Kris Jack at the Fir Park
Rory Fallon returned to haunt ‘Well in the Scottish Cup for the second season running as his second half opener set Aberdeen on their way to the fifth round, with a 2-1 win at Fir Park.
Joe Shaughnessy struck to double the visitor’s lead, as Aberdeen stifled all that the ‘Well could throw at them for the rest of the game.
A late, late penalty from Michael Higdon gave the Steelmen hope, but it proved too little too late for the hosts as they crashed out of the Scottish Cup.
There were two changes to the Motherwell starting lineup from the side which earned a 3-2 win over Ross County at the weekend. Nicky Law, who scored The Steelmen’s second in that game missed out with an ankle knock, replaced by Stuart Carswell. Darren Randolph returned between the posts from suspension with Lee Hollis’s short tenure in goal coming to an end.
Russell Anderson missed out for The Dons, with Clark Robertson drafted into the side in his place.
It was the Dons who were first to threaten when an early corner from a deflected Magennis shot, was headed straight at Darren Randolph by Rory Fallon.
After that, McCall’s side began to play with confidence while keeping possession, threatening on a couple of occasions. Stuart Carswell would have burst the net had it not been for Jamie Langfield diving low to his right to keep out the young midfielders first time shot.
Humphrey was looking lively and did well to cross from the byline having roasted Magennis, only to see Michael Higdon flash his header just over Langfield’s cross bar.
Jamie Murphy was looking to be as impactful as he had been in the first game and had he gone down in the box when challenged from behind by Considine, he could have earned his side a penalty. However, he stayed on his feet, opting to lay off Lasley, whose shot was blocked.
The former Scotland U21 striker then had a trademark effort sail high over the bar, having cut in from the left wing to the edge of the box. His opposite number Johnny Hayes then tried a speculative effort form 30 yards out wide on the right, but it was expertly tipped over by the returning Randolph.
From the resultant corner Fallon once more headed right at the Irish keeper, from Clark Robertson’s delivery.
Motherwell had played the better football, keeping the Dons hemmed in their own half for large parts of the first period, but two goals before the hour mark all but settled the tie in the away side’s favour.
Rory Fallon, who scored twice when Aberdeen knocked the Well out at the quarter final stage last season, was on hand on 50 minutes to lash home from around the penalty spot, after Niall McGinn had broken away on the right. It was a fine finish and swung the momentum in the Reds’ favour.
It should have been 2-0 moments later when McGinn was played through on the right by Considine, but Randolph stuck out a strong arm at his front post to deny the Northern Irishman. From the corner, Shaughnessy thought he had found the net when he poked a dropping ball goalwards, but it hit the side netting.
However, he didn’t have to wait long to get on the scoresheet as he bagged the Dons second on the hour. Johnny Hayes, who hadn’t made much of an impact in the match to that point, bar his one effort in the first half, hared up the East Stand side unchallenged and in to the box, squaring for the right-back who found the net with ease from close range.
The travelling support and their brass band were making all the nose noise from the top tier of the South Stand, having seen their side take a two goal lead.
From then on, the hosts tried in vain to break down their opponents but could not breach their stubborn defence. Always looking to counter, McGinn passed up a glorious chance of a third when Randolph done well to parry Johnny Hayes effort from the edge of the box, but the little striker somehow volleyed the rebound over the bar from eight yards.
A Shaun Hutchinson header from a corner was the closest ‘Well came to getting back in to the game in 90 minutes, but they were awarded an injury time penalty when Considine handled in the box. Michael Higdon scored via the elbow of Langfield to set up a nervy final few seconds but the Dons managed to see the match out to progress into the fifth round.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FULL TIME: Motherwell 1 – 2 Aberdeen
90mins: Scored by Higdon. 1-2
90mins: PENALTY TO MOTHERWELL!
85mins: Motherwell sub, Hateley off for Kerr.
84mins: Don’s defence has been solid. There’s just no way through.
82mins: Eight minutes left of our Scottish Cup campaign barring a miracle.
78mins: Half-chance there for Higdon. Header from 12 yards which lacked any power to beat Langfield.
72mins: Motherwell subs: Francis-Angol and McHugh on for Ojamaa and Cummins
61mins: GOAL! Shaughnessy converts a cross at the back post. 0-2
59mins: Wow, Randolph at it again! This time he denies McGinn from close range with a big right hand. All Aberdeen here!
57mins: McGinn finds himself through 1 on 1 with Daz with plenty of time. The big man gets a hand to it to turn it away.
53mins: Reynolds with a superb last ditch tackle to deny Higdon from 8 yards. Looked a certain equaliser too!
50mins: It was a ball across goal which was not dealt with by the ‘Well defence. Ball broke to Fallon who smashed it home from 12 yards.
50mins: GOAL! Fallon opens the scoring . 0-1
47mins: Early action. Humphrey shows off some trickery and forces Langfield to race from his line to collect his cross in front of Higgy.
46mins: Second half underway.
HALF-TIME: Motherwell 0 – 0 Aberdeen
41mins: Aberdeen cross from the left. Goal gaping. Fallon heads goalwards….who comes to the rescue? The man in pink, Big Daz with a fine save!
29mins: Woah, out of nowhere Hayes unleashes a blistering 25 yard strike. Randolph does brilliantly to tip over.
25mins: Similar to how he scored at Pittodrie, Murphy cuts in from the left and pulls the trigger. This time it is well over.
20mins: Almost midway through the first half, still 0-0.
13mins: Close! A delightfully floated ball in from Humphrey finds the leap of Higdon….just over though!
7mins: Carswell forces a good save from Langfield after some great build-up play. Was a tight angle but he did well to trouble.
6mins: Chest and volley from Higdon well over the bar. Was worth the effort.
4mins: Now it’s Motherwell’s turn. Higgy winning the corner….danger cleared by Aberdeen
1min: Magennis’ shot deflected wide for the first corner of the game…..Fallon heads straight into Randolph’s hands.
1min: Aberdeen kick-off!
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“I’m disappointed to be out of the cup. It wasn’t to be. Second half they were better, there’s no doubt about that.
“We couldn’t find a way past them. I thought Mark Reynolds was outstanding at centre-back for them.
“We’ve now got to go on and try to clinch a European place via the league.”
Aberdeen manager Craig Brown:
“We’ve now managed to turn it round against Motherwell. That’s four games and it’s two wins and two draws for us.
“Between the first and the second goal we had three really good chances and their goalkeeper Darren Randolph had two saves which were world class.
“We handled the situation exceptionally well, particularly the young boys out there. I thought they were superb.
“It was a big blow to us when we lost Russell Anderson on Monday. To come here without Russell and to get a victory against Motherwell is very good.
“I rate Motherwell highly. I rate Stuart McCall and I think they have a superb team.”