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Aberdeen 1 - 3 Motherwell

HT Score: Aberdeen 1 - 2 Motherwell

Aberdeen scorers: Heikkinen.
Motherwell scorers: McBride 22, Hamilton 32, McDonald 73

09/04/2005 | KO: 15:00

Dons Euro dream suffers setback

The Dons European ambitions suffered a serious setback at Pittodrie today as Motherwell took their chances and Aberdeen squandered their own. The Dons could have been two or three ahead when McGuire tumbled McDonald in the 22nd minute and McBride dispatched the spot kick. Hamilton added a second before Marshall saved Mackie's spot kick and Heikkinen netted the rebound. Aberdeen laid siege to the visitor's goal after the interval but it was Motherwell who added a third when McDonald broke and scored from a tight angle. With Dundee United beating Hibs in the cup at Hampden the European target now becomes even more difficult.

Motherwell kicked off but Aberdeen made the positive start with Clark looking dangerous on the left. Mackie should have done better in the 4th minute when McNaughton burst through on the right and found Mackie in the centre. The striker failed to make a decent contact however and the ball was cleared. A minute later Whelan was booked for his first infringement and there were sarcastic cheers as Aberdeen won their first decision two minutes later. From the free kick Severin went close when he hit a sweet volley inches wide of Marshall's right hand post.

Aberdeen should have taken the lead in the 9th minute when Whelan released Clark on the left and his cut back was missed by Mackie then fired over the bar by Whelan from six yards. Three minutes later Motherwell created their first chance of the match following a slip from Byrne. The ball found Jim Hamilton in the box but he headed well over. Aberdeen carved out another chance in the 16th minute when Byrne caused problems and looked to be fouled before McGuire scooped the ball over the bar.

Aberdeen were to rue the missed chances when Motherwell took the lead in the 22nd minute. McGuire tripped McDonald in the box and there were no complaints when Referee Murray pointed to the spot. McBride stepped up to fire the ball high into the roof of the net. Aberdeen almost levelled four minutes later when Diamond headed a Chris Clark corner inches wide of the target. Craigan was lucky to escape a booking in the 26th minute after a cynical challenge on Clark as the Dons battled to level. A Severin drive from distance sailed wide in the 31st minute then Motherwell grabbed a sensational second a minute later.

The ball was laid into the path of Hamilton 35 yards out and he hit a volley high into the net that took everyone by surprise. So after missing several easy chances in the early stages the Dons now faced an uphill struggle to come back. They did pull back a goal in the 38th minute when Mackie was fouled inside the box. The striker stepped up to take the spot kick but Marshall turned the ball on to the post before Heikkinen followed up and fired the ball into the empty net. McNaughton tried from distance in the final minute of the half but the effort was well off target.

Blaha replaced Byrne at the interval as Calderwood changed his set up in an attempt to salvage the game. There were claims for a Dons spot kick in the 48th minute but to be fair most of the claims emanated from the RDS. Aberdeen had most of the pressure at this stage but Motherwell looked dangerous on the break. There was a better claim for another spot kick when Blaha was tumbled in the 53rd minute but referee Murray was unimpressed. The Dons went close again in the 67th minute when Hart swung a ball across the face of the goal that just eluded Whelan.

Two minutes later McBride headed off the line after Whelan knocked on a Clark corner before a Clark effort was blocked as Aberdeen turned the screw. Just as it looked as if Aberdeen could get back Motherwell broke and McDonald rode a tackle from McGuire then survived a challenge from Esson before scoring from an acute angle. Stewart replaced Mackie and Morrison replaced Hart with time running out for the home side. An overhead kick from Stewart was easily saved in the 82nd minute then with five minutes remaining Partridge headed wide of Esson's goal. Esson almost conceded a crazy fourth in the closing minutes but recovered well to clear the danger.

Aberdeen Teamsheet
Esson, Byrne (Blaha), Hart (Morrison), McNaughton, Diamond, McGuire, Severin, Heikkinen, Whelan, Mackie (Stewart), Clark.

Unused Subs: Foster, Winter, Muirhead, Preece.

Bookings:  Whelan (5).
Motherwell Teamsheet
Marshall, Hammell, Craigan, McDonald (Clarkson 87), Leitch (Kerr 46), Hamilton, Paterson, Quinn, Fagan, Partridge, McBride

Bookings:  Hamilton 10,   Partridge 52,   McDonald 73
Attendance: 10,443
Venue: Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Referee: Calum Murray, Livingston
Today's Match Programme.
The Dons players observe the minutes silence prior to the match in memory of Pope John Paul II
Zander Diamond has a seat on Ritchie Byrne as the play rages on.
Chris Clark fires over a cross in the first half.
Noel Whelan get's involved in the build up play.
McBride gets set to take Motherwell's first half spot kick.
He sends Esson the wrong way to convert the penalty.
Diamond leaps high to head the ball clear.
Marcus Heikkinen retrieves the ball from the net after netting for the Dons.
He then heads back to the centre spot as Whelan offers congratulations.
Chris Clark in action at Pittodrie against Motherwell.
McDonald has already rounded Esson and prepares to finde the net from a tight angle.
Motherwell almost add a third before Esson recovers to clear.
Manager Jimmy Calderwood has a lot to think about as he heads for the tunnel.