Motherwell slipped to a home defeat at a rainy and wind swept Fir Park tonight as they fell 1-3 to Aberdeen.
But having survived Storm Barbara, ‘Well paid the penalty when Adam Rooney tumbled to the ground softly inside the Motherwell box and dispatched his spot kick via the rebound.
Down the other end Louis Moult missed his penalty before half time and was denied a rebound by the clearly encroaching Ryan Jack, which referee Bobby Madden failed to spot.
Scott McDonald’s stunning equaliser cancelled out Graeme Shinnie’s opener, but having conceded two soft goals and despite a determined first half showing, the Steelmen failed to recover in the second forty-five.
‘Well made two changes with Stevie Hammell returning from injury and Lee Lucas making his first league start in a four man midfield.
While Fir Park had survived the downpour, the swirling wind played havoc with both sets of players.
And after Craig Clay had nodded Louis Moult’s cross just wide of the post, ‘Well were the first victims of the weather. Craig Samson’s ball out to Ben Henegan gained speed to put the central defender under pressure. His clearance was blocked allowing Jonny Hayes to race into the box before cutting the ball back to Graeme Shinnie who swept it past Samson to put the Dons in front after only seven minutes.
A couple of corners from Richard Tait floated over Joe Lewis but the ‘keeper was saved when Ash Taylor cleared off the ‘keeper’s line.
The Dons’ goal was finally breached but it had nothing to do with the wind but simply a touch of brilliance from Scott McDonald. Tait whipped a low ball towards the six-yard area and the Aussie striker, with his back to goal, hooked the ball over his own shoulder and off the underside of the bar for a fabulous equaliser.
Motherwell looked the likelier to nick the next goal but against the run of play and in controversial circumstances Dons regained the lead. Samson could only palm out Kenny McLean’s grounder and as the ‘keeper raced out to recover the ball, Adam Rooney tumbled with little contact from Samson.
After the ‘Well protests, Rooney’s spot kick was brilliantly blocked by Samson but the Dons’ striker followed up to slam the rebound high into the net.
Six minutes from half time the Fir Park side had a great chance to draw level again from a disputed penalty. There seemed little doubt though that Mark Reynolds caught Keith Lasley across the thigh as he tried to jink past his former teammate.
However, Moult’s attempt to claim his 11th goal of the season was denied when Lewis beat out his penalty. That sparked off a goal mouth melee as Moult’s follow up was forced onto his own post by Andy Considine before McDonald hammered the loose ball out of a sea of red jerseys on the goal line.
Just before the half time whistle Considine was denied at the other end when Samson got down smartly to turn his header round the post.
Still suffering from Reynold’s challenge, Lasley failed to return for the second half allowing Dom Thomas forty-five minutes to impress.
It was Moult who came close ten minutes into the half with a dipping free kick which the Dons’ ‘keeper held firmly with McDonald homing in on a slip.
Neither team really tamed the elements and consequently the second half produced few chances.
Midway through the half Moult was again on target but his powerful header from Tait’s free kick crashed against the crossbar. Craig Clay then hammered the ball into the net but the offside flag was raised against Stephen McManus.
It was then Aberdeen’s turn to rattle the bar when Ash Taylor’s header rebounded much to ‘Well’s relief.
With ten minutes remaining Lionel Ainsworth replaced Cadden just in time to see Samson pull off a stunning save low to his left to push Hayes’ shot beyond the post.
Mark McGhee then went on the hunt for an equaliser, throwing on Ryan Bowman for McManus.
But before the big striker could force a header across goal the Pittodrie side had snatched a third. A poor cross field ball from Lucas allowed Hayes to set off on a 70 yard dash before setting up Niall McGinn to sweep the ball beyond Samson and send the hardy 760 Aberdeen fans back up north in the best of festive moods.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 1 – 3 Aberdeen #MFCvAFCTranslate from German
91′ | 1-3
Three minutes added on.
89′ | 1-3
Goal – Aberdeen counter and McGinn curls home from 18 yards.
84′ | 1-2
Motherwell sub, Bowman on for McManus
83′ | 1-2
McManus rises well at the back post but can’t test Lewis with his header.
80′ | 1-2
Great save from Samson, diving low to beat away Hayes’ shot after he drove into the box.
MATCH ATTAX | Young ‘Well fans can vote now for your Man of the Match. Tweet us now with your name, age, selection and #MatchAttaxMOTM.
78′ | 1-2
Logan manages to get on the end of a deep ball intoo the box and manages to force a save from Samson.
77′ | 1-2
McDonald booked for obstructing Taylor as he rose to head.
75′ | 1-2
Thomas can only clear as far as McLean who works some space but fires over the bar from just outside the box.
…Hammell’s front post delivery is headed clear and eventually swept away.
71′ | 1-2
Thomas curls a fine ball in from the left and it takes a touch. Corner to Motherwell….
70′ | 1-2
Considine heads off the bar! A let-off.
68′ | 1-2
Lucas has the ball in the net but flag goes up against McDonald. More positive from ‘Well now.
66′ | 1-2
Moult heads off the bar!! Hammell puts it deep into the box and the striker is unlucky to see it come back off the woodwork!
61′ | 1-2
Clay booked for pulling down McGinn wide on the left.
56′ | 1-2
A let-off as Hayes gets down the left and fizzes a ball across goal which evades Rooney and goes out for a goal-kick
…Moult hits it but doesn’t really trouble Lewis, who dives low to gather.
54′ | 1-2
McLean bundles into the back of McDonald which gives ‘Well a free-kick about 30 yards out…
Lee Lucas gets the second 45 underway, COYW!!!
Half time switch for ‘Well, Dom Thomas is on for Keith Lasley
HT: Motherwell 1 – 2 Aberdeen #MFCvAFCTranslate from German
46′ | 1-2
Close! Ash Taylor’s header is well saved by Samson then from follow-up, he heads just past!
40′ | 1-2
Saved!! Moult goes low and left and so does Lewis. Moults rebounded effort is cleared by Reynolds.
25′ | 1-2
Lasley gets past Reynolds whose knee takes him out. Moult steps up…..
38′ | 1-2
Penalty to Motherwell!!
33′ | 1-2
McGinn plays a short free-kick to McLean but thankfully he blazes it over the bar from 16 yards.
28′ | 1-2
Heneghan booked for a rash challenge on Shinnie
25′ | 1-2
Goal – Samson saves but Rooney converts the rebound.
24′ | 1-1
Penalty to Aberdeen! Rooney goes down under a challenge from Samson
18′ | 1-1
Half chance there for Moult! Lucas diagonal ball out to McDonald who slides it across goal but Moult’s touch is deflected away
16′ | 1-1
What a goal!!!! Tait whips a great ball in to McDONALD who overhead kicks it in off the bar!!! 1-1!
12′ | 0-1
Chance! Clay knocks the ball down inside the box but McDonald can’t get the touch on it and Considine sweeps clear.
11′ | 0-1
McLean goes close with a right-footed snap-shot from 20 yards. Had Samson beat but flashes wide of post
9′ | 0-1
Good ‘Well move down the right , Dons hit it out for a corner. Tait whips it in, but the visitors head it off the line & clear.
6′ | 0-1
Goal – Hayes gets in behind and squares it to Shinnie who fires past Samson.
2′ | 0-0
Decent chance! Moult gets down the right and clips in a great ball to Clay who heads just wide!
Aberdeen get the first half underway. COYW!!!
Motherwell manager Mark McGhee:
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes: