Motherwell ended their losing run with a hard-fought point against an equally competitive Aberdeen.
In a game of few chances, Derek McInnes’ men had the better of the opening 25 minutes and might have been ahead.
However, having weathered that spell, the Steelmen finished the stronger side, passing up a couple of chances in the final 15 minutes.
But over the piece both teams, especially on their defensive performances were worthy of a point.
Stephen Robinson tweaked his line-up from the one which fell to three late goals at Ibrox. Liam Polworth started in midfield and with Bevis Mugabi consigned to the bench, Mark O’Hara dropped back to form a three-man central defence with Declan Gallagher and Ricki Lamie.
Curtis Main returned to Fir Park in Aberdeen colours. And within three minutes the former ‘Well striker had slipped his marked to force the ball into the side netting.
In a brisk opening from the Dons, Ross McCrorie’s 20 yard drive was diverted wide of goal.
‘Well’s response was a great Tony Watt run which won a corner but Polworth’s delivery found no takers.
On-loan Rangers’ midfielder McCrorie came close to the opening goal after 13 minutes when he got his head to Ryan Hedges’ corner but the ball rebound from the face of the crossbar.
There was a bit of a concern when Jordan Archer signalled to the bench to allow Aaron Chapman to warm up. However, after a series of stretching exercises, the ‘Well ‘keeper looked fit to continue.
With Motherwell being pressed into their own half Aberdeen had another great chance after 22 minutes when Main won a free kick a couple of yards outside the box. A clever set-piece allowed Johny Hayes to rifle a low shot beyond the wall but Archer, showing no signs of restrictions in his movements, threw himself to his right to make a terrific one-handed save.
After being on the back foot for most of the half, the Dons’ goal came under some threat in the ten minutes leading up to the interval. A series of corners caused some concern in the visitor’s box before Callum Lang was tripped 25 yards in front of goal. O’Hara curled his free kick over the defensive wall but Joe Lewis was waiting in the middle of his goal to make a comfortable save.
Three minutes from the break from a similar distance to the right of goal Polworth was left in charge of the free kick. His floated ball into a packed box found Watt but his nod on was swept clear by an Aberdeen defence at last put under some pressure.
The Dons kicked off the second half with top scorer Sam Cosgrove joining Main in the visitors’ attack.
The first threat on goal, though, came at the other end. Liam Grimshaw’s clever throw-in found Polworth racing into space at the corner of the box but his dipping volley towards goal was blocked by a Dons defender.
Lang and Watt were working extremely hard to occupy the Dons defence but as the half progressed most of the play was again in the Motherwell half of the pitch.
With 68 minutes played Robinson gave Lang a well-earned rest, bringing on Devante Cole to play through the centre of the home attack.
And the ‘Well sub was involved in his side’s best move after 75 minutes. Stephen O’Donnell played the ball to Watt, who let Cole race to the byeline before cutting the ball back just a couple of yards in front of the inrushing Polworth.
Three minutes later the Motherwell midfielder had a great opportunity to fire home the winner. Once again it was terrific play from Watt who dragged the ball into the box before rolling the ball in front of Polworth and his side-footed drive had the beating of Lewis until Taylor outstretched leg diverted the ball away from goal.
Watt’s final play was along the byeline before his firm drive was blocked by Lewis in front of his post, with the grounded ‘keeper relieved to see the loose ball rebound from Taylor and back into his arms.
In the final minute, Cole raced upfield and was eventually felled at the second time of asking and gain Motherwell a free kick. With Watt running out of energy, Jordan White came on to add his height to a packed box but Polworth’s free kick failed to clear the first defender leaving Motherwell to settle for a point.