STUART McCALL insists he won’t use Stjarnan’s awful artificial surface as an excuse if Motherwell crash out of Europe tonight, despite suffering humiliation on their last match on plastic.
Well know they must win or grab a high-scoring draw to avoid a shock exit in the Europa League in Iceland but Stjarnan have lost just once this season and will fancy their chances after the Lanarkshire side blew a two-goal lead in the first leg.
But the artificial surface is far removed from the new state-of-the-art pitches so prevalent in Scotland and manager McCall still has nightmares from their last match on plastic, when they were bundled out of the Scottish Cup at the first hurdle by Albion Rovers at Hamilton’s New Douglas Park last term.
McCall said: “Whatever happens, we won’t make the pitch an excuse.
“It’s a big park and they’re expecting a lot of rain. We just need to get used to it. We don’t like going back to the Albion Rovers game at Hamilton, but I think it’s easier on an artificial pitch to sit in and defend.
“If you put balls in behind then they’ll run out and that’s how we got caught out last year. The Albion Rovers game was our last game on an artificial pitch – that’s why we trained at Braidhurst to get it out of our system! I just hope history doesn’t repeat itself.”
As frustrated as McCall was at blowing that lead, he remains confident they can go through.
Motherwell also had a must-win game at Pittodrie on the last day of the season and secured a famous 1-0 win to clinch the runners-up spot, so having to win a key game is nothing new to him and his team.
He pointed out: “If you look at last season’s game against Aberdeen we went with a plan to still be in the game with 15 minutes to go and it managed to work out. But I can see this game being similar to the home game. We’ll probably have a lot of possession and they’re very good on the counter attack as you could see at Fir Park. I think it will be an open game. It’s a big park and it’s all to play for.
“I’ve heard them say we’re still favourites but I don’t think there’s any favourites. They’re on a run of one defeat in 16 and as much as they say they’re semi-pro they train every day and night.”