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Motherwell V Aberdeen at Fir Park Stadium : Match Preview
Published : 24 Dec 2012 17:31:14
Motherwell V Aberdeen - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.
McCall seeks home comforts
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall is determined to end 2012 on a high by giving the club's fans back-to-back home wins in their next two outings.
The Steelmen play host to Aberdeen in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League on Boxing Day before Kilmarnock come calling in the final match of the year.
McCall knows both clubs represent a tough challenge, but has backed his side to bounce back from Friday's defeat to St Mirren and says confidence is high within the squad.
He said: "Everyone talks about our home form and rightly so, it's not been good enough. Our performances have certainly merited better than what we've got.
"But with both Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, like nearly every club in this league, it's too hard to call the games. They are very evenly-matched sides.
"Aberdeen had a good result at the weekend and they have also come down and knocked us out of the cup. They are two tough games, but we've got to just concentrate on what we do.
"I've been pleased with a lot of the performances of late. Our confidence hasn't been rocked by Friday's game.
"We've now got two home games back to back and we need to look to put some points on the board."
Bob McHugh, who netted the winner against Hibernian the previous week, again came off the bench to find the back of the net in the 2-1 loss to Saints.
And McCall has sympathy for the youngster as he battles to force his way into the manager's plans amid tough competition for places.
"I've spoken to Bob at length," McCall said. "He's had a stop-start season, which is no fault of his own, he's just had a couple of little niggling injuries.
"He's back really sharp now, he's been looking sharp in training.
"He's just unfortunate that, at the moment, Michael Higdon is there with 12 goals, Jamie Murphy has got eight and Henrik Ojamaa, although he hasn't scored that many, is creating lots of chances and playing well.
"Bob knows he will get his chance and he's really close. Whether he goes one step further and starts, I've not made my mind up yet. But he's certainly doing everything he can and looking sharp."
Motherwell sit in third place, three points ahead of Aberdeen, but McCall still feels the Dons could finish second this season.
He added: "I said at the beginning of the season that I think they are more equipped than anyone to finish second behind Celtic. I still haven't seen anything to change my mind about that.
"Having said that, I think we're more than capable of giving anyone a game on the day. We are looking forward to it.
"I wouldn't say we are after revenge for the cup game, we just want to extend that gap between us and them.
"It's three points at the minute. If somebody had given me that at the beginning of the season, that we would be going into Boxing Day three points ahead of Aberdeen, I'd have snapped their hands off."
Aberdeen manager Craig Brown has urged his players to take their cup form to Fir Park and end their four-year wait for a Premier League win over Motherwell.
The Dons have not taken three points off Motherwell for 11 games, since before Mark McGhee and then Brown left the Motherwell hotseat for Pittodrie.
But they have knocked Motherwell out of the William Hill Scottish Cup at Fir Park twice this year, the most recent occasion being a 2-1 replay win earlier this month.
However, their quarter-final victory by the same scoreline in March was followed six days later by an SPL loss in Lanarkshire when Motherwell left-back Stevie Hammell struck the only goal with a superb 30-yard strike.
Brown is therefore not sure that their recent cup exploits will have much bearing on Boxing Day.
The former Scotland boss said: "Remember last year we beat them in the cup and then we lost 1-0 to a rather fortunate long-range shot from Stevie Hammell in the league.
"We would like to do the double over Motherwell, obviously. It would give us a great platform for the remaining league fixtures if we managed to pull back the three-point gap.
"Obviously we don't want a repeat of the last experience, although in the league you can recover and in the cup you can't, so we would rather win in the cup.
"But we are getting a bit selfish now and would like to win both."