Aberdeen travelled to Stirling to face a Motherwell side who started their campaign with a fine 4-2 success in Forfar against Dundee United's Under 20s. Paul Sheerin's starting eleven showed four changes from the team which kicked off the season in last week's 2-2 draw against reigning champions Ross County.
Archie Mair, Sam Roscoe, Seb Ross and Chris Antoniazzi came in, replacing Danny Rogers, Harlain Mbayo, Scott Wright and Toby Wells.
The opening play was rather fragmented as both sides probed for openings but found space at a premium. Motherwell played a number of long balls but Scott McKenna and Sam Roscoe were solid at the back for the Dons. In clearing one attack Roscoe's momentum saw him clatter into both Well striker George Newell and assistant referee Kevin Lindsay but all were able to resume without treatment. Keeper Griffiths flapped under a high ball from Danny Harvie but the ball fell kindly for the home defence who scrambled it clear. A clumsy tackle by King on Bruce Anderson saw the Well centre half booked on 13 minutes but the free kick from Frank Ross was blocked by the defensive wall.
Well skipper Campbell sent a dangerous ball into the Dons box but a fine clearing header from McKenna prevented Newell from threatening Archie Mair's goal. Motherwell were starting to dominate possession as we reached the 25 minute mark but neither side had created an opening in front of goal with play mainly in the middle third of the park. With both sides almost cancelling each other out one felt it would need a spark of inspiration from someone to break the deadlock.
A fine ball from skipper Seb Ross sent Connor McLennan scampering down the left but Frank Ross fired his cutback high over. It was the best move of the match so far and Frank will have been disappointed not to have worked the keeper.
On 36 minutes Motherwell were reduced to ten men when King received a second booking after bringing down McLennan as he bore in on goal. The defender could have no complaints and as last man it could easily have been a straight red. Three minutes later Chris Antoniazzi was booked after a challenge on Turnbull. McLennan's strength was causing the home defence and he muscled his way past two defenders before shooting narrowly wide.
Keeper Griffiths had to look lively in the 43rd minute as he dived full length to his right to parry a thunderbolt from 30 yards from Bruce Anderson to safety. A great shot from Bruce matched by an excellent save.
Aberdeen finished the half strongly but couldn't find a way through a well organised home defence, so an absorbing opening 45 minutes ended goal-less although the visitors will play the whole second half a man light after King's red card.
Motherwell made a change for the second period as MacDonald came on to replace Semple. Well were first to threaten and Turnbull headed wide from Brown's right wing corner. Scott McKenna was a totally dominant figure in the heart of the Aberdeen defence and try as they might the Motherwell attackers could not get any change from the man from Kirriemuir. The Dons were starting to make their man advantage count as they saw plenty of the ball but a resilient Motherwell defence were ensuring Russell Griffiths wasn't being tested. McLennan did well to send Anderson clear bur Griffiths blocked the striker's effort on goal. Stephen Craigan made his second change on 59 minutes as Scott took over from Falconer. Paul Sheerin also switched personnel as Toby Wells was introduced to the fray replacing Frank Ross.
Nice play from Antoniazzi created an opening for Anderson but Bruce's left foot shot was always too high. Moments later the striker was frustrated as he narrowly failed to get his head on to an inviting Harvie cross. As the game went into its final quarter Dean Campbell came on for Antoniazzi to add his guile to the midfield effort as the Dons pushed to make the breakthrough. Anderson was as lively as usual and he again threatened when he burst into the area but his shot found the side net. Craig Storie had a shot blocked then Harvie pulled an effort wide before Well made their final substitution which saw Agyeman take over from Newell. Ryan Harrington was next to deliver a teasing ball into the Motherwell box but Toby Wells couldn't get his header on target. A superb crossfield ball from Dean Campbell picked out Harvie and the Motherwell defence did well to clear the danger caused by Danny's ball into the middle. Storie did well to win the ball in midfield before freeing McLennan but the Well defence closed ranks to prevent him getting a shot at goal. Despite all their pressure the Dons were finding it so hard to break down a stuffy Well outfit.
With nine minutes left McKenna powered a header goalwards after a Wells corner picked him out but it was hacked clear with the keeper beaten - a real let off for the home side. In a rare foray forward there were loud Motherwell shouts for a penalty when Turnbull went down in the box but the ref waved the appeals aside. David Dangana, scorer of last week's equaliser against Ros County came on for the injured Seb Ross just before a marauding run into the box by McKenna ended with the big man going down. However rather than earning a spot kick all he saw was a yellow card for simulation.
Storie was forced off with a strain which meant both sides were reduced to ten men as the Dons had used all their subs. Despite late efforts from both sides the final whistle blew with the scoreline blank.
A better point for Motherwell than for Aberdeen who will have been frustrated at not being able to make their extra man count after King's first half dismissal. Plenty of effort from the men in blue but ultimately they couldn't find a way to breach a very organised Motherwell rearguard.