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Motherwell 4 - 1 Aberdeen

HT Score: Motherwell 3 - 1 Aberdeen

Motherwell scorers: Hateley 9, Murphy 30, Murphy 45, Higdon 54.
Aberdeen scorers: Hayes 33.

26/12/2012 | KO: 15:00

Motherwell Cruise to Victory as Dons Crumble

Craig Brown made two changes to the side which beat St Johnstone last week. Jamie Langfield returned to the team after his suspension and Jonny Hayes recovered from a leg knock to replace Mitch Megginson. The Dons lined up once again in a 3-4-3 formation with Anderson, Reynolds and Robertson at the back, Shaughnessy, Rae, Vernon and Magennis across the middle and Hayes, Fallon and McGinn up front. Andrew Considine was given a spot on the bench as he was not fully fit after his illness. Motherwell matched up to Aberdeen and also played a 3-4-3 formation.

The Dons really should have taken the lead with the first attack of the game. On 5 minutes a good passing move allowed Magennis to get down the left. He played in a superb cross that the Motherwell defence struggled to deal with but just managed to get clear. Shaughnessy picked the loose ball up and although he shaped to shoot he disguised a clever pass to Hayes. He chipped the ball in and Shaughnessy had a free header which Randolph did well to block but the ball rebounded back into the middle of the penalty area and with the goal at his mercy the Dons top scorer pulled his shot wide. Niall really should have scored.

A minute later McGinn played the ball inside the full back for Magennis to run onto. Josh had time but was at a difficult angle and although he tried to curl the ball his shot went just past the post. Another close thing but once again Aberdeen were made to pay for not getting the first goal.

On 7 minutes Law rattled the cross bar from the edge of the box. He was given far too much space for the shot.Then on 8 minutes Motherwell took the lead. A cross was played in from the left by Murphy and Hateley at the back post beat Magennis, who was meant to be covering him, and powered a header from six yards past Langfield who had no chance. It was poor defending all round as Murphy was given too much space to get his cross in.

The goal lifted the home side and their midfield was beginning to get on top.

On the break the Dons did still look dangerous. On 16 minutes Hayes' cross broke to Vernon on the edge of the area but his volley was blocked by the Motherwell defence. Then on 20 minutes a good break by Rae who played Fallon in who had pulled wide and the big striker had time and space. He had options but elected to shot from distance - considering some of the goals he has scored at this ground in the past it was a fair decision - his shot though was tipped over by Randolph. Minutes later McGinn also forced Randolph into a save but this time the Motherwell keeper held on comfortably.

Just before the half hour mark McGinn beat his man on the half way line with a clever turn. He ran in on goal but the Well defence did a good job to get back and make a tackle. Normally in that position Niall would be away.Then Lasley put in a good cross from the left but thankfully there were no takers.

Motherwell got a second on the half hour mark. Murphy was once again given far too much time and if you give a player of that quality time to pick his spot, he will and he did from about 12 yards. Langfield again had no chance. You thought at that stage it was going to be a long afternoon but three minutes later the Dons got themselves back into the game.

A long ball was controlled to Fallon who brilliantly laid it off for Hayes who ran onto it and hit a first time shot from about 20 yards past Randolph. Often the best way to beat a quality keeper is to hit the ball early before he sets himself which Hayes did. The goal lifted Aberdeen and they had a couple of good chances to get on level terms.McGinn got to by-line. He had time to look up and tried to pick out Magennis but Randolph cut it out. A minute later the Dons went close again when a Shaughnessy throw in was laid off to Rae by Fallon and his low drive went inches past. So close, it must have just shaved the post. Aberdeen actually were creating a lot of chances and Hayes and McGinn were finding so much space. The problem was though so were the Motherwell players when they went forward.

In the closing stages central defender Kerr went on a wondering up the park and again was allowed to get a shot in which Langfield held well. On the stroke of half time though Motherwell regained their two goal lead. Angol cut inside from the left. He picked out Murphy who beat Shaughnessy and then poked the ball past Langfield. Such a simple goal. The Dons defending in the first half had been really poor but they got no protection from those in front of them.

Aberdeen changed tactics at half time and went to a 4-4-2 formation with Magennis moving up front. There was almost an instant response when in the first minute of the half Hayes was put in the clear. His shot at the near post was blocked by Randolph. The Dons winger might have been better squaring it to a team mate. It was a crucial moment in the game as a goal would have given the visitors a massive left.

On 48 minutes Higdon was lucky to stay on the park for an over the top challenge on Reynolds. Certainly more mistimed than anything meant but it did look a nasty one. Credit to Reynolds who was quickly back on his feet and Craig Thomson just produced a yellow.On 52 minutes Randolph made a rare mistake when he flapped at a corner but the Dons were unable to take advantage. They did put a little spell of pressure together and Magennis had a sighting on goal but his low effort was comfortably saved.

On 54 minutes in was game over though. Henrik Ojamaa turned Shaughnessy inside out down the Motherwell left before cutting the ball back to Higdon who got ahead of his marker and his left foot shot from 6 yards went in off the bar.All the goals conceded had come down that side. Craig Brown had seen enough and decided to make a couple of changes. Anderson and Shaughnessy came off to be replaced by Considine and Smith. Magennis went back to right back and Smith went up front with Fallon.

The changes did not improve the Dons fortunes as Motherwell were cutting the Aberdeen defence open at will. Just before the hour mark Robertson tripped Ojamaa and referee Thomson pointed to the spot before booking Robertson. Murphy step forward to take the spot kick but his low effort was well saved by Langfield. A good save but a poor penalty as it was nowhere near the corner. Langfield then in the last part of the game made a brilliant save from Ojamaa at his near post. The Dons really had no answer for Ojamaa who was deservedly named man of the match and got a standing ovation when he was substituted late on.

Aberdeen had a few chances for a consolation. Smith floated a beautiful ball for Vernon to run onto but his shot at the back post went well wide. He really should have hit the target. Fallon minutes later had a chance from a similar area but his shot was deflected behind. Considine also hooked a shot just wide and McGinn blasted one over.In the closing stages McManus replaced Fallon for another run out.

In the end the final whistle came as a relief.

Motherwell Teamsheet
Darren Randolph, Simon Ramsden (Adam Cummins 46), Shaun Hutchinson, Fraser Kerr, Zaine Francis-Angol, Keith Lasley, Tom Hateley, Nicky Law (Stewart Carswell 81), Jamie Murphy, Michael Higdon, Henrik Ojamaa (Robert McHugh 81). Unused Subs: Omar Daley, Lee Hollis, Stevie Hammell, Chris Humphrey.

Bookings:  Michael Higdon (48).
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Langfield, Magennis, Anderson (Considine 58), Reynolds, Robertson, Rae, Vernon, Shaughnessy (Smith 57), McGinn, Fallon (McManus 82), Hayes.

Unused Subs: Brown, Masson, Megginson, Brown.

Bookings:  Robertson (66).
Attendance: 5,093
Venue: Fir Park, Motherwell
Referee: Craig Thomson