve got to try and get the first goal and you’ve got to win your battles.

    “As players know that it in a derby, you have to play as a team. If you go out as individuals, you’re going to get smashed to pieces.

    “We have to have a high tempo but also keep it simple. We haven’t conceded at home yet this season and we’ve won all our games, so we’ve set a standard that Fir Park is a hard place to come.

    We can already see that across the league, everyone is making improvements. The standard of of the so-called big teams in this league has just gone through the roof. You see improvements at Hibs, at Celtic, at Rangers, at Aberdeen.

    “I think the standards have been raised again and then it falls to us. We can’t stand still. Everything we have done this summer tells you we know we won’t settle for it. We’ve got to keep moving forward and improve ourselves as a team, and we know we’re capable of it.”

  • First team

    A coffee and a chat with Keith Lasley

    Ahead of the Lanarkshire derby, Keith Lasley sat down to discuss the week ahead in the first interview in our new coffee chat feature.

    The assistant boss touches on what can be learned from the opening day defeat at Hibs, and how the team plan to try and bounce back in their first home league fixture of the campaign.

    Our interview was filmed at the Windmills Cafe in Motherwell.

    Windmills is a social enterprise cafe in the heart of Motherwell which is committed to ensuring young people with learning disabilities have equal access to meaningful work experience opportunities. For more information, visit Windmills Cafe’s website.

  • Well Society

    Bid for player dressing room boards

    Bid for player dressing room boards

    Want to get your hands on a unique piece of Motherwell FC memorabilia?

    The Well Society are selling a number of dressing room boards the players would see when they came in for match in the 2017/18 season, which have all been signed by the relevant player.

    The boards available include those used in the home changing room at Fir Park, and also a selection of bespoke ones from our William Hill Scottish Cup final.

    Bidding on boards starts at between £45 and £50 per board. Remember, all money raised will be doubled through the Well Society scheme, meaning additional funds to benefit the club.

    The list of the available boards is below. These are available through the Well Society’s eBay page.

    Available boards

    Richard Tait (Scottish Cup)

    George Newell

    Carl McHugh (Scottish Cup)

    Charles Dunne

    Cédric Kipre (Scottish Cup)

    Liam Grimshaw (Scottish Cup)

    Elliott Frear

    Peter Hartley (Scottish Cup)

    Craig Tanner

    Richard Tait

    Carl McHugh

    Liam Grimshaw

    Gael Bigirimana

    Trevor Carson

    Chris Cadden

    Steven Hammell

    Andy Rose

    Andy Rose (Scottish Cup)

    George Newell (Scottish Cup)

    David Turnbull (Scottish Cup)

    Louis Moult

    Ryan Bowman