Aberdeen's hopes of a top six finish ended at Fir Park this afternoon despite a good second half display. Motherwell deservedly led at the interval through the impressive Humphrey, but it was a much improved performance from the Dons after the break. Randolph made a terrific save to deny Maguire on the hour mark, but despite winning umpteen corners Aberdeen's delivery was poor. They paid the price in the 87th minute when Hutchinson made it 2-0 from a corner. Aberdeen then produced a stirring finish in the five minutes of injury time which saw Vujadinovic pull one back. The Dons laid siege to the Motherwell goal, but couldn't produce a second that their play deserved.
Motherwell kicked off after Andrew Considine led the Dons out in the absence of Hartley and Diamond. The home side were quick out of the blocks as Humphrey raced down the wing to create the first chance, but fortunately Lasley was unable to find the target after Jones had had a shot blocked by Aluko. Two minutes later Maguire blocked a clearance allowing Aluko to collect the ball, but he was closed down quickly before he could threaten the goal of Randolph. In the 7th minute Motherwell were again on the attack and poor defending allowed Jones a pot at goal, but the effort went wide.
A minute later Aberdeen were on the back foot again as Murphy and Lasley played a neat one-two before Murphy curled an effort inches wide. Aberdeen were struggling to get forward at this stage as the home side took control of the game. In the 14th minute Aberdeen finally strung some passes together, but an offside flag ended the threat. A minute later the home side went ahead when Humphrey raced past Smith and then produced a cool finish that gave Langfield no chance.
Aberdeen had settled after a shaky start, but they still had to threaten Randolph in the home goal. Aluko showed a spark in the 24th minute and fed Vernon who returned the ball, but he was leaning back and failed to find the target. Aluko then won a free kick in a dangerous area, but the delivery from Milsom was poor and Vujadinovic could only tamely head wide. Young took a nasty knock in the 26th minute, but was able to continue after treatment.
Aberdeen did some pressing around the half hour mark, but the Motherwell defence were strong and chances were thin on the ground for the Dons. Motherwell won the first corner of the match in the 33rd minute after Vujadinovic failed to clear the first ball. The Dons eventually cleared the threat and two minutes later Aluko broke and the Dons won their first corner. Maguire swung in a decent ball that had Randolph flapping. A long throw from McArdle quickly followed, but Vujadinovic was penalised inside the Motherwell box.
A decent run from Maguire looked promising, but he failed to find Aluko and in the 39th minute Hutchinson collected the first yellow card of the game. He was cautioned for a nasty challenge on Blackman who had suffered continuous abuse from the home crowd since the match started. In the 42nd minute Motherwell wasted a good chance when they won a free kick in a dangerous area. Manager Brown will be looking to get more out of his side after the break and at 1-0 they are still very much in the match.
Aberdeen created the first chance of the second half when a snapshot from Maguire went wide of the target. A minute later Blackman fed Maguire, but the offside flag ended the move as the youngster fired wide. It was a positive start from the Dons, but Motherwell were still probing forward. Aberdeen broke well in the 54th minute and Blackman set up Maguire with a great chance, but the Dons striker got it all wrong and failed to hit the target.
A minute later an Aberdeen corner from Aluko failed to threaten the Motherwell goal and in the 58th minute Motherwell should have doubled their lead. Humphrey was again the architect and his ball in to the box was left by the Aberdeen defence allowing Jones a simple tap in. Somehow the Motherwell man scooped it over the bar. At the other end Aberdeen should have levelled as Blackman and Aluko combined well, but the Nigerian failed to convert the chance.
On the hour mark Randolph made a terrific save when he turned a great Maguire shot round the post. Again the corner was poor although Aberdeen did win the second ball, but couldn't find a way through. In the 63rd minute Brown reshuffled the team as Pawlett replaced Smith, who had been ill for most of the week. Aberdeen were starting to take control and forced another corner and as the second ball was returned by Young, Considine headed straight at the keeper. Maguire collected a rather soft yellow a minute later as the referee reacted to the home crowd.
The home crowd were hardly covering themselves in glory with abuse of Blackman and Craig Brown continuing unabated throughout the game. A Motherwell corner was easily gathered by Langfield and in the 68th minute then Vujadinovic collected a caution as he conceded a free kick in a dangerous area. Aberdeen stood firm and broke through Maguire and Aluko, but they couldn't carve out a chance. A minute later Magennis replaced Aluko as the Dons looked for an equaliser.
Another Dons corner followed in the 71st minute and Randolph didn't look too clever as he bundled the ball clear. Motherwell forced a corner at the other end, but again Langfield was quick to claim the ball. A Milsom free kick was met by Magennis, but his header failed to trouble Randolph in the 75th minute then Paton replaced Vernon as time started to run out. Considine collected the Dons third yellow card of the match when he tried to stop Humphrey as Motherwell started to come back into the match.
An Aberdeen opportunity was wasted in the 79th minute when Milsom tried to take a quick free kick. At the other end Motherwell forced another corner, but Aberdeen broke through Blackman and won their own corner at the other end. Once again the delivery was poor as Milsom played the ball beyond everyone. Pawlett was lucky not to collect a caution as he caught Gunning late, but Hutchinson was added to the referee's book as time started to slip away.
In the 87th minute Humphrey caused mayhem again at the back and fed the ball to McHugh who forced a fine save from Langfield. He didn't have any chance seconds later when Motherwell showed Aberdeen how to make a set play work to your advantage. Hateley played a decent corner into the area giving Hutchinson a free header to make it 2-0. Pawlett went on a great run in the 90th minute and forced a corner. The Dons had learned from Motherwell and Maguire's delivery was met by Vujadinovic who headed his first goal for the club.
Aberdeen rallied and tried to force an equaliser deep into injury time. Maguire produced some lovely play and appeared to be brought down, but nothing was given. However the onslaught continued as a Paton cross was missed by everyone. Another corner in the last minute caused big problems at the back, but the referee ended the threat of an unlikely come back when he awarded Motherwell a free kick. At the end of the day it was too little too late, but if Randolph hadn't made a terrific save from Maguire early in the second half it could have been so different.