Andy Ross at Pittodrie
Josh Magennis’ last-gasp equaliser ensured Motherwell had to settle for a 3-3 draw against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
Michael Higdon slid in a leveller three minutes before half-time to cancel out Gavin Rae’s early opener and Shaun Hutchinson rose to head home Tom Hateley’s corner three minutes after the break.
With eight minutes remaining Nicky Law prodded home at the back-post to seemingly clinch all three points but Aberdeen came roaring back.
Niall McGinn met Ryan Fraser’s cross to set up a tense finish and Magennis converted Andrew Considine’s shot in the dying seconds meaning Motherwell left the Granite City with just a point despite dominating proceedings for much of the game.
Stuart McCall made one change to the side that recorded a 2-1 victory over Dundee at Dens Park last Saturday – Henrik Ojamaa replacing Jamie Murphy.
The opening stages saw both teams struggling to retain possession but the hosts were to open the scoring with their first opportunity of the match.
Fraser and Stephen Hughes linked from a short corner and the former ‘Well midfielder fed Jonny Hayes to flight a pin-point delivery for Rae to head beyond Darren Randolph.
Law shot just over then wide of the target as Motherwell looked to find a way back into the match and after grabbing an early the Dons looked quite content to sit deep and soak up the pressure.
Jamie Langfield made his first save of the opening 25 minutes when he gathered Ojamaa’s low shot at the second attempt.
Langfield in the home goal was enjoying a comfortable start to his afternoon despite Motherwell enjoying the majority of the possession and Higdon’s low shot 10 minutes before the break did little to increase his workload.
Magennis blazed a shot harmlessly over the crossbar before the visitors grabbed a deserved equaliser.
Steven Hammell’s free-kick wasn’t dealt with by the Aberdeen defence and Kerr’s prodded effort was only parried by Langfield, allowing Higdon to slide home his seventh goal of the season.
After the boost of scoring just before the break Motherwell made a dream start to the second half as Hutchinson rose under little pressure to bullet a header beyond Langfield.
Stuart McCall’s men were clearly in the mood to put the game beyond the reach of their hosts and Ojamaa fired just wide and then stung the palms of the keeper two minutes later.
Having found themselves on the back-foot for much of the game, Aberdeen had to find an attacking spark and Fraser ended a direct run with a shot just wide of the right-hand post.
Craig Brown introduced Isaac Osbourne and McGinn in place of Scott Vernon and Rae on 63 minutes in an attempt to add some spark in the Dons midfield.
It was Motherwell who continued to look the more likely of the two sides though and only Considine’s brave block prevented Chris Humphrey from troubling Langfield with a fizzing right-footed effort.
McCall made his first change of the afternoon when he introduced Murphy in place of Ojamaa and Brown made his final change as Cameron Smith came on for Ryan Jack.
The game looked to be have been put out of sight on 82 minutes when Kerr nodded on Hateley’s corner and Law prodded the ball home at the back-post.
The Aberdeen fans headed for the exit’s but their side were to find themselves right back in the game two minutes later.
Fraser’s excellent delivery was met by McGinn who headed home to set up a nervous finish.
It looked like Motherwell had weathered the late Aberdeen pressure until a poorly defended free-kick in the final minute of injury-time was eventually turned in by Megennis.
It was a tough one to take for McCall’s men who had been the better side for the majority of the match, however the Claret and Amber faithful can be consoled by the fact that their side still sit top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League one point clear of Hibs.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Pittodrie
FULL TIME: Aberdeen 3 – 3 Motherwell.
GOAL. Magennis equalises for Aberdeen – Cannot believe it!
90mins: 3 minutes added on.
87mins: Hammell booked for foul on Hayes. Dangerous position for free-kick. Cummins and Lasley combine to clear the danger.
85mins: GOAL: Aberdeen pull one back through McGinn to set-up a nervy finish.
83mins: Nicky Law makes it 3 after he taps in from Hateley’s corner.
81mins: Aberdeen sub: Jack off for Smith.
80mins: Motherwell sub- Ojamaa makes way for Murphy.
78mins: That looked like a decent shout for a penalty there. Law and Ojamaa played a one-two and as he broke he looked to have shirt pulled
76mins: And straight up the other end Law wins a corner…which Langfield does well to punch clear under pressure from Hutchinson.
75mins: McGinn wins a free-kick in a dangerous position. Randolph gets across his goal and makes the save.
68mins: Free-kick to Motherwell in Hateley territory. Bent over the wall and bar. Still 2-1 to ‘Well.
66mins: Humphrey gets past Considine but can’t quite find the angle to get a shot away quickly. When he does shoot, it’s saved by Langfield.
64mins: Aberdeen subs: Rae off for Osbourne and Vernon off for McGinn
62mins: Rae goes in search of his second as he ghosts into the box unnoticed and meets Hayes cross but heads wide.
57mins: Game is so open now. ‘Well go straight up the other end and Lasley is unlucky with a 20 yard curler which goes just over.
55mins: Fraser has Randolph sprawling across his goals with a great curled effort from 20 yards. Just past.
52mins: Motherwell flying out the traps in this half! Ojamaa and Hateley both testing Langfield, from close range as they search for a third,
50mins: Ojamaa strikes the outside of the post from 18 yards.
48mins: Hutchinson sends the Steelmen in front at Pittodrie with a front post header from a corner.
48mins: Corner to Motherwell……GOOOAAALLLL
45mins: Second half underway. Having some 3g/internet issues here. Apologies.
HALF TIME: Aberdeen 1 – 1 Motherwell
45mins: 1 minute added on.
41mins: Look out for the debut of his celebration “The Carsy” later tonight on MFCTV.
41mins: Kerr tried to prod it home from close range but Langfield managed to clear but only to Higgy who slid home.
41mins: GOOOAAAALLLLLL – Higdon with an equaliser after the ball seemed to bounce around the box for an eternity.
36mins: Hateley shoots from a corner but his effort can only find the side netting.
31mins: Another counter from ‘Well. This time it ends with Higdon trying his luck with a left footed effort. Langfield saves with ease.
28mins: Motherwell counter attack and Ojamaa slides in Humphrey. He’s 20 yards out and tries his luck with a shot which sails well over.
27mins: Hutchinson booked for a foul on Fraser.
24mins: Ojamaa can count himself unlucky there… He did well to break clear of Rae and his shot on the turn troubled Langfield at near post.
20mins: Corner to Motherwell….Kerr meets it at the front post but heads over.
18mins: Kerr booked for a wild challenge on Fraser.
16mins: Law goes close again. This time he tries to curl the ball into the far corner but shoots just past,
15mins: Humphrey wins a free-kick in a dangerous position out wide. Hateley’s delivery was brilliant but Anderson rises highest to head clear
7mins: ALMOST an equaliser from Law! Great link up play with Ojamaa creates some space in the box. Fires marginally over.
5mins: GOAL: Rae opens the scoring after he nods home from a quickly taken corner,
1min: Breakaway from Hayes see’s his attempted cross land safely in Randolph’s hands.
1min: Just started…Higdon wins the first foul of the day, Just inside the Dons half.
1min: Hughes and Hayes kick-off.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“There’s no doom or gloom as we have come up to Pittodrie, scored three goals and drew against a strong Aberdeen side.
“We know what we are aiming for this season and what we are after so we will move on, but we will take a lot of positives from the game.
“I’m really pleased with how we went about our business but I’m disappointed to lose the two late goals in the manner we did.
“We should have run the clock down better. Would we have taken the point before we came up? Possibly but we always come to win games.
“I will analyse the game and will look at what we should have done better defensively, but I was really encouraged with some of the stuff we played going forward.”
Aberdeen manager Craig Brown:
“Anyone can finish near the top and Motherwell are deservedly where they are. They are the best team we’ve played this season and they proved that today.
“Motherwell were the better team and we were fortunate to get a home draw.
“At least we’ve scored. There was a monkey on our back there saying you can’t score at home, but we’ve scored three today and could have scored more.
“But, in previous matches against Ross County, Hearts and St Mirren, we were dominant in all three games and had more chances than we had today.”