Motherwell V Hearts at Fir Park Stadium : Match Preview

23 November 2012 06:01
Motherwell V Hearts - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

McCall seeks home comforts

Motherwell boss Stuart McCall has urged his players to strike the first blow against Hearts when they meet in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at Fir Park.

The Steelmen's impressive 5-1 win at Inverness last weekend took them up to fourth in the table but their healthy league position is no thanks to their home form.

Motherwell supporters have enjoyed only one victory in Lanarkshire this season, a 4-1 SPL win against Inverness in September, but McCall is looking for his players to improve that record against the Jambos.

"We scored three at Aberdeen and St Johnstone and two at Kilmarnock and Dundee, so we haven't had a problem scoring goals on our travels," he said.

"The performances at home have been similar to the away performances, it's just that we haven't got the first goal or scored when we have been on top.

"Looking back at games against Hibs, Dundee United and Dundee, we had excellent opportunities to take the lead but didn't, be it through bad finishing, good goalkeeping or decisions against us.

"But we know home results have not been good enough and we have got to look to change that.

"It's not as black and white as getting the first goal but it would certainly help, there is no doubt about that.

"I think we had 72 per cent possession against Dundee and chances and they break down the park and score and all of a sudden the crowd get a bit tense, the players get slightly anxious so it would be nice to go ahead in games at home.

"That wouldn't mean to say we would down tools and think it was all over because that wouldn't be the case, the games are that tight.

"Between us and Hearts three or four weeks ago, it was a 25-yard screamer that split the teams, there was nothing between the sides.

"So it would be nice to nick a 1-0 when it was a tight game."

McCall has an unchanged squad for the clash, with defender Simon Ramsden still struggling with a calf niggle.

Scotland cap Steven Saunders remains on the sidelines as he recovers from a knee injury.

Meanwhile, left-back Danny Grainger hopes the Hearts players can foster a feelgood factor at Tynecastle as the capital club fight for their very existence.

Grainger scored the only goal in last week's 1-0 Clydesdale Bank Premier League win over St Mirren in a match Hearts had suggested could be the last in their 138-year history.

That was before a deadline was extended over a winding-up order issued over a tax demand for #450,000, one of numerous financial concerns at Tynecastle, where a share issue scheme has been launched to raise much-needed funds and initially well-received.

The matter is out of the control of the Hearts players, who instead are seeking to focus on winning on the field, the latest test coming at Motherwell tomorrow.

Grainger said: "There's nothing we can do. We've just got to get on with it.

"We can't affect what's happening out with the football. We've just got to get on with our business.

"We know we've got to do our business on the pitch and we go out every week trying to do that.

"If we keep working the way we do on the training pitch and on the pitch on a Saturday we know we'll get a lot more positive results."

Goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald is a doubt for the match due to illness.

Peter Enckelman is on standby, with fit-again Mark Ridgers likely to come on to the bench if required.

Right-back Jamie Hamill (knee) is still unavailable.

Source: PA