Motherwell 1 Aberdeen 2: Dons come from behind

Aberdeen's Niall McGinn, right, celebrates his goal with team-mates Jonny Hayes, centre, and David Goodwillie. Picture: SNS
Aberdeen's Niall McGinn, right, celebrates his goal with team-mates Jonny Hayes, centre, and David Goodwillie. Picture: SNS
  • Motherwell: Johnson (5)
  • Aberdeen: McGinn (25), Taylor (62)
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Such is the self-belief coursing through Aberdeen’s players following their perfect start to their Premiership campaign that even manager Derek McInnes admits that he no longer frets when, as happened here, the opposition takes the lead.

The winning margin may have been slender but the scoreline did not reflect the superiority of the visitors.

Motherwell have every right to bemoan the cheap goals they conceded but the fact is that the Dons should have scored more than the two which ultimately proved sufficient.

“There are things we need to get better at but there is a confidence about us,” said manager Derek McInnes. “Standing at the side, even after we’d gone behind, I always felt that we were going to win.

“We should be pleased by the start we’ve made but we should also be looking for improvement as we go along.

“That’s a few we’ve scored from set plays now and we don’t look like not scoring in games. We have that attacking threat but, like every manager, I’m always looking for that balance between attacking and defending.

“At times it was a wee bit too loose for me at the back but I was still content and excited by some of our attacking play.”

Aberdeen created the first opening in the fourth minute, when Shay Logan directed a free header into the arms of Connor Ripley.

The home side’s response was immediate and potent. Lionel Ainsworth surged forward against backtracking defenders, eventually cutting the ball back for Scott McDonald.

Goalkeeper Danny Ward did well to parry the shot from the veteran striker but Marvin Johnson, following up, did marvellously well to get over the rising ball to score on the half-volley from the corner of the six-yard box.

David Goodwillie played a key role in the visitors’ equaliser but so did good fortune. Niall McGinn’s curling cross was meant for the striker but, as he tried to get on the end of it, Ripley found himself caught in two minds and the ball drifted inside his far post.

The home side appealed for a penalty in the 33rd minute when Steven Hammell’s cross struck Ash Taylor on the arm but there was clearly no intent on the defender’s behalf and Jake Taylor struck the loose ball wastefully over from 15 yards.

No-one could have complained about being short-changed as the play ebbed and flowed.

The ponderous Goodwillie was thwarted by Ripley after Josh Law had sliced Shay Logan’s cross straight to him while Ward saved a 20-yard free-kick from Johnson low to his right.

Last season’s leading scorer, Adam Rooney, replaced Willo Flood at the interval as the Dons attempted to ramp up the pressure but an early opportunity to move in front was squandered by Goodwillie, who headed straight at Ripley from six yards.

At the other end, McDonald failed to hit the target from the corner of the six-yard box after being picked out by Johnson’s looping delivery and Ward then dived to his right to keep out a netbound strike from the Australian.

Indeed, McDonald’s growing influence was evinced by the yellow card Ash Taylor collected for clattering him from behind.

The defender was to inflict more hurt on his hosts shortly afterwards. When Josh Law brought down McGinn on the far touchline, the former Celt floated in the resulting free-kick and Taylor evaded marker Louis Laing to send a firm header into the unguarded net.

Motherwell huffed and puffed after that but Aberdeen looked likely to score every time they broke.

The impressive McGinn beat Ripley with a low angled drive which rebounded to safety off the base of the post and Rooney spooned an effort over the bar from 12 yards when a goal seemed inevitable.

Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough took positives from their performance but bemoaned Laing’s slack defending for the decisive goal.

“At the winner, Louis was with Taylor in the box and Taylor has driven him back and pushed him into Ripley,” he said.

“You have to be strong in the box and I’ve spoken to Louis about it.

“He will be a top, top player but in situations like that you have to go one against one with your player and make sure he doesn’t get into an area where it’s dangerous.”

Motherwell: Ripley; Law, Laing, McManus, Hammell; Lasley, Taylor; Ainsworth, McDonald, Johnson (Thomas 68); Moult (Clarkson 84). Subs not used: Twardzik, Chalmers, Kennedy, Leitch, Cadden.

Aberdeen: Ward; Logan, Taylor, Considine, Shinnie; Flood (Rooney 46), Jack; McGinn, McLean, Hayes; Goodwillie (Quinn 72). Subs not used: Brown, Smith, Robson, Shankland, Wright.

Referee: W Collum. Attendance: 5,437.