Phil McGhee at Fir Park
The midweek efforts in Russia finally caught up with a tired looking Motherwell as they crashed to a 3-1 defeat to Aberdeen.
Despite holding on to an early Henri Anier goal for almost an hour, three second half goals gave Aberdeen their first league win over ‘Well since November 2008.
Under the management of Derek McInnes, the new look Aberdeen side proved too strong for a home side feeling the effect of their arduous midweek trip to Krasnador.
However, after some great defending for the first hour, the Fir Park side contributed to their own downfall with two needless penalties allowing Niall McGinn to grab a double – although the second looked questionable to say the least.
To add to ‘Well’s woes the other strike came from former defender Mark Reynolds.
Stuart McCall recalled James McFadden, John Sutton, Lee Hollis and Iain Vigurs, who were rested from the leg weary Russian journey. Henri Anier was rewarded for his winner against Hibs and his perfomance in Krasnador, lining up alongside Sutton in the home attack.
And the new partnership took less than a minute to pay off. Keith Lasley’s header was chested down by Sutton just outside the box and his turn and reverse pass sent Anier in behind the Dons defence.
For the second week the Estonian showed great composure in front of goal calmly slotting the ball past Jamie Langfield for a perfect start on his home debut.
Aberdeen with a host of new summer signings in their line-up came storming back. A superb pass from Willo Flood sent Niall McGinn racing into the box but hispowerful drive was well beaten away by Lee Hollis.
The Dons came close to the equaliser after 8 minutes when Peter Pawlett skipped past Stephen McManus only to watch his thundering drive rebound off the cross bar.
Motherwell defended solidly in the first half but were lucky to maintain their lead in the 28th minute. Calvin Zola collected the ballwide left but as everyone waited for a cross the towering striker curled the ball off the face of Hollis’ cross bar.
At the other end Sutton was leading the line well and his lay offs provided Anier and Zaine Francis-Angol with opportunties to get beyond the visitors defence but without really troubling Langfield.
The Dons resumed the second half on the front foot andonly a great tackle from McManus denied McGinnfrom 8 yards. From the resultant corner ‘Well raced to the other end but with Lasley and Anier in support Francis-Angol dithered and a great chance was passed up.
That signalled the start of a brighter spell from the home side and after being tripped outside the box McFadden whipped his free kick high over the bar.
Aberdeen were then gifted an equaliser after 61 minutes. Stevie Hammell failed to clear his lines at the edge of the box allowing Jonny Hayes to pounce on the loose ball only for McManus trip him and concede a penalty.
McGinn confidently blasted the spot kick into the top corner to give Aberdeen the impetus especially as the Motherwell players began to tire.
Fifteen minutes from time Dons grabbed the lead when Hayes curled a free kick into a packed box and Reynolds rose highest to power a header under the cross bar.
‘Well retained a glimmer of hope of grabbing an equaliser until the 82nd minute. A fantastic save from Hollis reacting to turn a Josh Magennis behind the post with his foot proved futile.
From the resultant corner referee John Beaton awarded another penalty indicating that Shaun Hutchinson had been guilty of pulling an Aberdeen jersey.
Although Hollis guessed correctly diving to his right the pace on McGinn’s spot kick drove the ball into the corner to make it 3-1 and ensure the Dons left with all three points.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 1 – 3 Aberdeen
90mins: 3 minutes added on
83mins: Motherwell subs, Carswell, McHugh and Kerr in for McFadden, Lasley and Francis-Angol
82mins: GOAL Aberdeen! Same outcome, McGinn makes it 1-3.
82mins: Another Penalty to Aberdeen! Looked a soft one. No idea what that was for?!
81mins: Great save from the feet of Hollis to deny Magennis!!
75mins: Reynolds makes it 1-2 with a header from 12 yards.
75mins: Aberdeen have a free kick from wide…. GOAL!
72mins: Game getting stretched now. Looks like a few tired legs out there.
70mins: Another Aberdeen sub, Pawlett off for Wilde
66mins: Hector booked for a dangerous one on Sutton.
63mins: Aberdeen sub, Magennis on for Zola.
61mins: GOAL – McGinn fires it into the roof of the net. 1-1
60mins: Penalty to Aberdeen! Hammell doesn’t clear and McManus gives it away.
60mins: That’s a good chance there for Zola. Again though he swings at it and it goes wide from 10 yards.
58mins: Great control there from Kenny Black. Ball comes off the top of the Phil O’Donnell stand and he cushions it perfectly :p
55mins: Free kick in McFadden territory, but this one is well wide.
54mins: Half-chance for Anier. Looked to latched onto Hector’s slack header back but Langfield got there first
53mins: Vigurs booked for a late one.
52mins: Motherwell break from that but Francis-Angol takes the wrong option when Anier was in plenty of space.
51mins: Superb defending from McManus as he slides in on McGinn and clears! Inside the box, dangerous situation,
50mins: Aberdeen sub, Anderson off for Robertson.
48mins: Zola swipes at fresh air in the box. If he made contact he’d surely have burst the net.
46mins: And we’re off!
HT: Motherwell 1 – 0 Aberdeen.
44mins: Closing stages of the first half then….Motherwell still 1-0 up
36mins: Yellow card, Flood finds his way into the refs book. His reaction to his tackle on Ramsden did him no favours.
32mins: Another free-kick for Motherwell. Looks a more promising position….and the less said about the rehearsed set-piece the better :p
29mins. Aberdeen go close again! This time it’s Zola who see’s his left footed shot crash off the bar.
26mins: FK to Motherwell some 30 yards out….McFadden clips it into the box but Reynolds heads clear.
24mins: Anderson almost sticks the ball in his own net for what would have been a spectacular own goal. Goes narrowly past for a corner.
17mins: Feels like The Dons are working their way into this. Ryan Jack curls a shot just wide from 20 yards.
11mins: Corner to ‘Well. Francis-Angol’s cross deflected wide……Aberdeen clear.
9mins: Pawlett hits the bar! Looked like the sliding Shaun Hutchinson did enough to divert it onto it,
7mins: McGinn looking a threat. Latched on to a perfectly weighted through ball and fired straight at Hollis from an awkward position.
5mins: Bit of a scare there for the ‘Well fans as Pawlett chases down Hutchinson’s backpass. Hollis gets there first and clears.
4mins: McGinn and Zola combine well in the Motherwell box. Thankfully McGinn slices his effort well wide from 15 yards.
1min: It’s 1-0 to Motherwell! Lovely reverse pass from Sutton to slot in ANIER who slides it home with style!
1min: And we’re off! #COYW
Moments away from kick-off as Lasley and Anderson contest the coin toss.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“I don’t want to make any excuse but I know what it was like last season against St Mirren (following a Europa League game at Levante) when we were hanging on with 20 minutes to go.
“I thought, to get anything out the game, we needed to be going into the last 20 minutes ahead.
“It’s only natural, you get back in your bed at seven o’clock in the morning after the flight. If you’re still in there you can dog it out, but when you lose two goals like that, you could see the lift they got and we looked a bit leg-weary.
“The better team won. You can’t afford to gift teams goals, especially good teams like Aberdeen who have threats all over the park.
“Having said that, the third goal, if that’s a penalty then there’s six or seven penalties in a game.
“But that’s not why we lost. We conceded two poor goals in quick succession.”
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes:
“It wasn’t the start we wanted but I thought it was a foul leading up to their goal, a Motherwell player jumped right into Joe Shaughnessy.
“But I thought our response was excellent. Even at half-time, we could easily have felt sorry for ourselves, in the fact we passed up a couple of opportunities and hit the bar twice.
“They got their just rewards. It was a good strong performance with the right level of mentality.
“They don’t need to show me we have good players, I know I have good players, it’s the other side we will need to show.
“We will need to come from behind again and at no point did I feel we were ever going to give up the ghost. It was an immediate response and there was some real good play in the first half.”