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Motherwell 0 - 0 Aberdeen

HT Score: Motherwell 0 - 0 Aberdeen


03/01/2005 | KO: 15:00

Dons fail to find net in bruising draw

No goals, but a pulsating 90 minutes at Fir Park. Despite the difficult windy conditions, both teams made it an entertaining match, which was played at a fast and furious pace. After a slow start the Dons eventually took control of the game in the first half and only some poor finishing and superb saves from Motherwell keeper Corr kept the Reds from scoring their first goal of 2005. In the second half the game was more even with both teams missing good chances. In the final minutes the game threatened to boil over as referee Brines struggled to keep control.

Jimmy Calderwood was again left frustrated as Anderson, McNaughton, McGuire, Mackie and Foster all had glorious chances to score. On three occasions Aberdeen players only had the Motherwell keeper to beat but failed to finish. The manager also has injury problems ahead of Saturday's Scottish Cup trip to Arbroath. McGuire and McNaughton both took heavy knocks and Scott Severin, who missed today's game with a groin injury picked up in training, could now be missing for 8-12 weeks.

Jimmy Calderwood made two changes to the side that drew with Inverness last week. Apart from Scott Severin's forced ommission, John Stewart dropped to the bench with Phil McGuire and Scott Morrison both returning to first team action. There was good news for Jimmy Calderwood however as former Motherwell players, Derek Adams and Steven Craig returned after injury and suspension. Both starting the match from the bench. Aberdeen lined up with a 3-4-3 formation. McGuire played in the middle of the back three, McNaughton partnered Heikkinen in the centre of the park and Hart and Morrison played on the flanks. Clark, Mackie and Foster formed the three man attack.

Scott Morrison was given an early chance to impress after 2 minutes, but his free kick was too deep and went harmlessly wide. It was obvious early on that the blustery conditions were going to make life difficult for both sides. The Dons were given a break after 5 minutes when the referee judged the ball had crossed the goal line, although Esson had make a good save anyway.

On 10 minutes Motherwell won the first corner of the game following a mistake from Zander Diamond. The centre half redeemed himself with a fine block inside the box and from the resulting second corner Ritchie Foran missed a glorious chance for the home side after the swirling cross was misjudged by the Dons rearguard.

Aberdeen were by now starting to get into the game. The linesman in front of the main stand was not endearing himself to the away fans as he twice flagged Aberdeen players offside when it looked as if they had timed their run well. In the 17th minute Kevin McNaughton missed a superb chance to put Aberdeen ahead after a Motherwell free-kick had been headed clear by Diamond. McNaughton who picked the ball up in his own box, played the ball to Mackie and ran the length of the park to receive a return ball. With only the keeper to beat the Scotland International hit a low shot which was brilliantly saved by Corr.

Aberdeen forced their first two corners of the game on 18 and 19 minutes but they came to nothing and minutes later Motherwell were forced into a change after Jim Paterson took a knock and was unable to continue. Seconds later Markus Heikkinen hit a decent shot, but it was straight at Corr. Then in the 24th minute Aberdeen forced their third corner of the game. This time the delivery was better and Diamond powered in a header which went inches over.

Aberdeen were now on top after winning the midfield battle with the pace of Mackie up front was also causing problems. in the 25th minute Motherwell were given a free kick in a dangerous area after Heikkinen was harshly judged to have made a foul. McBride's free kick beat the wall and Esson could only look on helplessly as the ball trickled past his left hand post. Two minutes laterit was Foster's turn to show his pace. After a strong run he then brilliantly stepped inside the last defender but curled his shot well wide. Two minutes later Hart put in a superb cross from the right but Mackie headed over when he should have done better.

The Dons then had two more golden chances to open the scoring before the interval. On 41 minutes there was an almighty goal mouth scramble wwhere Anderson and Heikkinen both had shots before the ball was laided back to McGuire by Mackie but once again Corr saved. And then a minute before the break, Aberdeen had their best chance. Clark did well down the left hand side, beating a number of players before having the vision to set up Foster. The young striker had a clear run at goal but his shot produced another great Corr save.

Motherwell came out fighting in the second half but in the 48th minute they were forced into a second substitution when Kinniburgh replaced David Partridge. The impressive David Clarkson was causing the Dons defence a few problems and after 50 minutes he had a great double chance but Esson and then Diamond blocked his efforts. It was not just the Aberdeen strikers who were struggling in front of goal.

In the 54th minute Jimmy Calderwood made his first change. Steven Craig coming on for Richard Foster. Craig's entrance was met with loud jeers from the Fir Park faithful but Aberdeen finally started to get back into the game and forced two corners in quick succession but again they came to nothing.

On the hour mark Anderson had a strong run up the park, but when he gave the ball away he was caught out of position but his fellow defenders saved the day. However the Captain was back in position again minutes later to make a great block on McDonald. By now the game was flowing from end to end with both teams going all out for the win. Anderson was again in the thick of the action and maybe should have scored when a free-kick was played into the box and he had a free header, which he could only steer over the bar.

Motherwell then had there best chance of the game. Slack defending allowed substitute Fitzpatrick a clear run on goal but McGuire somehow got back and put in a superb block. In the 71st minute Derek Adams came on for Darren Mackie resulting in more abuse from the home support and two minutes later Muirhead came on for McGuire who was limping heavily. The defender seemed to have injured himself whlist making the last ditch tackle. Fitzpatrick had another chance in the 74th minute as the ball came across the face of goal but he was unable to connect. A minute later Clarkson hit a shot just wide when he looked well offside. Then with five minutes remaining a superb pass by Adams gave Clark space down the left but the wingers cross was blocked. Hart had made a fine run into the box and was obviously frustrated he had not been picked out.

The game then boiled over with a couple of nasty incidents. Referee Iain Brines ordered a drop ball in the middle of the park. The first contested drop ball in years saw Adams manage to get the ball plus two Motherwell players. This incident really seemed to upset the home support and seconds later Scott Leitch caught Scott Morrison and an almighty free for all broke out. Mr Brines struggled to regain control and booked the two players concerned.

In the final frantic minutes McDonald had a chance, but he turned and shot straight at Esson. Aberdeen then forced a corner and a Clark drive forced another good block from Corr. However in the last seconds McDonald almost stole the three point for Well, but Markus Heikkinen put in a superb tackle. The Finnish Internationlist was once again magnificent throughout. The Red Ultras held up a banner at the end in Finnish that translated as 'Markus must stay'. With Severin being out injured - everyone will be hoping he does.

Motherwell Teamsheet
Corr, Corrigan, Hammell, Craigan, McDonald, Leitch, Foran, Clarkson, Partridge (Kinniburgh  48), McBride, Paterson (Fitzpatrick  21)

Bookings:  Leitch 88
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Esson, McNaughton, McGuire (Muirhead 74), Morrison, Anderson, Diamond, Hart, Heikkinen, Mackie (Adams 71), Foster (Craig 54), Clark.

Unused Subs: Considine, Stewart, O'Leary, Blanchard.

Bookings:  Mackie,  McNaughton,  Morrison.
Attendance: 7,948
Venue: Fir Park, Motherwell
Referee: Iain Brines