Phil McGhee at Pittodrie
An off-colour Motherwell were soundly beaten 4-1 by Aberdeen at Pittodrie this afternoon.
The Steelmen were second best for the majority of the game, lost frustratingly poor goals and to compound the misery, captain Keith Lasley was harshly red carded late in the match.
The game was long gone by then though, with McLean, McGinn, Rooney and Hayes giving the hosts a commanding lead, Chris Cadden scored Motherwell’s only goal to give some hope when it was 3-1, but it failed to materialise despite one or two decent chances.
Mark McGhee made three changes to the side that beat Hearts last weekend.
Connor Ripley was back between the sticks in place of Craig Samson. Josh Law missed out injured, replaced by the returning Louis Laing and another returnee, Stephen Pearson, was preferred to Cadden who had a gruelling ninety-minute during the midweek.
The Dons were quick out of the traps, and the Hayes picked up on the left flank, twisted and turned his way past Laing before the defender bundled the Irishman over.
Kenny McLean took the resulting spot kick, sending Ripley the wrong way. 1-0 Aberdeen after just five minutes.
The Fir Parkers enjoyed a good chunk of the ball in the early stages of the match, forced a great deal of corner kicks, but failed to seriously test debutant keeper Adam Collin.
However, with only their second shot on target, Aberdeen doubled their lead. Shay Logan got himself into an advanced position on the right, and his cross towards the penalty spot was perfect for Nial McGinn, who nipped in ahead of Keith Lasley to slot home.
Motherwell’s only response of note during a fairly lacklustre first half was long-distance shots from both Ainsworth and Johnson, but neither proved any trouble for Collin.
The hosts had earlier replaced striker Simon Church with the returning Adam Rooney, and the striker made an immediate impact.
He angled a header from a Logan cross narrowly wide of goal after 52 minutes. It was a warning the Claret and Amber men failed to heed though as he did net two minutes later.
McGinn’s free kick had been flicked on by Andrew Considine,forcing Ripley to make a brilliant stop, pushing the ball onto the bar. However, the rebound would fall kindly for the unmarked Rooney to prod home from close range.
Motherwell introduced Chris Cadden and looked a different team for it. The youngster dragged his side kicking and screaming back into the match, getting on the end of Johnson’s low cross to fire off, albeit his effort taking a fortuitous hit off Ash Taylor.
Boosted by their goal, Motherwell pressed on and Louis Moult came close to further reducing the deficit. The striker got on the end of a Scott McDonald pass, racing clear of the home defence. With only Collin to beat, his angled shot agonisingly wide of Collin’s left-hand upright.
Most of the play was going towards the Dons goal, but Hayes put the seal on things, confirming a win for his side, with a solo strike with 12 minutes remaining.
He outstripped both Pearson and Hall on the left flank before bursting into the penalty area and lifted the ball over Ripley to make it 4-1.
That wasn’t the end of the drama though as ‘Well were reduced to ten men. Keith Lasley caught Kenny McLean late as the midfielder was bursting clear. It looked no more than a mistimed challenge, similar to a Graeme Shinnie tackle on Marvin Johnson earlier in the match, which resulted in a caution.
However, despite initially having the yellow card in his hand, referee Bobby Madden changed his mind and after pulling several players apart, including an angry Shinnie, flashed a red card at the Motherwell skipper.
Assistant boss Stephen Robinson was also sent to the stand for his protests with fourth official Nick Walsh.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Pittodrie
FT: Aberdeen 4 – 1 Motherwell
88′ | 4-1
Red card for Lasley! Initially booked but changed to a red. Bizarre stuff.
83′ | 4-1
Aberdeen sub, McGinn off for Wright
80′ | 4-1
Aberdeen sub, Robson on for Rooney.
78′ | 4-1
Goal – Hayes bursts clear and knocks it past Ripley. Frustrating as it had been a decent spell for Motherwell
76′ | 3-1
McLean booked for a foul on Johnson. Marv has been in the wars today!
74′ | 3-1
Johnson is fouled by Shinnie in a decent area on the right…whipped into the box and almost lands for Moult but Taylor clears.
71′ | 3-1
What a chance for Moult! Played in well by McDonald and his shot from inside the box goes inches past!
69′ | 3-1
Johnson is set clear but the linesman’s flag goes up. Looked tight!
65′ | 3-1
Cadden pulls a goal back, after a great ball in from Johnson.
61′ | 2-0
Motherwell sub, Ainsworth off for Cadden.
54′ | 3-0
Goal – Rooney makes it 3. Great save from Ripley puts it onto the bar but the striker is there to poke in from close.
53′ | 2-0
Deep ball in from Logan finds Rooney. His header back across Ripley flies just wide of the post.
49′ | 2-0
Decent build up play between Johnson and McDonald but the Aussie’s cross is too deep and goes out for a goal kick.
47′ | 2-0
McGinn’s cross is put out for a corner……cleared by ‘Well, fed back in to Rooney but the sub is offside.
Aberdeen get the second 45 underway.
Half time change for ‘Well, Hall on for Laing.
HT: Aberdeen 2 – 0 Motherwell
45′ | 2-0
McGinn fires across a low ball which thankfully neither Rooney nor Hayes can get on the end of. A let off.
44′ | 2-0
Aberdeen sub, Church limps off and is replaced by Rooney.
36′ | 2-0
Moult’s free-kick from 30 yards deflects over the bar for a corner. Again, though, Motherwell can’t capitalise.
35′ | 2-0
Hayes drives into the box and from a narrow angle, his cross/shot lands on the roof of the net.
25′ | 2-0
Goal – Logan crosses to McGinn who gets in ahead of Lasley and volleys into the net. 2-0.
22′ | 1-0
Hayes gets a great ball into the box which McManus manages to get to ahead of Church. Corner to Aberdeen.
21′ | 1-0
Laing and Johnson combine down the right to win a corner…..ball in finds Johnson who is hacked down by Shinnie. Booking.
14′ | 1-0
Johnson tries his luck from distance but can’t get it on target. Well wide and high.
9′ | 1-0
Hammell’s free-kick lands at the feet of Ainsworth on the edge of the box. Curls straight at Collin.
5′ | 1-0
Goal – McLean sends Ripley the wrong way to put Aberdeen 1 up.
5′ | 0-0
Penalty to Aberdeen! Hayes gets past Laing and the big defender barges him down.
3′ | 0-0
Long range shot from McLean takes a touch off Hammell and goes wide for an Aberdeen corner.
…….From Hammell’s delivery the ball falls to Moult but his volley is well blocked
1′ | 0-0
Early corner for Motherwell, won by Moult on the right flank.
Pre-match formalities over, it’s time for kick-off. COYW!!!!
Motherwell manager Mark McGhee:
“We didn’t play as well as can. We were less joined up, lacked a little cohesion and weren’t aggressive as we have been, certainly not as much as last week.
“But even that game at Fir Park last weekend, and the shift the players have put in over recent months, takes it toll. They’ve given us a fantastic return, and almost every game since the turn of the year we’ve been flat out. Yes, there have been disappointment along the way, but we’ve put a fantastic effort.”
Aberdeen Manager Derek McInnes
“Last week as a team I felt we lost out in every department, and today I thought we got on top of our opponents and won every battle.
“We’ve got five points to get over the final three games to beat our points total from last season, and again beat the record for points accumulated for a non-Old Firm club, and we’ll try to do that.”