New Dons signing Adam Rooney came straight into the side for the game that saw second play third in the SPFL Premiership. Aberdeen lined up with Langfield in goal, Shaughnessy came in for Tate at right back, Anderson and Reynolds were in central defence and Considine was at left back. In midfield Jonny Hayes came in for Peter Pawlett. So it was McGinn, Flood, Jack, Robson and Hayes with Rooney upfront.
There was a major concern over the pitch a couple of hours before kick off. Torrential rain all night and most of the morning had left the playing surface in a bad state. Referee Steven McLean decided at 1.00pm after an inspection that the game should go ahead but it really was touch and go. The Motherwell staff deserved a lot of credit for getting the game on but any further rain during the game was likely to lead to more concerns.
Aberdeen started the game strongly and in the first minute a free kick by Robson was headed just wide by Anderson. A minute later the Dons skipper made a good tackle at the other end on Sutton. On 5 minutes Adam Rooney had his first chance. McGinn did well down the left, he crossed for Rooney who showed good strength to hold off his man and managed to turn and get a shot away but his effort was blocked. Hutchinson then bundled Rooney over in the box but the ref waved away the Dons penalty claims. On 8 minutes Hayes put over an inviting cross after a good Aberdeen build up. The ball was kept in the danger area and Jack was taken down just outside the box. It was a crunching tackle by Hutchinson who was booked. Although he appeared to get a bit of the ball, the defender certainly caught Jack as well and was maybe lucky to stay on the park. Jack received treatment for three or four minutes before being stretchered off. Jack appeared to be in a real state of distress as he was taken off, a massive blow for the Dons ahead of the League Cup semi-final next week. Ryan was replaced by Peter Pawlett.
On 12 minutes play restarted and Robson took the free kick. He whipped in a great effort which just went over Nielsen's bar. The keeper would not have got near it had the ball been a few inches lower.
Worryingly it was raining again but thankfully it was not too heavy. A strong breeze was also helping to dry out the surface a bit.
On 17 minutes James McFadden, who was looking extremely sharp, played in Francis-Angol. The winger had time to pick out McFadden at the neat post with a cross but Langfield stood up well and made a good block from McFadden's volley before gathering the rebound. A minute later Nielsen completely misjudged a cross and was lucky that he managed to catch the ball with one hand.
After 22 minutes Pawlett had the first chance to stretch his legs. He got in behind the defence but McManus did well to get back and do enough to stop Peter getting a clean shot on target. A minute later Lasley was booked for a naughty tackle for Robson in the middle of the park. Again it could have been a red card. Even without Jack the Dons midfield had the upper hand and Lasley and co were getting frustrated especially as Robson was running the show. On 26 minutes though McFadden again was at the heart of a slick move. Anderson was beaten by a one two at the edge of the area but Reynolds came over to block the danger.
On the half hour mark there was more concern for the Dons when Hayes went down at the side of the pitch and needed treatment. He was able to continue though. There were some strong challenges flying in all over the park and referee McLean was having a job to keep control of things.
On 33 minutes Caswell was caught in possession by Robson. The midfielder ran in on goal before hitting a low shot which beat Nielsen but hit the post. The Dons then won a corner which Robson took but Reynolds bounced a header just over the bar. Two minutes later McManus pinged a good long ball over the top for Sutton. Anderson though got back and timed his tackle perfectly. Brilliant defending. Willo Flood then played a superb forward pass to put Pawlett clear down the left. The winger had a lot of time and really should have done better with his cross which hit a Motherwell defender before being cleared.
On 42 minutes a good patient build up saw Hayes cross for Rooney but his header looped over. Then a minute later Hayes won the Dons a free kick close to the touchline. Robson whipped it in and Shaughnessy, coming in with a late run to the back post area, had a chance but he was unable to win his header.
On the stroke of half time Langfield had to race off his line to save at the feet of Angol and then at the other end Hayes set up Rooney who hit a fine shot but the ball went just over. It was a well struck shot which was clearly deflected but to the amazement of the Aberdeen players the ref gave a goal kick. With the Jack injury there were three minutes of injury time played. From which Aberdeen very nearly opened the scoring. They won a corner which was cleared but Hayes picked it up and from just inside the area the Irishman hit a thunderous drive across Nielsen. The keeper diving full strength to his left did very well to get a hand on it to keep the ball out.
The second half started without any rain so thankfully it looked like we would get through the 90 minutes.
On 46 minutes Motherwell won a corner. The ball was played in by Ainsworth and McManus powered a header towards goal from about 8 yards. Pawlett on the back post tried to keep it out but ball had too much pace on it and all he could do was knock the ball into the net. Motherwell had the lead. It looked like the ball was well over the line before Peter made any connection.
The Dons came straight back at the home side and won corner. McGinn played it in, Considine won a header and although he did not catch the ball fully his effort still had to be cleared off the line by Angol. Then on 50 minutes the ball broke to Ainsworth about 25 yards out but he dragged the ball just past. Hayes, who had an outstanding second half, put over a cross which McGinn, then Rooney and finally Pawlett all had a crack at nobody could score.
On 53 minutes Adam Rooney was booked. Not really sure why. Possibly dissent.
On 55 minutes Fraser Kerr was stretchered off after a clash with Robson. It looked like it was Sutton who had gone in strongly but he landed up injuring his own man. Robson was also injured in the challenge but was able to continue.Kerr was replaced by Russell Anderson's brother in law Paul Lawson. On 59 minutes Hayes put over another fantastic cross, Shaughnessy coming in at the back post area appeared to hit the post with a header and then McGinn's shot was blocked. A minute later Flood picked out Hayes again. He got to the by-line before driving a ball in and it was Shaughnessy again coming in at the back post who had the chance but was unable to hit the target from a few yards out. The Dons had twice gone agonisingly close to getting an equaliser. They were well on top at this stage though.
On 61 minutes Barry Robson limped off. It did not look like he fully recovered from the previous heavy challenge. Nicky Low, who was outstanding in the U20s win over Celtic in midweek, came on. Every without Robson the Dons continued to dominate and on 64 minutes McGinn and Hayes brilliantly linked up down the left. Hayes hammered over a cross from inside the area but Rooney could not get a touch.
It was all Aberdeen.
After 66 minutes Aberdeen won a corner. The ball was cleared but again down the left Considine, Flood and Low knocked it about before laying it back to McGinn. His cross was blocked but he gathered the loose ball and hit a great shot which bounced horribly in front of the keeper. With the goalmouth in a poor condition the keeper could not deal with it and as the ball bounced up Rooney was the first to react and he was able to head home from close range. The Dons striker had scored on his debut.
ROONEY, ROONEY, ROONEY, bellowed out of the away end. The Dons fans had a new hero.
On 67 minutes McFadden was replaced by Anier. A minute later Motherwell were back in the lead. Anier made an instant impact when he got down the right wing and crossed the ball. He put a good low ball into the 'corridor of uncertainty' and from close range Sutton and Francis-Angol were able to bundle the ball past Langfield. It was not clear who got the final touch and although Sutton seemed to be claiming his 12th goal of the season, it looked more likely that Francis-Angol got the decisive touch. There will certainly be an inquest by the Aberdeen defence into how Anier was able to get a cross over so easily.
On 71 minutes the Dons should though have been level when Rooney got the break of the ball 10 yards out but he could not keep his effort down and his left footed volley went just over. Then a minute later- another golden opportunity. The ball came right across the face of goal again from the left before McGinn fired it into the side netting.
Throughout the second half Aberdeen were running riot down the left flank. Motherwell did not have a recognised right back in their side and the Dons were exploiting the weakness. Also keeper Gunnar Nielsen was having problems dealing even simple crosses. Aberdeen really should have taken one of their chances that Hayes put over. On 79 minutes there were ironic cheers from the home fans when Nielsen hung on to a Rooney cross. To be fair to the keeper the wind was not making life easy for him. The Dons basically went to a 2-4-4 formation in the closing stages as players piled forward. On 85 minutes Pawlett got in behind the defence once again but Nielsen hung on to his misdirected cross. Peter should have picked out a white jersey in the middle.
It was all Aberdeen now, as it had been for most of the second half. In their desperation to keep the Dons out some strong challenges were flying in. Carswell was booked for one challenge and then a minute later Lasley somehow stayed on the park for a similarly bad challenge. The Motherwell captain had already been booked.
In injury time the Dons won a couple of corners. From the second McGinn floated it over, Considine and Reynolds attacked the ball and Considine headed it goalward. McManus appeared to block the ball on the line but captain Russell Anderson was on hand to score. Motherwell appealed in vain for hand ball against Anderson and the Dons had rescued a point.
Jonny Hayes actually had a chance to win it but he put an effort over the bar with the final touch of the ball.
It would have been a travesty if Aberdeen did not take something from this game. Their second half display was as good an attacking performance as they have put in all season.