Motherwell Under 20s lost 1-3 at home to Aberdeen at Fir Park in the SPFL Development League this evening.
The Dons took the lead early on through Lawrence Shankland but Jack Leitch levelled the scoring shortly after. However, the Dons were back in front thanks to a Joe Shaughnessy header before the same player sealed all three points late in the game.
Jonatan Johansson was able to call on a relatively experienced team with new signings Mark O’Brien and Henrik Ojamaa joined in the starting eleven by over-aged players Lionel Ainsworth, Bob McHugh and Paul Lawson. Over and above that, Ross Stewart, Chris Cadden, Jack Leitch and David Ferguson could all count on first-team experience.
It was Motherwell who would have the game’s first shot when Ojamaa and Thomas combined to tee up Lawson on the edge of the area, but he scooped his effort high and wide of target.
Nicky Low replied quickly for the Dons with a long range shot straight at Stewart before Shankland forced the ‘Well stopper into a good low save with his feet and subsequent stop from a swerving volley.
However, he was powerless to stop the next attack as Shankland opened the scoring for Paul Sheerin’s side . The former Queen’s Park hitman had Scott Wright to thank, the midfielder jinked past a few challenges before squaring it for Shankland who smashed it home into an unguarded net.
The Steelmen were only behind for seven minutes though as Leitch levelled things. It was Leitch himself who started the move, releasing Thomas down the left flank. After cutting in, the ball ricocheted out to the skipper who curled home from twenty yards.
The game began to stretch and incredibly, with their next attack of note, the Dons got their noses in front once again. ‘Well were forced into conceding a needless corner when Morgyn Neill took the ball off the gloves of Stewart. Low’s delivery was inch-perfect for Shaughnessy who got above his marker to bullet a header home at the back post.
Jonatan Johansson was forced into a change with another defensive injury – David Ferguson was caught in a 50/50 challenge and was carried off the park, replaced by young Jack McMillan.
The game flowed back and forth, Craig Murray fired over the bar from distance and Cammy Smith should’ve made it 3-1 with a strike from just inside the area, but the hosts survived.
At the other end, McHugh had a pop from the edge but it sailed high over the bar and into the Maxim Office Park South Stand.
Motherwell started the second half on the front foot and Ojamaa teed up McHugh for a shot from the edge but once again he curled it over.
Two minutes later, the Estonian would shoot himself but his low poked effort dropped a foot or so wide of target. Ojamaa and Shaughnessy were both carded for a skirmish in the build-up , it looked like nothing more than handbags and a talking too would’ve sufficed, but after advice from the stand side assistant, both were cautioned.
Both teams continued to look dangerous on the break but it was the hosts who were creating; Ojamaa again going close after Ainsworth’s floated cross wasn’t cleared properly by Shaughnessy.
Shortly after, Thomas danced around a few tackles in the box only to watch his powerful low shot expertly turned around by Robbie Mutch in the Reds goal.
Motherwell continued their attacking intent and Ainsworth came within an inch of levelling, latching on to a loose ball only to drag his shot narrowly wide.
The home side were doing all the pressing but, typically, it was Aberdeen who extended their lead with a sucker-punch at the other end. Smith brought about a decent save from Stewart, turning around a stinging effort. ‘Well failed to properly clear the resulting corner and Shaughnessy was afforded too much time to slot home his second of the night from ten yards.
The home side continued to plug away and were so unlucky not to half the lead when Ainsworth rocketed a shot off the bar. There was a claim for a penalty when sub McLean was tugged at the rebound, but there was nothing doing from the referee.
McHugh saw a late shot blocked at the expense of a corner but that was the end of the scoring as the Dons headed back north with all three points.
Motherwell: Stewart, Cadden, Ferguson (McMillan – 36mins), O’Brien, Neill, Leitch (McCall – 73mins), Ainsworth, Lawson, McHugh, Ojamaa (McLean – 73mins), Thomas
Subs Not Used: Currie, Hall, Mackin, Higgins