A quick return visit from the manager-less Steelmen, but a harder match was to be expected than the 7-2 drubbing we handed out to them on the previous occasion.
Being AFC Community Trust day, a large contingent of children and first timers were in attendance.
The club had said that the Merkland Stand had sold out, but there were enough empty seats to nullify this claim.
With Captain Ryan Jack back from injury, but Andrew Considine joining Mark Reynolds on the injury list, changes were inevitable. Graeme Shinnie slotted into the left back position, whilst Jayden Stockley continued in his up front position with Andrew Rooney.
After a rainy night and morning, it dried up, but it didn’t do anything to help the already sodden pitch.
Referee Euan Anderson blowed whistle as The Don’s kicked off towards the King Street end.
The first free kick of the game was awarded to the home team when Chris Cadden deliberately pulled down Jonny Hayes. Niall McGinn’s free kick was palmed away by keeper Craig Samson.
A good ball from Ash Taylor was received by Adam Rooney who was in plenty of space and had seemingly plenty of time, but the striker unnecessarily rushed the shot and the ball went out for a goal kick.
8 minutes into the match, McGinn collected a pass really well on the right side of the pitch. He then executed a perfect cross for Rooney, but his header was just off target. A minute later Motherwell were awarded the first corner of the game.
The centre pairing of Taylor and Anthony O’Connor were caught napping, but fortunately Motherwell were incapable of cashing in on the error.
The first booking of the game saw ‘Well defender, Ben Heneghan shown a yellow card for coming back onto the field without permission – after being on the sidelines getting treatment for a head injury.
The pattern for the afternoon was set for Rooney when he managed to steal the ball from Zak Jules and Carl McHugh, then had a shocking ‘un-strikerlike’ attempt at goal.
This bad luck / carelessness continued in the 18th minute, when, not for the first time this season, he attempted to find the back of the net with an overhead kick. This time he didn’t even manage to make contact with the ball.
With Shinnie taking over the left back slot, we were missing somebody at this juncture who could put their foot on the ball in midfield and hold play up for a moment or two to try and alter this tousy game.
Jules, in the spirit of their tactics, conceded a free kick when he clattered Stockley to the ground
Midway through the half, good interplay between Shay Logan, McGinn and Stockley saw Rooney taking the final touch. This time his sharp shot was much more positive, but still couldn’t find the net, the ball going marginal over the bar.
Ryan Bowman became the second player to be booked for deliberately taking down Shinnie after the defender had ran back 30 yards to tackle the ball away from ‘Well number 12, Cadden, who had broken away.
The defence was called into action next when O’Connor took the ball off of Scott McDonald as he was lining up to take shot. The ball was then worked forward to McGinn whose shot was on target, but well saved by Samson.
Motherwell seemed to have came with a plan to stop the Dons building a rhythm to the game, and it was working successfully. Jules, in the spirit of their tactics, conceded a free kick when he clattered Stockley to the ground 30 yards out.
The half drew to a close with Hayes, McGinn and Stockley nipping away and trying to break down the resilient Steelmen to no avail.
Half time 0-0.
With both teams unchanged from the first half, it was Motherwell who, within 4 minutes of the second, had the first attempt at breaking the deadlock when Scott McDonald, from just outside the goal area, chipped the ball over the defence. However, Joe Lewis was perfectly placed to catch the ball in his arms.
Good persistent play from Stockley saw the tall Englishman winning a corner. The end play from the set piece saw the ball enciphered at the feet of Taylor in a well forward position. The tall defender struck the ball from the left side of the goal mouth at a diagonal angle, going narrowly beyond the far right post near the crossbar.
Kenny McLean was having a really strong game, being involved in most moves. One minute bang in front of the goal winning a corner, next back helping with the defence.
21 minutes into the second half, the visitors made the first change of the game with Ryan Bowman being replace by Jacob Blyth, who was introduced I presume to add some spirit to the Motherwell play.
McLean was in action again in the 62nd minute when he slotted a great ball towards the far post which, with Shinnie just unable to make contact, went over for a goal kick. McLean had another unsuccessful attempt at goal just a minute later .
The final booking of the game, the sixth for the visitors, went to Cadden
Stephen Pearson became the next Motherwell player to fall foul of the ref when he was booked for holding back the pacy Jonny Hayes the Dons winger sprinted goal-ward.
Motherwell were content to waste time and settle for the draw.
Their fourth booking went to Hammel, Captain for the day, who chopped down McGinn.
In the 73rd minute Rooney was replaced by Ryan Christie. Soon after, Hammel was substituted as Elliot Frear came on for Motherwell.
Meanwhile, in between these two substitutions, yet another Motherwell booking was given. This time it was David Ferguson who was the recipient, long overdue, for time wasting.
Stockley received a yellow card with 7 minutes to go. At the same time O’Connor was replaced by Miles Storey as Derek McInnes was determined to get a win. The Dons never-say-die attitude was needed now as time was ticking away.
The game was held up for a while as Stockley and Ferguson received treatment, the 2 players having cracked their heads together in a challenge.
The final booking of the game, the sixth for the visitors, went to Cadden who refused to release the ball for The Dons to take a throw.
It was looking like an undeserved draw was on the cards when fourth official Scott Millar indicated there were 5 minutes of time to be added on.
In the first of these minutes, Jonny Hayes shot the ball across the area from the left, to the right. McGinn ran into the ball and swept it into to the back of the net, shattering the hardworking but poorly skilled visitors, and sending the home fans into raptures as AFC move 9 points clear in second place.
The match sponsors bemused the crowd by awarding McGinn the man of the match, whilst ignoring the best player on the pitch, McLean.
Final score 1-0.
- Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.