Phil McGhee Fir Park
Motherwell failed to halt Aberdeen’s winning run as an Adam Rooney double sent all three points north and kept the Dons on top of the SPFL Premiership.
But after the humbling defeat at Hamilton, it was much more disciplined and spirited performance from the injury-ravished Fir Park side.
And following the introduction of Dom Thomas, the home side chased an equaliser until referee Willie Collum dealt ‘Well a double blow in the closing minutes.
Having adjudged that Stepehen McManus had deliberately handled on the goal line, he sent off the ‘Well defender and presented Rooney with his second goal from the penalty spot.
Television pictures would show that it was an incredibly harsh decision, although it should be acknowledged that it didn’t have much bearing on the overall result.
It was a tough ending for the ‘Well players who had responded positively to the New Year Day drubbing.
As anticipated Simon Ramsden and Stevie Hammell, who both left New Douglas Park nursing injuries, failed to recover. As expected Mark O’Brien was fit enough to partner Stephen McManus but Ian Baraclough gave a surprise debut to 17-year old Luke Watt who started at left back.
The Dons, on superb run of six consecutive wins without conceding a goal, were full of confidence and put the new look ‘Well defence under pressure from the start.
Within three minutes Dan Twardzik produced his first save standing strong to beat away a thumping shot from David Goodwillie. Six minutes later Adam Rooney nipped beyond McManus to flash a header past the post.
A cross come shot from Jonny Hayes was drifting inside the far post until Twardzik, back tracking, palmed the ball over his crossbar.
At the other end Scott Brown finally got involved racing from his line to gather a long high ball from Lionel Ainsworth with John Sutton chasing in.
The Dons’ goal faced more of a threat after 22 minutes. Josh Law broke from the middle of the park before feeding the ball to Henrik Ojamaa who took a couple of steps towards the box before unleashing a swerving drive.
Having withstood the early flurry from the Dons, the Fir Park defence had largely contained the visitor’s threats until a slip in the 36th minute let them in for the opener.
Under no real pressure, Fraser Kerr gave possession to Andy Considine who immediately released Rooney and the Aberdeen striker slipped the ball beyond the advancing Twardzik and inside the post for his 18th goal of the season.
It would have been 2-0 four minutes from half time but for Twardzik’s fingertips touching Niall McGinn’s curling shot onto the crossbar.
Having contained the league leaders for most of the first half Motherwell were more adventurous in the second half and gave the Dons’ defence a few anxious moments.
The Fir Park goal had the narrowest of escapes after 66 minutes when Considine’s looping header rebounded from the base of the post and as Rooney attempted to lash home the rebound Twardzik reacted brilliantly to block.
Play swiftly moved to the other end where an exchange of passes ended with Ojamaa’s shot straight at Brown.
The introduction of Dom Thomas and Lee Erwin after 69 minutes brought renewed life into the home side and a belief they could take a point from the game.
Thomas in particular lifted the tempo and a couple of his teasing crosses went begging although Ojamaa forced a couple of efforts on goal, none of them troubled the Dons keeper.
However, any thoughts a of a late equaliser were killed off when the referee sent off McManus before Rooney sent Twardzik the wrong way from the spot to settle the game.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 0 – 2 Aberdeen #MFCvAFC
Ball was fired at McManus and hit his shoulder. really poor decision.
Looks like a really soft one!
88mins: Goal – Rooney slots home the penalty. 0-2 #MFCvAFC
87mins: Penalty + Red Card! McManus is sent off for what the ref says was handball on the line.! #MFCvAFC
86mins: Aberdeen sub, Flood is on for Goodwillie, complete with head bandage #MFCvAFC
85mins: Motherwell free-kick, 25 yards out which Ainsworth blasts well over the bar #MFCvAFC
84mins: Goodwillie is sent through on goal but Twardzik gets a touch on it. and it goes wide. Ref gives a goal kick #MFCvAFC
78mins: Erwin wins a corner…..Law wins the header but can’t aim it goalwards! #MFCvAFC
77mins: Goodwillie breaks free and fires just past the post #MFCvAFC
76mins: Smith on for Pawlett #MFCvAFC
75mins: Again Ojamaa and Thomas combine, this time Ojamaa’s half volley is tamely fired at Brown #MFCvAFC
74mins: Thomas giving ‘Well a bit of a spark. Picks the ball up 20 yards out, creates some space and curls just past #MFCvAFC
73mins: Thomas and Ojamaa combine as ‘Well look for an equaliser. The Estonian shoots straight at Brown, though #MFCvAFC
And another, Sutton off for Erwin #MFCvAFC
69mins: Motherwell sub, Kerr off for Thomas #MFCvAFC
66mins: Considine heads off the post and Twardzik reacts well to get up and block from Rooney. #MFCvAFC
60mins: O’Brien is booked for hacking down McGinn as Aberdeen broke away #MFCvAFC
52mins: Sutton heads an Aberdeen corner clear to Hayes who hits on first time, well over the bar #MFCvAFC
Jack floats the free-kick in and McManus heads clear #MFCvAFC
50mins: Free-kick to Aberdeen in a central area half way into the Motherwell half #MFCvAFC
Second half is underway #MFCvAFC
Teams are back out for the second half….#MFCvAFC
HT: Motherwell 0 – 1 Aberdeen #MFCvAFC
41mins: McGinn cuts in from the left hand side and curls a shot off the bar! Twardzik got a slight touch #MFCvAFC
40mins: Pawlett takes a shot from 18 yards, looking to place it into corner but curls it wide #MFCvAFC
36mins: Goal – Goodwillie clips a ball over the top to Rooney who taps it past Twardzik in off the post. 0-1 #MFCvAFC
29mins: Good ball from Watt to Sutton who has no options ahead and opts to shoot. It’s well over but a little more encouraging #MFCvAFC
23mins: Great effort from Ojamaa as he pulls the trigger from 25 yards and it flashes just past the right post #MFCvAFC
15mins: Hayes whips in a cross that turns into a shot and almost catches out Twardzik. Thankfully he gets a hand to is as it was sailing in.
13mins: Brave goalkeeping from Twardzik to get out at the feet of Rooney and clear Pawlett’s low cross from danger #MFCvAFC
10mins: Watt puts Rooney under enough pressure to force him to head wide from McGinn’s inviting cross #MFCvAFC
7mins: Logan whips in a cross which O’Brien takes no chances with and heads out for a corner #MFCvAFC
3mins: Early chance for Goodwillie. He gets a shot away 12 yards out but Twardzik does well to beat it away to safety #MFCvAFC
Here we go, game is underway. Come on ye ‘Well!! #MFCvAFC
Out come the teams, Motherwell in claret and amber, Aberdeen in full black #MFCvAFC
Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough:
[REACTION TO McMANUS RED] “He has put his body on the line, he has not moved his arm towards the ball, it has hit him just below the shoulder.
“He couldn’t get out the way of it because it has been struck so well.
“Would it have changed the result? Possibly not, but it could affect us further down the line. So we’ll appeal that.”
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes:
“The players are honest enough just to have a real proper approach to the next challenge. We have come through the festive period with some strong performances and results. The pressure side of it hasn’t reared its head, it’s just something that we are enjoying.”