ABERDEEN manager Derek McInnes admitted he thought his team’s chance of winning the League Cup this season had disappeared up the Fir Park tunnel with young defender Joe Shaughnessy last night.
The tide in the quarter-final tie appeared to be firmly with Motherwell when Shaughnessy was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Zaine Francis-Angol after just 13 minutes. But the 10-man Dons dug deep to keep Motherwell at bay, before grabbing a stunning 2-0 win with late goals from Andrew Considine and Jonny Hayes.
“To have to play for so long with just ten men was a real concern, I’ve got to be honest about it,” said McInnes. “I’ve no complaints with the sending-off. I’ve seen it again and it was a red card. Joe will learn from it but in the meantime he will be taking the rest of the lads out for lunch this week.
“It didn’t look as if we would be in the semi-final draw when he went off but the players have come through when everything was stacked against them.
“I spoke to them at half-time about the need for organisation, guts and character – all the things you need to win games. But the biggest thing was to have belief they could still do it. We hadn’t come this far to throw it away. The players were not prepared to accept anything other than getting to the semi-finals.
“It’s another positive step for us but we can’t look too far ahead. We had another incredible away support here tonight, their backing was brilliant.”
The only negative aspect of the evening for McInnes was a knee cartilage injury sustained by Clark Robertson which looks likely to sideline the young full-back for some time.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall cut a desolate figure afterwards, his misery compounded by confirmation that John Sutton’s disallowed fifth-minute goal for his team should have stood.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt as low in this job as I do now,” said McCall. “I’ve just seen John’s goal again and he was a foot onside. It is a massive decision which has gone against us. I went in to see the referee and he has apologised but it does us no good now.”