Barry Robson missed the game through injury so Peter Pawlett came into the side and there was one tactical change from last Saturday with Michael Hector replacing Mark Reynolds in central defence, with Reynolds moving to left back.
So the Dons lined up Langfield in goal, Mark Reynolds at left back with Anderson and Hector in central defence and Joe Shaughnessy at right back. The midfield four were Hayes, Flood, Jack and Pawlett with McGinn again just playing off Calvin Zola upfront.
The Dons got off to the worse possible start.
Sutton picked the ball up in a dangerous area. He had time to play the ball through to Anier who had timed his run perfectly and one on one with Langfield he coolly swept the ball home. The goal was timed at 40 seconds. A disastrous start for the new look defence who were caught very square. It did though look as if Joe Shaughnessy might have been fouled during the build up to the goal.
Aberdeen did well to recover from the initial shock and came back strongly.
On 7 minutes Flood played in Niall McGinn who had an opening. He had to hit it quickly and did not have much on an angle so when Hollis got his angles right it was a comfortable enough block. A minute later though they created a better chance. Palwett used his pace brilliantly to leave the Motherwell defence in his wake. His shot beat Hollis but cannoned off the bar. After 11 minutes Motherwell won the first corner of the game but McFadden's effort was well defended and cleared.
The first 15 minutes were very end to end and played at a tremendous pace.
Peter Pawlett was very much looking in the mood and he then created a couple of openings. On 15 minutes he did well to cross for Anderson whose header was cushioned down but the ball would not land at the feet of a white shirt. And then Pawett got in behind the defence again and played it wide to McGinn. He picked out Ryan Jack who curled his shot just wide. A really good effort.
On 23 minutes, at the other end Francis-Angol showed his pace down the left and in the end Hector did well to read the situation and clear. A minute later Joe Shaughnessy's defensive clearance just went past Langfield's left hand post. Then the home side had another chance on 26 minutes when referee Beaton adjudged that Anderson had pulled down Anier. The goalscorer was clearly backing in. Thankfully it came to nothing and the Dons broke forward. Flood found Hayes in the box with a good forward pass. Instead of shooting Hayes unselfishly elected to play the ball back to Zola but failed to find him. A really good chance missed. But then Zola a minute later created a chance for himself. He did really well to win the ball and then hammered a shot off the bar.
30 minutes gone and the match was still being played at 100 miles an hour.
John Beaton then booked Willo Flood for a late tackle, even though he did touch anyone. The incident happened in front of the Dons bench who were less than impressed with the officials. The last quarter of the half was a little bit quieter although still very even.Aberdeen had more of the possession with some patient build up play whilst the home side seemed happy with trying to hit on the break. It was certainly a very entertaining first half and the Dons should have gone in level.
Aberdeen started the second half a lot stronger than they had started the first. On 46 minutes Pawlett's pace again caused problems for the home side when he went bursting into the box.
Then on 48 minutes Zola should have got an equaliser. The ball was crossed from the left and Hayes at the back of the box did really well to square in for Zola who was all on his own 10 yards out but he completely miss kicked. The striker probably had more time than he realised and could have taken a touch before shooting.
On 50 minutes there was a major injury blow when skipper Russell Anderson limped off. Clark Robertson was his replacement and Clark went to left back and Mark Reynolds moved into central defence. A minute later McGinn had a sighting at goal but McManus made an excellent tackle when the striker was just away to shoot. Iain Vigurs was then deservedly booked for poor tackle on Pawlett. It was a sign that the Dons midfield were beginning to get on top although a minute later Langfield did really well to race off his line after a poor headed back pass.
The Game was starting to really open up and get stretched.
The Dons won another corner which saw the ball fall to the back post. Zola had a half chance but he pulled his shot wide. The linesman's flag was up so it probably would not have counted.
Then just after the hour mark Aberdeen deservedly got themselves back on level terms. Jonny Hayes did really well to rob Hammell. He then cut inside McManus who brought him down and ref Beaton pointed straight to the spot. There were no complaints from the Well players and McManus was booked.Niall McGinn calmly stepped forward and put Hollis the wrong way. A very good penalty considering the pressure he was under.
On 64 minutes Josh Magennis replaced Calvin Zola who still looks a little bit short of match fitness. A minute after coming on Josh could have scored. McGinn did well inside the box and the ball broke off him towards Josh and a few Aberdeen players. Hollis did very well though to get off his line and smother it.
On 66 minutes Michael Hector was booked for a mistimed challenge on Sutton. It seemed a very harsh decision. The defender though overall had a very good game and looks like being an excellent signing. Then on 71 minutes Gregg Wylde replaced Peter Pawlett. The Motherwell defence would have been glad to see the back of Peter who had a very good game but they would not have been pleased to see a player coming on who was just as quick!
Another good patient build up gave McGinn a chance on 72 minutes. The ball broke to him 20 yards out but he tried to float it into the far corner of the net and the ball went harmlessly over.
Then on 76 minutes Aberdeen took the lead.
Jonny Hayes, who was possibly the Dons bets player today, swung in a superb free kick. Mark Reynolds made a brilliant run to the front post area before bulleting a header in the net.
As expected to try and get back into the game Motherwell pushed forward but this allowed Aberdeen the chance to hit on the break. Ryan Jack sat in front of the back four and McGinn came back into the midfield. When in attack Hayes, McGinn and Wylde were getting forward to support Magennis. They really were hitting Motherwell at pace and the tactics worked brilliantly.
On 82 minutes there was another great save from Hollis. McGinn did really well to step past Hammell. He then cut the ball across for Magennis who hit a low first time shot and although the keeper was diving the wrong way he managed to get a foot on it and put the ball behind for a corner. A top save- although Josh can consider himself very unlucky not to score. From the resulting corner the referee spotted a tug on an Aberdeen shirt and awarded another penalty to the Dons. McGinn stepped forward and put it to the same side as he had gone with for his first penalty. Although Hollis went the same way the ball was in the corner and he could not get anywhere near it.
Aberdeen comfortably saw out the final ten minutes with Reynolds and Hector excellent at the back, although the players in front of them worked very hard to give Motherwell nothing.