ABERDEEN had two moments of madness from Motherwell’s on loan goalkeeper George Long to thank for a victory that moved them back to within three points of Celtic.
Scorers: Aberdeen - Taylor (50),′ Rooney (52′); Motherwell - McDonald (37′)
Long was guilty of punching Ash Taylor’s header into his own net for the Dons equaliser then inexplicably wandered into no man’s land to gift Adam Rooney the winner, all in the space of two second-half minutes.
Dons manager Derek McInnes carefully avoids talk of an Aberdeen title challenge but a few more results like this one will mean he can’t dodge the issue for much longer. If he could only find a way to deal with the defending champions as effectively as they have with the rest of the league then the city could maybe look forward to a flag day.
After all, it’s the three defeats against Ronny Deila’s Celtic side that have proved costly.
This win makes it 44 points from the last 48 available since Hamilton Accies became the last team other than the current leaders to defeat Aberdeen in the league way back in mid-October.
Now the task is to continue that sort of consistency for the ten remaining matches and the depth of squad McInnes has at his disposal makes that a distinct possibility.
For example, goalkeeper Scott Brown failed to impress in their last outing, that 4-0 defeat at Celtic Park, so the experienced Jamie Langfield was brought back in goal for the first time since the loss at Hamilton.
Taylor also returned for a first start since knee surgery in January as replacement for the injured Jonny Hayes but McInnes still had the luxury of having the likes of new signing Andrew Driver, Barry Robson and Peter Pawlett on the bench.
Not that Pawlett was allowed to linger there for long as McInnes injected the midfielder into proceedings after just 35 minutes to provide some pace and urgency for Aberdeen’s play after a lethargic opening spell. The need for that intensified two minutes later when Motherwell took the lead through Scott McDonald, who showed his predatory instincts haven’t been blunted with a second goal in two games.
Lee Erwin attempted a shot that was never going to trouble Langfield until McDonald deflected the ball into the net to edge the visitors in front.
Erwin was as relieved as he was delighted, having previously failed to score when left one-on-one with the goalkeeper but Aberdeen had dominated possession only for Ryan Jack and Kenny McLean to miss the best of their chances.
Motherwell relied on workrate and organisation to limit those opportunities before the interval while looking decidedly pedestrian in possession themselves during a surprisingly flat first half.
Josh Law was certainly leaden footed when Aberdeen equalised within five minutes of the restart, failing to track Taylor, who sauntered into space to head home a Niall McGinn corner with the assistance of the Motherwell goalkeeper.
Long’s mistake was a dreadful one but that error was compounded by an even more embarrassing blunder when the home side were gifted the lead just two minutes later.
Louis Laing seemed to be in control of a long punt through the middle but could only look on in horror as Long had inexplicably raced out of the penalty box to meet him and the ball looped beyond the pair.
It was not the sort of chance Rooney was going to pass up as the Premiership’s top goalscorer rolled in his 14th league goal and his 24th of a productive season.
The visitors struggled in vain to repair the damage in the latter stages and their frustration at the way the points were surrendered resulted in bookings for Keith Lasley, Erwin and McDonald. Motherwell were left with just hard luck stories from an encouraging display but two minutes of madness cost them dearly, although a run of five points from the last 33 available can’t all be blamed on misfortune.
Aberdeen: Langfield, Logan, Taylor, Reynolds, Considine, McLean, Jack, Daniels (Pawlett 35 (Robertson 89)), McGinn, Goodwillie (Robson 77), Rooney. Subs not used: Brown, Smith, Robertson, Shankland, Driver.
Motherwell: Long, Law, Laing, McManus, Straker, Grant (Ainsworth 65), Lasley, Pearson, Johnson (Sutton 76), Erwin (Thomas 85), McDonald. Subs not used: Twardzik, Ramsden, Moore, O’Brien.
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