Phil McGhee at Fir Park
Motherwell seemed destined to leapfrog Aberdeen and regain second spot until an injury time equaliser cost them three points.
Second half goals from Stephen McManus and Zaine Francis-Angol twice had the Fir Park men in front.
And although Adam Rooney pulled Dons’ level midway through the second half ‘Well looked like holding on for all three until Russell Anderson’s late leveller.
In the battle for second place, both teams were hoping to get back to winning ways after respective defeats last week.
Stuart McCall made one change to side which started at Parkhead, With Iain Vigurs injured Fraser Kerr came in a right back, allowing Zaine Francis-Angol to play in front of Stevie Hammell.
The players had to adjust to the heavy pitch which survived a late inspection after a torrential downpour . After only eight minutes referee Steven McLean enraged the home fans when Shaun Hutchison won the ball just outside the box but caught Ryan Jack as he slid through.
Sadly it resulted in the young Dons player being stretchered off and the ‘Well defender copping a booking. It might have been worse for ‘Well but Barry Robson’s free kick rippled the top of the net.
Motherwell’s first threat came after 17 mins when Francis-Angol sped to the goal line before crossing low to the front post where James McFadden’s snapshot was blocked by Jamie Langfield.
John Sutton fired over the bar after 25 minutes but a minute late a smart 1-2 almost got McFadden in on goal.
In 32nd minute Stuart Carswell lost possession to Robson and was relieved as he watched as the Dons’ midfielder rifled a low shot beyond Gunnar Nielsen but the ball rebounded from the foot of the post before being eventually cleared.
At the other end, a great ball from Kerr sent Sutton through on goal but Anderson recovered to make a great sliding block just outside the six-yard box.
It was end to end action and just before half time Nielsen produced a fabulous save stretching low to his left to push Jonny Hayes’ curling shot beyond the post.
The game exploded into action in the second half when ‘Well opened the scoring within two minutes of the restart. Lionel Ainsworth curled a corner kick out to McManus whose powerful header had the ball racing into the net despite Peter Pawlett’s attempts to head it off the line.
‘Well chased a second goal and Ainsworth’s run ended with a drive across goal before a clash between Kerr and Robson resulted in the ‘Well defender being stretchered off and replaced with Paul Lawson.
The home goal then had a charmed like as Aberdeen looked certain to score but Lasley, Hammell and McManus all cleared net bound efforts off the goal line.
The Dons’ pressure was finally rewarded after 65 minutes. Niall McGinn’s shot was blocked byNielsen low at his post but the ball bounced high in front of an open goal for Rooney to nod home the equaliser on his debut.
Motherwell immediately replaced McFadden with Henri Anier whose impact was instant as the game once again turned ‘Well’s way.
With almost his first touch the Estoninan played an exchange of passes with Lasley before drilling the ball across the 6 yard box where both Francis-Angol and Sutton bundled the ball home. It’s hard to tell who got the final touch but the benefit of the doubt should be given to the striker.
Although most of the closing play was towards the home goal Nielsen was well protected until two minutes into injury time.
McGinn floated a corner into a packed 6 yard box and Anderson directed the ball towards goal although there were loud claims for him using his arm before it crossed the line for a very late equaliser.
For their contribution to a very entertaining game, the Dons deserved a point, while for their part Motherwell moved seven points ahead of Inverness as McCall’s men head for a two-week break.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 2 – 2 Aberdeen
90+3 mins: Corner to Aberdeen….. GOAL! Anderson sticks it in from close range 2-2 #MFCvAFC
5 minutes added on
89mins: Motherwell sub, Leitch on for Ainsworth #MFCvAFC
85mins: Carswell booked for a foul on Low #MFCvAFC
83mins: Low opts to shoot when he had some decent options. Well over the bar #MFCvAFC
71mins: Unbelievable miss by Rooney who should have squared the game. Mis-cued his volley 10 yards out #MFCvAFC.
69mins: Instant impact from Anier who got down the wing to cross for SUTTON who slides it in! 2-1 !!! #MFCvAFC
67mins: Motherwell sub, McFadden off for Anier #MFCvAFC
65mins: GOAL! – Rooney is on hand to tap in from Nielsen’s save to deny McGinn 1-1 #MFCvAFC
62mins: Aberdeen sub, Low on for Robson #MFCvAFC
61mins: Too close for comfort. McManus scoops it off the line after Shaughnessy miss-hits with the goal gaping! #MFCvAFC
60mins: Heroics from Hammell to slide in and block McGinn’s shot from inside the box which was travelling in! #MFCvAFC
57mins: Ainsworth shows some good skill to cut in from the right. His left footed shot is well over though #MFCvAFC
Kerr now stretchered off and is replaced by Lawson,. #MFCvAFC
54mins: Bit of a strange decision there as McLean let Aberdeen take a quick free-kick despite Robson and Kerr still being down…..
53mins: Rooney booked ….possibly for dissent #MFCvAFC
50mins: Ball breaks to Ainsworth 25 yards out but he drags it just past. Unlucky! #MFCvAFC
49mins: Corner to Aberdeen now.. McGinn’s delivery is cleared off the line by Francis-Angol #MFCvAFC
McManus bullets its home from 8 yards. 1-0! #MFCvAFC
47mins: Corner to Motherwell…..Ainsworth dinks it in …GGOOOOOOAAAALLLLL!!!
Teams are back out for the second half. On a tightrope so far #MFCvAFC
HT: Motherwell 0 – 0 Aberdeen #MFCvAFC
45+2 mins: Corner tp Aberdeen….. dealt with by McManus but the ball falls to Hayes. Great stop by Nielsen to deny! #MFCvAFC
45mins: Rooney cuts in and from 25 yards tries his luck. Over the bar but looked to have taken a deflection. Ref disagrees #MFCvAFC
42mins: Hayes wins a free-kick out wide on the left…Robson’s delivery is cleared by Hammell #MFCvAFC
35mins: McManus pings a wonderful ball over the top to Sutton. Racing through on goal, Anderson gets back to clear #MFCvAFC
33mins: Robson strikes the base of the post with a good effort 20 yards out after robbing Carswell #MFCvAFC
27mins: Good bit of build-up play creates a chance for McFadden. He doesn’t quite reach Sutton’s ball and the chance is gone #MFCvAFC
26mins: From 30 yards, Sutton tries the spectacular but fails to get it near the target #MFCvAFC
22mins: Lasley finds his way into the book for a late tackle on Flood #MFCvAFC
17mins: Great chance for McFadden as Francis-Angol bursts down the wing and swings it in. His volley is well saved by Langfield #MFCvAFC
12mins: Now its a dangerous free-kick about 22 yards out………Robson fires just over #MFCvAFC
11mins: Aberdeen sub, Jack off for Pawlett #MFCvAFC
8mins: Hutchinson booked for a tackle on Jack. Looked like he played the ball however got a lot of man. Jack now stretchered off #MFCvAFC
6mins: Bit of a claim there for Aberdeen as Hutchinson bundles over Rooney inside the box. Ref waves it away #MFCvAFC
1min: Free-kick to the Dons about 40 yards out on the left. Robson delivers, Considine heads wide #MFCvAFC
McGinn and Hayes get the action underway #MFCvAFC #COYW
Out come the teams #MFCvAFC
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“Unfortunately, yet again against Aberdeen we’ve not got the right decision. I thought we battled manfully, scored two good goals, but I thought a point was a fair result without a doubt
“I thought Aberdeen at times in the second half were terrific and they deserved the point.
“It’s sore to lose it so late, and it’s sore that it’s a handball by Anderson, but unfortunately the referee’s not been in a good enough position to see it.
“We lost [Iain] Vigurs just before the game with an injury, we lost Fraser Kerr during it and we had to have [Stuart] Carswell at right-back.
“We’ve got young kids on the bench, so I thought we battled manfully, scored two good goals, but I thought a point was a fair result without a doubt.
“You just look at the reaction of the players and I think three or four of our lads claimed handball straight away, but the linesman’s got no chance of seeing it and there’s that many bodies there to be honest, so it’s a difficult one but when you see it again it’s a clear handball.”
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes:
“The two goals we lose put a black mark on the actual performance because obviously we’re disappointed with them, but I thought it was a decent performance from us.
“It had to be to get something from the game. When the clock goes up for injury time and you’re behind, to get a point you’re always pleased.
“I always feel there’s a goal in us, and the players deserve huge credit for that. They keep going, there’s good perseverance and good determination, and they never accept it.
“I thought it was some good play from us as well to get into good goal-scoring positions.
“It wasn’t frantic, it wasn’t just lumping it, there was a measure to our play in the last 15-20 minutes after going 2-1 down.”