Scottish Premier League

McFadden returns to Motherwell

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Mon, 18 Feb 2013 23:23:00

Goals from Nani and Javier Hernandez were enough to help treble-chasing Manchester United into the last eight of the FA Cup with a 2-1 win against Reading.

Substitute Nani made an immediate impact soon after coming on in the fifth-round tie at Old Trafford on Monday night, breaking the deadlock with a right-foot drive which flicked off Sean Morrison and past Adam Federici after 69 minutes.

The hosts doubled their advantage three minutes later as Javier Hernandez met the Portuguese winger's cross at the near post to head in his 15th strike of the campaign.

Reading pulled a goal back with time running out after some woeful defending allowed Jobi McAnuff time to slot his effort away.

The Red Devils could have added a third late on as the Royals pushed on, but it was United who progressed in the end.

However, an injury to Phil Jones took the gloss off a victory that keeps United on track for a repeat of their historic 1999 treble, and Sir Alex Ferguson on course for a possible encounter with Rafael Benitez, whose Chelsea team must beat Middlesbrough for the right to face the Old Trafford giants in the last eight.

Reading goalkeeper Federici was forced to deny Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young had a shot blocked before the visitors soon got into their stride, with Noel Hunt to the fore.

Hunt sustained a nasty cut following a collision with Nemanja Vidic that required two shirt changes, but also set the pattern for a bruising collision between the pair.

The sharpness had soon gone out of United's play, although they should still have been in front after Federici pushed Tom Cleverley's long-range effort into Ashley Young's path. It seemed the England man only had to hit the target. But Federici was able to scramble across to push the shot wide when really he should not have had chance to.

Funnily enough, Jones' departure, while potentially a major blow to Ferguson's plans for subduing Ronaldo next month, sparked the hosts into life. Nani's third touch following his introduction as Jones's replacement saw him strike the far post with a fine volley, while his fourth was tipped over by Federici's flying save.

There was one more save from Federici before the dam finally broke. Nani's introduction had undoubtedly been significant and moments after his effort had been repelled, he strode onto Valencia's cross and supplied a deadly finish.

When Hernandez flashed home a near-post header on United's next attack, it appeared their work was complete.

Instead, McAnuff struck nine minutes from time to bring a familiar sense of nervousness to Old Trafford which only Andre Marriner's final whistle was able to ease.

The Magpies head to Ukraine for the second leg this week after their goalless first leg draw with Metalist Kharkiv.

Yanga-Mbiwa told nufcTV: "There were lots of positives to take out of the match and we'll go away, try to get one or two goals and come away with a victory."

Yanga-Mbiwa made his full debut against the Ukrainians and says he is determined to build on that opportunity and establish himself at St James's Park.

He added: "I was very excited to get going in the Newcastle shirt. It was good to get my foot in the door and show the team that I can work well with the squad."

Cattermole's season has been dogged by a knee complaint which forced him off in the home defeat to Arsenal, but he hopes to be passed fit for the weekend trip to West Bromwich Albion.

Bramble told the Sunderland Echo: "Lee is someone that we've really missed. He's the captain and he can be a very influential player when he gets a run in the side.

"He's been a big miss over the last few months because he's a leader with this great will to win."

Crawley, who like Rovers have also gone four matches without victory, carried more threat in the second half at the Broadfield Stadium but lacked a cutting edge.

Winger Nicky Adams had a low drive blocked by Jamie McCombe before Josh Simpson drove Crawley ahead on 25 minutes.

Midfielder Simpson latched onto a ball from Adams and fired home from 20yards to the right of keeper Gary Woods.

Crawley lost Simpson with a leg injury before Rovers levelled two minutes from the break when David Cotterill crossed deep to the far post where James Husband struck with a diving header.

Keeper Woods came to Rovers' rescue by producing two important saves in less than a minute from the hour mark in denying Billy Clarke and defender Mustapha Dumbuya.

Striker Jamie Proctor had a chance to win it for Crawley in the 65th minute but headed wastefully over from close range following a cross by the hard-working Clarke.

The 29-year-old signed a deal until the end of the season and could make his competitive return in claret and amber on Tuesday night as Motherwell aim to extend their two-point lead in second place in the Scottish Premier League when Dundee United visit Fir Park.

McFadden scored 32 goals for Motherwell as a teenager before moving to Everton in a ?1.25million deal almost 10 years ago and comes back looking to kick-start his football life.

The forward has only made 11 appearances, mostly off the bench, in short-term spells as Everton and Sunderland since suffering a damaged cruciate ligament while at Birmingham in September 2010, not long after his most recent international appearance against Liechtenstein.

But McFadden, who saw a move to Nottingham Forest fall through earlier this month when Alex McLeish left as manager, believes he is as fit as can be and is looking to reach peak sharpness and form at the club where he made his name.

McFadden, who made his Fir Park debut as a 17-year-old, told MFCTV: "It's great. I obviously had a good time the first time and I need to get back playing football and this is probably the best place for me at the moment.

"I can't wait. Obviously the team have been doing well this season and I'm hoping I can add something and get some games under my belt and put my injury worries behind me."

The fans' favourite held talks with Motherwell earlier in the season, but could not agree a deal and signed for Sunderland.

However, the move made sense after returning to the club for a second training stint after failing to make a major impact at the Stadium of Light.

"It's been difficult," he said. "I was out for over a year with my injury and it took me a wee while, even when I was fit and training, to get back to a level I was happy with.

"I never really managed to get a run of games to get back to my best.

"This is the perfect opportunity for me to do that and hopefully I can do that in the next couple of weeks."

McFadden has scored 15 goals in 48 appearances for Scotland, including the memorable winner against France in Paris in 2007, after making his international debut while a Motherwell player.

And he is determined to resume his career for his country under the tutelage of Motherwell manager Stuart McCall, who is one of national team boss Gordon Strachan's assistants.

"The last wee while people have been questioning my fitness and my ability to play games and get back to the level I was at," he said.

"Hopefully this is the springboard for me to get a good run of games and let people see I'm fine and over my injury and ready to play.

"Obviously I'd love to play for Scotland again."

McCall had earlier insisted he had not held talks with the player and would speak to him after the United game given the "euphoria" surrounding speculation over his potential return.

But the club were privately confident of making the return happen and sealed the deal after McCall's pre-match media conference.

And, given McFadden has been training with Motherwell for a fortnight, he is likely to start on the bench on Tuesday night as the Lanarkshire side look to build on their 3-0 victory over Inverness.

"I'm as fit as I can be from training," he said. "I'm lacking a bit of match-fitness and sharpness but the only way you get that is by playing games.

"I'm ready whenever needed."

McCall later revealed McFadden had approached him on Monday afternoon looking to finalise a deal.

"I said today that I wouldn't speak to James until after the Dundee United match and that was absolutely the plan," McCall said.

"However, James actually came and spoke to me about 3pm and we sat down and discussed football. Obviously, things have snowballed in recent days and there has been a lot of speculation.

"We never talked finances; that would take place between the club, James and his representatives.

"He just wants to play football, which is obviously great, but we have been going well and the lads currently in the squad have performed brilliantly to get us to second in the table as it stand. He understands that, and knows he will have to win his place in the side."

McCall added: "But it's an exciting time. We're getting a player who is really hungry and determined to do well for both Motherwell and himself."

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