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Motherwell 0 - 1 Aberdeen

HT Score: Motherwell 0 - 1 Aberdeen

Aberdeen scorers: Mackie 34.

23/04/2005 | KO: 15:00

Mackie eases Dons nearer to Hibs

A goal from Darren Mackie in the 34th minute gave Aberdeen the three points they needed to keep their European ambitions alive. The goal was set up by some great play by Noel Whelan and settled the Dons who had looked nervous in the early stages. The Dons had several chances to kill off the game after the break but at the end of the day the one goal was enough. With the Edinburgh derby ending in a draw the Dons now move to within two points of Hibernian and look forward to the visit of Rangers next week.

It was a cautious start from both sides with neither team threatening in the opening minutes of the match although the home side were seeing more of the ball. Scott Muirhead created Aberdeen's first chance in the 6th minute but his dangerous cross failed to find the front two. Five minutes later Hart and Whelan combined well but the home defence stood firm before Muirhead delivered another dangerous delivery that was again cleared by Motherwell. The home side should have done better in the 14th minute when Fagan went one-on-one with Esson. Fortunately for the Dons the Motherwell man delayed and Esson had an easy save from a poor shot.

Few chances were being created and there was a lame penalty claim from the home side in the 19th minute then two minutes later Hamilton curled the ball wide of the target as the game begged for a goal to spark it to life. In the 24th minute Craigan took a long throw in and Esson fumbled before recovering quickly to retrieve the situation. A minute later a long throw from Severin produced the first corner of the match and Clark's delivery was scrambled clear. In the 28th minute Ryan Esson pulled off a great save from a Kerr volley producing the first Motherwell corner.

Aberdeen were certainly not showing the form of seven days ago and had yet to test Corr in the home goal. Although they were failing to sparkle they were not getting many decisions in their favour either as a series of home fouls failed to produce free kicks. In the 33rd minute Hart screwed the ball wide of the target before Mackie put the Dons ahead a minute later. The goal was created by his strike partner Noel Whelan who turned his defender, had his first shot blocked then scooped the ball into the path of Darren Mackie who had the simple task of heading home from four yards.

Motherwell came back at the Dons looking for an equaliser but the Dons held them comfortably and started to produce some good passing football as McNaughton and Muirhead combined well but found no takers with the final ball. With three minutes remaining McNaughton had a shot blocked before the home side broke quickly and threatened Esson's goal. Aberdeen had taken confidence from the goal and looked more comfortable once they had taken the lead.

The Dons had an early chance from a long Severin throw in the opening minute then seconds later Anderson flicked a header over the bar as they looked to extend their lead. The Dons certainly started the half positively and Clark was inches wide of the target with a 25-yard drive in the 50th minute that looked to have the beating of Corr. A corner three minutes later had the home defence scrambling then Whelan almost set up his strike partner again but goalkeeper Corr was off his line quickly to clear the danger.

Zander Diamond had to bail out his captain in the 58th minute when a mistake almost allowed Hamilton in. Calderwood made an enforced change in the 61st minute when Ritchie Byrne replaced Zander Diamond. Esson was then forced into a save a minute later as the home side looked to level. Byrne picked up a knock within two minutes of entering the play and had to go off for treatment then Hammell collected the first yellow of the match for a bad challenge on McNaughton. Hamilton headed the ball on to the roof of the net in the 67th minute before Esson gave the red army a mild heart attack as he raced off his line in the 70th minute to flap at the ball.

Aberdeen should have added a second a minute later as Byrne and Clark combined well and Corr made a fine save to deny Clark. Blaha then replaced Whelan in the 73rd minute as Calderwood looked to try and seal the win. It almost worked immediately as the Czech flicked the ball into the path of Mackie who quickly released Clark. Unfortunately the winger's finish didn't match the move. Clark had a third chance to finish the game in the 77th minute when they broke quickly with some lovely passing football. Unfortunately the ball was screwed wide of the target when Corr should have been tested.

A minute later Mackie limped off to be replaced by Stewart then in the 81st minute a great run by Muirhead was ended with a poor cross. It looked as though Motherwell might level in the 83rd minute when Esson fumbled the ball but was adjudged to have been fouled even though Byrne cleared the resultant effort off the line. The home side were now pushing hard for an equaliser as Aberdeen looked to hit on the break. Another Clark effort was blocked in the 90th minute as the fourth official signalled two minutes of injury time. Seconds later Corr was down quick at the feet of Blaha to deny the Czech a second but the Dons held on comfortably.

Motherwell Teamsheet
Corr, Hammell, Craigan, Kinniburgh, Leitch (Keogh 78), Hamilton, Kerr, Corrigan, Fagan, Partridge, Foran.

Bookings:  Hammell 64,   Partridge 88
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Esson, Hart, McNaughton, Heikkinen, Anderson, Diamond (Byrne 61), Muirhead, Severin, Mackie (Stewart 78), Whelan (Blaha 73), Clark.

Unused Subs: Winter, Considine, Dempsey, Preece.

Bookings:  Mackie,  Stewart (81).
Attendance: 5,063
Venue: Fir Park, Motherwell
Referee: Charlie Richmond, Auchinleck
Scott Muirhead in action at Fir Park this afternoon.
Chris Clark who spurned several chances in the second half.
Darren Mackie dives to head home the winner.
Mackie turns to celebrate after scoring the Dons goal.
Clark is first to congratulate the Dons goal scorer.
Kevin McNaughton keeps a tight control of the ball today.
Jimmy Calderwood shouts encouragement from the sidelines as Terry Butcher looks on.
Corr denies Russell Anderson as the Dons launch another attack.
Darren Mackie is forced to leave the play after collecting an injury.