Motherwell hope to avoid another blank

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The Independent Online
Satellite television producers are hoping that today's match at Motherwell will not leave them screening another blankety-blank. Motherwell play Aberdeen in the Tennent's Scottish Cup third round, with Sky Sports hoping to break four and a half hours of goalless action from Fir Park. They drew 0-0 in three televised games in 1995, against Hibernian, Hearts and Rangers.

Alex McLeish, the Motherwell manager, yesterday told his goal-shy players: "Cup glory can help our survival battle."

He is desperate to start a winning run after waiting 15 games for his side's last victory. An own goal by Joe McLaughlin of Falkirk last Tuesday lifted Motherwell above Falkirk on goal difference in the Premier League relegation battle.

"That result has made a difference around Fir Park in the past week," McLeish said. "The game was a scrap and it is going to be that way from now on for us in the league. A Cup win would be a big boost because winning breeds confidence."

McLeish could recall Chris McCart, the Motherwell captain, after a two- month absence. But he is angry at a ruling by the Scottish FA which will cost Willie Falconer, a recent arrival, the chance to face one of his former clubs.

Falconer arrived from Celtic a fortnight ago, but he is ineligible because he signed less than 14 days before 27 January, the scheduled date for the match before it was switched for television. John Hendry or Alex Burns will replace Falconer.