An excellent team performance from back to front saw the Dons ease to a comprehensive, fully deserved victory over Motherwell, allowing them to start looking back up the league table once again.
Barry Robson made two changes to his team that were beaten 3-1 by St Mirren on Wednesday night. Following the failure of the appeal against Ross McCrorie's red card against St Mirren, he began a two game suspension, while Joe Lewis dropped to the bench. There was an immediate debut for Jay Gorter between the sticks, and Liam Scales returned to the side after suspension. Jack MacKenzie was back among the subs after injury and there was also a return for Shayden Richardson. Connor Barron and Patrik Myslovič missed out on the matchday party.
Following their 2-0 defeat at home to St Johnstone on Wednesday evening, Motherwell made five changes to their side. In came Max Johnston, James Furlong, Dean Cornelius, Blair Spittal and Jonathan Obika. Riku Danzaki, Callum Slattery, Kevin Van Veen and Oliver Crankshaw all dropped to the bench with Shane Blaney out injured.
Jonny Hayes had to produce an acrobatic clearance to get the ball behind as Motherwell made an impression in the first 20 seconds. The Dons were quickly on the break from the Steelmen's corner before the luminous yellow shirts of Motherwell crowded Duk out.
Duk was the threat again on nine minutes, turning away from a defender before firing in a low effort that Kelly did well to save with his legs. Motherwell cleared the resulting corner forward, Gorter off his line swiftly to head the ball clear from just outside his area.
The game entered a very scrappy period thereafter, Aberdeen the better outfit but both sides betraying the edginess that comes with their recent poor runs of results. Mattie Pollock created the next bit of excitement on 28 minutes, getting his head to a Hayes corner, Spittal clearing inside the six-yard box. Pollock was up highest for another corner on 31 minutes, glancing his header wide of the goal from the edge of the six yard box.
Ylber Ramadani came closest so far on 35 minutes, seizing on a corner cleared to the edge of the area. He didn't catch his shot perfectly but still forced Kelly to get sharply down to his right to scoop the ball away.
There was a horrible looking mid-air collision on 36 minutes, Hayes and Johnston both going for the ball, the Aberdeen man taking a purely accidental whack in the face that drew blood from a cut above the left eye. Lengthy treatment followed as the Irishman was patched up. On the resumption, Goss was booked for putting his arm across the face of Ramadani as they tussled for the ball. He received his own bit of repair work for the physios, Hayes coming back on while he was down.
It was as well he did, for in the 42nd minute, Hayes was the provider as the Dons took the lead. Getting to the by-line, he stood the ball up to the back post with his right foot and Duk was all alone to nod in from five yards out. In the aftermath, Hayes was down again, having fallen to his haunches immediately after putting the cross in. After more treatment, he was replaced by Hayden Coulson.
Motherwell threatened three minutes into added time, Scales clearing from inside the six yard box before being caught by Obika who was given a yellow card.
HALF-TIME: ABERDEEN 1 MOTHERWELL 0
Duk was on the chase early in the second half, O'Donnell hauling him back and getting a yellow card in the 50th minute. Motherwell made a triple change five minutes later, McKinstry, Van Veen and Crankshaw replacing Obika, Goss and Aitchison.
Bojan Miovski created the half's first excitement on the hour, a fizzing drive from the left edge of the box forcing Kelly to turn the ball around the post at full stretch. The Dons were looking much the better side now, pinning the visitors into their own half. The injured Lamie was replaced by Slattery for the Steelmen on 62.
Miovski gave the Dons breathing space on 64 minutes, but the really hard work was done by his mate Ramadani who won the ball on halfway, barrelled his way forward and then slid an inch perfect pass into Miovski, leaving him with the chance to lift the ball over the advancing Kelly and in. Miovski ripped off his shirt in celebration and took the inevitable booking.
As the heavens opened, it was 3-0 to Aberdeen after 69 minutes, Leighton Clarkson bisecting the Motherwell defence with a pass that took out five defenders, Miovski darting onto it and producing a perfect first time finish that left Kelly stranded. Motherwell then made two more changes, Danzaki and Tierney on for Cornelius and Spittal, making it six subs in total for 'Well.
Danzaki was straight into the action, taking a whack at goal from just inside the box on 71 minutes, Matty Kennedy leaning across to put the ball behind off what initially looked to be his shoulder. VAR intervened and decided it was lower down the arm than that and a penalty was awarded. Kennedy was booked, as was Pollock. Van Veen sent Goater the wrong way for 3-1.
Clarkson was next in the book for a trip on Tierney in the centre circle on 77 minutes. Aberdeen looked to restore the lead four minutes later, a free-kick into the box eventually bundled into the net by Pollock, the goal chalked off, very dubiously for a foul as he won the initial header before collecting the rebound to poke it over the line.
Pollock caused trouble from another free-kick in the 86th minute, the ball reaching him just wide of the back post, his prodded shot going wide of the target.
With four minutes of added time, the Dons looked to run the clock down, Miovski replaced by Marley Watkins. Clarkson almost made it four in the 92nd minute, firing a free-kick from out wide on the left across goal and just inches wide of the target. Alfie Bavidge got his Aberdeen debut too, coming on in place of Duk in the final meaningful act of the game.
The Dons were back to winning ways.