How Steven Hammell masterminded fun Motherwell win over Aberdeen who have early start concern
The reaction to the fourth official’s board at the end of 90 minutes always invokes an interesting response.
At Pittodrie Stadium Scott Lambie signalled for six minutes. It was an announcement which enlivened the Aberdeen support who had grown frustrated at aspects of the game, namely the time taken by a triple substitution by Motherwell which lasted all of two minutes.
In the dugout, however, recently-appointed Well boss Steven Hammell had a wry smile and word in Lambie's ear. He knew he had to suffer more. Managers, famously, don't enjoy such moments, especially when your team is leading 3-2 and on the cusp of a significant victory.
This was a game which simply didn’t make much sense.
On the one hand you have a rejuvenated team, with healthy investment, backed by a big, noisy crowd who have started the season strongly. On the other, a team already on to a new manager, beaten twice by Irish opposition in Europe and humbled by a St Johnstone side considered relegation favourites by many.
Yet, it was the latter who emerged victorious. And doing so deservedly.
Motherwell went ahead. Were pegged back before half-time. Lost a second right after half-time. But they still found a way to win and they should have done so more handsomely. Once they were 3-2 ahead, they looked like adding to their lead every time they went forward.
Yes, it is early days. Very early days, indeed, but this Well side look like they will be a different beast to Graham Alexander's version. Whisper it, but they may actually be fun to watch.
In the first-half, they survived a scare when Bojan Miovski pounced on a Sondre Solholm slip, but largely dominated and deserved their lead when Blair Spittal turned in a Connor Shields cross.
The Steelmen disrupted Dons, who again started slowly, and did so higher up the park. They were the first onto loose balls and second balls.
When Miovski equalised with a brilliant header it felt harsh. The worst was feared when Jonny Hayes turned a shot into the back of the net via the underside of the bar after the interval. The Dons, who were wayward and erratic throughout, seemed to have turned the corner, starting the second half with far more purpose than they did the first.
Then, out of nowhere, Callum Slattery turned in a corner and that was the stimulus for Well to kick on, reestablish their lead through Kevin van Veen, the tormentor of the Dons, who headed in a Blair Spittal rebound off the bar.
There is something about the Dutchman which seems to bring the jitters to the Aberdeen defence. That was the case with Anthony Stewart.
Motherwell posed a threat on the counter as the home side couldn’t find any sort of control, direction or flow to their game. The way they defended, the way they simply lost their way was of a team which is much changed and still finding their feet as a collective with 11 new signings.
But this day is about Hammell. Twenty two years on from his debut as a Motherwell player, he produced a result, but also performance, which should fill Well fans with plenty of confidence going forward into the rest of the season.
Aberdeen (4-2-3-1) – Roos; Richardson, Stewart, McCrorie, Scales; Ramadani, Clarkson; Kennedy (Morris), Besuijen, Hayes; Miovski.
Motherwell (4-3-3) – Kelly; McGinn, Mugabi, Solholm, O’Donnell; Slattery, Cornelius, Goss; Spittal, Van Veen, Shields.
Referee – Chris Graham
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