Aberdeen U20s finished the first half of their season with a convincing victory over Motherwell this afternoon in Forfar. Some of the attacking play from Paul Sheerin's side was exceptional at times and they could have scored more.
Lawrence Shankland had an eventful day - he signed a new contract, scored a hat-trick and was then extremely harshly sent off. He could now be suspended for a couple of Development League games when the league starts up again in mid January.
After a very even first 20 minutes Gunnar Nielsen produced a stunning save to deny Lawrence Shankland from close range. However Shankland opened the scoring from the penalty spot on 28 minutes. Fine play by Cammy Smith set up Shankland for a tap in on the half hour mark and then a few minutes later he could have completed his hat-trick but Nielsen again saved well.
The excellent Cammy Smith scored a very well taken goal at the start of the second half after a great Scott Wright pass and then Lawrence completed his hat-trick five minutes later. At this stage it looked like the Dons would go on and score a lot more as the Well defence were really struggling to deal with the Dons forward players. However a young Motherwell side battled well throughout and deservedly got a goal back on 73 minutes when Ewrin smashed a great shot past Langfield.
On 80 minutes Shankland was given a straight red after he went up to win a header on the half way line. At first glance it looked an incredibly tough decision on Lawrence. As the visitors pushed players forward in the closing stages a long ball over the top was collected by Smith who produced a good finish to grab his second.
Paul Sheerin's side lined up with Langfield in goal, Murray was at right-back with Rose and Harvie in central defence and Michael Kelly was at left-back. Gibbons and Campanile were in central midfield with Monakana wide left and Wright on the right. Cammy Smith played in behind Shankland upfront.
The opening exchanges were fairly even and Motherwell could easily have been in front when a great ball in from Watt found MacLean, but he put the ball over the bar from 10 yards out. The Dons did look good going forward and Monkana was causing lots of problems. On one occasion, he produced a great run and cross which picked out Shankland seven yards out. The striker made contact with his header but keeper Nielsen produced a quite brilliant reflex save to get a strong hand on the ball and put it over the bar. Scott Wright, returning after injury, caused a lot of problems and he won the Dons a penalty on 28 minutes. He twisted and turned in the box and when Neill fell to the ground, he handled the ball on the deck. Shankland took the kick and confidently stoked the ball down the middle to put the young Dons one up.
They then doubled the lead a couple of minutes later. Cammy Smith did really well to get to the by-line after picking the ball up from a throw in and then showed great composure to pick out Shankland who had the simplest of tasks of slotting home from a few yards out. Lawrence could have had a hat-trick when on 37 minutes, after another great forward move, he was one on one with the keeper but Nielsen narrowed the angle and made a good block with his foot. Paul Sheerin's side continued to dominate and had a couple of other chances before the break but Nielsen saved well at his near post to deny Smith and Rose put a header from a corner over the bar. For the second game running, the Dons scored right at the start of the second half. Motherwell actually had a free kick deep inside the Dons' half but they gave away possession to Scott Wright who threaded a lovely pass forward for Smith to latch onto and Cammy held off his man before slotting home. On 48 minutes, Aberdeen grabbed a fourth when Shankland completed his hat-trick. Marcus Campanile drove forward and although he was tackled, the ball broke to Lawrence who was in the right place as usual to fire home.
The Dons had a couple more chances after that but Jonathan Johansson's young side deserve credit for coming back into the game and on 56 minutes, after a good passage of play, Langfield did well to force Lee Erwin wide and the striker could only find the side netting. On 73 minutes, Langfield, who was celebrating his 35th birthday, could do nothing to keep Ewrin out when he fired a superb shot past him from wide on the left. Then, on 80 minutes, there was a major moment of controversy when Shankland was sent off. He went up for a ball on the halfway line and appeared to use his body strength to hold off Hall. The referee did not see it that way and had no hesitation in producing a red card. Everyone looked very surprised by the decision.
The visitors then pressed hard to try and get back into the game and they did have a couple of half chances but on 87 minutes, Aberdeen broke quickly to score a fifth. Gibbons played the ball to Monakana who floated a delightful ball over the top. Smith ran onto it and made the finish look easy.