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    McCall prepares for Buddies battle

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    St Mirren programme preview

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    Officials appointed for Saints clash

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    Supporter Questionnaire

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    McCall delighted with derby win

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    Hamilton win in pictures

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    Winning is everything?

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    Motherwell 1 – 0 Hamilton Accies

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    Motherwell U19s 2 – 2 Aberdeen U19s

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    Forbes keen to retain his place

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    McCall prepares for Buddies battle

    Stuart McCall is desperate to claim his third consecutive win of a ‘season shaping’ seven days for Motherwell.

    ‘Well had endured a run of just one win from twelve SPL games before the success at Pittodrie last Tuesday, but after two wins on the trot the Steelmen are back at the right end of the table.

    And the manager now wants to make it three wins from three and consolidate the club’s poition in the top half.

    “I said, after the game at Ibrox, that the following three games would shape our season. We have won two of those three games and a win against St. Mirren is vital if we want to finish in the top six,” McCall rallied.

    “It’s such a tight league. You look at the St Johnstone game – which had 0-0 written all over it – and we lost to a soft penalty. Then we play well against Kilmarnock and somehow lose. Things can change so quickly in the SPL.

    “But St. Mirren will be desperate to bounce back. They will feel hard done by after their own defeat and the weekend and I’m sure the manager and the players will be looking for a reaction.

    “I know St. Mirren came here and lost 3-1, but we scored two late goals that day – and we are under no illusions about how tough the match will be.

    Steelmen fans have been delighted with the last two performances by their team; one display of flowing football to defeat Aberdeen and a gritty victory over Lanarkshire rivals Hamilton.

    It seems as though things are clicking into place for the new boss, climbing back into the top six in the past seven days.

    The gaffer continued: “I’ve had a great reaction from the backroom staff and the players from day one.

    “I tell the players to just go out and express themselves, but the more games they play and the more they learn about me the better things will get.

    “We are learning all the time – you need more than two months to make everything click in to place, but we are getting there.

    “You take confidence every time you come off the pitch with a win. But the recent games have gone – we’ll take the confidence and the things we have learned in to our next match, which is a very tough one against St. Mirren.”

    The ‘Well gaffer was coy on any potential new deal for striker John Sutton, whose deal expires in the summer.

    Sutton has been in superb form since McCall took the reins and the former Bradford boss cautiously admitted he would like to keep the former Spurs trainee for longer.

    “Sutty has done well – I’ve been pleased with him,” the 46-year old praised. “Not only has he chipped in with goals, but he’s a good type – a really good sort to have around the place.

    “We’ll be looking to tie up players in the next month, but I still need some time to assess everything.

    “Hopefully John will be one of those that we can keep here a little longer.”

  • Archive

    St Mirren programme preview

    The fifteenth edition of the Motherwell Matchday Magazine is on sale this Wednesday when St Mirren visit Fir Park.

    After back-to-back wins against Aberdeen and Hamilton, Stuart McCall’s men will be hoping to make it three from three but face a tough battle against Saints who are battling for their SPL survival.

    And the featured-packed, 64-page programme will again be on sale with all the latest from Fir Park with every reader getting a free Panini sticker album and packet of stickers.

    This week, Stuart McCall looks back at the two recent wins and accesses our chances against Danny Lennon’s men.

    There’s a fantastic 8-page interview with former Northern Irish International Steve Jones who talks candidly about his aims and objectives in his remaining few months at Fir Park.

    We have a ten-page section dedicated to our visitors, St Mirren, including a player-by-player account of the Buddies side. Peter Elder also takes us back through time to recall some of the good and, erm, not so good encounters between the sides.

    Alan Temple examines the battle between two clubs with Hampden demons to exorcise. The latest bout of Brainiacs is the remaining Semi Final contest between the young upstart, Jamie Murphy, who takes on the old fox Stephen Craigan. Who will get through to face Darren Randolph in the Final? You’ll need to pick up your copy to find out.

    And that’s not all… We look back at the 2-1 win at Pittodrie and the 1-0 success against Hamilton last weekend.

    The Supporters Survey publicised on the Official ‘Well website is available in hard copy as well, the latest commercial news as well as all the latest ticket information for our next six matches.

    The programme, priced at £3, will be available in the ‘Well Shop with sellers in and around the ground from about 6pm.

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    Officials appointed for Saints clash

    Referee for Wednesday’s Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with St Mirren at Fir Park will be Steve Conroy.

    Conroy, who has been a senior official for almost a decade, has been surprisingly absent from most top-team games this campaign.

    Indeed by the time he took charge of Motherwell 4-0 Scottish Cup demolition of Dundee in January, he had only handled one top-league game. Since then, he has had games at Kilmarnock, Inverness and Easter Road.

    Despite his quiet season, he’ll be a familiar face to most Motherwell fans having officiated three games last season.

    The first was Hibs’ 3-1 win at Fir Park in September which was followed by another 3-1 reverse, this time at the hands of St Johnstone on Boxing Day; incidentally, Jim Gannon’s last match in charge at Fir Park.

    His most recent was about a year ago, when he was the man in the middle for Motherwell’s terrific 3-0 win at Pittodrie thanks to a Lukas Jutkiewicz goal and a brace from John Sutton.

    His overall record in Motherwell games is a bit of a mix bag for the Fir Parkers. Motherwell have won seven, drawn two and lost eight of the seventeen games Conroy has taken charge of. Nineteen goals have been scored whilst twenty have hit the back of the ‘Well net.

    In those games, 40 players have been cautioned, fourteen wearing Claret and Amber, whilst three have been dismissed (Francisco Miranda of St Mirren in 2008/09, Scott Wilson of Dunfermline in 2005/06 and, most recently, Leigh Griffiths of Dundee in the aforementioned Cup clash last month).

    Conroy will be ably assisted by Charlie Smith and Ross Haswell with Anthony Law on fourth official duties.

  • Archive

    Supporter Questionnaire

    Following the recent launch of the Supporters Advisory Committee, the group have launched a survey designed to gather your opinions.

    A committee member said, “We wants to know your big picture gripes and ideas, views on reconstruction, safe standing, television and the like. In response the club have promised to be transparent on their position and policies in whatever we identify and where possible and appropriate, use their influence to push forward change.

    “Importantly though we also want to work in areas where the club have the ability to make the changes we desire. Stewarding, ticket allocations, pricing, initiatives, club policies, facilities, match day to name but a few. The list is really up to you to help us identify. These are really the most exciting opportunities for you the supporters and where we can most likely see some quick wins.”

    You can fill in the survey either online at the link below, in the pull out which will be in both the St Mirren and Celtic programmes or pop into the Chapman Building where plenty are available for uplift.

    CLICK HERE TO FILL IN THE QUESTIONNAIRE

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    McCall delighted with derby win

    Stuart McCall was pleased to complete a professional victory against Hamilton – and insists the penalty which won all three points was just.

    Bustling John Sutton spun Martin Canning ten minutes before half-time, and the big English striker appeared to be dragged back.

    The 27-year old dusted himself down to covert the decisive goal himself.

    “I haven’t had a look at a replay yet but first look at it was that it was a penalty. I thought the defender pulled him to the ground,” the Motherwell gaffer recalled.

    “From my angle I thought Sutton had turned him and the ref had a decision about what colour of card. When it happened, I was certainly looking for a penalty.”

    If anything, the one-goal margin didn’t do justice to a calm, assured performance from the Steelmen. McCall’s side dominated and could have won by more against a fairly timid, defensive Hamilton Accies setup.

    But the Motherwell boss insist that the only thing which mattered was the three points as the men in claret and amber made it two consecutive SPL victories.

    “We said in the week that we would take a one nil from that type of game a derby produces,” McCall admitted. “Our record against them this season hasn’t been great – but I think overall their keeper has pulled off some excellent saves and ours has had nothing to do.

    “On chances and possession it was merited and hard earned win. It was what I thought the game would be, they came here with three centre backs and man marked Jamie Murphy. It was hard to break down but we had some decent passing moves.

    “The bottom line is a victory; we played far better against Kilmarnock and got nothing.”

    With Dundee United and Kilmarnock both succumbing to defeats on Saturday afternoon it was a fruitful afternoon for the Steelmen. ‘Well are now only two points behind fourth-placed Kilmarnock in an increasingly congested SPL table.

    And with his squad gradually getting back to full fitness, McCall and all Motherwell fans have reasons to be cheerful, and increasingly positive.

    “I think for the first time I have had players available which has given me a bit of a selection dilemma and I welcome that,” McCall smiled. “Humphrey came on and showed the threat he can be and it is nice to have options for Wednesday.
     
    “We need to go out and win the game on Wednesday [against St. Mirren] and put pressure on the teams above.
     
    “It shows how quickly things can turn round in football, but you can’t take anything for granted. I was the lowest I have ever been this time last Saturday. You have to look forward, and I think the players deserve a lot of credit for doing that.”

  • Archive

    Hamilton win in pictures

    Pictures from the 1-0 win over Hamilton Accies in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at Fir Park.

    These action shots and more are available to buy online at www.motherwellpics.com.

    [svgallery name=”hamilton190211″]

  • Archive

    Winning is everything?

    Well, what can you say about today? I said at our weekly press conference on Thursday that the main aim of any derby match is to win and take the three points.
     
    With that in mind, it is mission accomplished! If or when you watch the game back on BBC Alba you’ll see that we created a number of chances and only the performance of their goalkeeper, Thomas Cerny, has kept them in it. In truth, we should’ve been out of sight by the interval and because we weren’t, it was a little nervier that perhaps it had to be in the closing stages.
     
    That being said, Darren Randolph has not really had anything to do. Speaking of Darren, I talked a few weeks ago about the keeper only having a couple of cleansheets left to equal John Ruddy’s record from last year. Well, I am delighted to say with this afternoon shutout, he now has fifteen, the same as last season; let’s hope he can break that record on Wednesday night against St Mirren?
     
    Whilst we are on the subject of defending and keeping goals out, how good was big Shaun Hutchinson today? Hutch, alongside Stephen Craigan, was excellent and kept a tight rein on their only striker, which restricted Accies to just one shot on target the whole afternoon.
     
    I opted to start with the same formation as Tuesday night which I think worked for the most part. It’s hard on the likes of Stevie Hammell and Chris Humphrey but today was the first time since I’ve arrived at the club that I’ve had a bit of a selection dilemma. It was always going to be a difficult game against Accies, the way they play is different to Aberdeen but credit to our lads, I think they managed to handle it and were the better team for most of the game.
     
    Looking ahead to Wednesday, Steven Saunders and Steve Jones are getting ever closer to a return and will probably start training again this week. That means we could have another two bodies pushing for a first-team slot. It’s a problem, but any manager will tell you, it’s a great problem to have.
     
    Just finally I want to say thank you to the supporters at Fir Park today. I thought the backing the team received was magnificent – even when things were getting a wee bit nervy and they were throwing everything into the area, we had chants and shouts encouraging the team and that really helps. I keep repeating that we’ve got a young team, who are learning, and the positive backing you are giving them will really help their development.
     
    I want the players to repay you with good, honest, hard-working performances and I thought we got that today. I’ve been told in the past that Hamilton have maybe outfought Motherwell in recent derbies, well, when the going got tough this afternoon, I felt we dug in both on and off the park so well done to you all.
     
    Keep it up on Wednesday night, maybe try and encourage a few of your friends and family to join you if you can, and hopefully we can pick up another three points and really put the pressure on Kilmarnock in 4th.
     
    Forever Claret and Amber

    Stuart McCall
    Manager

  • Archive

    Motherwell 1 – 0 Hamilton Accies

    [tab:Match report]

    A John Sutton penalty nine minutes from half-time gave Motherwell a deserved win against Hamilton Accies this afternoon.

    In truth, it could – and perhaps should – have been more comfortable for the Steelmen but they found Accies keeper Tomáš Černý in sensational form, with the Czech keeper making terrific saves from Jamie Murphy, Francis Jeffers and Ross Forbes.

    Accies rarely troubled Darren Randolph’s goal, their best chance falling to Mickael Antoine-Curier at the start of the second half but the Guadeloupian striker could only head way over.

    The win cements Motherwell’s place in the top half with tricky home ties against St Mirren and Celtic coming up this week.

    ‘Well boss Stuart McCall opted to go with the same starting eleven that won at Pittodrie, but unlike Tuesday night’s game it was a slow start – as has unfortunately become the norm in these games.

    It was Accies who sparked the game to light with a quick fire double chance ten or so minutes in. The first, from Flávio Paixão, was an audacious 45-yard lob that had Randolph scrambling back towards his line but the Irishman recovered in plenty to make the comfortable catch.

    Two minutes later Jon Routledge got on the end of a decent Jim McAlister cross from the left but his header dropped just over the cross bar.

    That seemed to spark the Steelmen to life and John Sutton came within inches of putting ‘Well ahead. Gavin Gunning got into a great position on the left flank and his lovely low ball across the face eluded the former St Mirren man by a matter of inches.

    ‘Well continued to attack as Hateley fired a free-kick just over and Jeffers had a low effort that forced Cerny into a catch. Gunning got in on the action too, getting on the end of a Hateley corner, but it bounced harmlessly wide of the post.

    The Fir Park men continued to push and push and Francis Jeffers almost made it two goals in three days with another terrific header. Ross Forbes’ free-kick was put into a great area and the former Arsenal man peeled off his marker and turned the ball towards goal. But Černý was in great form and got down well to turn away with a terrific one-handed block.

    Motherwell’s pressure finally paid off though when John Sutton put his side ahead from the penalty spot. Keith Lasley’s inconspicuous ball towards Sutton on the edge of the box didn’t look as it would cause many problems in the Accies defence but, as 27-year-old striker Suton turned, Martin Canning had both arms around him and wrestled him to the floor. Referee Crawford Allan was on hand and pointed to the spot. Sutton dusted himself down and slotted the ball into the bottom right corner for his ninth goal of the season.

    ‘Well sensed blood and Murphy almost doubled the advantage with a stinging low drive that Černý expertly saved again. If that save was good, his next stop was incredible. A free-kick on the edge of the box looked in Ross Forbes territory, and the midfielder duly delivered a fearsome strike that the Czech stopper somehow turned away with one hand.

    That proved to be the last action of the first half, with the ‘Well players going into the dressing room probably wondering how they were only one head.

    Incredibly, with the second period not even a minute old, Accies should’ve got back in the game. McAlister’s cross from the left found Antoine-Courier inside the area, the French-born striker got away from Craigan but could only head the ball over the bar once again.

    The game slowed to a scrap even though Billy Reid changed things up, introducing Ali Crawford and Gary McDonald in place of new signings Carrington and Chambers.

    Indeed, the second half was a virtual non-event until the closing stages when Accies threw everything in search of a leveller – with ‘Well content to pick them off on the break.

    Jamie Murphy had a chance to kill things off when he was the benefactor of some excellent build-up play for Sutton and substitute Chris Humphrey. However, his low shot was again well held by the Accies keeper.

    The same player went even closer three minutes later, meeting a terrific Tom Hateley cross with a neat header but it dropped just the wrong side of the post.

    Further chances came and went for Humphrey, who made a lung-busting 60-yard spring before smashing over the bar, and John Sutton, who controlled a neat effort just a yard or so over the bar with Cerny at full stretch.

    Accies could only muster a couple of long balls into the box but never really looked like getting the equaliser, despite some nervous faces amongst the ‘Well support.

    [tab:As it happened]

    Graham Barnstaple at Fir Park

    Full time – 1-0 to the Well, first back to back League wins since the start of November against ICT and St. Johnstone

    90mins – Only two minutes being added on

    90mins – Hammell breaks from defence, passses to Murphy who sets up Sutton who bends a shot just over.

    86mins – Humphrey bursts down right, and his 50 yard run sees him cut inside Skelton before firing a left foot shot over

    84mins – Great chance for Murphy as he steers a header wide from 10 yards from a Humphrey cross

    80mins – Cerny smothers Murphy shot after fine work from Humphrey and Sutton

    72mins – Humphrey cross headed into arms of Cerny by Sutton

    69mins – Double sub for Well – Hammell and Humphrey on for Forbes and Jeffers

    64mins – Lasley booked for a late tackle, and crowd announced as 4407

    61mins – Paixao shown yellow for a late tackle on Craigan, the Accies man is then taken off to be replaced by Hasselbaink

    54mins – Double sub for Accies, McDonald and Crawford on for Carrington and Chambers

    47mins – Accies should be level as McAlister sends a free header over from a Routledge cross

    Half time – 1-0 and it’s thoroughly deserved, let’s hope we can keep it up in the second half

    43mins – Stunning save by Cerny from a Forbes free kick 20 yards out, keeper is keeping them in it at the moment

    40mins – BBC reporting “trouble” after the goal, all I saw was an over exuberant celebration from the East Stand – nothing to write home about

    38mins – Cerny forced to scramble to save from a Murphy shot from the edge of the box

    36mins – Sutton slots in as cool as you like with Cerny going the wrong way, his 9th of the season, and our first v Accies this season

    35mins – Canning hauls Sutton over in the box and pen awarded to be taken by Sutton

    30mins – Our best chance, Forbes free kick sees Jeffers run off Elebert but Cerny saves header well at full stretch

    27mins – Hateley corner finds Gunning but his header falls harmlessly wide of the post.

    22mins – Half way through the first half and so far it is typical Lanarkshire derby fare – and that is not a good thing

    17mins – McLaughlin has just achieved the rare feat of sending the ball on to the roof of the Main Stand!!!

    12mins – Gunning gallops down left and fires in a great cross but Sutton on the slide can’t connect

    10mins – First real half chance as Routlege heads over a McAlister cross for the Accies, ball loops on to the roof of the net

    6mins – Only thing to note so far is Skelton’s man marking of Murphy, it’s so tight they only need one jersey!

    1mins – Motherwell kick off shooting towards the South Stand end, filled with the usual travelling Accies support

    [tab:Reaction]

    Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:

    “We said in the week that we would take a one nil from that type of game a derby produces. Our record against them this season hasn’t been great, I think overall their keeper has pulled off some excellent saves and ours has had nothing to do.

    “On chances and possession it was merited and hard earned win.

    “It was what I thought the game would be, they came here with three centre backs and man marked Jamie Murphy, it is hard to break down but we had some decent passing moves. The bottom line is a victory, we played far better against Kilmarnock and got nothing, the three points were crucial.”

    Hamilton manager Billy Reid:

    “I was disappointed with the penalty decision, I think it was soft. I think it happens all the time in the box.

    “There was minimal contact, I think Sutton has thrown himself to the ground and I think the referee has been conned.”

    [tab:Man-of-the-match]

    [poll id=”39″]

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    Motherwell U19s 2 – 2 Aberdeen U19s

    Motherwell twice came from behind to rescue a point against Aberdeen at Bathgate this afternoon.

    Aberdeen went ahead at the start of the second half; Dominco Gibson tucking home from close range. ‘Well hit back through Josh Watt but were pinned back again when Joe Shaughnessy looped a header over Tom Bradley.

    However, with fifteen minutes left on the clock, super sub Keiran McGachie pounced to level things up and claim a point for his side.

    It was a fairly even start to the game with both teams looking to make a positive early impression. The visitors had one or two half chances, but nothing that would overly trouble Tom Bradley in the home goal.

    The first real chance of the game came on the thirteenth minute mark. A well-worked short corner on the right eventually found Steve Howarth inside the area but his intelligent near post flick ended just over the bar with the keeper grounded.

    Shortly after, the same player raced clear of the Aberdeen defence, after a lovely through ball by McKinnon, but dragged his shot just wide of the post.

    ‘Well were starting to get the upper hand and a super move involving McKinnon, Halsman, Griffin and Howarth was almost completed when Keiran McDonald wrestled space inside the area but his low shot was deflected just the wrong side of the post as the Dons survived again.

    The visitors began to creep their way back into the game and Tom Bradley had to look smart to keep out a deflected shot from Jamie Masson that the Dons had come close from a testing free-kick on the right flank.

    With eight minutes left of the first half, Aberdeen had the ball in the net with a bizarre own goal, Stephen O’Neill’s ball across the face met by Griffin whose clearance cannoned off Ewan Murray into the net. Thankfully the assistant referee had his flag up for a goal kick as the ball had already crossed the line before the initial cross.

    Neale Cooper’s side continued to push for the opener and Masson was denied again when his shot, from a Gibson cutback, was headed clear by Murray when it looked to be heading into the far corner of the net. And, on the stroke of half-time, Jordon Brown got in on the action but his back post header drifted harmlessly wide of the post.

    The second half was devoid of some of the quality play in the first-half but was far more exciting as a game.

    Evident when Aberdeen took the lead just seven minutes in. A cross from the right flank was touched away by Bradley, allowing O’Neill to collect. He got past Halsman before cutting the ball back for Gibson who was left with the simplest of tasks, tucking home from almost underneath the crossbar.

    Motherwell hit back eight minutes later with an equaliser of some quality. Ross McKinnon collected the ball on the half way line and put ‘Well on the attack with a terrific ball out towards Josh Watt who was lurking on the right flank. The little winger twisted and turned, leaving Clark Robertson on the ground before smashing home a terrific left footed shot high into the top left hand corner.

    Incredibly, within sixty seconds, Motherwell had the ball at the edge of the Dons area but Howarth’s attempted block was crowded out by a host of diving defenders.

    Another seven minutes past and, unbelievably, Aberdeen somehow got themselves back ahead. A corner kick from the right was knocked away by McGachie only for the unmarked Shaughnessy to loop a header over Bradley and into the net.

    Gordon Young’s men again chipped away looking for a leveller and found it courtesy of substitute Keiran McGachie. Steve Howarth was fouled on the edge of the area by Conor Devaney, allowing Ross McKinnon to have a dig at goal. The left-sider struck a stinging love drive that was parried by Lukasik, allowing the former Stenny man to pounce and he nodded home his second goal in successive weeks.

    With fifteen minutes left, and the game finely poised, both teams pushed for what would be the winner. McGachie brought out the best in Lukasik with a decent low shot that was saved and Josh Watt came close to grabbing his second when he got on the end of a Chris Connor cross from the right but his header bounced just the wrong side of the post.

    Connor himself had a late shot fly just over the bar on the stroke of full-time but neither side could add to their two goal haul and the game finished, probably deservedly, all square.

    Motherwell: Bradley, Griffin, Halsman, Murray, Sloan, McKinnon, Watt, McDonald (Connor – 75mins), Carswell, Howarth, Erwin (McGachie – 59mins)

  • Archive

    Forbes keen to retain his place

    Ross Forbes hopes that an excellent midfield display against Aberdeen in midweek will herald a return to form – and regular first-team action.

    The gifted young technician struggled to hold down a place in the starting line-up under the previous management regime and has been a flitting performer for Stuart McCall in recent weeks.

    But, against Aberdeen in midweek, the 21-year old looked back to the form which saw him talked up as one of the hottest young properties in Scottish football in 2009, scoring five goals in ten matches form midfield under Jim Gannon.

    “It’s a fresh start for everyone and I’ll do my best to impress everyone at the club, and if I do well enough then I’ll stay in the team,” Forbes, who excelled on the left of a midfield diamond against the Dons, said.

    “It’s good to be back in the team and to bounce back with a 6-0 defeat with a great win up in Aberdeen is really pleasing – especially considered how well we played on the night.

    “The gaffer was a top player in the same position as me and I’ll be trying to take as much as possible from him and really learn the game more.”

    Forbes must hope that his accomplished display up north is enough to claim a place in the starting eleven on Saturday afternoon.

    Hamilton are the visitors to Fir Park for a Lanarkshire showdown, and the former Dumbarton loan-star admits that he is desperate to be involved in a game which he acknowledges has an extra edge.

    Ross continued: “We’ll take massive amounts of confidence from the win on Tuesday. Aberdeen is such a hard place to go and it was important to get the result with the derby coming up at the weekend.

    “There’s an extra edge to these games and we will be going all-out to claim all three points. But we know that we will have to play very well to achieve that.

    “We have to take the game seriously; we have lost and drew with Hamilton this season and it’s up to us to prove a point – you can’t look at the form, it means nothing for a derby game.”