Gavin McCafferty at Pittodrie
An early Jonny Hayes goal gave Aberdeen all three points in an insipid evening at Pittodrie.
The Irishman capitalized after Stephen McManus’ intervention ricocheted off Steven Hammell, sending the Inverness man in on goal and he finished by slotting his shot through Dan Twardzik’s legs.
‘Well looked far more organized, with the Dons rarely troubling the visitors goal. However, the Steelmen could only muster one shot on target the whole night from Craig Reid.
The win was Aberdeen’s first over Motherwell in almost six years and consigns ‘Well to another week in 11th spot.
Stuart McCall made four changes to the side that lost to Dundee six days ago but once again found his team behind almost instantly.
It turned out to be the only goal of a game unlikely to live long in the memory arrived in the third minute. David Goodwillie fed Hayes at the edge of the penalty area and the Irishman profited from a fortunate ricochet off Steven Hammell before sending a low eight-yard shot underneath Dan Twardzik.
Hayes was in the mood in the early stages and he skipped past two challenges before clipping the ball narrowly over the crossbar. Moments later, Goodwillie saw a low angled shot smothered by Twardzik after latching on to Ryan Jack’s pass.
Motherwell, who had conceded 10 goals in three outings prior to their Pittodrie visit, began to settle after a shaky start and Stephen McManus lashed a right-footed shot over from 12 yards after the Dons failed to clear a corner.
Hayes created another Aberdeen opening in the 18th minute, bursting forward from his left wing-back role and sending in a teasing delivery for Niall McGinn, whose scuffed effort trickled wide.
While the hosts carried purpose in attack, they were far less convincing at the back and their failure to deal with a Josh Law corner almost proved costly as Simon Ramsden peeled off his marker to loop a back-post header inches too high in the 21st minute.
A lull in the play followed in the period leading up to half-time with both teams struggling to find any rhythm and Aberdeen’s chief creators kept equally as quiet as Motherwell’s main attacking threats.
The Dons conjured up a chance four minutes after the restart following a well-worked move. Peter Pawlett picked out McGinn on the right flank and his cutback found the advancing Shay Logan, whose near-post shot was comfortably stopped by Twardzik.
The visitors saw as much of the ball as their opponents but their inability to test goalkeeper Scott Brown on his first league start must have frustrated manager McCall as Henrik Ojamaa fired a 20-yard shot well wide of the target in the 55th minute.
Having struggled to make an impact, Pawlett was replaced just after the hour mark with Adam Rooney as Dons boss Derek McInnes switched back to a two-pronged attack, which he had favoured.in previous matches.
Goodwillie ought to have done better with a 64th-minute effort, which he blazed over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area after being spotted by McGinn.
With time starting to run out, the Steelmen made a double change, Lee Erwin and Bob McHugh coming on for Ojamaa and Law in the 75th minute, just before Craig Reid hit a long-range shot which had to be closely watched by Brown.
McGinn went close to making the points safe for McInnes’ men with six minutes remaining but he saw his crisp 20-yard shot flash wide after Rooney linked with Willo Flood, but Aberdeen were able to see the match out.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Pittodrie
FT: Aberdeen 1 – 0 Motherwell #AFCvMFC
3 minutes added on
86mins: Motherwell sub, Ainsworth is on for Francis-Angol #AFCvMFC
82mins: Aberdeen make their final change, Hayes off for Smith #AFCvMFC
75mins: Reid has a shot on target, not sure he entirely meant it though. Brown dives low to make the save #AFCvMFC
74mins: Motherwell double sub, Ojamaa and Law off for McHugh and Erwin #AFCvMFC
72mins: Aberdeen sub, Goodwillie off for Robson #AFCvMFC
69mins: Lasley is booked for dissent aimed at the fourth official #AFCvMFC
64mins: Goodwillie works his way into the ‘Well box and sees his shot fly well over the bar #AFCvMFC
60mins: Aberdeen sub, Rooney on for Pawlett #AFCvMFC
55mins: Ojamaa’s shot from 25 yards trickles into the hands of Brown #AFCvMFC
49mins: Logan gets on the end of McGinn’s cutback but can only shoot tamely at Twardzik #AFCvMFC
47mins: Aberdeen have a free-kick in a central position, about 30 yards out….Law gets in front of Hayes’ shot #AFCvMFC
46mins: McManus is booked for a foul while jumping for a header #AFCvMFC
Second half is underway #AFCvMFC
HT: Aberdeen 1 – 0 Mothewell #AFCvMFC
41mins: Law tries to pounce on a through ball but Brown is alert and gets to it first #AFCvMFC
38mins: Very little action worth talking about here. All very flat #AFCvMFC
20mins: Ramsden heads Law’s corner just over the bar. #AFCvMFC
17mins: Hayes’ cross finds McGinn in the centre of the box but he can only flick the ball wide of the post #AFCvMFC
11mins: Decent chance there for ‘Well as the ball fell to McManus on the edge of the box but he volleys just over #AFCvMFC
9mins: Goodwillie creates some space on the right but the angle is too tight to test Twardzik and the ‘keeper deals with it #AFCvMFC
5mins: Hayes goes close again, this time with a little dink over Twardzik which lands on the roof of the net #AFCvMFC
2mins: GOAL! Hayes breaches the ‘Well defence with only 2 minutes on the clock. 1-0 to Aberdeen #AFCvMFC
Lasley and Law get the game underway #COYW #AFCvMFC
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“I was a bit lost and helpless after last Saturday and when you are on the run that we are, to lose a goal as early as that, it would have been easy to fold and lose by four or five.
“But we spoke after the game and there is a real belief there.
“The first 11 games have been a disaster, there is no doubt about that, but our season starts against St Johnstone next Friday and it can’t come quickly enough.
“I know words are cheap but I sense a real desire, determination and hunger in the dressing room. We have got lots of players back now and competition for places.
“Yes, obviously, confidence with the run we are going through is still fragile but with the desire and determination that is in those lads, I know once we turn it around, we can go on a run.”
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes:
“We were rightly accused of sloppiness and a lack of concentration against Hamilton and I thought we were stretched far too often. I thought we were the exact opposite tonight.
“Motherwell played a lot of the game in front of us which can cause an anxiety but we never really gave them an opportunity.
“It was the same back four that played last week and while they could possibly have been criticised in that match, here they were solid and full of concentration, discipline and aggression.
“All in all we kept Motherwell at arm’s length and after last week I think we were needing that.”