One chapter closes at Motherwell as a new one begins

WHEN one chapter closes, another invariably opens. No sooner had Motherwell said goodbye to an Ancel Babe than Fir Park was chanting the name of a fresh-faced local lad. 

Few at the Steelmen’s straightforward win over St Johnstone on Saturday will have seen Willie McSeveny in the flesh but they’ll all remember being there when Dean Cornelius, in just his second professional start, scored his debut goal for his hometown club. 

Born in Bellshill and bred on a staple Fir Park diet, it was apt the era of McSeveny – captain of that great team of Ian St John, Charlie Aitken, and Willie Hunter – came to an end as Cornelius’ was just beginning. 

 

Dean Cornelius scored his first-ever professional goal on Saturday

“He’s a ‘Well boy, as they call it!” said his teammate Kevin van Veen. “He is such a good lad, he’s always positive and works so hard in training. The gaffer has given him a chance to start again after training and he took his goal very well.

“He deserved to score and I am delighted for him. He’s a very good guy and it looked like a striker’s finish.

“For a young lad, it’s tough to push through into teams but he’s got growth in him. He can go very far. He’s not misplaced in the team and does his job. 

“He’s a Motherwell boy and you can tell his whole family is always watching every game. He is part of the team and everyone was delighted for him in the dressing room.” 

While Cornelius, 20, is at the beginning of his career, van Veen is at that stage most would describe as the peak. He’s 30, has a wealth of experience in different nations under his belt, and was recently described by his manager, Graham Alexander, as one of the most talented players in the league. 

On Saturday he slalomed through the St Johnstone defence to score his fifth goal of the season and later said he was determined to show even more glimpses of his considerable talents. 

“That sounds arrogant but I do think I have a lot of ability and it’s for me to show that every week,” said the Dutchman. “But first and foremost it is about the work rate. Hard work is coming from me now to press defenders and work hard for the team. 

“People have seen a lot of glimpses of that and hopefully I will show them a lot more.” 

Key to van Veen’s form has been the foil provided by his strike partner Tony Watt, one of the league’s form players. 

He’s the chalk to van Veen’s cheese but after Watt rejected a new deal last week to stay at the club amid talk of a move down south, the former hopes he’ll be convinced to sign on the dotted line. 

HeraldScotland: Tony Watt has been one of the league's form players Tony Watt has been one of the league’s form players

“Tony has been effective and has a lot of goals this season,” said van Veen. “He’s very important to the team and hopefully he is going to stay.” 

While life is good at Motherwell, it is anything but at St Johnstone. They are bottom of the league and Saturday’s defeat was their sixth on the spin. 

The double winning days of last season feel like a long time ago and manager Callum Davidson knows they have to turn things around sooner rather than later. 

“We need to work hard and pull each other out of the hole,” he said. “We need to make sure everyone is pulling in the same direction. 

“We can’t have seven or eight players doing it and no one following them. There’s not a simple answer to it and, for me, it is all about hard work.”

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