Stuart McCall frustrated by penalty refusal as away record falls


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The Independent Football

Motherwell's manager, Stuart McCall, was frustrated by the denial of what he considered a strong penalty claim as his side's unbeaten away record in the Scottish Premier League ended yesterday with a 1-0 defeat at Hearts.

After Danny Grainger's 30-yard strike gave the hosts the lead on 14 minutes, Motherwell striker Michael Higdon believed he was fouled inside the area by Andy Webster.

"I think if it's outside the box he gives a free-kick," McCall said. "I'm not one to whinge but having seen it again – and Higgy said straight away he came over the top of him – it does look as if a penalty would have been a fair decision. But sometimes you get them and sometimes you don't. I think we merited a point. It was a terrific goal from their point of view but poor from us."

The defeat caused Motherwell to drop to sixth place in the table, seven points behind the leaders, Celtic.

Hearts' win came despite continuing wage problems, with six players and manager John McGlynn yet to receive payments that were due on 15 October. Although having said on Friday that he expected to be paid by the end of the day, McGlynn insisted it was not a problem. "I didn't think you saw the players going begging round the stands. It wasn't an issue at any time," he said.

Neil Lennon hopes Celtic can take their form into tomorrow's Champions League group match at Barcelona, praising Gary Hooper, Efe Ambrose and Victor Wanyama after the 5-0 demolition of St Mirren on Saturday.


"We have good athletes who can play football and I guess that is what you need in the modern game," said Lennon, the Celtic manager. "Hooper, for me, is a great player. He is playing probably at his peak; not only does he score goals but his all-round play and intelligence is of a very high quality. I just hope he takes that form into the game on Tuesday."

Rangers went top of the Third Division on Saturday with a 2-0 win over fellow Glaswegians Queen's Park, Lee McCulloch scoring both goals, and their manager, Ally McCoist, aims to remain in pole position for the rest of the campaign. Before an Ibrox crowd of nearly 50,000 – the second highest in Britain over the weekend – Rangers rewarded their supporters' loyalty with a hard-fought victory.

"In the end we got the three points we were after and our aim now is to stay at the top of the division," McCoist said. "There was a bit of relief at the end when we scored our second."