Craig Brown praises Aberdeen youngsters after Russell Anderson is sidelined

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CRAIG Brown could have feared the worst when Russell Anderson was added to an already lengthy injury list before last night’s Scottish Cup fourth-round replay at Motherwell. Instead, the Aberdeen manager ended up being delighted by the form of his least experienced players as his team won 2-1 to set up a fifth-round match against Hibernian at the start of February.

“It was a big blow to us when we lost Russell yesterday,” Brown said. “We had another seven injured, so that made 
it eight, and he’s our captain; he’s influential.

“So, to come here without Russell and get a victory is very good. The team handled the situation very well, particularly the young boys Joe Shaughnessy and Clark Robertson. I thought they were superb. I’m very pleased for the fans. It’s most pleasing, for me, for the support that Aberdeen has.

“They lift you when you’re needing a wee lift in the game, they’re totally supportive and they deserve a bit of luck and success.”

Aberdeen won at Fir Park in last season’s quarter-final only to lose to Hibs in the semi-final. For Brown, however, this year’s fifth-round is not about revenge.

“I wouldn’t call it revenge, but it’s another testing fixture,” he continued. “Our away record has been good, so an away game is not a big disadvantage to us, but I think everybody would want a home game. Unfortunately too often we’ve let the fans down at home.” Second-half goals by Rory Fallon and Shaughnessy saw Aberdeen through, with Motherwell’s reply – a stoppage-time penalty by Michael Higdon – coming too late.

Motherwell boss Stuart McCall accepted that his team had not done enough to deserve the extra 30 minutes. “I’m gutted to be out the cup,” he said. “I felt first half that, without being really dangerous, we controlled the game and looked quite comfortable.

“In the second half, they got the first goal, then it suited them to hit us on the break and we couldn’t find a way past them. I didn’t see it coming at half-time, and I said then it might be 1-0, but it wasn’t to be. Second half they were better, there’s no doubt about that.”