Stephen Robinson discusses the loss of Trevor Carson, the influx of young talent in the team and the weekend visit to West Lothian.
- First team
Manager previews the trip to LivingstonFriday 30 October 2020
Hibernian at home next in SWPL1Thursday 29 October 2020
Motherwell return to home action in SWPL1 action on Sunday, with the visit of Hibernian.
Having lost the opening fixture at Forfar Farmington, Eddie Wolecki Black’s team are in action at Airdrie’s Penny Cars Stadium. Kick off is at 12.30pm.
The game is closed to supporters.
Tale of the tape
Hibs have won all six encounters between the two sides, dating back to a first encounter in the Scottish Cup in June 2017.
The last home match for the women of steel resulted in a 2-0 loss back in September last year.
A 4-2 loss at Forfar Farmington kicked off the campaign for Motherwell two weekends ago.
Hibernian meanwhile were 2-1 home winners against Spartans.
Manager looking to bounce back
“We didn’t start the season the way we wanted against Forfar,” said manager Eddie Wolecki Black.
“Hibernian are obviously a tough test but we’ve shown in our last few home matches with them that we can cause problems.
“Again, the team will play with no fear. Every game is an opportunity and we’ll be ready for the task in hand.”
- First team
Storylines: Livingston v MotherwellThursday 29 October 2020
Motherwell travel to West Lothian to take on Livingston next in the Scottish Premiership.
Here are the storylines going into Saturday’s match.
A difficult place to visit
Since Livingston’s return to the top flight in 2018, Almondvale has not been a happy hunting ground for the Steelmen.
The first visit in August 2018 brought a 1-0 win in the League Cup, thanks to Danny Johnson’s goal.
But since then, Livi have won twice, with a 0-0 draw sandwiched in between.
Their home form points to why. In 2020 to date, they are unbeaten in nine of their 12 home matches.
Change between the posts
Injury to Trevor Carson means manager Stephen Robinson has a decision to make for the trip along the M8.
Aaron Chapman proved himself to be an able deputy when he stepped in against Ross County on Saturday, helping to keep the team’s clean sheet.
Competition has arrived in the form of Jordan Archer, the Scotland international ‘keeper who signed on Wednesday after spending last season with promotion-winning Fulham.
A chance to climb
Both sides are currently locked on 11 points in the Premiership table, with Motherwell ahead on goal difference and having played two games fewer.
Saturday’s encounter provides an opportunity for both sides to potentially break into the top six.
With fifth-placed Kilmarnock on 14 points and sixth-placed Dundee United on 13, a win for either side could propel them into the top half.
- First team
How to watch Livingston v MotherwellThursday 29 October 2020
A live stream is available of Livingston v Motherwell on Saturday.
The Scottish Premiership match can be watched in two ways, depending on where you are in the world.
Fans based in the UK and Republic of Ireland can purchase a pay-per-view match pass from Livingston FC for £20 at ppv.livingstonfc.co.uk.
If you’re outside of the UK/Ireland, you can watch by taking out a monthly subscription for £15 which covers all of our Premiership matches at live.motherwellfc.co.uk.
The game will also be shown in full again on BBC Alba at 6pm on Saturday.
- First team
Jordan Archer added to the squadWednesday 28 October 2020
Jordan Archer has joined on a short-term deal until the January window.
The 27-year-old Scotland international goalkeeper has been drafted in following a knee injury to Trevor Carson which will keep the Northern Irishman out of action for several months.
“We’ve moved quickly after learning that Trevor would be out for a prolonged period,” said manager Stephen Robinson of the move, which is subject to international clearance.
“To be able to bring in a ‘keeper of Jordan’s quality is fortunate and he will challenge Aaron Chapman for the jersey.
“Jordan has been capped by Scotland and played games in the Championship and League One in England. He arrives with a strong pedigree.
“We had a decision whether to bring someone else in or bring back PJ Morrison from his loan at Falkirk.
“Given that PJ is likely to play for them this weekend and stake a claim for a regular spot, we felt it was best for his development to remain there.”
Archer came through the ranks at Tottenham Hotspur, spending four years at White Hart Lane.
Although he never tasted first-team football, he enjoyed five separate spells out on loan, gaining experience from the Southern Football League to the Championship.
It was whilst with his last loan club, Millwall, where he impressed enough to earn a permanent move following the expiry of his contract at Spurs.
He was the new number one at the New Den, earning the Player of the Year vote in his debut season.
The Lions were promoted back to the Championship in his second season, and it was around that time the Londoner received his first call into the Scotland squad under boss Gordon Strachan, owing to his Clydebank-born grandparents.
He made his full international debut against Peru in May 2018, on the same day future team-mate Stephen O’Donnell also made his first outing in dark blue, together with then ‘Well player Chris Cadden. That added to his 23 caps gained at Under 19, Under 20 and Under 21 level for the national team.
Archer left Millwall last summer and had short spells with League One side Oxford and Premiership-bound Fulham before Covid-19 paused the season.
“I’m glad to be here, and I’m ready if called upon,” said the goalkeeper.
“It’s an opportunity for me to try and play games. It’s my first time playing club football in Scotland, and I am looking forward to the new challenge.”
- First team
Trevor Carson out with knee injuryWednesday 28 October 2020
Trevor Carson will spend time on the sidelines with a knee issue.
The goalkeeper requires an operation on the injury sustained during Saturday’s win over Ross County.
It will not become clear how long the Northern Irishman will require to spend out of action until after the procedure takes place.
However, it is expected he will be absent for a minimum of three months.
“It is a blow to lose Trevor,” said manager Stephen Robinson. “He has done so well since he’s got back into the side and also getting back into the national team.
“We will support him through his recovery and hope that he makes a quick and full return to fitness.
“We brought in Aaron Chapman as cover previously, and we are evaluating whether we now need to bring in another goalkeeper to cover Trevor’s absence.”
Carson, 32, has made 76 appearances for Motherwell since joining the club in the summer of 2017.
The Northern Ireland international goalkeeper previously recovered from deep vein thrombosis, which ruled him out for the bulk of the 2018/19 season.
- First team
Duo called into Scotland Under 21 squadWednesday 28 October 2020
Allan Campbell and Barry Maguire are in the Scotland squad for their European Under 21 Championship qualifying double header.
The national side are at home to Croatia and then away to Greece, as they push to qualify for next year’s competition.
The young Scots are a point behind group leaders Czech Republic, with a game in hand, as they look to make the finals for the first time since 1996.
No fear for the women of steelWednesday 28 October 2020
Glasgow City going for their 14th successive league title. Celtic and Rangers pouring big investment into the teams. Hearts joining the division. Hibs continuing to look strong.
If the Scottish Women’s Premier League 1 was previously a formidable league for Motherwell, that challenge has only intensified further in the last 12 months or so.
But despite that strength elsewhere, the women of steel also have plenty to offer. One of those things is the lack of fear when taking on the challenges that lie ahead.
With Eddie Wolecki Black at the helm, Motherwell returned to league action with a 4-2 loss at Forfar Farmington on Sunday.
Scottish women’s football’s most successful coach has made it clear to his squad that he wants more success in Lanarkshire.
“He’s very ambitious,” says forward Lori Gardner. “His message to the squad is just not to fear anything. We’ve got nothing to lose, go into every game to win.
“We’re not just there to take part. We want to compete and win in every game. And that’s his message in every training session, about how we can hurt teams in the league.”
Wolecki Black famously led Glasgow City to four successive domestic trebles between 2011 and 2015, and also took them as far the Women’s Champions League quarter-final for the first time in his final season.
He returned to the women’s game in 2017 and was instrumental in securing Motherwell promotion to the top flight and helping them reach the 2018 Women’s Scottish Cup final.
In December last year, he made the move back to Lanarkshire, hoping to improve on last season’s sixth-place finish.
He set to work strengthening the side all over the park with with the likes of goalkeeper Khym Ramsay, defender Lauren Gallon and midfielder Kodie Hay all joining, while he has added more firepower up front in the shape of Lisa Swanson and Nicole Pullar.
“We want to be competitive in every game,” said Gardner. “Last season I think we were just stuck in mid-table, but obviously this season we want to push on from that.
“We’ve got a lot of new players in, we’ve got a good squad. There’s no reason why we can’t compete with the top teams and get further up the league.
“I think it’s good to have a manager who’s got that experience. He’s brought in a lot of good players as well that have been at clubs he’s previously worked with. So there’s a good mix and there’s a good feel about the place.
“Obviously there’s other coaching staff there as well, there’s not just Eddie. There’s Stewart Hall and Willie Kinniburgh and they bring great experience. Stewart has worked in the women’s game for a long time and Willie’s worked in the men’s game. There’s a good balance around the club.
“All the girls get on really well which helps. Everyone is wanting to be part of a team. We’re all helping each other. It’s just a good environment to be around just now.”
In Motherwell’s next two games, they host last season’s top two Hibernian and champions Glasgow City.
The headlines around the SWPL have cantered on Rangers and Celtic going full-time, setting the stage for the most competitive season the league has ever been.
If Motherwell are to compete then the form of tenacious forward Gardner will be pivota. But it’s an expectation the Bellshill-born 23-year-old is happy to take on.
“Obviously I want to score as many goals as possible but I just want to help the team,” said Gardner, who made the move from Hamilton Academical in 2019.
“I’ve been playing up front for the past few seasons but I quite like playing out wide so, getting more assists to my game is something I look forward to trying to do this season.
“The strength of the league is good for the women’s game in Scotland. Rangers and Celtic are now pushing on with Hibs and Glasgow City. So there’s a more competitive edge to the league, especially for the title and Champions League spots.
“It’ll be good to be part of this year. It’s exciting with all the new players coming to the Scottish game.”
For now, games are being played behind closed doors due to the current pandemic, but when the gates do open again Gardner has pinpointed one team-mate fans should look out for.
“Abby Callaghan,” she said. “She’s in and around the Scotland Under 19 squad just now, she’s an exciting young player. I think she’s one to watch.”
By Andrew Southwick
- Reserves & Under 18s
Stuart McKinstry making strides with Leeds UnitedTuesday 27 October 2020
At the age of just 16, Stuart McKinstry was faced with a massive decision.
Having already made the bench for the first team at his boyhood heroes Motherwell, the talented midfielder was in demand and attracting interest from elsewhere.
Of the sides linked with Stuart, a sleeping giant of English football really stood out amongst the crowd and presented him with a decision that the youngster still considers the most difficult of his life so far.
Leeds United tabled an offer for the Steelmen prospect and – following much deliberation – he would swap Fir Park for Elland Road.
In the 16 months that have followed, Stuart has settled well with the Lilywhites, nailing down a regular place with the club’s Under 23s and regularly training with Marcelo Bielsa’s first team.
In August, he signed a three-year extension to his deal with United, continuing a whirlwind journey that he feels he owes a great deal of gratitude to Motherwell for.
“I’m really enjoying it, having the chance to have the chance to train with the first team almost every day and the club being in the Premier League,” said McKinstry. “It’s a great opportunity and hopefully that can continue.
“When I heard about the interest, I wanted it so badly. But I’m quite a home person and a Motherwell fan, so to make the decision to leave was the hardest of my life.
“I couldn’t make it off the top of my head. I had to look at it in detail and work out the rights and the wrongs of the situation.
“In the end, I felt I had to move. I knew how big a club Leeds are and felt I could only go there and get better. It was the challenge I wanted and although leaving Motherwell wasn’t something that I wanted to do, it was too big an opportunity to turn down.
“Right now, that’s paying off. I’m playing every game for the 23s and after a lot of ups and downs during my first 12 months, I have found myself in a much better position than I was in this time last year.”
An early highlight for McKinstry came as Leeds took on Manchester United at Old Trafford in the quarter-final of the Youth Cup earlier this year.
Backed by almost 1500 travelling fans, it would end in disappointment for the youngsters as they were edged out 1-0.
For Stuart, it was a chance to thrive at one of the most iconic stadiums in world football and served as a reminder of the magnitude of the club for whom he had left home to join.
“I’d probably put that up there as one of the best nights of my life,” he recalled.
“The result didn’t go our way but the full build-up with the boys was amazing and there was always an extra buzz with the Youth Cup games.
“The fans made it so special for us all. I’ve thought back to that night so many times and I say to all the boys that if I had the chance to go back, then I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
“To take that sort of support to a Youth Cup tie shows how big a club Leeds are and how much the fans care for the club. It’ll stay with me forever.”
While their Youth Cup campaign ended in disappointment, Leeds’ first team were marching towards promotion to the Premier League after a 16-year absence from the top tier of the English game.
Following a three month wait for the resumption of fixtures due to the continued spread of coronavirus, Bielsa’s team would clinch the Championship title on the penultimate day of the season.
Their crowning moment sparked wild celebrations among the players, staff and their delirious supporters, the latter who had to make do with watching their side get the job done from the comfort of home, after enduring many years of near misses and heartache.
During his time in Yorkshire, Stuart has regularly trained with the Leeds first team and felt great pride in playing even a small role in their success.
“I spent that season around the first team players as they tried to get promoted and there was a real buzz about the place as we won games,” he added.
“I know a lot of the young boys didn’t play, but things like helping out in training because a player had picked up an injury or taking part in extra sessions helps make you feel part of the setup and drives you to try and achieve similar feats to what the players in the first team have.”
Another source of inspiration for McKinstry has come in the shape of legendary Argentine manager Bielsa.
“Sometimes you have to pinch yourself that you are working with someone as famous in the game as the manager is.
“He’s achieved so much and it’s something I never thought I’d be able to do especially at this young age.
“Hearing stories from famous players and managers about Marcelo and now being able to say that I have experienced what they have is something I can never take for granted. It’s an honour to train under such a well-known manager.”
While McKinstry is beginning to thrive in his new surroundings, his emotional attachment to Motherwell remains.
With his parents both Motherwell diehards, Stuart wasn’t out of nappies by the time he attended his first game at Fir Park and just like the rest of the family he was hooked almost instantly.
He was mascot the UEFA Champions League qualifier against Panathinaikos in 2012 and was part of the club’s youth academy from the age of 10.
During his final season at Fir Park, the athletic midfielder found was often part of Stephen Robinson’s squad and on a few occasions was named on the substitute bench, but just missed out on the chance to make his debut for the club.
Although he fell just short of fulfilling his dream in claret and amber, Stuart holds fond memories of his time with the Steelmen.
“I can’t describe how much I loved my time at Motherwell,” he smiled. “It was my dream growing up to be a Motherwell player.
“Growing up, I went to games from the age of one or two. I always wanted to play for the team and to have got so close to that happening and then suddenly not to be at the club was gutting for me, though I felt moving on was the right thing for me to do at that time.
“When I look back over the years at all the coaches and players, I just can’t thank everyone enough. Without certain people, I wouldn’t be where I am just now.
“The gaffer was so eager to involve me in things that he probably didn’t even need to. He did it off his own back and I’m really grateful.
“It was disappointing not to get to make my debut, but it’s something I’ll look back on with great memories. I never thought I’d get so far at Motherwell and to be able to say I was training with the first team at 15, on the bench at 16, as well as working alongside players I’d paid to watch – you can’t put a price on that.
“My experience at Motherwell was nothing but brilliant and there’s part of me wishes I could go back and live it all over again.
“I’m so thankful for everything the club did for me and hopefully I can pay them back one day.”
McKinstry, of course, is one of many young talents to have emerged from the ‘Well youth academy in recent years before heading for pastures new.
Aside from the higher profiles moves of the likes of James Scott and David Turnbull, there have also been moves for Reece McAlear (Norwich City) and Robbie Hemfrey (Stoke City) – something Stuart believes is a great endorsement for the club’s youth setup.
“It’s obviously not the ideal situation for Motherwell losing these players, but the club can be very proud of the way that the players have turned out through the way we’ve been coached,” McKinstry added.
“I’d been part of the academy since I was 10 and it’s played a massive part of getting me to where I am today.
“A lot of the coaches such as Stevie Hammell, Davie Clarkson and Stephen McManus really helped me towards getting into the first team environment. All the coaches and facilities were brilliant.”
Stuart’s dad John has made the journey down south to help him adjust away from home, though having his old man by his side is far from his only reminder of family life.
He continues to keep close tabs on the fortunes of his boyhood team and insists that will never change.
When pondering what lies ahead, Stuart is keen to stress he’s not setting himself any targets, though can’t hide his desire to continue to do his family proud.
“I’ve watched a good few Motherwell games this season and made a few games last season when I wasn’t playing,” he insisted. “Every opportunity I get, I’ll be back supporting the team.
“You can take me away from Motherwell, but the club are always going to be in my heart and I’ll always keep an eye out on everything that goes on. That’ll never change no matter where I am.
“Hopefully this season the team can do as well as they did in the previous one or even better. Knowing a lot of the lads still at the club, I’ll be right behind them and really hope they can do well.
“Personally, I’d like to remain where I am just now and impress in the 23’s by being a stand out player most weeks, with the view to moving into men’s football next season and taking that next step.
“I feel like I’m in a good place and don’t give myself any excuses to have bad games. I want to impress myself, my coaches and my family.
“I always go out to make my family proud. I’ll work as hard as I can and see where it takes me.
“Deep down, I know where I want to be and hopefully that will work out for me.”
- Reserves & Under 18s
Four ‘Well men in action on loanMonday 26 October 2020
PJ Morrison made his Falkirk debut as they were held 1-1 by Forfar Athletic at the weekend.
The Motherwell goalkeeper came off the bench after 65 minutes to replace Robbie Mutch, who was sent off as he gave away a penalty.
Morrison was unable to keep out the resulting spot kick but helped his side pick up the point.
Jamie Semple was also in action in League One as Cove Rangers kept up a 100% record with a 2-0 win at Peterhead.
Paul Hartley’s side now have two wins from two, with Semple playing 73 minutes of the match.
In the Championship, Ross MacIver came on in the 58th minute for Morton as they lost 1-0 at Dundee in the Championship, while Harry Robinson was an unused substitute as Queen of the South as they lost 5-2 at home to table-toppers Raith Rovers.
Meanwhile in the Lowland League, Sam Muir again started for Gretna as they lost 3-0 at home to BSC Glasgow.