Phil McGhee at Fir Park
Motherwell gained some revenge their Cup defeat and provided the fans with a Christmas cracker with an emphatic win over Aberdeen.
Two goals from Jamie Murhpy added to strikes from Tom Hateley and Michael Higdon combined to give the fans a home performance of real quality.
The Christmas spirit was evident as both teams played an open game contributing to a five goal thriller, where the Dons had the chances early in the game to punish the home side. But in the end it was ‘Well who came out on top with their best home performance of the season, arguably of the calendar year.
‘Well were forced to make two changes, with Stevie Hammell and Chris Humphrey only fit enough for the bench. Fraser Kerr slotted in at right back allowing Hateley a midfield berth, while Zaine Francis-Angol took up the left back position.
It was Aberdeen, though, who started where they left off in the Cup forcing the home side on to the back foot.
Niall McGinn should have extended his scoring run after only three minutes but after Darren Randolph parried Joe Shaugnessy’s header the Don’s leading scorer pulled his shot wide. Then with the reshaped ‘Well still trying to settle, Josh Magennis curled an angled effort beyond Randolph and the post.
It was the Aberdeen goal, though, which had the narrowest of escapes after seven minutes. Hateley’s corner was only cleared as far as Nicky Law and from 20 yards his ferocious left foot drive raced past Jamie Langfield only to see the ball rebound from the face of the bar.
Langfield was again helpless two minutes later when Motherwell took the lead. Jamie Murphy whipped in a cross from the left and although it was beyond Higdon, Hateley darted in behind him to bullet a header inside the keeper’s left hand post.
Rory Fallon, who has scored a couple of spectacular goals at Fir Park, tried his luck from just outside the box but his rising shot was comfortably palmed over the bar by Randolph.
While Aberdeen were direct, Motherwell were more deliberate in their build up play, especially down the left. And on the half hour mark, after a series of passes had taken them to edge of the box, Henrik Ojamaa teed up Murphy who took a couple of steps before planting the ball in the bottom corner of Langfield’s net.
It took Aberdeen only three minutes to reduce the deficit though, as Johnny Hayes raced from the middle of the park, worked a one two with Fallon before rifling a fine shot inside Randolph’s left hand post.
Knowing that the Dons have twice fought back already this season, ‘Well never looked comfortable on their lead and Gavin Rae might have equalised in the 39th minutes when he rattled the ball into the hoardings behind the goal.
Perhaps the game changing moment came on the stroke of half time when Motherwell restored their two goal lead. Again it came from some great work on the left and when Francis-Angol slipped the ball through to Murphy, he checked he was not offside before side footing the ball home from eight yards out.
That resulted in the Dons chasing the game in the second half, which suited ‘Well’s style of counter attack.
A tremendous run from Ojamaa ten minutes after the break carried him to the goal line before cutting the ball back to Michael Higdon who scooped it into the net from two yards to effectively finish the game as a contest.
It then became a question of how many goals as Craig Brown rang the changes in an attempt to limit the damage.
Murphy should have claimed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after Clark Robertson tripped Ojamaa. But Langfield easily saved his weak effort to prevent ‘Well making it five.
And just before being replaced to a standing ovation, Ojamaa was denied a well deserved goal when Langfield pushed his shot round the post after a breathtaking move from the hosts.
Motherwell fans were not complaining at the final whistle as they now look ahead to Saturday’s home game with Kilmarnock and the chance of back to back home wins.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 4 – 1 Aberdeen. The Steelmen dish out an absolute Christmas roasting to Aberdeen. What a performance!
90mins: Two minutes added on.
89mins: “Well, Well, Super Well” ringing out as we enter the final few minutes.
81mins: Aberdeen sub: Fallon off for Masson
81mins: Motherwell subs, Ojamaa off for McHugh and Carswell on for Law. Both players getting a standing ovation from the crowd.
78mins: Ojamaa a constant thorn in the side of Aberdeen. He’s been unplayable today and absolutely deserves a goal.
70mins: Ojamaa is on fire today. Yet another beautiful flick though lets Law pick him out with a cross. Great save from Langfield to deny.
68mins: Vernon is played through but the ball is a hard one to take and he volleys over from 15 yards.
66mins: Ojamaa clipped in the box and goes down…Murphy steps up but misses!
66mins: PENALTY FOR ‘WELL!
63mins: ‘Well turning on the style. A tricky run from Ojamaa is laid out to Murphy who with a bit of time can only curl well over.
57mins: Aberdeen subs: Smith on for Shaughnessy, and Considine on for Anderson
55mins: Higgy makes it four after terrific work from Ojamaa down the left wing. Put it on a plate with all the trimmings and the big striker finished it from close range.
55mins: GOOAALLLL!!!! 4-1!
48mins: Higdon booked for a high challenge on Reynolds. Looked mistimed if anything….
46mins: Early chance for Aberdeen! McGinn races through the whole defence but Randolph saves with his feet.
46mins: Teams are back out minus Ramsden. He is replaced by Cummins.
HT: Motherwell 3 -1 Aberdeen
45mins: Murphy strikes again after fine play from Francis-Angol! Tidy finish from 10 yards
45mins: GOAAALLLL 3-1!
40mins:Kerr goes for a wander up the pitch and is unlucky when he is given time to get into the box and get a shot off. Straight at Langfield.
39mins: Rae fires close from 18 yards! Looked almost as if it had went in after he latched onto Fallon’s flick.
38mins: Hateley tries the spectacular with a volley from 25 yards. Well over!
33mins: GOAL! Hayes pulls one back for The Dons! Powerful left footed shot from 20 yards giving Randolph little chance.
30mins: Murphy doubles the lead! Made it look so easy as he picked it up just outside the box and drilled it home past Langfield!!!
29mins: Teasing ball across goal from Lasley……no takers though
21mins: Fallon forces Randolph into a good save from 20 yards. Probably took the wrong option though as he had McGinn bursting through.
12mins: Exquisite turn from Ojamaa allows him to turn Rae inside out on the half way line. Threads through Murphy but Reynolds slides clear
9mins: A rare header from Tom Hateley. The Englishman, playing wing-back, nods home Murphy’s beautifully curled cross! 1-0
9mins: GOOOAALLL!! 1-0 ‘Well
7mins: ‘Well respond with Nicky Law blasting off the bar from 16 yards. Unlucky!
5mins: Another good chance for The Dons there! Magennis curling inches wide after a neat through ball from McGinn.
3mins: McGinn misses a glorious opportunity! 8 yards out the ball falls kindly to him but scuffs it wide.
2mins: Aberdeen pushing for an early opener. All the action being played East Stand in the ‘Well half so far.
1min: Teams are out on the pitch….and Aberdeen kick us off. #SIWY
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“I’m really pleased and delighted for the fans, as a lot of people talk about our poor home results.
“We managed to take our chances today and could have taken more – I thought today when we got ahead we played some really good football.
“As a manager it’s a delight to win games, but if you can do it like that then all the better.”
“I decided to match them and play three forwards up against their three centre-backs and I think with Murphy’s two goals, one for Higgy (Higdon) and Henrik (Ojamaa)’s performance too it worked,” added McCall.
“It can be a dangerous game, but you have to have faith in your defenders and that your frontmen can do more damage to them than they can to you.
Aberdeen manager Craig Brown:
“I didn’t feel we were outplayed, Motherwell are probably the best team out with Celtic and we don’t like losing to them – and we haven’t in the last three times we played them.
“All of the credit should go to Motherwell for the way they played. If we don’t take the chances we have, then we won’t win the match.
“I’m not clutching at straws, I have told the players that it was an unacceptable result and the humility in the dressing room is there to be seen.
“The Christmas message is humility in the performance and determination to banish the disappointment in our next fixture with Dundee.”