Aberdeen and Motherwell to battle for second place

MOTHERWELL striker John Sutton feels familiarity has bred the goalscoring spree that gives Stuart McCall’s side the chance to snatch second place from Aberdeen when the pair square up at Fir Park in the Scottish Premiership this afternoon.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes. Picture: SNS
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes. Picture: SNS

Before last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at Celtic Park, Motherwell had scored 16 goals in six consecutive victories and they can leapfrog their visitors if they win today.

Motherwell had a negative goal difference before that winning run – partly thanks to a 5-0 thumping by Celtic – but Sutton feels they finally clicked in December.

“There were a lot of new players and people run into form and out of form a little bit,” said Sutton, who has scored 11 goals after returning to Motherwell in the summer after rejecting a pay-cut at administration-hit Hearts. But getting to know each other’s game has certainly helped and hopefully that will put us in good stead for the future.

“We were all disappointed with the Celtic game. Obviously they are a good team but, with the run we were on, we would have liked to have done a little bit better. Hopefully we can put it right this Saturday. But the manner of the victories in the winning run was pleasing. There were a few games where we won by three or four and they were a lot more convincing than what we were doing earlier in the season.

“So I think everyone at the club is going into the game with a bit of confidence. It’s a really good game to look forward to because I’m sure Aberdeen will bring a good crowd down and we are in front of our home support.”

Like Sutton and fellow striker Henri Anier, versatile forward player James McFadden and wide men Iain Vigurs and Lionel Ainsworth were all on target and on form during that winning run.

“I think over that period all our forward players have played pretty well, whether it be Faddy, Henri, Lionel or Vigs,” Sutton said. “We have certainly started creating a bit more and scoring more goals.

“Earlier in the season we were grinding out results whereas recently we have created more clear-cut chances. But it’s going to be a difficult one against Aberdeen. Derek McInnes’s teams have always been very well-organised and it’s a challenge for us to try to carve them open.”

McInnes, meanwhile, has told his players he wants to see their fighting spirit as they look to stretch their narrow lead over Motherwell.

They missed the chance to extend their advantage over McCall’s side last week as they lost 1-0 at home to Inverness and McInnes told the club’s TV channel: “It’s another very important game and whenever we’ve had a disappointing result, as we did last week, it’s crucial we show that resilience to come back fighting again and get back to winning ways.

“To do that we will need a strong performance against Motherwell. They beat us here not so long ago so I don’t think there will be any real surprises when we look at each other. We will know their team, they will know ours, and we also know what we are going to get is a really competitive match. It’s a match that’s very important.”

Aberdeen have been lifted by Thursday’s acquisition of Adam Rooney after the former Inverness striker agreed to return to Scotland following his release by Oldham.

Rooney scored 47 goals in his final two seasons in the Highlands and McInnes said that proven record was a crucial factor as he targeted the 25-year-old Irishman.

“We’re looking forward to working with a boy who has proved himself up here before,” said McInnes.

“But it’s important that he proves that all again and that’s his challenge, to be part of a good Aberdeen team. I think he has watched the team. He is aware of the level of player we have here, the level of performance we’ve had and he wants to be part of that.

“He has a chance to play his part, not only this season, but we’ve managed to secure him for two years beyond that which I think is a good bit of business for us.”