WHEN the cup draw was made, neither manager will have been ecstatic with their lot. By the time this draw was secured neither could really complain.
Scorers - Aberdeen: McGinn 90; Motherwell: Murphy 80
It was Aberdeen who needed a stoppage-time goal from Niall McGinn to force a replay but they were entitled to that after they pounded their guests in the opening stages without reward.
“It would have been an injustice if we had lost that game,” said Aberdeen manager Craig Brown. “Motherwell should be relieved not to be three down in the first ten minutes but then we lost a goal that came out of nothing. It was a great goal from Jamie [Murphy] and it was no surprise because I know he is capable of that.”
In fact, having scored a similar goal for Motherwell during Brown’s Fir Park reign, it was his former manager who drilled it into him to have more strikes from distance.
“I was planning on hitting it and then Gavin Rae came out and I had to take it to the side of him as well but as soon as I hit it, I knew it was in,” said Murphy, pictured. “When Craig Brown was the manager he used to tell me to hit shots from outside the box a lot more.”
Coming with just 11 minutes left, it looked like it could see the visitors through to the next round but, in stoppage time, McGinn headed home his ninth goal for the Dons.
“We wanted to hold on to the lead,” said Murphy, “but it was just one of those things, a ball into the box and he gets his head on it and if it goes anywhere else then Lee [Hollis, the Motherwell goalkeeper] saves it or it goes wide so we are disappointed but we are confident we can win back at Fir Park.”
But Murphy’s manager accepted that perhaps a replay was the fairest way to resolve the tie.
He said: “It’s the second time we have come up here this season and lost a goal in the last minute but, if you had said we were going to draw the game after the first three or four minutes, then I would have taken it right away.
“The first five to ten minutes were an onslaught and how we survived it, I don’t know. Maybe a bit of good goalkeeping, a bit of good fortune, some brave defending. But, then we grew into the game and I thought second half we were more prominent and it was a terrific goal from Jamie.
“We are still in the hat and it could have been worse.
It was always going to be a tricky tie for both teams. When they met in the league earlier this season they served up a 3-3 draw so this was not them easing their way into the tournament with a home fixture against ambitious but ultimately inferior minnows. There was no romance to this cup match, only the very real prospect of an earlier than hoped for exit for one of them.
Both will be in tomorrow’s draw with the date for the replay still to be confirmed but it is pencilled in for a week on Tuesday.
Aberdeen ended Motherwell’s involvement in last season’s Scottish Cup and the way they started this match the home side looked intent on repeating the feat this term. They were full of drive, bursting in on goal twice within the first minute.
It was Jonny Hayes’ who provided the delivery on both occasions. His first ball just evaded the incoming McGinn at the back post but he pinged another cross into the danger area and Rory Fallon came close with a header, finding the target but unable to beat stand-in keeper Hollis.
In for the suspended Darren Randolph, whose high-flying act against Hearts caught Callum Paterson’s head and the eye of the SFA’s compliance officer and was punished retrospectively, Hollis was allowed no bedding-in period.
He was under pressure once more when Hayes again posed problems. This time the winger sent in a long drive and the keeper misjudged the bounce and sclaffed his kick. Fortunately for him it screwed just wide of the post.
For the first 20 minutes Motherwell couldn’t get a foothold in the game. In freezing temperatures, they took an age to warm up.
It was only midway through the half that home keeper Jamie Langfield was forced to get involved, tipping a thumping Chris Humphrey drive from outside the box over
As a consequence of Aberdeen easing off slightly and Motherwell finally getting to grips with what was going on around them, the play evened out slightly and that trend continued into the second half, with both sides having opportunities.
In the 57th minute Fallon’s flick at the near post was deflected on to the post and out for a corner, while Motherwell narrowly missed the target in the 70th minute when Tom Hateley fired in a 25-yard free-kick which soared just too high. Six minutes later Stevie Hammell tested Langfield but the keeper tipped it over.
When Motherwell got the breakthrough, it was a joyous goal. Murphy picked up the ball on the left and cut inside, along the edge of the box before finding a gap and wrapping his foot round ball and slamming it into the top corner.
It was a serious blow to Aberdeen. But they have been resilient this term and are more than capable of late goals and it was no surprise that it was McGinn who provided it. The ball came in from Andrew Considine and the in-form striker rose to flick a header in off the post to give his side the second stab at this tie that they probably deserved.
Aberdeen: Langfield, Anderson, Rae, Considine, Vernon, McGinn, Hayes, Fallon, Magennis, Reynolds, Shaughnessy. Subs: Brown, Megginson, Masson, McManus, Smith
Motherwell: Hollis, Hateley, Kerr, Cummins, Hammell, Humphrey, Lasley, Law, Murphy, Ojamaa, Higdon. Subs: Stewart, McHugh, Daley, Carswell, Francis-Angol.