Alan Burrows at Pittodrie
Motherwell came away from Pittodrie with a hard-earned point as both teams served up a 0-0 draw.
The home side had the bulk of the play, particularly in the second-half, and Darren Randolph had to look smart to deny both Niall McGinn and substitute Josh Magennis who both have chances inside the box.
At the other end, ‘Well’s best opportunity fell to Nicky Law whose attempted chip was impressively blocked by the outrushing Jamie Langfield.
Stuart McCall made two enforced changes to the side that beat Hearts at Tynecastle last weekend. Shaun Hutchinson (suspension) and Chris Humphrey (hamstring injury) were forced to sit it out; the returning Simon Ramsden and Stuart Carswell replaced them.
A bumpy surface combined with a swirling wind maybe fluent football a rarity throughout the ninety minutes, and in the opening exchanges, neither side really took control of the match.
Fifteen minutes had elapsed before the game sparked to life; McGinn’s shot from the edge of the area almost inadvertently playing in the sliding Jonny Hayes but it was a yard too far for the former Inverness winger.
Shortly after, neat interplay between Scott Vernon and McGinn, off a Shaugnessy throw-in, opened up space for Ryan Jack just inside the area but his left-footed effort flew high over the bar.
The Dons continued to threaten and only an excellent block by Randolph denied Vernon after the striker got on the end of a Hayes cross from the left. How much the Republic of Ireland International stopper knew of it is open for debate, but it was a terrific save none-the-less.
Motherwell had failed to register anything in the way of an attacking intent but James McFadden almost created an opening for Michael Higdon with some great feet on the flank and a delicious cross but it was just over the head of the 20-goal striker.
As the game headed towards the half-time interval, both teams had free-kick attempts, neither of which really made the goalkeepers work.
Hayes had an incredibly ambitious 40-yard strike flash well wide of the post and McGinn had rolled it back.
Down the other end, Tom Hateley, who had an excellent afternoon at right-back, curled a dead ball from the edge of the area which Langfield gathered without any real problems.
The second half was only two minutes old when McGinn brought out the best in Randolph with a fearsome strike.
The Northern Irish International had got on the end of a wind-assisted Langfield punt but his low effort was pushed away by the visitors ‘keeper. The rebound eventually fell to Hayes but his effort spun harmlessly wide of the post.
McFadden came close with a twenty-yard free-kick that dropped just wide before an audacious over-head kick attempt minutes later dropped wide of the post.
In what was arguably Motherwell’s best period of the match, Ojamaa also registered a shot on target but was denied by Langfield. The Dons keeper spilled what looked like a fairly routine shot but Higdon wasn’t close enough to the rebound to make him pay for the error.
Aberdeen introduced Josh Magennis with twenty minutes left on the clock and the Englishman almost made an immediate impact. He picked up on the edge, battered his way through the ‘Well rear guard but his shot was expertly turned away by Randolph again.
The home side were really turning the screw, forcing numerous corners, but the Motherwell defence held firm. In fact, on the counter, the Steelmen could and probably should have nicked the game.
Substitute Kallum Higginbotham played in Nicky Law and although he was through on Langfield, the Dons keeper was off his line quickly to block well.
It was to prove the last effort of the match but not the end of the action, or even the controversy.
Motherwell should have been awarded a penalty in the dying seconds when Shaughnessy tripped Zaine Francis-Angol inside the six-yard box. Referee Clancy was right up with play but waved away the protests.
Replays show it should have been a spot kick with the defender taking none of the ball.
That disappointment aside, McCall will have been satisfied with a point given how the afternoon went.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Pittodrie
FT: Aberdeen 0 – 0 Motherwell
91mins: Motherwell sub – Saunders on for Law.
89mins: Aberdeen sub – Fallon on for Jack
88mins: Penalty claims waved away as Francis-Angol goes down in the box, Looked a decent shout!
85mins: 3 corners in a row now for ‘Well….no chance emerges from any of them.
80mins: Motherwell sub – Francis-Angol on for Ojamaa
79mins: Glorious opportunity on the counter for Law though!!! only had Langfield to beat with Pittodrie silenced but he saves!
77mins: A spell of corners for the Dons. Sub Magennis heading just over. Ref gives another corner. And another…..
73mins: Motherwell sub – McFadden makes way for Higginbotham
70mins: Instantly tests Randolph from close range, then McGinn does the same from distance! Aberdeen turning the screw.
69mins: Aberdeen sub – Magennis on for Hayes.
66mins: Hateley booked for a tackle on McGinn. FK out wide swung in by Jack…Vernon hits it wide at the back post.
65mins: Corner to Motherwell but again no opportunity emerges. Been a mediocre game so far.
61mins: Almost as disaster for Langfiled as he fumbles Ojamaa’s tame looking shot. Reynolds mops up.
57mins: Up the other end, McGinn gets the better of Cummins on the right wing and drills in a great ball. Hateley heads clear.
55mins: Corner to Motherwell……Faddy tries the spectacular overhead kick. Less said about it the better :p
53mins: McFadden curls it just past the post. To be fair, Langfield looked untroubled.
53mins: Free-kick right on the edge of the box for Motherwell!
48mins: McGinn forces a good stop from Randolph with an angled volley from 8 yards out! Seconds later, Hayes fires just past the post.
46mins: Second half underway.
HT: Motherwell back on the pitch after the break.
HT: Aberdeen 0 – 0 Motherwell
45mins: 2 minutes added on
41mins: Aberdeen sub – Robertson off for Naismith. Hobbled off after an awkward landing.
36mins: Aberdeen looking the most likely so far. Another scare there as Shaugnessy fires just over from the edge of the box.
32mins: Equally as ambitious from Hateley up the other end. Decent effort though as he forces Langfield into action from the dead ball.
30mins: Ambitious from Hayes. Must have been all of 30 yards he hit his free-kick from. Well wide.
28mins: Great footwork from McFadden down the left then he whips in a fantastic ball. Higdon just inches away from connecting with his head!
26mins: Either way, was probably the best chance of the game so far!
26mins: Hayes beats Hateley and swings in a great cross from the left. Not sure if Randolph got to it or Vernon miscued his header…..
22mins: Corner to Motherwell. Swung in by Law but eventually cleared from the feet of Cummins.
21mins: Jack tries his luck 20 yards out but his left footed shot slices off his boot and goes over the bar.
15mins: Scare there as Vernon fired a shot goalwards. Flashed just past with Hayes nearly getting a touch to it
13mins: Law goes down with a head-knock. Looks like he can carry on.
10mins: Hateley does really well to put McGinn’s cross over from yards out. From the corner, Vernon heads just over!
9mins: Good opening as Ojamaa burst through from deep and into the box. Only target was Higdon though and Aberdeen clear his cross.
7mins: Anderson clumsily heads the ball behind for a corner. Law delivers, McFadden loops a head over the bar.
5mins: Two quick throw-ins for ‘Well next to the right wing corner flag. Ball finally lumped in but headed away by Reynolds.
4mins: Aberdeen win corner number one of the day. Shaugnessy heads comfortably wide of the left hand post.
2mins: Scrappy start to the game as both sides adjust to the bare looking pitch.
1min: First half is underway. #COYW
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“In the second half I thought they were better than us. It looks like a penalty when you watch on the video afterwards, but we’re pleased with a point.
“It’s not often we get a clean sheet so we’re pleased with that. I think it had the makings of a scrappy 1-0 to either side so we just had to defend really well.”
“They’ve thrown Magennis on at the end. They’ve got Fallon, Vernon, McGinn, Hayes – they’ve got quality in the side and it’s surprising that they’ve had a lot of nil-nils at home.
“They’ve certainly had the better chances in the game and they’ll feel a little bit aggrieved, but to come up without big Shaun Hutchinson and Chris Humphrey – two key players for us – and go back down the road with a point is acceptable.”
Aberdeen manager Craig Brown:
“It’s the story of the season here. I can count six scoreless draws, and in all but one I think we were the better team. We know the problem, and if you know the problem, the remedy is there for you.
“As we’re past the transfer deadline it might take until next season to remedy the situation. Someone else to score goals would put us in a really good position. We’re missing chance upon chance, and it’s really disappointing.”
“We can see the team are playing well enough and defending well. I think Motherwell are the second best team in the country, and we’ve played well against them – that’s three draws against them here this season.”