The in-form hosts should have been ahead at half-time and looking to extend their unbeaten run to four games.
Instead, they were 2-0 down by the hour mark and enduring the return of grumbling in the stands. Somehow they contrived to lose their way on an afternoon when so much seemed possible, including putting some daylight between themselves and the visitors, who started the afternoon on the same number of points.
Aberdeen’s aim against Motherwell was ensuring their mini-revival could be consolidated and given some real impetus. The boos at the final whistle confirmed this task proved beyond them.
The maxim that goals win matches was starkly demonstrated by Motherwell, who did not manage a shot – never mind one on target – in the opening half.
Step forward Van Veen with two of the finest opportunistic finishes you are likely to see this season. They call this Dutchman the Budget Bergkamp. On this showing, there's no need to revise this opinion.
It would be ridiculous to claim someone signed from Scunthorpe is the real deal but there’s no question Dennis would have been proud of the way the 30-year-old striker steered home two efforts in an eight-minute spell shortly after half-time.
Both goals were scored around about the edge of the six-yard box and were sourced from crosses from the left. The first, from a brilliant Sean Gross centre, was cushioned towards the far post with immaculate precision by Van Veen. The second might have been even better. Motherwell won a free-kick following an extended spell of pressure and Goss’s delivery saw Aberdeen looking very light in terms of numbers at the far post.
Substitute Ricki Lamie headed back into the danger area and Van Veen – again unmarked – hooked a volley into the corner of the net. He dashed off to celebrate in front of the Aberdeen supporters as the 281 Motherwell fans did their own jig of delight.
Now the trick was holding on, particularly knowing what happened last Sunday after taking the lead against Rangers. Motherwell did so comfortably enough although it did require a quite remarkable save from Liam Kelly to preserve the two-goal margin of victory. The goalkeeper, who was dropped from the Scotland squad last midweek in favour of Zander Clark, dived to his left to tip Lewis Ferguson’s header onto the post. He then leapt up to make a block from the same player.
Those same Motherwell fans celebrated these dramatic few seconds as if their side had scored a third.
The tackles crackled like Autumn bracken at times but there were other occasions when Don Robertson seemed too keen to whip his yellow card out. One, for Van Veen, was ludicrous after he slid in to tackle Dylan McGeouch. There were no studs showing, it was not dangerous, and yet he was booked. He’s now suspended for Motherwell’s next game against Hearts.
The Dutchman was still shaking his head as he formed a wall and waited patiently for Aberdeen to take the free-kick. A later between-goals nudge on Scott Brown could well have resulted in a red for Van Veen, but Robertson, appearing to concede he had erred in the opening half, turned a blind eye.