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  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Stuart McKinstry making strides with Leeds United

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Four ‘Well men in action on loan

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Loan stars get first league minutes

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Youngsters involved in first loan action

  • First team

    End of 2019/20 first team squad update

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Reserves win at Morton

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Harry Robinson signs short-term deal

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Reserves at Morton on Monday

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Reserves lose in cup semi-final

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Reserves in cup semi-final action

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Stuart McKinstry making strides with Leeds United

    Stuart McKinstry making strides with Leeds United

    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 loan

    Four ‘Well men in action on loan

    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.

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Loan stars get first league minutes

    Loan stars get first league minutes

    The start of lower league action in Scotland at the weekend saw a number of Motherwell’s young stars in action.

    Harry Robinson started as Queen of the South travelled to face Ayr United minus their coaching staff, who were in isolation due to Covid-19.

    The Championship encounter ended 2-1 to the Ayrshire club, with the winger playing 66 minutes.

    Ross MacIver came on as a substitute for the last 19 minutes as Morton won 1-0 at home to Alloa Athletic.

    Jamie Semple got his first league minutes for Cove Rangers as they started the League One season with a 3-1 home win over East Fife.

    The midfielder played 75 minutes in the victory for Paul Hartley’s side, before being replaced by ex-Well man Broque Watson.

    PJ Morrison was an unused substitute as Falkirk started their League One season with a 3-1 win at Montrose, while Sam Muir started as Gretna lost 3-0 at Bonnyrigg Rose in the Lowland League.

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Youngsters involved in first loan action

    Youngsters involved in first loan action

    Two Motherwell loanees lined up against each other on their debuts in the Betfred Cup group stages.

    Ross MacIver played the full 90 minutes for Morton, with Harry Robinson coming on as a substitute for Queen of the South, in a 2-2 draw last midweek.

    Robinson was then an unused substitute at the weekend as Queens surrendered a two-goal lead at home to St Mirren to draw 2-2, before failing to take the bonus point on penalties.

    Jamie Semple got his first top team minutes in 14 months as he made his debut for Cove Rangers at the weekend.

    The midfielder replaced former ‘Well man Adam Livingstone as the League One side lost a one-goal lead against top flight Hibernian, being defeated 2-1.

    He then followed that up with a goal against Brora Rangers on Tuesday night, in a match which ended level before Cove took the bonus point on penalties.

    Young goalkeeper Matty Connolly was also on the bench for Falkirk as they lost 2-0 at Dunfermline Athletic in the same competition on Friday night, and again in the 2-1 win over Clyde on Tuesday.

    In the Lowland League, Sam Muir made his bow for Gretna on Saturday as they lost 2-1 at home to Spartans, before also featuring in the 6-1 loss at East Kilbride on Tuesday.

  • First team

    End of 2019/20 first team squad update

    End of 2019/20 first team squad update

    Following the conclusion of the 2019/20 season, we can now update you on our first team squad going forward.

    We are saying goodbye to our club captain Peter Hartley, 2019/20 ever-present Mark Gillespie and full-back Richard Tait.

    Hartley leaves after three years at Fir Park, during which he made 66 appearances in central defence.

    He took over the captaincy from Carl McHugh in 2018/19 and featured heavily this campaign as the club took third spot in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

    Goalkeeper Gillespie departs after two years in North Lanarkshire.

    With 25 clean sheets and a 47% penalty save percentage in 67 appearances, his 17 shutouts in 2019/20 had him challenging to match Trevor Carson’s record 20, before the season was curtailed.

    Richard Tait was a popular figure on and off the field at the club, having signed from Grimsby Town in the summer of 2016.

    The 30-year-old made 12 Premiership starts last season, taking his overall tally to 142 in claret and amber across four campaigns.

    Also departing from the first team squad are goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson, midfielder Christian Ilic, youth academy product Adam Livingstone and forward Christy Manzinga.

    Rolando Aarons, Mikael Ndjoli and Mark O’Hara return after loan spells to their parent clubs Newcastle United, AFC Bournemouth and Peterborough United respectively.

    We have been discussing with Charles Dunne the possibility of a short-term deal, allowing him to get back to full fitness at the club before he is assessed over a potential longer contract.

    “I’d like to thank every player who is leaving for their efforts during their time at the club,” said Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson.

    “They leave us with our best wishes for the future.”

    Everyone at the club would like to thank those moving on this summer, and wish them all the best.

    The following players will leave after either turning down an offer of a new deal or their contract expiring
    • Rohan Ferguson
    • Mark Gillespie
    • Peter Hartley
    • Christian Ilic
    • Adam Livingstone
    • Christy Manzinga
    • Richard Tait
    The following players’ loan periods are coming to an end
    • Rolando Aarons
    • Mikael Ndjoli
    • Mark O’Hara
    The following players have been offered extended deals
    • Charles Dunne
    • Christopher Long
    • Barry Maguire
    • Peter Morrison
    • Harry Robinson
    • Yusuf Hussain
  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Reserves win at Morton

    Reserves win at Morton

    Motherwell had to battle hard but eventually came away with a 5-3 win at Greenock Morton in the SPFL Reserve League on Monday.

    A topsy-turvy game saw the young Steelmen pegged back twice, before also having to recover from going behind before running out victors.

    Mikael Ndjoli scored a double, with further efforts from Harry Robinson, Ross MacIver and an own goal sealing the scoreline.

    David Turnbull played an hour as he steps up his return, seeing a penalty saved late in the first half.

    It took just over a minute for Motherwell to take the lead. Ndjoli got on the end of MacIver’s cross, bundling the ball over the line from close range.

    After Brophy headed in the equaliser in the 10th minute, Motherwell went back in front 12 minutes later. Robinson got the assist, crossing from the right to find MacIver to finish at the back post.

    Morton again levelled ten minutes from the break, with Eardley taking in a cross well and hitting the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

    A spectacular Easdale strike from 25 yards found the top corner soon after to put the hosts ahead, but the chance to level would fall just before the interval.

    Turnbull looked to mark his first start in a match since recovering from a knee operation with a goal, but saw a penalty saved by goalkeeper Wylie.

    On the hour mark, Motherwell got level. Ndjoli got his second of the game, heading home from Sam Muir’s cross.

    Six minutes later, it was 4-3. Darren Haynes put through his own net, inadvertently turning in Robinson’s cutback.

    Motherwell continued to push and with four minutes to go, made it five. Robinson’s left-footed cross sailed all the way through everyone and found the net at the back post.

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Harry Robinson signs short-term deal

    Harry Robinson signs short-term deal

    Motherwell have added Harry Robinson to the squad on a short-term deal until the end of the 2019/20 season.

    The Northern Ireland Under 21 international impressed during a training spell, scoring for the reserve side and weighing in with a number of assists in recent weeks.

    Harry, son of manager Stephen, left Oldham Athletic in the January window.

    He spent the first half of the campaign on loan with Northern Irish side Crusaders and will spend the remaining few months with Maurice Ross’ side.

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Reserves at Morton on Monday

    Reserves at Morton on Monday

    The reserves are back in league action on Monday, travelling to take on Greenock Morton.

    Kick-off at Cappielow is at 2pm.

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Reserves lose in cup semi-final

    Reserves lose in cup semi-final

    Motherwell exited the SPFL Reserve Cup at the semi-final stage with a 3-1 home loss to Aberdeen.

    Both sides had early goals ruled out for offside, but it would be the visitors who would go ahead after 16 minutes.

    Seb Ross crossed in for Bruce Anderson, who steered the ball past PJ Morrison to put Aberdeen in front.

    Nine minutes later, it was 2-0. PJ Morrison pulled off a stop but the rebound from Michael Ruth crossed the line, despite the goalkeeper’s best efforts to keep it out.

    Motherwell halved the deficit in the 32nd minute. Trialist picked the ball up in a central area and unleashed from 25 yards, finding the top left corner of the net with his strike.

    It took Aberdeen less than two minutes to restore their two-goal cushion. Luke Turner set up Miko Virtanen to bundle over the line and send the Dons in 3-1 up at the break.

    Neither side could add to the score in the second half, meaning the visitors reach the final to take on Celtic.

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Reserves in cup semi-final action

    Reserves in cup semi-final action

    Motherwell’s reserve side take on Aberdeen in the semi-finals of the SPFL Reserve Cup on Monday.

    Kick-off at Broadwood Stadium is at 2pm.