Andy Ross at Fir Park
Motherwell suffered quarter-final heartache in the William Hill Scottish Cup after losing out 2-1 to Aberdeen at Fir Park.
Rory Fallon netted a first-half double to leave the hosts with a mountain to climb after the break.
The task facing the Steelmen was increased when Keith Lasley was shown a straight red-card after a sliding tackle on Fraser Fyvie.
Nicky Law scored with 11 minutes remaining to restore hope for the hosts, but the Aberdeen survived some late Motherwell pressure to claim their place in the last four.
Motherwell demonstrated an early attacking threat and Nicky Law’s effort in the opening minute was deflected away for a corner by Andrew Considine.
The visitors responded at the other end but Scott Vernon was unable to control Considine’s knock-down, despite the ball clearly rolling out of play off the Dons man, referee Craig Thomson awarded Aberdeen a corner and the decision proved to be crucial.
Considine headed Fraser Fyvie’s corner back across goal and Rory Fallon bulleted a header beyond Darren Randolph.
The opener seemed to give the visiting side a real belief and Vernon should have doubled their lead when he shot just wide from 12-yards after combining with Fallon.
Randolph was forced into an excellent stop from Rory McCardle a minute later as ‘Well struggled to find their stride. Tim Clancy headed over from Steven Hammell’s corner as the hosts began to show signs of recovering from their early disappointment.
Tom Hateley fired a free-kick against the Aberdeen wall as Motherwell continue to probe for an equaliser and they were presented with a fantastic opportunity four minutes later.
Clark Robertson hauled down Michael Higdon inside the area and Craig Thomson wasted little time in pointing to the spot.
The Englishman stepped up to take the resulting kick but was denied by a fantastic save by Jason Brown, much to the delight of the large Aberdeen support behind the goal.
Stuart McCall was forced into a first half switch when Shaun Hutchinson, who had suffered a nasty looking head-knock was replaced by Jonathan Page.
Jack’s involvement in the match was also short-lived and he was withdrawn for Chris Clark just two minutes later. Stuart McCall’s men were dealt a major blow just four minutes before the interval when he blazed home from Clark’s precise cross.
A miserable 45 minutes was completed as McCall was sent to the stand following a confrontation with Thomson on the half-time whistle.
The second half began with the Steelmen well aware that an early goal would be crucial in finding a way back into the match but it was Aberdeen who almost put the game out of sight three minutes after the restart.
Megginson fizzed an effort on goal after connecting with Clark’s cross and only a brilliant Randolph save using his feet denied the visitors their third goal of the game. Motherwell responded immediately and Henrik Ojamaa’s low cross caused havoc amongst the Aberdeen defence.
Nicky Law had a header comfortably held by Brown and Murphy failed to trouble the keeper with a tame effort from the edge of the box as the hosts struggled to find a cutting-edge in front of goal.
Chris Humphrey replaced Murphy as ‘Well tried to find an attacking spark and the winger almost connected with Law’s cross within a minute of his introduction.
The task facing the home side was made even greater when Keith Lasley was shown a straight red for a sliding challenge on Fraser Fyvie on 68 minutes.
The young midfielder was stretchered off following the incident and replaced by Youl Mawene.
With the clock ticking down Motherwell finally grabbed the goal they badly needed to kick-start their comeback. Humphrey’s cross slipped under Brown and Law was on hand to slide the ball into the empty net.
Clark fired a shot straight at Randolph as the visitors looked to restore their two goal advantage.
Law’s goal seemed to spark the Fir Park crowd into life and the players responded. Hateley’s corner caused all sorts of problems for the Dons defence and despite numerous deflections and miss-cued clearances Motherwell remained behind.
As Motherwell threw men forward, Craig Brown’s side looked to hit on the counter attack.Kari Arnason stung the palms of Randolph with a fizzing drive and then Fallon should have done better after finding himself bearing down on the ‘Well goal.
Five minutes of injury-time ensured a thrilling end to what was a pulsating cup tie.
Clancy was denied by a fantastic bit of goalkeeping by Brown and Motherwell keeper Randolph raced forward for Hateley’s last minute corner.
The Aberdeen defence scrambled the ball clear and Peter Pawlett’s 40-yard strike somehow crept wide of the gaping goal.
It was to be the last chance of a thrilling afternoon at Fir Park and ‘Well fans will now hope to extract revenge on Brown’s men when they visit Fir Park next Saturday.
[tab:As it happened]
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“Everyone makes mistakes,” said McCall “I thought Craig, once the ball came in, would make it right.
“But as Craig says you can’t just make up fouls, but it happens week in, week out, you watch it on telly. I felt a sense of injustice, but I could tell it affected the players for 10 or 15 minutes.
“I’m hugely disappointed that they stopped me doing my job in the second half.”
Aberdeen manager Craig Brown:
“Both goals were excellent. They were saying it wasn’t a corner (which led to the first goal), but even if it’s not a corner you’ve still got to defend it better.
“His second goal was exceptional.”