Motherwell set to appeal Stephen McManus dismissal

MOTHERWELL are to appeal against Stephen McManus’s controversial dismissal in yesterday’s 2-0 defeat by Aberdeen at Fir Park.
Stephen McManus: Facing suspension. Picture: SNSStephen McManus: Facing suspension. Picture: SNS
Stephen McManus: Facing suspension. Picture: SNS

The veteran defender was shown a straight red card by referee Willie Collum in the closing stages of the match, the official penalising him for handball as he blocked a netbound Jonny Hayes shot on the line.

Television replays showed the ball struck McManus high on the shoulder. Adam Rooney scored from the subsequent penalty kick to secure victory for league leaders Aberdeen.

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McManus now faces a suspension which would rule him out of Motherwell’s next Premiership fixture at Dundee on Saturday but manager Ian Baraclough is hopeful it can be overturned.

“I’ve seen the incident back and Mick (McManus) didn’t put his hand towards the ball,” said Baraclough. “It hit him just below the shoulder at the top of his arm. He couldn’t get out of the way of it because it was struck so well. Would it have changed the result? Possibly not but it could affect us further down the line so we’ll appeal it.”

Motherwell are now just six points clear of bottom of the table duo St Mirren and Ross County but Baraclough was content with the reaction of his players to their 5-0 humbling by Lanarkshire rivals Hamilton Accies on New Year’s Day.

“I thought we had a real good go at it in the second half,” he said. “Aberdeen had the majority of the first half and looked bright up top but we dealt with that and then gave a sloppy ball away and didn’t deal with the ball through so we gifted them the opener.

“We could have folded like a pack of cards after the Hamilton result but we didn’t and I was delighted with the response.”

Baraclough took particular encouragement from the contribution of 17-year-old debutant Luke Watt at left-back and the impact of 18-year-old second-half substitute Dominic Thomas. “Luke made his debut and he can be proud of it,” added Baraclough. “The kids need to be nurtured and not pushed too quickly but it’s a bright future here. Dom is a teenager, but I saw the first day I came into the club that he wants to make things happen and he’s got no fear and that’s brilliant because it picks everyone up.”

Aberdeen matchwinner Rooney, who had put the visitors in front in the first half, insists the Pittodrie side can handle any increased expectations placed upon them after they moved four points clear of Celtic at the top of the Premiership.

“It’s the same attitude every week from us,” said Rooney, who has now scored 19 goals this season. “We work hard in training because you can get a slap in the face if you look too far ahead. We managed to blank out the talk last season when we got to the League Cup final and everyone said we hadn’t won anything in years. We blanked it out and focused on ourselves because we know if we play the way we can then we can get a result against anyone.

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“We’re on a good run and wanted to keep it going today. We knew it would be difficult with Motherwell looking to bounce back from their last result. It’s always a difficult place to come and we’re delighted with the win and another clean sheet.

“We’re taking each game as it comes and making sure we work hard in training and staying focused on getting three points. We’ve got a bit of confidence and looking strong throughout the team, especially at the back.

“We’ve got players in the team who will always create something so we’re always liable to get goals and we’ve built momentum. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever had 19 goals at this stage of the season.

“I managed 27 goals at Inverness one year, but I don’t think I had 19 at this stage. I’m feeling confident but the lads are creating a lot of chances. Since I’ve come in the gaffer has always focused on the next game and that’s how it will continue.”