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Motherwell 1 - 0 Aberdeen

HT Score: Motherwell 1 - 0 Aberdeen

Motherwell scorers: Hammell 22

17/03/2012 | KO: 15:00

Unbeaten Run Comes to an End with Hammell Strike

Craig Brown made two changes to the side that beat Motherwell in the Scottish Cup last week. Gavin Rae replaced the injured Fraser Fyvie and there was a tactical change with Chris Clark replacing Mitch Megginson. The Dons lined up in a 3-5-2 formation with Clark Robertson the left wing back and Ryan the right. The three defenders were Reynolds, Considine and McArdle with Arnason, Rae and Clark ahead of them. Clark was given free rein to push forward to support Vernon and Fallon up front.

The atmosphere was a lot different to last week. There were only 478 Aberdeen fans compared with the 2,500 who made the trip last week. The Dons though started the game strongly and created an opening in the first minute when Gavin Rae picked the ball up 25 yards out but his shot went well over. Then on three minutes there was very nearly an opening for Scott Vernon when he was put through. Randolph in the Motherwell goal did just enough to get out and hack the ball clear. Motherwell had a number of key central defenders missing from this match and already there were signs that Page and Cummings was a defensive partnership the Dons could exploit.

On 10 minutes the Dons broke at pace when Fallon cleverly spread the play wide to Jack. His cross into the box though was poor and he was unable to pick out any of the white jerseys that had bust a gut to get in the box. Already Rae was running the show in the middle of the park and it was all Aberdeen at this stage. Again an opening for Aberdeen when Jack found Vernon in acres of space just outside the box but he wasted a good opportunity by pulling a weak shot wide.

On 15 minutes Considine was booked for a foul on Ojamaa. Considine was the last man but he seemed to get enough of the ball to suggest it was not a foul never mind a yellow card. This yellow card was to have quite an impact on the game and the captain was certainly not as dominating as he had been in previous games.

The hosepipe band in the south of England seems to have in force at Fir Park as well. The pitch was extremely dry and bumpy which made it difficult for both sides to get the ball down quickly and pass it. The Dons was struggling to get the ball forward at pace and they were already starting to play it long. Then on 21 minutes out of nothing a goal for Motherwell. Aberdeen switched off for a second at a throw in. The ball somehow found its way across the pitch to Stevie Hammell who took one touch before looking up and hitting a fantastic shot past Jason Brown into the net from 25 yards. The ball did move in the air but there is no way Hammell should have been getting a clear sight of goal in the middle of the pitch with no one able to close him down.

As expected the home side got a massive lift from the goal. On 26 minutes Brown made stopped Motherwell doubling their lead with a superb point blank save. Considine got on the wrong side of Carswell. The keeper had started to come out to assist his captain and in the end did really well to block the strikers shot. Henrik Ojamaa, who had been so well dealt with last week, was starting to cause huge problems for the Dons back three especially as no one was man marking him. Considine was also in a difficult position as he was being left as the last man against Ojamaa and he was on a caution.

After a poor spell in play Motherwell created another golden opportunity. Chris Humphrey was given space down the right and he put the ball on the head of Steve Jennings but from six yards his header looped up into the arms of Brown.

Aberdeen were struggling to get anything going although they were not being helped by the fact Fallon was getting penalised every time he jumped for the ball.

On 43 minutes the Dons won their first corner of the game. Robertson played a good ball in to the back of the area. Considine got ahead of his marker but he was unable to control the ball with his left foot. Not surprisingly at half time the Dons moved to 4-4-2 formation with Jack moving to midfield and Chris Clark playing on the left side of midfield.


Clark Robertson was next in the book. He was getting a difficult time of it from the impressive Humphrey. The referee actually waved play on and Higdon should have been booked for diving. Again credit to the ref for waving play on and at the other end Vernon teed up Fallon but from an extremely tight ankle the Kiwi blasted it over. It would have taken something special to beat Randolph from there.

On 52 minutes Arnason tried to emulate Hammell but his shot was weak and went straight across the ground. Motherwell went up the park and Page missed a good headed opportunity after a free kick from another Dons infringement but then, just before the hour mark, the Dons created their best chance of the game. Arnason strolled forward. He picked out Chris Clark who played a cross into the near post for Scott Vernon.The ball bounced up and Vernon improvised well before flicking a shot on target but Randolph did really well to push the ball over from point blank range. From the Jack corner Fallon made a great run to the near post area. He got to the ball ahead of Randolph but headed it over the bar. The strikers reaction told you how good an opportunity that was. That was Rory's last involvement in the game. Minutes later he was replaced by Mitch Megginson who can consider himself unlucky to be dropped after his performance last week.

Then minutes later another change by the Dons. Clark Robertson was replaced by Peter Pawlett. Clark was on a yellow card and the officials had indicated that another foul would lead to a red card. Chris Clark went to left back and Peter played in front of him.

During this spell Jennings had a head knock that allowed the Dons to have 11 v 10 for a good 5 minutes as the Motherwell player received treatment off the field. On 64 minutes a trip by Page on Megginson very nearly led to a penalty. Brines decided the incident was just outside the box but the Aberdeen players were certain the contact was in the box. Only a yellow card for Page and the Dons wasted the free kick.

Brown then made another good save but could not put the ball out of the danger area and Rory McArdle made a vital block on Higdon who looked certain to score. The final change from the Dons on 68 minutes. Mo Chalali replaced Ryan Jack. On 70 minutes a half chance for Megginson but he elected to shoot instead of crossing. Maybe it was a cross I am being kind!

The Dons then made another tactical change with Megginson going to right midfield and Chalali played up front with Vernon. Two more bookings as Brines started to get card happy. Arnason and Hateley both received yellow cards.

With 15 minutes to go the Dons started to raise the tempo of the game and they forced a series of corners. From one Reynolds' header was just dealt with by Randolph. Under pressure he could only push the ball out. Scott Vernon picked it up and his cross clearly hit a Motherwell hand in the box. The ref decided the player was too close to get out the way but on another day the Dons may have got those decisions.

Chalali was looking lively and he had a good run in box but was unable to pick out an Aberdeen player. At least the Dons were forcing some pressure and the Motherwell makeshift defence were getting asked some questions. Chalali was picked out again in a good wide area but his cross frustratingly sailed over everyone. He then had a shot from the edge of the box but it sailed over the bar.

In the closing stages Humphrey should have done better when he got in behind the Dons defence and the game finished, maybe fittingly, with another yellow card. McArdle booked this time. On another day the Dons might have two penalties but in truth they did not do enough to deserve anything from this game.

Motherwell Teamsheet
Darren Randolph, Tom Hateley, Jonathan Page, Adam Cummins, Stevie Hammell, Chris Humphrey, Nicky Law, Steve Jennings, Stewart Carswell, Michael Higdon, Henrik Ojamaa (Robert McHugh 82). Unused Subs: Euan Murray Steven Lawless, Lee Hollis, Ross Forbes, Jamie Murphy, Omar Daley,

Bookings:  Jonathan Page (65),   Tom Hateley (74).
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Brown, McArdle, Considine, Reynolds, Robertson (Pawlett 63), Clark, Arnason, Rae, Jack (Chalali 69), Vernon, Fallon (Megginson 60).

Unused Subs: Langfield, Magennis, Mackie, Mawéné.

Bookings:  Considine (16),  Robertson (51),  Arnason (74),  McArdle (90).
Attendance: 4,637
Venue: Fir Park, Motherwell
Referee: Iain Brines