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Graham Alexander’s pep talk with Connor Shields pays dividends against Hearts

Motherwell v Celtic – cinch Premiership – Fir Park
(Image credit: Steve Welsh)

Graham Alexander revealed a pep talk with Connor Shields paid off when the Motherwell attacker opened his Fir Park account in the well-deserved 2-0 home cinch Premiership win over 10-man Hearts

The 24-year-old attacker was signed from Queen of the South in the summer but after failing to pin down a regular spot a loan move was mooted.

However, the Fir Park boss persuaded Shields to keep plugging away and he got his rewards when he fired in from close range in the 23rd minute although the turning point came after the break when the visitors went a man down and immediately conceded a second.

In the 65th minute, from the free-kick which saw Taylor Moore sent off by referee Willie Collum for picking up a second yellow card, defender Rickie Lamie headed in to confirm a second successive win for the Lanarkshire side.

Alexander said: “It’s a big one for Connor. I had a conversation with him a few weeks ago and he was maybe looking to go out on loan and I told him he’s going nowhere.

“We had a couple of enquiries and he came to see me because he wants to play football and I understand that.

“He was maybe unsure about what I saw in him, whether I believed in him or not. I told him he is a player for us.

“He will score goals for us in the Premiership, without a shadow of a doubt.

“I thought his performances a few weeks ago were very good and he was unfortunate to come out of the team.

“We know what he gives us with his work ethic and his pace and he’s a genuine goalscorer.

“Hopefully he’ll build on that, I thought he worried them all afternoon.

“But I think it’s hard to isolate one player because I thought they were all magnificent.

“I don’t think anyone can complain about the result, I thought it was a brilliant performance from the squad again. I am really proud of them.”

Hearts passed up the chance to move into second place and afterwards disappointed boss Robbie Neilson bit his tongue with regard to the officiating.

He said: “I am disappointed. I didn’t think we played well today, it was probably one of the worst games I have seen for a while.

“The game didn’t flow, it was free-kick, throw-in, corner, free-kick, throw-in corner and we couldn’t get any flow in the game.

“When you come to these games you need…I’ll not say too much or I will end up getting banned but it was a game we will not be looking back on too much.

“You had no idea what was going to happen at any point in the game out there the way it was, it could have went for us, it could have went for them, it could be play on, it was one of those days, it wasn’t pretty.

“I spoke to him (Collum) at the end. I have already been banned this season so there is no point saying anything, the game is done now.”