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Motherwell 1 - 3 Aberdeen

HT Score: Motherwell 1 - 2 Aberdeen

Scottish Premiership
Aberdeen scorers: Shinnie 6, Rooney 25, McGinn 90.

23/12/2016 | KO: 19:45

Dons on Song at Christmas

Derek McInnes made four changes to the side which played well but lost narrowly in Dingwall. Taylor, Reynolds, McGinn and Rooney all came back into the starting XI, giving the line-up a look of previous seasons. Mark Reynolds and Niall McGinn were both making their 200th AFC appearances whist Ash was starting game number 101. The pitch was looking in superb condition despite surviving pitch inspections at 2.30 and then at 5.30. Thankfully the rain had gone off during the late afternoon, otherwise the game would have struggled to go ahead. The conditions though were still going to be challenging for both sets of players, particularly defenders and goalkeepers.

In the second minute a decent chance for Motherwell as Moult managed to work an opening down the right and his ball in to the back post was headed just wide by Craig Clay. In the third minute Considine put over a cross which found the head of Rooney but his effort never troubled Samson in the Well' goal. Then in the sixth minute, slightly against the run of play, Aberdeen took the lead with a clinical finish. After a poor clearance from Samson, Hayes got the break of the ball and played it into the path of McLean. His brilliant ball down the line set Hayes free. Jonny had lots of time and different options as Rooney had peeled away from his marker but Jonny made a great choice to pull the ball back to Shinnie and the Dons vice-captain slotted the ball low into the far corner. A cool finish.
Aberdeen were lucky not to concede an equaliser on nine minutes. Motherwell won the first corner of the game which McLean headed clear at the near post. When the ball came back over Lewis missed his punch but thankfully Reynolds was on the line and able clear. The conditions were clearly having an influence on the game. On 10 minutes a snap shot from McLean only went inches past with Samson rooted to the spot. Then another Motherwell corner caused more problems. After a goalmouth scramble the Dons were very fortunate to see the ball cleared off the line twice. Aberdeen then forced their first corner of the game but the Motherwell defence stood firm.
Aberdeen were ahead but they were not looking comfortable and Motherwell got a deserved equaliser on 16 minutes. Tait whipped in a cross which produced an excellent acrobatic effort from McDonald and the ball looped into the net. A really good finish. The game then settled down a bit before Aberdeen went back into the lead, On 23 minutes a shot from McLean was fumbled by Samson. To be fair to the keeper it bounced right in front of him but Rooney was alert to the situation and got to the ball ahead of the keeper who pulled him down. There was a lot of contact but enough for the penalty to be given. Rooney then saw his penalty saved by Samson, diving low to his left, but again Adam was first to react and was able to lift the ball into the roof of the net from a couple of yards out. The natural striking instincts of Rooney proving to be vital on both occasions. Credit also to Kenny for having the shot in the first place. It was a horrible night to for goalkeepers.
On the half hour mark, the rain started again, just as the Dons were beginning to enjoy a bit of control. On 32 minutes Kenny McLean won a free kick out wide. In a pre-planned move Hayes pulled the ball back to McLean and the unmarked midfielder will feel he should have done better with his shot which comfortably cleared the bar. Ben Heneghan was then lucky to escape a red card for lunge on Graeme Shinnie. It was poor challenge but thankfully Graeme, who had an outstanding match, was not serious hurt.
On 40 minutes more controversy involving referee Bobby Madden. A ball into the box broke off Reynolds and as Mark went for the rebound he collided with Motherwell skipper Keith Lasley. There was contact but it looked like the Motherwell player had used all his experience to make sure he ran into the Aberdeen defender. Lasley actually injured himself in the process. After pausing for a minute the referee pointed to the spot. Both penalties in truth looked soft. Moult went low and left with his spot kick but Lewis guessed right and saved. The ball however was pushed back into the danger zone. There was a complete free for all as both sets of players desperately tried to get the ball. Considine got their first but appeared to deflect the ball onto Ryan Jack and then the post. Jack actually did very well to keep it out. A shot then was blocked by McDonald on the line before the ball was eventually hammered clear. How big a moment could that prove to be? It was certainly a big moment in the game tonight.
The half finished with more driving rain which was making things very uncomfortable. In the 45th minute a Shinnie shot with his right foot deflected just over the bar. From the resulting corner Taylor attacked the ball well and forced a very smart stop from Samson. He got down quickly to his left. Then from another corner Taylor again had a free header but he did not get enough contact and the ball went wide. His visible frustration indicated just how good a chance it was.

At half time Lasley was replaced by winger Dom Thomas. There was an early break for the Dons at the start of the second half. Rooney played it wide to McGinn but his cross was too high and caught the wind. Hayes' ball back across did the same. On 52 minutes a really good spell of pressure as the Dons worked four separate openings. McGinn had a chance, then Jack burst into the box. Shinnie then had the best chance when he cut back onto his right foot but his shot was well blocked.
McLean was then penalised for a foul on McDonald. Moult's free kick was in a dangerous area but it was very well held by Lewis. Then Hayes did brilliantly down the left. The winger hammered the ball across the six yard box but Rooney could not get a touch. A great chance wasted but it was clear Jonny had he beating of his man. Aberdeen then enjoyed a good spell as they went looking for the all-important third goal. On the hour mark Taylor again won a header from a corner which just went wide. The big defender could have had a hat-trick this evening. He certainly attacked the ball well.
On 62 minutes the first yellow card of the game for Clay after he brought down McGinn. From the resulting free kick Taylor this time was unable to get a touch and Considine racing in behind his fellow defender could only divert the ball over the bar from close range. Another good chance missed. They were almost made to pay for those misses when on 65 minutes a Motherwell free kick was headed off the bar by Ben Heneghan then Motherwell appealed for another penalty before Aberdeen cleared their lines. A minute or two later another Motherwell free kick saw the ball land in the net but the linesman had his flag raised for an infringement. It was Clay who had his goal disallowed. Hammell then did well at the back post to defend a McGinn cross and put the ball behind for a corner from which Considine headed against the bar. Both teams were continuing to struggle to cope with set-pieces.
Reynolds was then booked as Well broke from the corner. A dangerous Dom Thomas cross was then flicked just wide by Reynolds at the expense of a corner. The ball was headed clear at the near post. On 72 minutes Jack was booked for a foul on McDonald. The two of them were having an ongoing battle all night. 75 minutes in, Hayes again got a cross over from the left. It was missed by everyone. Shay at the back post could not get a shot away but kept the attack going. The ball was laid back into the path of McLean who worked the ball onto his left foot at the edge of the area but he blasted his shot over. Another decent chance. On 76 minutes McDonald received a yellow card after catching Taylor in the face before Cadden was replaced by Ainsworth as Motherwell put on another striker. On 79 minutes Logan worked really hard to keep a McLean cross in, Rooney then picked the ball up but his effort hit the side netting. After 80 minutes Hayes and McGinn combined on the left. Hayes again broke free and his fine shot looked to be creeping in but Samson produced an outstanding save. Aberdeen had played so well in the second half, they deserved a third goal but at 2-1 you still feared the worst.
On 85 minutes McManus came off, Ryan Bowman, another striker on as Motherwell pushed for an equaliser. The home side did manage to throw the ball into the area on a number of occasions but the Dons defence stood firm. Ryan Jack also did very well to intercept a ball which almost found it's way through to Moult. Finally, in the 90th minute Aberdeen made the game safe. It was Hayes again who broke down the left, the poor right back Richard Tait just managed to keep the ball in play, but in doing so left a massive space for Jonny to run into. Jonny's cross over landed at Niall McGinn and he thumped a first time left footed shot into the net from the edge of the area. A piece of real quality from Niall.
In injury time Anthony O'Connor replaced BT Sport's man of the match Jonny Hayes. A thoroughly deserved win for the Dons and the 700 or so Aberdeen fans who braved Storm Barbara went back up the road happy.
Motherwell Teamsheet
Craig Samson, Ben Heneghan, Steven Hammel, Richard Tait, Stephen McManus (Ryan Bowman 86), Keith Lasley (Dom Thomas 46), Chris Cadden (Lionel Ainsworth 79), Lee Lucas, Craig Clay, Scott McDonald, Louis Moult Unused Subs: Dylan Mackin, David Ferguson, Jack McMillan, Dean Brill
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Lewis, Logan, Shinnie, Considine, Taylor, Reynolds, McLean, Jack, Rooney, McGinn, Hayes (O'Connor 90).

Unused Subs: Maddison, Stockley, Storey, Burns, Pawlett, Alexander.

Bookings:  Reynolds (70),  Jack (73).
Attendance: 3,428
Venue: Fir Park, Motherwell
Referee: Bobby Madden
Next Match
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