Graham Barnstaple at Fir Park
Motherwell made it back-to-back wins with a solid victory over Craig Brown’s Aberdeen at Fir Park this afternoon.
The Steelmen were dominant in the first half and took the lead after fifteen minutes when Chris Humphrey raced clear of Steven Smith before lashing the ball high past Jamie Langfield.
The score stayed that way until the 88th minute when Shaun Hutchinson converted Tom Hateley’s corner for his first goal in fifteen months.
The Dons, who rarely threatened despite seeing a lot of the ball in the second half, pulled one back deep into injury time when Nikola Vujadinović headed home a corner of his own.
Both sides were forced to make changes for this game with Stuart McCall having to make two, handing Maurice Ross his debut after the former Scotland full-back signed yesterday and recalling Steve Jones with Francis Jeffers (hamstring) and Steven Jennings (suspended) missing.
The Dons were forced into making three changes with Zander Diamond, Paul Hartley and Ryan Jack out with Vujadinović, Derek Young and former ‘Well striker Nick Blackman coming in.
Motherwell continued their form from Wednesday’s Scottish Cup win over Dundee United in the opening stages. They opened Aberdeen up twice in quick succession with Keith Lasley and Steve Jones both watching efforts go narrowly wide.
Jamie Murphy came even closer minutes later when his shot on the turn from the edge of the box left Jamie Langfield scrambling but the keeper was relieved to see the ball roll just wide of his post.
The opener ‘Well deserved came in the 15th minute when Keith Lasley cleverly chipped the ball over the head of Steven Smith for the pace of Chris Humphrey to race on to. The winger didn’t let him down as he burst clear to smash the ball past a stranded Langfield.
‘Well seemed to take their foot off the gas after taking the lead which allowed Aberdeen into the game but they rarely threatened the home goal. All they could muster were a couple of half-hearted efforts from Blackman and Sone Aluko.
The Dons did start the second half brightly and were unlucky when a snap shot from Chris Maguire from the edge of the box slipped narrowly wide of the right hand post.
At the other end, Motherwell really should’ve scored a second when Jones missed a sitter. Humphrey once again sent in another excellent cross from the right, picking out the on-loan Walsall winger at the far post but the 34-year old somehow managed to balloon his shot over the bar from only three yards out. In defence of the former Northern Ireland International, the ball did bobble up just as he was about to pull the trigger.
McCall’s men were almost made to pay for that miss immediately, Vujadinović sent Maguire through and when it looked as though he would equalise, Republic of Ireland Intern Darren Randolph pulled off a stunning save low to his right.
Craig Brown used all his subs and made numerous positional change in an effort to get one over on his former charges but it was the side he left in December who came sealed the three points with three minutes left.
Humphrey left Andrew Considine for dead and whipped in a cross for sub Robert McHugh, the youngster’s shot was beaten away by Langfield for a corner. From Tom Hateley’s kick Shaun Hutchinson swept the ball home at the near post from only a few yards out.
As the game headed into five minutes of stoppage time, the visitors did manage to pull one back, Well failed to clear a corner and Maguire’s return cross into the box was headed in by Vujadinović.
Motherwell were then forced to hang on for the remainder of stoppage time and got a real fright when a header from Rory McArdle crashed off the junction of post and bar, but ref Steve McLean had already blown for a free kick. Second later he was blowing for full time allowing the ‘Well fans to finally breath easily.
[tab:As it happened]
Graham Barnstaple at Fir Park
Full time – Motherwell 2 Aberdeen 1 – well deserved win but made heavy work of it in the end.
90+2mins – 2-1! Dons pull one back – header by Vujadinović from a Maguire cross. Surely we won’t through this away.
87mins – GOOOOOAAAALLLLLL – Hutchinson smashes in second at front post from from Hateley corner.
72mins – McHugh on for Jones.
70mins – The crowd this afternoon is 4458.
65mins – Maguire finally booked for his third bookable offence of the half!!!
60mins – Brilliant save from Randolph to his right to deny Maguire who was clean thru.
48mins – Maguire volleys wide for Dons from the edge of the box
45mins – Second half just about to get underway, no changes for either side.
Half time: 1-0 Well, we seemed to take our foot off the gas after the goal without being troubled by the Dons.
39mins – Hutchinson yellow for a nothing tackle on Blackman – seemed harsh, some debate in press box if it was a foul or not!!
35mins – not much happening, both side sides have forced a corner without really looking like scoring.
15mins GOAALLLLL! Lasley chips over Smith and Humphrey out paces the full back and smashes past Langfield – Broonie whats the score!
10mins – Not surprisingly Blackman is getting a bit of stick!! But all his touches have been on the halfway line so far.
8mins – We go close again this time Murphy bending a shot just wide of the far post.
7mins – Great passing move involving Ross and Lasley ends with Jones beating two men but shooting over.
1mins – Early chance in first minute with Humphrey skinning Smith but Lasley shoots wide from 15 yards.
1mins – Well kick off, on a brisk sunny afternoon at Fir Park.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“This was a massive win for us; It would have been gut-wrenching if we had drawn the game in the end.
“Before the game we emphasised we needed to make a bright start as I thought we might tire in the closing 15-20 minutes after the exertions in midweek. Aberdeen were fresh after not playing for a while.
“It can be double-edged if you hadn’t played for some time; you can be rusty but we knew they would get into their stride eventually.
“It wasn’t surprising we lost a goal from a set piece given the height they have in their side but there are many ways to win and this was down to grit and determination.”
Aberdeen manager Craig Brown:
“The better team won the game. I wish them all the best in the top six, which I am sure they will consolidate.
“We would have had a chance if we had a full-strength team but we had seven players missing.”