‘Mohsni has pre­vi­ous . . . it wasn’t much of a sur­prise’

Ainsworth re­veals de­fender has rep­u­ta­tion in Eng­land for be­ing ‘bit of a char­ac­ter’

The Herald - Sport - - FOOTBALL - SCOTT MULLEN

LET it never be said that Bilel Mohsni doesn’t know how to make an im­pres­sion, some­times quite lit­er­ally. Hav­ing made a vis­i­ble im­pact on Lee Er­win, the for­mer Mother­well for­ward who the then Rangers de­fender rounded upon fol­low­ing a barge in the back at the end of last month’s dra­matic SPFL Premier­ship play-off fi­nale, it seems Mohsni has also left a last­ing mark on oth­ers who have had the for­tune, or per­haps that should be mis­for­tune, to have been on the same pitch as him.

In the case of Lionel Ainsworth, the Mother­well winger was less than sur­prised when all hell broke loose in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of his team’s 6-1 ag­gre­gate win. Hav­ing come across Mohsni dur­ing a whis­tle-stop tour of the leagues in Eng­land, he is well aware of the traits that make the Tu­nisian in­ter­na­tion­al­ist known, as he po­litely put it, as “a bit of a char­ac­ter” – a de­scrip­tion gen­er­ally re­served for the dress­ing-room clown who dis­creetly slips a mac­a­roni pie into your win­kle pick­ers when your back is turned.

Ainsworth watched from close quar­ters as his team-mate’s petty act of petu­lance earned him a boot up the back side and a cut on the chin for his trou­ble. It was a sad end to what was a glo­ri­ous mo­ment for the La­nark­shire side, who de­fied the odds and ex­pec­ta­tion to cling to their top-flight sta­tus. And de­spite both of the main pro­tag­o­nists hav­ing left their re­spec­tive clubs – Er­win is now at Leeds United and Mohsni is, well, some­where else – the ex­pe­ri­ence of the ugly scenes still lingers on in the mind of all who wit­nessed it.

“He has got pre­vi­ous,” said Ainsworth who was given a two-match ban for his in­volve­ment in the fall-out from the fra­cas. “I have played against him many times down south and I also have fam­ily who worked with him at Southend. He has so much pre­vi­ous it’s ridicu­lous. It didn’t sur­prise me some­thing like that hap­pened.

“A fam­ily mem­ber was the strength and con­di­tion­ing coach with him down there. It’s not just through him that I knew about Mohsni; it’s through other play­ers down south as well. I know a lot of things he has sup­pos­edly done and he’s a bit of a char­ac­ter.

“It wasn’t a sur­prise. It was play­ers out of con­tract and sore losers. The best team won, that’s how it was.

“His ban could have been even longer. You can choose how you re­act – that’s what my mis­sus al­ways tells me any­way.”

The bust-up at the end of the match last month may still be fresh in Ainsworth’s mem­ory, but so too is the feel­ing of adren­a­line pump­ing through his sys­tem af­ter Mother­well stunned Rangers over two legs.

It was a cap­ti­vat­ing cou­ple of games that the for­mer Rother­ham man more than played his part in. He net­ted the third goal in Mother­well’s 3-1 first-leg vic­tory at Ibrox be­fore grab­bing the sec­ond in the 3-0 Fir Park re­turn three days later.

It was an ex­pe­ri­ence that only served to un­der­line to the 27-year-old that the La­nark­shire club is the place for him. Ainsworth has en­dured a bit of a no­madic lifestyle dur­ing a me­an­der­ing ca­reer that has taken him to 12 English

I played against him many times, have fam­ily who worked with him at Southend and have heard from other play­ers about things he has sup­pos­edly done

clubs in the pur­suit of foot­balling con­tent­ment. Hav­ing just signed a new two-year deal at Fir Park, the man who first joined Mother­well in 2014 seems to have fi­nally found a place where he be­longs.

“I’m very happy with the deal. I didn’t want to leave Mother­well, I had other op­tions,” said Ainsworth, who be­came a fa­ther in April with the birth of his daugh­ter Si­enna Lily. “My fam­ily are happy up here and have en­joyed Scot­land the last two years. Last sea­son was a dis­ap­point­ment, although the way it ended was bril­liant. This year we are look­ing for­ward and hope­fully we will have a good sea­son.

“When I signed for Stu­art McCall, the deal was sealed when I looked around the club and saw the peo­ple I would be work­ing with. It was bril­liant. I could have signed a two-year deal last year but only took the one so I knew I had to work hard for the two years I’ve now been given. I’m ap­pre­cia­tive and so thank­ful and know I have to keep work­ing be­cause I want another two years and another two years. I’m at an age now where I’m com­ing into my stride.”

Ainsworth is not the only fa­mil­iar face to sign up at Mother­well for next sea­son. Six years on from when he first left for Bristol City, striker David Clark­son has put pen to pa­per on a one-year con­tract with the op­tion of a sec­ond that sees him re­turn to the club that launched his ca­reer.

The 29-year-old made more than 250 ap­pear­ances in claret and am­ber dur­ing his first spell and will look to add to his club tally of goals which cur­rently stands at 56.

He said: “It’s good to get ev­ery­thing signed up and it’s a place I know and that is close to my heart.

“I had a meet­ing with the man­ager and the staff and they told me their philoso­phies and the way they want to take the club for­ward and that is some­thing I want to be part of.”

Pic­ture: SNS

NO­MAD NO MORE: Man of many clubs Lionel Ainsworth is set­tled at Fir Park and has signed a two-year deal.

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