Aberdeen 3 - 3 Motherwell: Dons fightback stuns ‘Well
IT MAY have been a fifth successive home draw for Aberdeen but that was the only comparison this thrilling match had with the drudgery of their four preceding goalless games.
Craig Brown’s side waited 399 minutes for a single home goal then
proceed to score three, including two in the last five minutes, to earn an unlikely share of the points with the SPL leaders.
In fact, the only Dons supporters to feel a sense of frustration this time were those who poured out of the stadium when Nicky Law gave the visitor’s what seemed like an unassailable lead in 82 minutes.
They missed a storming finale to an entertaining match as substitute Niall McGinn claimed his first goal for
Aberdeen with five minutes to go.
Then, with virtually the last kick of the ball, a full three minutes into injury time, Josh Magennis deflected Andrew Considine’s shot behind Darren
Randolph. That in itself simply added to the drama of occasion as someone judged to be so much of a failure as a striker that he was only kept on in the role of full-back gave his manager more food for thought.
Brown could certainly be pleased with the response he got from his players when all looked lost but they seldom looked capable of the win that would have created a surge from tenth to fourth place.
It’s now just two wins in 13 home matches during 2012 and 11 games without a league victory against Motherwell, dating back to the days when Jimmy Calderwood was in charge at Pittodrie.
That is an indictment on a club with so much richer resources than the
Lanarkshire side that they have lured away their two previous managers.
In truth, Stuart McCall’s side should have been sitting three rather than one point clear of Hibs at the top of the table this morning, only for a lack
of luck and bad judgement late on to cost them victory.
Quite how referee Bobby Madden and his assistant missed substitute Isaac Osbourne’s double tug on Nicky Law in the penalty area 13 minutes from time is anyone’s guess. What left Motherwell feeling mugged, though, was also down to their decision to defend too deep late on and, while they did pick up a point, this must have felt like a defeat.
Not that they have time to dwell on the disappointment as, for once, they head to Ibrox as favourites for a Scottish Communities League Cup tie against Rangers on Wednesday.
Then it’s Celtic at Fir Park on Saturday, which will really test their credentials in terms of how they are shaping up to replace Rangers as the Hoops main rivals.
The early evidence yesterday did
little to boost their case as Aberdeen finally scored at Pittodrie to end a near six-and-a-half-hour barren spell with some significant assistance from Motherwell in achieving it.
The mercurial skills of teenage winger Ryan Fraser so mesmerised the visitors’ defence that they seemed in a trance when he won a corner in six minutes.
Collectively, they switched off as the set piece was quickly manoeuvred into the path of Jonny Hayes who still had time to recover from slipping before clipping over a cross.
Gavin Rae was all on his own in the six-yard box and the experienced
midfielder steered an adroit header into the bottom left hand corner of Randolph’s net.
That should have spread confidence throughout the home ranks but there was a surprising lack of cohesion for large spells of their subsequent performance.
It was Motherwell who looked the smoother and more accomplished in possession with Law a massive influence, particularly in the opening phase of an entertaining match.
In fact, only the width of the crossbar denied the former Bradford midfielder an instant riposte after opening up the Dons defence in a rapid interchange with Henrik Ojamaa.
The Estonia international was preferred to Jamie Murphy as the only change to the side that won at Dens Park last weekend and produced an
energetic display, spoiled only by a tendency to fall over easily.
That’s not a charge you could level at Aberdeen teenager Fraser who, once again, was hit hard by opposition
defenders but bounced back like one of those spring-loaded punch bags.
Fraser Kerr and Shaun Hutchison were booked in the first half for the treatment they dished out to the 18-year-old winger, who was to exact some sort of revenge late on.
By then, Motherwell had exploited unusually lax defending from the side who had only conceded three goals in their previous six games but matched that tally in 41 minutes yesterday.
They all stemmed from set-pieces, with the first coming from Steven
Hammill’s delivery and a flick on by full-back Kerr.
Jamie Langfield managed to block that effort but Michael Higdon made it seven goals in the last four games as the SPL’s leading scorer forced the ball in at the back post.
That was four minutes before the
interval and, three minutes after it, Hutchinson soared above Considine to power in Tom Hateley’s driven corner from the right.
Law then had what looked like a stonewall penalty denied but it didn’t seem to matter when the same player scored from point-blank range after Kerr and substitute Murphy diverted another Hateley corner. Job done?
Fraser didn’t think so and his perfectly weighted cross from the left allowed McGinn to bury a six-yard header into the roof of the net.
Then it was left to Northern Ireland international Magennis to prove he might yet thrive as an attacker to earn Aberdeen a point for persistence if nothing else.
Aberdeen: Langfield, Magennis, Anderson, Reynolds, Considine, Jack (Smith 80), Rae (Osbourne 63), Hughes, Fraser, Vernon (McGinn 63), Hayes. Subs Not Used: Jason Brown, Robertson, Clark, Megginson.
Motherwell: Randolph, Kerr ,Cummins, Hutchinson, Hammell, Hateley, Lasley, Law, Humphrey, Higdon, Ojamaa (Murphy 79). Subs Not Used: Hollis, Ramsden, Daley, Carswell, Francis-Angol, Erwin.