Jonathan Sutherland introduces highlights of the weekend's matches in the new SPFL Scottish Premiership, with comment on and analysis of the week's main talking points.
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Hello and welcome to our pre-Hogmanay Sportscene spectacular.
The final football fling of 2013, and what a way to go out. Some great
goals tonight, meaty talking points as always and two top pundits.
Steven Thompson and Pat Nevin join me for this last highlights show of
the year. A poignant start tonight. Six years ago yesterday the
Motherwell captain Phil O'Donnell died on the pitch during a match
with Dundee United. It was always going to be an emotional day for all
involved with Motherwell Football Club. They were at Firhill to play
Partick Thistle. Commentary comes from John Barnes.
Alan Archibald makes only one change to his starting line-up. Stephen
O'Donnell returns at full-back in place of Jordan McMillan.
Francis-Angol is back in alongside McFadden, so John Sutton is on the
bench. And Partick Thistle get an early
lead! He scores against his old club. Craig insisted on a plate for
Lawless. Terrific save their by the
Motherwell goalkeeper, Twardzik. It is Lawless again, looking for his
second. A good start for Alan Archibald.
And Motherwell equalise! It's their captain, Leslie. Excellent skills
from James McFadden. And good awareness to spot Leslie on the run.
It is blocked away by Twardzik again.
And Francis-Angol puts Motherwell 2-1 in front! And it's his first
ever goal for the Fir Park club. He slots it away with his least
favoured foot. A deft flick from James McFadden,
increasing Motherwell's lead. Back in the starting line-up and on the
scoresheet for the second time this season. Good hold-up play from
Anier. Pick should have done better but McFadden was there to pounce. --
Piccolo. Great strike from James McFadden,
tried to catch out Scott Fox. The keeper was up to the challenge.
Thistle were looking for a penalty as the Motherwell players slid in.
The referee says no. A good effort from another former
Motherwell player. Twardzik, once more, doing well to turn it over.
Ainsworth! That is number four for Motherwell. Ainsworth's third goal
in three successive matches. Partick Thistle, caught out at the back
again and this time, Lasley the provider, Ainsworth with the finish.
A good day out for the Motherwell supporters.
Scott Fox, happy to grab that one, but McFadden, returning to something
like his best this afternoon. Once again, Partick Thistle are
punished at the back! Slack defending there. Not keeping his eye
on the ball, and Sutton, the substitute, scored his ninth of the
season. Scott Foxton eyes Ainsworth. --
denies Ainsworth. This will be their biggest win in the new top-flight.
I thought we were a bit fortunate to go in at half-time 3-1, Thistle had
a really good go and played some good stuff first half, but we showed
a good deal of character and some good football to take the lead and
then go ahead. Second half, it was a case of hip on the break. Very
disappointing to start the going so well, we were looking good, and then
it was bad decision-making. I think, try and keep going, but we don't
really organise and there are mistakes for the goals as well,
individual errors. It was a big day for Motherwell and
a fantastic win. It was great to see James McFadden playing like that
again. Absolutely. I would argue he is the most talented footballer of
his generation for Scotland. He gets this from a throw in, there is
nothing on here at all. He has such vision. He wasn't looking, he is
absolutely sure that Lasley will make the run. They have known each
other since they were young, but he is learning the intelligence side of
the game. When he sees the gap, and that is one hell of a gap between
the centre backs! We will get back to that later. But we're now seeing
him the way he was. Very few players think of scoring from throw ins.
When he looks fit, and his knees are fine, he is a joy to behold. That
was the James McFadden of old. He is a sensational talent. I spoke to him
last week in the tunnel, he was despondent, he hadn't got on, but it
just shows you, a week in football is not a long time at all. Hopefully
that gives him the shot in the arm he needs because if it James
McFadden is a real asset. You alluded to some poor Partick Thistle
defending. Let's look at it at more detail. One of those guys has got to
get in there. Get in, close down the space. No one is going near him. And
you can't do that at this level. Here, it's very simple. They it
inside, just don't lose the ball. Because Ainsworth is sneaking up the
back there, and he isn't so much space, so you can't take chances if
you are the final man. You certainly don't pass it to Lasley, he is
having a great season. I can't really speak about this, any ideas?
I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he lost the ball
in the floodlights! This one is interesting. 18 metres between the
defenders, that amount of space, you wouldn't get that very often. You
are generally looking to get a yard of space, not 18 yards! Alan
Archibald was disappointed with the defending. Partick Thistle on
getting the services of Lyle Taylor, a good signing? Definitely, he got a
lot of goals for Falkirk last season. He plays on the shoulder, he
may be the missing link for Partick Thistle. They face Celtic in the New
Year. Next we're off to McDiarmid Park where goal-shy St Johnstone
were up against Dundee United. The last Saints goal had come in
November. In contrast Dundee United had been goal crazy in recent times,
but their superb run of form had come to a shuddering halt with
defeat to St Mirren on Boxing Day. Commentary comes from
Edwards found room for the shot. He made a difference when it came off
the bench against Celtic and he is off to us rightly start here. -- ace
rightly start. That is a penalty! And that was also
a red card. He wasn't convinced the header was reaching the goalkeeper.
He had a towel, it wasn't much, it was enough for a dismissal early on.
Stevie May scores his 15th of the season. And St Johnstone are ahead
against their rivals. He doesn't look too pleased, he
should be! It was hooked off the line by Andy Robertson. A towering
header, the keeper was beaten. That was a good effort from the St
Johnstone midfielder. It was really good build-up, quick passing and
movement. Looking for a response from his
team, Jackie McNamara. It's grammar clear by Dundee United.
-- scrambled clear. They are happy at the moment to be still in the
game under real pressure. That was close from Wilson! Good
effort from the full-back am just moved to much, I think.
The shot from the former Partick Thistle man, always rising.
Running a long way with the ball, David Wotherspoon, and a stinging
shot at the end of it. Steve May scores again! It has gone
right through the goalkeeper, it is a double for St Johnstone. He should
not really have been scoring from that position. The goalkeeper was at
fault as well as the defender. Good ball from Nigel Hasselbaink.
Agonising! He not that across goal, but there was just too much on it
for Steve May to make contact on the hat-trick hunt. Stephen Anderson.
He can set up Steve May! Hat-trick for the 21-year-old Saint Johnstone
striker. It is his 15th goal of the season. We started the game really
well and I just hope the performance is not undervalued because of the
sending off because I thought we were by far the better team up to
that stage. We emphasised the point that we wanted a high tempo game,
press them high up the pitch, and we did that, but I thought we also
played some good football. For me, that is a disappointing thing, the
concentration, the decision-making at times, to get the penalty in the
first instance for me was per decision making. It was a fantastic
victory for St Johnstone. How big was the sending off and was the
right decision? It is a game changer, a sending off is always
going to be a huge point in a game and for me it is a sending off,
without a doubt. He has his hand on his shoulder and at the last-second
peoples and back. It is a definite sending-off and unfortunately it is
a goal-scoring opportunity. Pat, do you agree? No option whatsoever for
the referee, so well done. Ten men, eight changes, away from home, not
much of a surprise. It is all about how you react. A lot of the talented
Dundee United youngsters were on the bench for various reasons. Lots of
scouts in the stands would have been disappointed. They did see Steve May
scoring a hat-trick. How difficult will it be to keep hold of him in
January? There will definitely be people looking at him. That was his
15th goal yesterday, after his hat-trick. He has a bit of
everything, he has been pivotal for St Johnstone. He can turn on either
fruit. Good finish. He has been a big player for St Johnstone and they
will be having to fend off teams because he has been sensational. He
has really lit up the Premier League. The only thing that has made
him bad in some peoples eyes is his unorthodox look and style. He looks
bulkier than he actually is, he is really quite quick. He is quite
scruffy but he is a superb player. Let us talk about Dundee United.
People were surprised when Saint Mirren turned them over. Thanks.
People will be saying the bubble has burst. Not at all. They have lost
two in a row, seven goals conceded and two sendings off. But before
that they were absolutely superb. It is just a wee blip and they have too
much talent in their squad. Plenty of us looking forward to the Dundee
United clash against Aberdeen. Aberdeen were playing Ross County
yesterday. A few changes to the says, with Mark Reynolds replacing
Russell Anderson. Barry Robson was dropped to the bench. As for Ross
County, despite their recent struggles, they had never ever lost
to Aberdeen. In fact one of their three victories was to Aberdeen in
October. There is not many better ways to
announce your return to the team than taking a free kick like this.
Nicky Low making virtually the entire stadium jump as Aberdeen took
the lead in just the second minute of the match.
And just ten minutes later it got even better for Aberdeen, when Peter
Pawlett was brought down in the penalty area. Good skill, no doubt
about the decision. Scott Vernon took the penalty responsibility, it
was a fine save from Michael Fraser to keep the score at 1-0.
Scott Vernon promptly got over his disappointment for another goal. And
the turn but the short distance -- good turn but the shot drifted wide.
Ross County had made changes from the side that lost to Hibs. They
were calling for a penalty and they might have had a case with the way
Mark Reynolds's handmade contact with the ball. Nothing was given and
Aberdeen were causing problems again for the side second bottom of the
Premiership. Scott Boyd deflected Niall McGinn's cross against his own
post. Some need play set up another Aberdeen chance. For once, Niall
McGinn's aiming was off. Overall, Aberdeen were the better side, as
they geared up for the New Year new firm derby. Cameron Smith with a
shot saved as it finished 1-0. I felt we were in total control of the
match. I was really enjoying watching my team played today. We
have been wasteful of good opportunities, getting into good
areas, and we have been there before. Missed penalties have come
back to bite us and thankfully it did not today. We did not do well
enough offensively today. Defensively, we kept their good
players quiet, and they are a very good side. Deserve to be where they
are in the league. It has been a difficult start to the season for us
and we are just having to hang on in there and trying to replace and
taking players in January. Nicky Low with his first league start. Also
his first senior goal in football and what a strike it was. Wreck to
Reef Derek McInnes's side halfway through the season, what you make of
this? -- a victory for them. He has been sensational. He has got a real
positivity about the club that had been missing. Big crowds coming to
the game, 11,000, semifinal of the, but it will not be enough for Derek.
He will see this as the start of his journey. Let's look at the report
card so far. Makes for pretty impressive reading. Played 19 games,
35 points, and have won 11 of them. What do you make of those? Superb
but not surprising in anyway. Aberdeen have underperformed for so
many years but I think a lot of people within the game looked at
them and thought, you got lucky getting him because he was very
unfortunate with what happened to him down south, many other teams
were interested, I think it took a little while to convince some
supporters but I think almost all of them are on board now. So many
people are looking forward to the derby between Dundee United and
Aberdeen, how do you see that going? It will be brilliant, cracking game,
3-3. I just want both teams to play at their best. If Dundee United play
at their best, this will be some game, if this little blip continues
it will be great. It will be goalless. Plenty more to come and
with New Year dear, up 1% of pictures -- a lot of fixtures are a
small while away. Some mouthwatering derby day
matches. After the horror show start to the
season, Kilmarnock had turned a corner in recent weeks. They made it
three wins out of four games. They were back in the capital to face
Hibs. Another victory would bring them level on points with the Easter
Road side. Hibs unchanged from their victory in
Ross County. They seek Terry Butcher's first home win. Kilmarnock
defeated Hearts last time out. The manager names the same side that
took to the field at Tynecastle. Sombre moment of reflection at
Easter Road in memory of the youth player David Paul who passed away.
One-handed save from Craig Samson. Good early play from Hibs. Stevenson
with that in well. Was heading to the top corner. Paul Hanlon got
free! Hibs ahead after 12 minutes. Another header from a corner and
this time it is Paul Hanlon. Kilmarnock would have been aware of
the fact that Hibs had scored from two corners against Ross County.
Hibs gather through Stevenson. Forcing the save from Samson. Lewis
Stevenson picked up on this clever little ball. He tested Craig Samson.
What a great run from the midfield from Scott Robertson. The ball was
not dealt with by Kilmarnock. Rattled the bar and James Collins
could not get it back on target. Kris Boyd has scored in his last
four games, he will be disappointed with that effort.
Worth a shot. Foreword to Robertson. Good stuff from Hibs.
The referee was well positioned. He waves away the protests of the Hibs
players. That was clever from Paul Cairney.
Hibs will break, James Collins leading the charge.
Some good end to end stuff in this game. Out why to Lewis Stevenson.
Shown the inside, and that is a mistake as he cannot finish. 13
minutes to play. Lewis Stevenson rise and get the
goal! Only his second in just over 200 appearances for Hibs, he rounds
of the afternoon in style. Cracking strike from Lewis Stevenson. I think
we have had seven goals and seven different goal-scorers. Spreading
the goals around. I don't mind that. If they keep working hard then goals
will come and they certainly did today. They made it difficult for
us. We have got to defend the corner better in the first place, the first
goal, especially when you see the week before they scored two goals
from corners. It is a poor goal to lose. We are all starting to detect
slight evidence of the Terry Butcher difference at Hibs. What do you see?
Good organisation, particularly set pieces. We will have a look at what
they showed us last week. All the players sitting in that really tight
area but what what happens when the ball comes in, there is a marker on
the scorer. In actual fact, for all this, the same game, but when they
split, the ball comes in, there is still a marker on the scorer, so
this is about desire, yes it is a clever little trick, the same again
yesterday we know what is going to happen, they are going to go a
different way, just that bit of confusion but once again, there is a
marker Hathaway -- have a yard away. You need the desire to win
that ball and I keep on using the word desire and that is the perfect
word to describe Terry Butcher. That is what he has brought to heads so
far. Seems to be more conviction. Yesterday, a threat would have been
Kris Boyd and Chris Johnson and clearly that was snuffed out.
Definitely, in the last five weeks they have been in top form, main
players for Kilmarnock, and Hebburn and managed to snuff them out. In
terms of Terry Butcher bringing organisation, you can see that
coming through. The battle is getting into the top six. Yes, they
need to score more goals, looking better now, the most important thing
is, 16 goals they have lost this season, only Celtic have lost fewer.
Next we're off to St Mirren Park where Steven Thompson's side were
hoping to carry on where they'd left off after their superb 4-1 victory
over Dundee United on Boxing Day. Just the one change to the team with
Danny Grainger coming in for Kenny Mclean. And St Mirren's chances of
another home win looked pretty good as they were up against the side
rock bottom of the Premiership. Hearts had lost their last five
matches. The only bit of real good news for
Hearts was that their last two wins had both come away from home. With
the story of the match in Paisley, here's Brian McLauchlin.
Steven Thompson has had no problem in finding the net. He gives Saints
the perfect start after three minutes. The Hearts defence in a
real model. -- model. His 11th goal of the season. The former Scotland
striker almost set up a second for the Saints. This is is through ball
to Naismith. His shot was parried away by McDonald, Granger just
failed to connect with the rebound. Hearts have lost their previous five
matches and scored just one goal but their equaliser is a contender for
goal of the season. Walker's Cross, initially cleared by the defence
only to Jamie Hamill. A thundering 30 yarder into the roof of the net.
Jim Goodwin has been in the news recently, he felt he had claims for
a penalty. The ball certainly struck the teenager, but not with intent,
thought the referee. Another chance for Thompson. Naismith with the
shot, Thomson's effort, just wide of goal. Jamie Walker has also had an
eye on goal this season for Hearts, this effort was also the wrong side
of the post, though. One final chance for Hearts in the final
minute stop substitute Smith with a run down the right, his cross met by
Pettersson only for the keeper to deny him. Both sides picked up a
valuable point. I thought today we made some poor
decisions on the ball at times, that was uncharacteristic of us. I don't
expect those mistakes from the group players we have. We never turned up
on Boxing Day, they were some choice words after that game and I think
the players responded in the right manner. It was important we put in a
performance for the fans. Whatever static strike from Jamie Hamill. It
has been a morale sapping few weeks for Hearts. How much will that have
meant for them? It's lovely that they can get that, but it won't help
them enough. It's the same thing every time, a bit of sympathy, not
pity, but simply because they are always having to deal with hard
times. But they never seem to give up fighting. You are absolutely
prolific it seems! We're going to focus on the man on the other end of
the pitch, Kello. He has been early on, he is making three, four,
top-class saves again. I know he is in contract talks with us at the
minute to renew his contract, if you are watching, hurry up ! You know
it makes sense! But he is a sub superb keeper. Some news for St
Mirren, Jim Goodwin has accepted a two match ban following this
incident on Boxing Day against Dundee United. St Mirren,
disappointed about Dundee United flagging this incident up on social
media, what is your take on it? The SFA will deal with it, they dealt
with it fairly lightly, two matches, it could have been a lot worse. But
there is no point to add fuel to the fire. It's been dealt with, it was a
terrible thing he did, no excuse at all. Anything to add? I thought that
might be the reaction. We finish with Inverness versus Celtic. The
reigning Scottish champions - and surely champions elect - have been
untouchable this season in domestic football. Top of the league and so
far unbeaten. For the largest part of the season they'd been pushed
hardest by Caley Thistle, but in recent weeks the Highlanders had
lost their grip on second place. How would they get on yesterday?
Commentary comes from Alasdair Lamont.
Bill Mackay is in fine form, eight goals in his last seven games.
Celtic make just one change, James Forrest coming in for Fisher stop
--. An early chance for Kris Commons!
Taken with some aplomb. A lovely 1-2 with Samaras, and a delightful
finish. Through the legs of the keeper. Celtic, within three
minutes, are in front against Caley Thistle.
Caley Thistle will look to respond quickly. That was done around, he
shot straight at Fraser Forster. A comfortable save in the end for the
England keeper. Stokes tried it all the way across
goal. -- dragged. I think he was looking to shoot there. John Hughes
and Lincolnshire in conversation, then that to get their side back on
level terms. Billy Mackay is usually so deadly in
that edition but on this occasion, his header was a rather weak one,
easy for Fraser Forster. That was a really powerful hit by
Shinnie. And again, Shinnie brings out a good
save from Fraser Forster. He has looked at Caley Thistle's most
potent threat, the full-back. Kris Commons was nipping in front of
the defender, almost clipping in the second goal of the afternoon. Good
movement from the front man. It almost came off. He has looked
really lively, Kris Commons. This was really good intelligence, just
an inch or two to five. -- too high. Brown flashes it wide. It was a
lovely Celtic move. Allowing for all, almost producing their second
goal. -- flowing football. It was worth a try, the ball was
moving. Straight into the arms of a grateful
Brill. Good play by Stokes. Brown didn't have the accuracy.
How did he miss that! Linesman's flag was up, but almost a dream
debut. He wasn't offside, Christie. Disappointed to lose a goal so early
on and after that put so much effort into the match and come away losing.
That is disappointing, but in terms of ball retention, passing it, very
good. Celtic knew they were in a game. We were off to a great start,
that seemed to settle us down a bit, but going forward, we could have
done better with the amount of the session we had. But six clean sheets
in a row domestically, we are playing very well. It was a good
start from Celtic. We're going to focus on the good and maybe the
slightly bad that we noticed in this match. Even historically, Celtic are
always good at intricate play through the centre of teams, even
back in the 80s. When Collins is involved, they always are. --
Commons. That is the oldest one in the book. But look how many players
test taken out of the game, four players have. It is intricate, quick
play, step overs. Countless Celtic teams have done it over the years. I
love watching them do that but it always has that guy Kris Commons
involved. A slight disappointment they didn't score more goals
yesterday. We're nit-picking now, but some of the defending at times
could have been tighter. Six and a half games since they lost a gold
domestic league. But if you do turn off, you pay for it eventually. Look
at Ambrose, he has just left him. It's a free header. Again here, back
post, three players, massive chance. Last minute of the game as well. I
have seen this creeping into the game and eventually will affect them
and it did against the much but it seems in Europe. Having said that, I
suspect they might still win the league! Your side face them soon.
Yes, on Sunday. It's always a very difficult game against them,
considering they have six clean sheets it's a difficult task. I
always enjoy the games against Celtic, a bigger atmosphere. It will
be a tough test for sure. A shocking incident in this match, I couldn't
believe this. This was a pushing incident on the referee. Crawford,
not very happy about it. I just can't believe it! It's funny, but it
would never crossed my mind to push the referee over. It's hilarious, he
has just pushed him over. Could have been a red card! It was like Paolo
Di Canio! I don't think so, I think the players within his rights here.
Get out of the way, I need to close him down! Emits me, I would push him
out of the way. -- if it was me. He is in my way, you shouldn't be
there. Get out of the way of the play. Did you ever do anything like
that? No, but I would have. The most important thing is you stop the
goal, you do whatever you can. That's why the referee didn't book
him. As he knows it's not deliberately offensive, nasty
thing, he's only trying to slow the way down. You are looking at me... !
Done it. Controversial stuff. The final table looks like this.
From everyone here, have a happy Hogmanay. Until next year, good