SPL

Liam Kelly determined to take building Motherwell momentum into next season

By Sports Desk May 19, 2023

Motherwell goalkeeper Liam Kelly aims to take momentum as well as lessons into next season.

The Steelmen moved up to seventh in the cinch Premiership ahead of Saturday’s visit of Ross County after being joint-bottom when Stuart Kettlewell took charge in early February.

Kelly feels their poor form in the second half of last season carried over into this campaign and he wants to ensure they can roll over into next term with the type of performances that have seen them collect 23 points in three months.

Kelly said: “Seventh is the best we can get so we want to stay there so we can keep improving and hopefully that will stand us in good stead for next season as well.

“You can never call what will happen but the form from the end of last season, we maybe took that into the start of this season.

“If we can finish this season in good form then hopefully that will help us at the start of next season. That’s definitely the plan anyway.”

The Well skipper admits it has seemed a long season, especially given two managers have departed in Graham Alexander and Steven Hammell.

“It’s my first ever time having three different managers,” he said. “That Sligo game seems a long time ago.

“But a good season, a really good learning season, loads of different experiences, highs and lows, ones we will be better for. We know exactly what we don’t want to experience again. I think we will be better for it.

“We have had a mixture of results and performances but since the manager came in we have really steadied and been consistent.

“We knew the feeling from October through to January/February so we don’t want to experience that again, and we know what it takes not to experience that.

“We know what it takes but we also know that if we let our standards drop then we could slip back into our old way. That will not be happening again.”

Related items

  • We will keep working: Gilbert says 1-5 loss to Chile a part of learning curve for new-look Reggae Girlz We will keep working: Gilbert says 1-5 loss to Chile a part of learning curve for new-look Reggae Girlz

    Though disappointed by their hefty defeat to Chile in their opening friendly contest, interim Head coach Xavier Gilbert maintain that his youthful senior Reggae Girlz outfit will learn from the setback, as he anticipates an improved performance in the second encounter on Tuesday.

    In fact, Gilbert is confident that the more his new-look team plays, the better the performances will be, as they continue to introduce and expose players to the senior programme, mainly due to the current standoff between the World Cup players and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

    The Chileans through goals from Michelle Olivares (12th), Maria Jose Urrutia (22nd), Yestin Jimenez (61st), Yenny Acuna (70th) and Paloma Duarte (88th), outclassed their Jamaican counterparts at the Juan Pinto Duran Stadium in Chile on Friday. Chinyelu Asher (77th) with her seventh international goal, pulled one back for the Jamaicans.

    “I don’t think we were good enough to be honest, we started off really shaky and allowed them too much space to play despite what we said we wanted to achieve and how we wanted to approach the game. We were a little bit tentative on the back foot and they exploited those areas that we left opened,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

    “We were much better in the second half, so we will look to build on that because it is a learning process, and so we will see how best we can carry that momentum over into the next game,” he added.

    Along with the lack of preparation heading into the games, Gilbert pointed out that niggling injuries also marred their performance, as a number of the college players are just getting back into season, while former Liverpool midfielder Jade Bailey is still gradually working her way back from a knee surgery.

    “It was difficult because some players are recovering from injury and some college players are just heading back into season, but it is what we have to work with, and we just have to put a better showing in the next game. The more we play oppositions like these, the better we will get. As I said before, this is new for a lot of them on the international stage, so the more we play, the more competitive we will be,” Gilbert reasoned.

    Still, with the next game scheduled for Tuesday, the veteran tactician is keen on using the remaining time in Chile to work on certain aspects of the team’s game, with hopes of conducting more intensive work when they next assemble for the April window.

    “But for now we are just going to recover and assess the game, look at where we went wrong and improve some things that we could have done better. There are some areas that needs more work than what we will be able to fix here, but we are going to ensure we have good defensive organisation,” Gilbert declared.

    “So, we are going to give a few other players some minutes to get back into fold and we are going to continue to work to make sure that defensively we are solid, and also tighten up on how we match up against opponents like these, so we should give a better account of ourselves in the next game,” he ended.

  • David Martindale rues ‘ridiculous’ game management as Livingston suffer defeat David Martindale rues ‘ridiculous’ game management as Livingston suffer defeat

    Livingston manager David Martindale bemoaned “ridiculous” game management following his side’s last-gasp defeat against Ross County.

    Livi fought back from Eamonn Brophy’s first-half double in Dingwall as a brace from Bruce Anderson got his side level with four minutes left.

    But Josh Sims netted in stoppage time for the hosts to earn a 3-2 win which leaves Livi six points adrift at the foot of the cinch Premiership table.

    Martindale said: “I thought our game management for that third goal was ridiculous – terrible.

    “In the first half, it was a wee bit toothless, gutless – we couldn’t get close enough. Our distances were all wrong.

    “The first goal was a blatant error, under no pressure at all. A lack of focus leads to the first goal. It gives Ross County momentum and takes a wee bit of belief away from us.

    “The second goal we don’t go in tight enough. We were too narrow and give Brophy too much room.

    “We go in at half-time 2-0 down and make changes. It wasn’t down to the two who came off. We could probably have looked at the defensive unit as being the ones at fault.

    “But you have to change something so we changed to 4-4-2 and put Bruce on and get the next goal.

    “We threw caution to the wind in the last 10 minutes with big Kurtis Guthrie on and get the second goal back.

    “At that point, maybe I should have changed it back to a back four or five and taken the point. I never, I thought the momentum was with us.

    “Unfortunately we get done with a sucker punch. Again, defensively, we’ve got to do a lot better as a unit.”

    County interim manager Don Cowie hailed his side’s character after keeping their composure following Livingston’s equaliser.

    “We were very good in the first half and were worthy at 2-0 up,” said Cowie.

    “I was really disappointed to lose a goal so early in the second half. It gave Livingston a massive boost and it became a difficult half of football.

    “But we hung in there and came up with a bit of magic to win the game. I’m delighted for the group.

    “The fact they kept going like that was pleasing. Most people would have assumed it would be Livingston who would go on and get the winning goal at that stage, but we came again.

    “It’s the character that I know is in that dressing room.”

  • Neil Warnock bemoans Aberdeen’s lack of physicality after loss at Kilmarnock Neil Warnock bemoans Aberdeen’s lack of physicality after loss at Kilmarnock

    Neil Warnock claimed his Aberdeen players were too nice after being “bullied” in a 2-0 defeat at Kilmarnock.

    The Dons manager admitted the performance looked “pathetic” and questioned whether he could do anything about their major weakness during his spell in charge until the end of the season.

    Corrie Ndaba shook off the attentions of Bojan Miovski to head home the opener in first-half stoppage-time and Matty Kennedy netted against his former club as Killie enjoyed a comfortable second half.

    The Dons are now without a win in eight cinch Premiership games, four of them under Warnock, and are as close to the bottom two as they are the top six with five points separating them either way.

    Warnock said: “I just think it’s the physical aspect – we haven’t got any physical presence really in the whole squad.

    “I don’t think we did too bad in the first half regarding the way they play and how we competed, because they are a lot more physical than us.

    “But to give a goal away like that sends you in at half-time heads down. Bojan’s defending, it’s simple, he has just got to stop with his man.

    “But the second half, I was disappointed.

    “We haven’t got many players who have an edge on them. How many times did they leave a foot in and the referee didn’t do anything?

    “We need one or two nasty people at times. That’s going to be the biggest problem in the next few months, getting the recruitment right.

    “They’re all nice lads. I can’t fault them for being nice lads but you want a bit of nastiness in the team.

    “You want people standing up to be counted but they’re not there. I can’t force that on them.”

    Warnock, who was the only man in the visiting team to get booked, added: “We got bullied. I wouldn’t want to watch that every week, if I’m honest, but they played to their strengths and you have to match that.

    “I don’t think I’ve ever had a team that’s been bullied in my time but you can’t put into some players what they haven’t got.

    “Believe it or not, most of those players would have tried, it just looks pathetic at times. Most of the lads were trying their hardest, they are just too nice.”

    Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes felt there was more to his side’s dominance than the physical nature.

    “I thought we were good at what we did,” McInnes said. “There is always an element in Scottish football where you have to stand up for yourself and be physical but we were more than that. I think it would be wrong for that to be the only talking point.

    “I thought we settled on the ball, we fed our wide players time and again.

    “We showed a lot of good attributes and being physical and standing up for yourself is always part of that.”

    McInnes added: “We had 16 shots inside their box. For only two to go in means it was not the perfect afternoon.

    “We passed up some good chances, but anytime a Kilmarnock team can beat Aberdeen 2-0, you have to take that.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.