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    Forfar Athletic 1-2 Motherwell

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    Murphy knock not as bad

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    Brown satisfied with Brechin display

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    Brechin City 1-3 Motherwell

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    Enjoy the Europa League in style

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    Hollis grateful for Fir Park deal

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    Coke departs for Owls

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    Randolph eyes number one jersey

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    ‘Well swoop for Charlton goalkeeper

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    Pre-season training

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    Forfar Athletic 1-2 Motherwell

    Motherwell continued their preparations for the Europa League clash with Breidablik with a 2-1 win over Forfar at Station Park.

    The Steelmen, much changed from Tuesday’s success at Brechin, just about deserved the win against a neat and tidy Forfar who were worthy opponents and caused considerable trouble over the 90 minutes.

    Craig Brown made nine changes with only trialists Chris Shuker and Carlos Gazapo retaining their starting spots. They were joined by Rhys Weston, the former Walsall full-back also looking to win a deal at Fir Park.

    The amount of changes appeared to upset some of the rhythm built-up in the second half at Glebe Park. Only a Jonathan Page header, that dropped harmlessly wide of the post, offered any encouragement in a dull opening ten minutes.

    That all changed midway through the first period when both sides got on the scoresheet in a frantic two-minute salvo.

    The Steelmen drew first blood when trialist Shuker did well to skip by two challenges on the edge of the box before pulling the trigger. His effort was blocked but fortune favoured the Englishman as the ball spun up, allowing him to smash home the rebound from six yards out.

    But Forfar drew level almost immedaitely when a long, searching throw-in from Mark McCulloch found Chris Templeman in the area. The veteran striker used all his experience to help it on, allowing Graham Gibson the simplest of tasks as he cushioned a header past Hollis and into the net.

    The goal gave the Loons confidence and they almost made it 2-1 four minutes later when left-back Steven Tulloch latched onto a Templeman diagonal before cutting it back for Martin Fotheringham. The striker took a good touch but couldn’t match that with a shot, ballooning his effort way over the bar.

    Both sides traded possession and created half chances. John Sutton tested the handling of on-loan Rangers keeper Scott Gallagher with a low shot. And at the other end, a fantastic cross ball from Fortheringham found scorer Gibson but this time his header went well wide with Weston in close attendance.

    Just before the interval, the Steelmen had another half-chance when Chris Humphrey showed terrific pace to create an opening on the right flank. The winger threw over a teasing near-post cross but it was just the wrong height for Robert McHugh who could only screw his header high over the bar.

    Brown made one change at half-time; Steven Saunders replacing winger Shuker who took a knock just before the interval. That meant a few positional changes as the Scotland U19 International took his place in the heart of the back four.

    Fellow youngster Jordan Halsman was first to threaten in the second half but his free-kick from the edge of the area flew a few yards over the bar with Gallagher comfortable.

    Forfar replied through Templeman, who latched on to an over-the-top pass and fired a shot at goal from an acute angle but Hollis was well placed to make the stop.

    Motherwell were starting to get the upper-hand though as the part-timers began to tire. Substitute Saunders almost got his name amongst the goals when he rose to meet a Humphrey corner from the right but his header dropped inches wide of the post.

    Eight minutes later, ‘Well created another opening and should have taken the lead. Page, now operating as a left-back, was the architect, bursting forward with the ball and seeing off a number of challenges. As the penalty box approached, he slid in Gazapo but with time and space, the Spaniard shot straight at Gallagher.

    Brown introduced a couple of substitutes with Mark Reynolds replacing Sutton and Stevie Hammell coming on for Weston. And that extra bit of quality proved to be the turning point in the game as the Steelmen took the lead with just 15 minutes remaining.

    Another Humphrey corner, again from the right, had Gallagher battling with Page for the ball. It dropped kindly for Reynolds who, despite only being on the park for a few minutes, showed great composure to smash home from close range.

    Yet Forfar missed a great chance to snatch a draw in the sixth minute of injury time. A free-kick from the left caused all sorts of problems in the six-yard box and eventually, Templeman fired a shot that was hacked off the line by Halsman – a game winning block without a doubt.

    Motherwell: Hollis, Weston (Hammell 65), Halsman, Page, Hutchinson, Meechan, Humphrey (Lasley 8), Shuker (Saunders 46), McHugh, Sutton (Reynolds 61), Gazapo. Subs not used: Randolph, Craigan.

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    Murphy knock not as bad

    ‘Well striker Jamie Murphy should be fit to face Breidablik with the news that his knock last night isn’t as serious as initially feared.

    The Scotland U21 hitman had to be withdrawn after 20 minutes at Glebe Park and Craig Brown told the gathered press after the match that he feared ankle ligament damage.

    However, speaking exclusively to motherwellfc.co.uk, Murphy allayed fears; insisting he is hoping to be spearheading the Steelmen strikeforce next Thursday night.

    “Things aren’t as bad as we first feared,” said Murphy.

    “We let things settle over night and after speaking to the physio (John Porteous), I am hoping to be back within the week.

    “My aim is to play against Breidablik as it’s such a big game for the club.”

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    Brown satisfied with Brechin display

    Motherwell boss Craig Brown was pleased with the workout his team got against Brechin City this evening.

    A dull first half failed to produce any action but three goals in the second half from John Sutton, Ross Forbes and Keith Lasley handed the Steelmen a 3-1 win.

    And Brown was quick to highlight the merits of the game, despite having one or two injury problems.

    He said, “I thought it was a good exercise all in. Bear in mind we had one or two players who are not fit to play, good players at that. Chris Humphrey and Tom Hateley both travelled with the team but are carrying knocks.

    “I was pleased with Darren Randolph who looked confident and his goalkeeping is top class. When we knew we were in for him I spoke to Christian Dailly who was captain of Charlton last season. He said he couldn’t believe we were getting him after he had played the last 15 or 16 games of the season and the play-off against Swindon and he was excellent in that.

    “Carlos Gazapo and Chris Shuker, both of whom were bright, were the two trialists in the team and we will have another look at them and make a decision. They have to be better than we have here at the club and games on Thursday and Saturday will help us make up our minds.

    “The one disappointment was the injury to Jamie Murphy, it might be his ankle ligaments, and he is one we could do without being injured. We will need to wait overnight to see what happens. Thankfully he is a quick healer as we are short up front.”

    Losing Murphy would certainly be a blow for Brown who is hoping the Scotland U21 hitman will play a big part in the up-coming campaign.

    However, he has faith in either Bob McHugh or Gary Smith to step up to the plate should they be required.

    “We have a couple of young boys who could come in, Bob McHugh and Gary Smith, but they lack experience and we don’t want to put pressure on these two.

    “We would rather have an experienced striker to play alongside John Sutton. It could be a loan striker we bring in, we have until 24 hours before the game to bring one late signing in for the first leg.

    “As for Lukas, it’s not dead yet, but it won’t happen before the European game as they (Everton) are off to Australia and it all depends what David Moyes want to do with him.”

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    Brechin City 1-3 Motherwell

    Motherwell got their 2010/11 campaign off to a good start with a 3-1 friendly victory over Brechin City.

    Second half goals from John Sutton, Ross Forbes and Keith Lasley gave the Steelmen the edge against a gritty and determined home side.

    The only blemish was a late goal conceded by the aid of a wicked deflection but Craig Brown and Archie Knox will have been more than satisfied with their evening’s work.

    There was a debut in goal for new keeper Darren Randolph and trialists Carlos Gazapo and Chris Shuker were given starting places in an otherwise familiar looking ‘Well side.

    The Steelmen started brightly and created the first opening inside the first sixty seconds when both the trialists combined to test Craig Nelson.

    Former Tranmere winger Shuker chased a dead ball into the corner and managed to scoop a dangerous cross into the middle. Gazapo was lurking with intent but he was beaten to the ball by Nelson, who just about gathered at the second attempt.

    The game quickly settled though and for ten minutes ‘Well dominated without creating too much in the way of clear cut chances. That changed on the 14th minute when Jamie Murphy’s speculative over-head kick dropped inches wide.

    However, it was Murphy’s last involvement in the game as he was replaced by John Sutton after picking up a slight knock.

    It took 27 minutes for the hosts to register an effort at goal but left-back Mark Docherty’s 30-yard effort trickled back to Randolph.

    Motherwell replied five minutes later with a flowing move down the left involving Stevie Hammell and Gazapo allowed Sutton in behind Paul McLean. However, despite a good first touch, his effort blazed just over the bar.

    If that was close, Brechin’s effort shortly after should have led to the opening goal. Former Inverness Caley hitman Rory McAlister found himself in acres of space on the right touchline. His cutback to the supporting Craig Malloy was perfect but his effort, from about ten yards, somehow went over the bar.

    At the other end, ‘Well responded immediately and Hammell’s bursting run down the left almost brought an open goal but for a last-ditch block by McLean.

    The resulting corner found captain Stephen Craigan whose goalbound looking header hit Shuker before being scrambled away. Lasley picked up on the loose ball on the edge of the area and his neat near-post cross came back off the bar before finally being pounced upon by Nelson.

    Motherwell picked up where they left off in the second half and Sutton opened the scoring just four minutes in. Gazapo found space inside the area but his effort at goal was blocked. It fell to the former Saint who smashed it though Nelson into the net.

    Things got even better for the visitors when Forbes made it two just six minutes later and it was a strike of some quality – much his goal agaisnt St Johnstone on the opening day of last season.

    The midfielder’s corner on the right bounced through to Reynolds at the far post and his ball back into the middle found Forbes, who quickly switched onto his left foot before lashing an unstoppable strike into the top left corner of the net.

    Motherwell’s tails were up and a flowing move was almost rewarded with a goal for trialist Shuker. A five-man passing move was eventually crossed by Hammell and landing at the feet of the pint-sized winger off the boot of a covering defender. His shot was going in but for a superb goal line clearance by sub David White.

    However, the Steelmen weren’t to be denied and Lasley made it 3-0 with a powerful drive after Shuker’s shot was blocked on the edge of the area.

    Gazapo threatened to add a fourth late on before Brechin pulled one back with only a few minutes to play. A cross from the left landed at the feet of sub Jamie Redman and his shot looked to be comfortable for Randolph but a wicked deflection took it high into the corner to give the hosts a consolation they probably deserved.

    Motherwell: Randolph, Saunders, Hammell, Reynolds, Craigan, Jennings, Lasley, Forbes (Halsman 83), Shuker, Murphy (Sutton 22), Gazapo. Subs not used: Hollis, Hutchinson, Page, Meechan, McHugh.

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    Enjoy the Europa League in style

    ‘Well return to action on July 15th and we have a fantastic offer for fans wishing to enjoy the match in style in the Centenary Suite.

    For only £59, you can enjoy a delicious three course meal, served with our house wine, in the comfort of our recently renovated Centenary Suite. 

    One of our summer signing is hospitality partners En Croute Caterering; this will be an ideal opportunity for you to come along and sample our new and improved menu. 

    ‘Well top European goalscorer Stevie Kirk will entertain you with stories from past adventures as well as give you the team news before anyone else in the ground.  Fellow legend Dougie Arnott will pour you a pint and enjoy a chat with you at the bar.

    As well as access to our exclusive pay bar facility both pre and post match, you’ll get treated to some excellent half-time food and a complimentary matchday programme and teamsheet. 

    For more information or to book your table, contact Diane or Wilma on 01698 338008 or email commercial@motherwellfc.co.uk

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    Hollis grateful for Fir Park deal

    Lee Hollis is delighted to be preparing for the new season but regrets that a host of his former teammates are on the scrapheap.

    The 24-year-old was part of the Airdrie squad that was completely culled following their relegation to the third tier of Scottish Football last May.

    Hollis got lucky, his former mentor and current goalkeeping coach Stewart Kerr, remembered him and was quick to offer him the chance to shine across the county.

    And whilst the Bellshill-born stopper is thrilled to still be in the game, he can’t help but feel for her some of his friends still seeking employment.

    “It was a relief to get my future sorted but a few of my mates from Airdrie haven’t got a club yet,” he said.

    “I am in touch with a lot of the boys; I text some of the young lads on a daily basis so obviously I feel sorry for the ones in that situation. A lot of us have only known football so trying to get a job can be a daunting task.

    “Hopefully they will get something. You do think what you would do outside the game and I’ve done a bit of personal training which I quite enjoy. It was a difficult time at Airdrie, sad really, but that is the way it goes. I don’t know if anyone saw it coming.

    “There were one or two issues through the season but our wages were always paid. It is hard to run a football club in the current climate. There is not a lot of money about so you can’t blame them. I would have left regardless of what happened.

    “There were a few options open to me, mostly in Scotland, but I just kept myself ticking over and this opportunity came up. I’m happy I’m here.

    “I knew a few months before the end of the season that I wanted to go. It wasn’t so much to do with the cuts. I was at Airdrie for seven years so it was time for a change. I didn’t play as much as I had hoped because of the magnificent form of Stephen Robertson.

    “I got to play in a few big games towards the end of the season. And although we lost in the play-offs I thought I did okay.

    “Motherwell appealed to me because they are a big club who do well in the SPL.

    “They also have Stewart Kerr whom I worked with a few years ago at Airdrie. That was a factor too. He is spot on, a great coach. I look forward to working with him again.

    “When he came to the club it was in the back of my mind he might put a word in for me but nothing is certain so I was expecting anything.”

    The goalkeeping situation is one of the healthiest at the club. Along with fellow recruit Darren Randolph, Michael Fraser is still at the club and the Under 19’s have three keepers in Tom Bradley, Shaun Thomson and Willie Muir.

    Hollis is prepared to fight for his place and admitted he is desperate to be involved in the European arena – with Well set to face Icelandic side Breidablik in the Europa League.

    Hollis said: “My goal now is just to work as hard as I can and hopefully get a chance to really go for it.

    “Before the league even starts we have Europe and that is a real bonus. I have never been involved there before so that will be new.

    “I have been to European games. I was on trial at Livingston a few years ago when they played FC Vaduz and when I was a young boy I went to games at Ibrox – AEK Athens sticks out.

    “I saw bits and pieces of Ruddy last season and he is a great goalkeeper. But I will just work as hard as I can and see where it takes me.

    “I hope the pressure I experienced in the play-off games with Airdrie can help me at Motherwell.”

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    Coke departs for Owls

    Motherwell FC can today confirm Giles Coke has left the club to join League One side Sheffield Wednesday.

    The 24-year-old arrived at Fir Park last summer on a short-term deal from Northampton and enjoyed a good first season in Scotland.

    But despite the offer of an extended contract, the Londoner has opted to move back down south and has signed a three-year deal with Wednesday.

    ‘Well boss Craig Brown said, “We were hopeful Giles would stay on but respect his decision to move on.

    “He had a good year up here and the move has helped his career. He’s a good player and I am sure he’ll go on to be a big player for Wednesday next season.”

    Coke himself was sad to be leaving but insisted the lure of the English game was too much.

    “I loved my time at Motherwell and I would like to thank the club and the fans for the year I enjoyed up there,” he said.

    “Motherwell offered me a really good deal but the attraction of moving to a club like Sheffield Wednesday was too much for me to turn down.

    “I want to wish Motherwell the very best of luck in the future and I’ll always look out for the results.”

    Everyone at the club would like to thank Giles for his contribution whilst at Fir Park and wish him every success in his future career.

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    Randolph eyes number one jersey

    New signing Darren Randolph has told motherwellfc.co.uk that games are his number one priority in the up-coming season.

    The former Republic of Ireland U21 International has spent the last few years as an understudy at Charlton, only winning a regular place in the push for promotion at the tail end of last season.

    But the move north of the border could prove a launch pad for the highly rated keeper and he wants to re-pay the faith the Steelmen have shown in him with performances that help ‘Well to yet another successful campaign in 2010/11.

    “My biggest aspiration is obviously first-team football,” he admitted.

    “I am now at the stage of my career where I need to be playing week in and week out and I am hopeful I can do that here.

    “I also want to repay Motherwell FC, Craig Brown and Stewart Kerr for having the faith in me. I do that by putting in as many good performances as possible and push Motherwell as far up the table as possible and progress through the various Cup competitions we are in, including the Europa League.”

    The move north was one Randolph didn’t spend too much time thinking about, despite the fact he has played his entire career in England.

    The lure of European football was great and now that he has signed on the dotted line at Fir Park, the first task is to get up to speed with the rest of the players.

    He said: “The decision to come here very made very quickly, indeed, the second I found out the club were interested I immediately wanted the move to happen.

    “The SPL is a good league with good players and good teams and the Motherwell’s involvement in the Europa League were all factors. It’s amazing to think I will go from League One in England to playing in Europe; it’s all very different but I am looking forward to the challenge.

    “I finished the season strongly at Charlton and I want to keep that same form going into the season at Motherwell. The lads who have been here last season were all on very stringent plans to keep them in shape given how quickly competitive games are coming around so I will have to work hard to get up to speed quickly.

    “I want to use this move as the basis for the rest of my career. Things really start for me now – this is my time to shine and I hope to take it.”

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    ‘Well swoop for Charlton goalkeeper

    Motherwell FC have today completed the signing of former Republic of Ireland U21 International goalkeeper Darren Randolph.

    Randolph, 23, has been at the Valley for the last five years but has had several spells out on loan, appearing for Hereford, Bury, Gillingham and Accrington Stanley.

    During that period, he has also appeared for Republic of Ireland at U17, U18, U19 level as well as ten caps for the U21s and one ‘B’ cap.

    He made his debut for the Addicks against Liverpool at Anfield when the London club were playing in the Premiership. He has found first-team football hard to come by, however, towards the end of last season he finally took over as Charlton’s number one and kept five clean sheets in the last nine matches of the season.

    His contract expired with Charlton at the end of June, making him a free agent, and utilising cross-border transfer rules, he has switched to Fir Park on a three-year-deal.

    Motherwell boss Craig Brown said, “Things have moved very quickly over the last 24-hours and we’re delighted to have Darren on board.

    “Anyone we’ve spoke to about him has gave us rave reviews so we’re pleased he is here. He’ll compete against Lee Hollis for the number one spot and that’s healthy competition to have.”

    Chief Executive Leeann Dempster added, “This is another example of us working towards our strategy of identifying and securing young, talented players to long-term contracts.

    “We hope Darren will be a massive success here.”

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    Pre-season training

    The first-team squad were back on the training pitch today and our friends at SNS were there to capture the best of the action.

    [svgallery name=”training290610″]