“That performance was everything we worked towards this week.”
- First team
Manager reacts to win over St JohnstoneSaturday 18 December 2021
- First team
Motherwell 2-0 St JohnstoneSaturday 18 December 2021
A thoroughly efficient performance from Motherwell was enough to see off a stuffy St Johnstone for a third consecutive home win.
Another early strike, and a first senior goal for youth academy graduate Dean Cornelius, should have set Motherwell up for a comfortable home win and three points.
But it took a second goal from Kevin van Veen 10 minutes into the second half to settle the Fir Park men and make it three wins without the loss of a goal at Fir Park.
Motherwell fans, having savoured two fabulous home wins against Dundee United and Hearts in their last appearances at Fir Park, anticipated another fine win and three points to hoist ‘Well into fourth place.
Conversely, St Johnstone on a miserable run of four consecutive defeats were hoping to give their fans some pre-Christmas cheer and at least a point that could lift them off the bottom of the league table.
Motherwell made three changes from the side which narrowly lost out at Celtic last time out.
Barry Maguire dropped out of the squad to be replaced by Liam Donnelly, while Sondre Solholm and Dean Cornelius came into the team at the expense of Jake Carroll and Callum Slattery respectively.
The goalkeepers saw little of the ball in an untidy opening spell when neither team seemed capable of using the perfect pitch with the ball too often played in the air.
Then in the 17th minute, Motherwell snatched the lead. Sean Goss whipped in a low cross from the left. When the ball was only cleared as far as Cornelius just outside the area, the 20-year-old chested the ball down before driving it low inside Clark’s right-hand post.
That seemed to have given the home side a lift and Stephen O’Donnell’s long ball sent Kevin van Veen brushing Liam Gordon aside as his final shot was deflected behind.
When Donnelly’s corner was cleared beyond the penalty area, O’Donnell met it full on the volley and his stunning shot was destined to test Clark before it was also deflected behind the ‘keeper’s goal.
Another wonderful touch from Van Veen sent the Saints’ defenders the wrong way but the Dutchman’s finishing drive sent the ball high into the stand.
As the half hour approached, Callum Davidson’s men were starting to make their presence felt around Kelly’s goal although the keeper’s only catch was cutting out a Glenn Middleton cross.
Then as the Fir Park side repeatedly failed to clear the ball from their own half a Liam Craig drive from 25 yards whistled narrowly past the post when it looked like it might silence the home crowd.
Four minutes from the break, ‘Well’s final attack summed up the first half. Watt’s break down the right ended with his fierce low cross into a packed box only for the ball to ricochet from Goss and bounce wide of Clark’s goal.
There were no changes in personnel at the break but both sets of fans were hoping for a bit more constructive football in the second half and bit more action around either goal.
Although Saints started the more positive, ‘Well proved more clinical grabbing a second goal after 55 minutes. Solholm, who had an impressive 90 minutes both in the air and on the deck, sent a through ball towards Saints’ box.
With Jamie McCart and Van Veen in pursuit, the ‘Well striker wriggled clear of the defender, switching the ball to his left foot before poking the ball through Clark’s legs to put the home side in a commanding position.
With Saints pushing forward in search of a goal to get back into the game, Kelly produced his first save in the 69th minutes, rising to palm Callum Booth’s 15-yard drive over the bar.
After running the Saints defence ragged for 75 minutes and claiming the fourth goal of the season, Van Veen was replaced by Connor Shields as Graham Alexander was intent on keeping Saints occupied at the back.
Some eight minutes later the ‘Well boss decided to settle for what he had, reinforcing his defence with the introduction of Jake Carroll for Watt.
By that stage, though, with Kelly’s goal well protected, the points were firmly in the bag.
Motherwell: Kelly, O’Donnell, Solholm, Mugabi, McGinley, Donnelly, Cornelius, Goss, Woolery, Van Veen, Watt.
Subs: Fox, Carroll, Grimshaw, Slattery, Roberts, Amaluzor, Shields.
- First team
Sean Goss on getting his ‘buzz’ back for footballSaturday 18 December 2021
Ever been in a lift with Louis van Gaal?
It’s safe to assume it can be an intimidating experience on the best of occasions. Yet for Sean Goss, it was an occasion which the man himself says caused his “stomach to drop”.
The venue was the Manchester United team hotel in Chicago in July 2015, just hours before the Old Trafford club’s glamour match with Paris St Germain at Soldier Field.
A young Goss, brought along on United’s American tour, found himself in the elevator on the way down for his pre-match meal, staring at the imposing figure of his iconic Dutch manager.
“I was in the lift going down to pre-match and Van Gaal was in there,” the midfielder recalled.
“He just looked at me and said ‘You will play minutes tonight. Be ready’. My stomach just dropped and I couldn’t eat anything.”
And indeed he did play.
In a 2-0 defeat – with goals from Blaise Matuidi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic doing the damage in the first half – Goss would come on to replace Michael Carrick for the final 10 minutes in front of a bumper crowd, seeing the match out alongside the likes of Wayne Rooney, Antonio Valencia and Daley Blind.
For the boyhood United fan, it was a debut and moment for him, and a special member of his family, to savour.
“She actually went to every tour game,” Goss told ManUtd.com back in 2015. “She told me afterwards that she booked the time off last year just in case I was in the squad. I had no idea she’d done that.
“My dad couldn’t get the time off work unfortunately so my mum travelled all round on her own and came to all the games. I kept in touch with her throughout and it was good to know she was there on my debut. She said she was in tears when I came on.”
It was just one of a series of “pinch me” moments for the now Motherwell midfielder, who joined as a teenager from Exeter.
“It always feels like a crazy moment in my life when I look back on it,” he said. “At the time I was just trying to concentrate on my football but I was a Man United fan when I was growing up.
“It all changed when Van Gaal came in. He took quite a liking to me, so I was training with the first team. In that first season, I was lucky enough to go away with them on the America tour.
“It was so surreal watching these guys when you are growing up, then before you know it you are training with them and playing with them. It’s a crazy experience.
“The first day I was there and seeing Rooney, Carrick. I remember thinking that they were just normal people, but obviously they were right at the top of their game. Obviously, I was nowhere near that when I was at Exeter. It’s also little moments like seeing Sir Alex [Ferguson] as well.
“I was lucky enough that my first year was his last, so I got to see he used to be around the place and witness the kind of impact he had. Even the likes of Sir Bobby [Charlton] coming into the changing room after the games. Even things like them knowing everyone’s name. It can sound so simple but it meant so much.
“Thankfully we won the league that year so I didn’t get to witness any hair-dryer treatment from Sir Alex.”
Goss’ journey to Chicago and the lift of destiny began in Germany. Born there with both his parents in the army, he spent the first eight years of his life there before coming back to the United Kingdom.
Soon he was snapped up for the youth ranks of Exeter City, before eventually moving on eight years later to Manchester United in 2012.
Goss has already admitted it was a massive culture shock, but it would be the start of a five-year learning curve as his footballing education was ramped up.
After penning a two-year deal with Motherwell at the start of the season, there’s a permanent reminder of those halcyon days in Manchester sitting in the berth next to him in the Fir Park home dressing room.
“He can’t get enough of Burnley,” joked Goss of Liam Grimshaw, the Motherwell team-mate who was a year above him at Carrington. “That and his horse racing.
“He was a year above me [at Manchester United]. When I was 15 I remember being at a tournament in Amsterdam, he was at as well. So when I signed as an under-18 he was there. We know each other really well and were always really friendly back then.
“It’s quite nice that we’re now sat next to each other in the changing room at Motherwell all these years on. It helps massively settling in when you know someone.”
The welcoming nature is a point Goss goes on to stress as the key factor for bedding in so well at Fir Park.
The former Queens Park Rangers man has been in Lanarkshire since August but had to wait until last week until finally moving into his apartment.
It doesn’t take long for the novelty of living out a hotel room to wear off at the best of times, and that’s before introducing bedding into a new place of work, being away from home or Covid-19 into the mix.
Yet Goss insists his new team-mates have rallied around him in the recent weeks and months, although the thought of sampling some of their home cooking hasn’t been something that he’s called upon.
“I’m not bad at cooking for myself, to be fair. Grimmy would probably try and make me some pie and mash or a hotpot stew.
“The first few weeks were quite hard. I only got into my place last week, so I’ve been here this whole time without an apartment. But the lads have been brilliant with me.
“There’s a coffee club, I love my golf but I’ve not got my winter gear. The boys are always planning something, even in small groups or playing the PlayStation. I think it would have been a lot harder if you didn’t have that kind of group of players. It could have been really quite tough.”
Of course, this is not Goss’ first experience in Scottish football.
Back in 2018, he joined Rangers on loan from QPR, going on to make 13 appearances for the Ibrox side. The following year he was back in Scotland, this time in the blue of today’s opponents St Johnstone.
However, Goss, who later joined Shrewsbury Town, does not reflect on his time in Scotland before as a truly enjoyable experience. Particularly at McDiarmid Park, where the 26-year-old says his love for the game failed to ignite.
Now an integral part of Graham Alexander’s Motherwell machine, the man born in Wegberg is loving life north of the border.
“Having a permanent base helps massively,” he explained. “I went to Rangers and it was quite early on in my career of playing week in, week out. That was a big learning curve for me.
“At St Johnstone, I can’t really put my finger on it. I wasn’t really enjoying my football, I fell out of love with it really. People always say when they try and sell you a club that ‘Aw it’s a real family club’. Motherwell has been the first one I’ve felt that with since I left United.
“It’s a really tight group here from the players to the staff to the fans, it makes a massive difference. I’m really enjoying every day again.
“There was a spell where I just wasn’t getting the enjoyment out of football in my career. But that’s now back.”
Goss has already established himself as a favourite among the Well support. One of the reasons for that may come from his fine dead-ball delivery which has caused defences throughout the Scottish Premiership all sorts of problems this season.
Indeed, Goss has played a part in 25% of Motherwell’s league goals this season. He is joint fourth in the top-flight assist table with four after 11 games, the same amount as former Fir Park hero David Turnbull at Celtic.
It is a talent that continues to bring a buzz around Fir Park whenever the former United kid stands over a ball 35 yards from goal.
“It’s always been one of my strong points,” said Goss. “The season before last I had a few more but about seven or eight headers that hit the post, I was gutted.
“I’m just buzzing that my delivery can be a real threat. You want the fans to think you score and it gives me a buzz as well when we get an opportunity.”
Today’s match against St Johnstone heralds the start of a hat-trick of matches that could prove to be defining for Alexander’s side.
Motherwell sit fifth, level on points with fourth-placed Dundee United, and now have three matches prior to the January break against teams all lower than them in the Premiership. Two of those are at home, starting against St Johnstone this afternoon.
Livingston, who were beaten in West Lothian, then come to Fir Park on Boxing Day, while a trip to Ross County, who were defeated at Fir Park back in September.
It is understandable the Steelmen will not be taking anything for granted, but full points could take Motherwell, who are just five points off Hearts in third, deep into the territory of serious contenders for a European spot.
The frustration from last weekend’s defeat at Celtic Park may well no longer be lingering. A valiant performance, especially in the first half, went unrewarded as the visitors were undone just before the break with a training ground free-kick.
While not getting carried away, Goss is confident about Motherwell’s credentials and their ability to get back to winning ways swiftly.
“We’ve shown what we can do in games. It’s about getting that consistency,” said the midfielder.
“We’ve got a really good squad. We train well and I think we play well, and it shows how strong the squad is that if someone drops out you don’t really notice a difference.
“We have shown against Aberdeen, Dundee United and Hibs what we can do. We need to show that in every game. Hopefully, that will be reflected in the league table at the end of the season.”
Sean’s interview is taken from the latest edition of the Motherwell FC match programme. Get yours from sellers around the ground before Saturday’s match with St Johnstone, or buy online here.
INSIDE MOTHERWELL // New faces and new heroesFriday 17 December 2021
It’s been a good month in ML1.
It started with the arrival of new signing Ross Tierney, who will officially move from Bohemians in January.
The talented young Irish midfielder paid a visit to Fir Park for his medical and to familiarise himself with his new surroundings, meeting his new team-mates and manager ahead of his big switch.
On the park, a win over Dundee United then came with a trip to face Hibernian at Easter Road, where another strong result was gained.
Another positive from the Edinburgh journey was the first league start of youth academy graduate Dean Cornelius.
A Motherwell fan through and through, his inclusion in the midfielder completed his journey from the stands to the starting team.
Sondre Solholm has quickly established himself as a cult hero since his arrival from Norway in the summer.
We took the larger-than-life character out in his local surroundings, finding out about his upbringing, his attitude on life and his family ties which also make him eligible to play for the Canadian national team.
- First team
Manager previews St JohnstoneFriday 17 December 2021
The Motherwell boss talks the weekend’s cinch Premiership test, Covid restrictions and the future of out-of-contract players.
- First team
Sondre Solholm // The star of the showThursday 16 December 2021
He’s only been in the door a few months at Motherwell, but Sondre Solholm has already established himself as a fans’ favourite.
The central defender has settled in quickly to life on and off the pitch, establishing himself as a key figure in defence between two short spells out injured.
Moving from Norway, Sol – as he’s better known – has embraced life with the club and the fans.
But what lies behind the popular figure? We dug into his upbringing, his attitude on life and his family ties which also make him eligible to play for the Canadian national team.
Willie McSeveney (1929-2021)Thursday 16 December 2021
It is with regret that we have learned of the death of former player Willie McSeveney.
Captain of the famous Ancell Babes era, the versatile club great passed away this week at the age of 92.
Starting at Wishaw Juniors, Willie was signed by Motherwell manager George Stevenson for £1,200 in March 1954 from Dunfermline, after he had made such an impression in a Motherwell 5-2 victory over Dunfermline in a Scottish Cup game a month prior.
He would make an immediate impact for the ‘Well in Division B, scoring four goals in his first four games in claret and amber. His debut goal against Third Lanark saw the team clinch promotion.
Little over a year later, he would be in the side which would face Hearts in the 1954 League Cup final. In front of over 55,000 at Hampden, Hearts, unfortunately, ran out 4-2 winners. He would also feature for the club in two Scottish Cup semi-finals, where Clyde and Rangers were the victors.
Fans of a certain vintage will recall his standout performance in the floodlight friendly with Brazilian giants Flamengo in 1960, when Motherwell incredibly won 9-2 against a team featuring Gerson, who went on to win the World Cup with Brazil 10 years later.
His final first-team appearance would come in October 1962 at Tynecastle but he was on the playing books until the end of the 1963/64 campaign, spending his time mainly in the reserves and using his experience to help improve the club’s younger players. He would also stay on to coach the reserve side thereafter, helping to bring through Joe Wark, Keith MacRae and Peter McCloy among others.
Across 10 seasons at Fir Park, he would make 256 appearances, scoring 28 times. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
Rachel Connor leaves MotherwellWednesday 15 December 2021
Full back Rachel Connor has departed Motherwell.
Her contract has been cancelled by mutual consent.
The number two, who has made five starts this season, leaves the club after spending over two years in the claret and amber.
We wish Rachel well for the future.
Help us distribute Christmas hampers to those in needWednesday 15 December 2021
We are looking for volunteers to assist with the delivery of small hampers to local people who may find themselves alone this Christmas.
Our Community Trust, in conjunction with the club, The Well Society and the SPFL Trust, is working to provide festive hampers filled with an afternoon tea package and small gifts to 50 local residents.
Social distancing, sanitising and all COVID procedures will be strictly adhered to.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in helping.
- First team
Next up: St JohnstoneMonday 13 December 2021
St Johnstone are the visitors to Fir Park in the cinch Premiership on Saturday.
Kick-off at Fir Park is at 3pm.
Tickets must be purchased in advance. Cash gates will not be in operation.
The easiest way to buy is online from our ticket site. You can choose to print your ticket at home, or use a digital ticket with a QR code.
You can also call 01698 333333 or visit the ticket office at Fir Park. The ticket office is open 9am to 5pm Monday to Thursday, 9-4 Friday and from 11am until kick-off on Saturday.
Our capacity will be limited to under 10,000 for this match. Vaccine certification is not required.
St Johnstone fans can buy tickets direct from us by following this link.
A ticket booth will be in operation at the Tommy McLean Stand for away supporters on the day of the game from 1.45pm.
Fans of both clubs can buy a live stream of the game from ppv.motherwellfc.co.uk for £12.
The game is available to purchase in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Please note that due to UEFA restrictions, this game is not purchasable if you are in England.
If you’re a Motherwell season ticket holder who cannot make the match, you can still watch a live stream for free at live.motherwellfc.co.uk.
International viewers can watch through our subscription service at live.motherwellfc.co.uk. Packages start at as little as £12.50 per month to watch all 38 cinch Premiership fixtures.
Tale of the tape
Tony Watt’s equaliser 10 minutes from time rescued a point in a 1-1 draw in the opening fixture at McDiarmid Park.
Last time at Fir Park, the Saints ran out 3-0 winners in February.
Motherwell’s narrow defeat at Celtic made it two losses in five matches, with two wins and a draw also in the mix.
At home, the Steelmen have won their last two and kept two clean sheets, beating Hearts and Dundee United.
St Johnstone take on Rangers on Wednesday night looking to end a run of four consecutive defeats before heading to Fir Park.