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Motherwell V Aberdeen | Scottish Cup Semi-Final Preview

April 13, 2018 4:07 pm Author: AFC Media Team

We preview this Saturday’s Scottish Cup Semi-Final

This Saturday sees The Dons return to Hampden where victory to take the club back to their second successive Scottish Cup Final. Last season saw Aberdeen overcome Hibernian to reach their first cup final in seventeen years, but were cruelly denied in the final moments by a late Celtic winner. The Scottish Cup has played a massive part in the history of the club and the current side are looking to lift the famous old trophy for an eighth time.

It’s been 27 years since Motherwell lifted The Scottish Cup. The club have won the competition twice in their history, with their last final being in 2011. Stephen Robinson’s men have already won at The National Stadium this season having overcome Rangers in the League Cup Semi-Final before losing out to Celtic in the Final last November. Not much has separated the sides this season with two wins each, the most recent meeting coming at Fir Park last Tuesday where The Dons ran out 2-0 winners.


“We’d much rather be in it with that opportunity to get to the final than watching from the outside.

“The players have done well to get themselves back to Hampden. It’s our fifth visit over the past two years so we’re kind of getting used to the surroundings there and the familiarity of that. We’ve won our last couple of semi-finals and I think the experience of that hopefully helps us.

“There’s a lot of drama, a lot of excitement because there’s so much resting on it and sometimes that can affect the performance. I’m just hoping my players can be confident enough on that stage and show their capabilities. It’ll certainly be competitive, but the thing about the cup is you’re either in it or you’re out.

“I’ve been pleased with the form of late. We spoke to the players about six or seven weeks ago and we said by the 7th of April lets be second in the league and in a semi-final. Last Saturday was the 7th of April.

“We wanted to be second in the league after the game clearly, but it’s still in our own hands to finish second as it is with Hibs and Rangers. We’re in the semi-final and that must be the focus now. It’s the biggest game that we’re facing because it’s the next one.

Read Derek’s pre-match press conference here


“The difference between winning and losing a semi-final is absolutely massive and cup runs are something that Derek and myself pride ourselves on. At the start of each season, there are always four fronts that we’re fighting on, there’s Europe and how far we can manage to go in that, there’s the league where we are always trying to do at least as well as the previous season and of course, the two cup competitions which are so important to us and I think we get that through to the players.”

Watch Tony’s RedTV interview in full here


“They have all been 50/50 games against them all season, so it will be a very interesting game.

“You want to play every game and I think that’s what every footballer wants to do. The manager uses me as he does, and I just have to accept that. It doesn’t really matter what I think about it.

“He’s going to have to make changes to the team and the boys need to step up and do well. They have to be replaced somehow and I believe in the strength of the squad and I believe that we can do that.

“There will be a big turn out and there’s a lot to play for, but the group is experienced enough to handle that. Like I said before it’s the biggest game of the season and it would be lovely to do it for the fans that have travelled down.”

Read Kari’s pre-match press conference here


“Last season the Scottish Cup final was a massive disappointment and still fresh in our memories but getting to two cup finals was important for the club. We want to go one step further and pick up the trophy. We’ve got a good opportunity against Motherwell and we’ve got an opportunity to get back into a final. We’ll just work hard on the training field, get ourselves right and be fully prepared for the game on Saturday.

“Motherwell is a tough opponent to come up against. They work very hard for each other.

“I know Stephen Robinson well as he was part of the Northern Ireland set up. His training was always enjoyable. He works very hard on shape and organisation. He is very big on organisation and leaves no stone unturned and you can see that in this Motherwell team. Every player knows their role in the side.

Read Niall’s pre-match press conference here


Saturday’s opponents have faced each other on 14 occasions in The Scottish Cup with Aberdeen holding a slightly better record. The Dons have won six of the ties, with ‘Well winning four and four draws. There have only been two previous matches between the teams at this stage of the competition where a replay was required to find a winner in the 1939 Semi-Final. Both games were played at Ibrox and it was Motherwell that ran out 3-1 winners to reach their third final. The Dons have never won any of the five ties at Pittodrie, with three draws and two wins going to the Lanarkshire men. The last meeting back in 2012-13 season finished 1-1 as an injury time equaliser from Niall McGinn kept Craig Brown’s men in the cup. The Dons ran out 2-1 winners ten days later at Fir Park to knock Motherwell out of the cup for the second season running.

The Dons have scored 24 goals compared to Motherwell’s 18 in the 14 games with the Third-Round tie at Pittodrie in 1953 producing a ten-goal thriller. A 5-5 draw meant the teams would face off again at Fir Park with the game once again producing plenty goals, but it was an entirely different outcome as The Dons won 6-1 to advance the next round.

After the 1958 Fourth-Round match, which ended in a 2-1 win for Motherwell at Fir Park, it would be another 17 years before the sides would meet again in the competition. The Steelmen advanced to the Semi-Final courtesy of 1-0 win at Pittodrie. That started a run of three 1-0 Scottish Cup ties between the sides. The next is most fondly remembered for the producing the quickest-ever Scottish Cup goal. In the Third-Round tie at Fir Park Dons striker John Hewitt scored after 9.6 seconds to put the visitors ahead. The game started a remarkable run in the competition for Alex Ferguson’s men and they would not lose in the next 24 matches and going on to lift the cup for the next three consecutive seasons.

Going into the 1991 Scottish Cup campaign The Dons were holders having won the cup on penalties to Celtic in a historic final the previous season. However, they were undone at the first hurdle by Motherwell, who would go onto lift the trophy in May of that year, in a 1-0 loss at Pittodrie.

Five years later Aberdeen travelled to Fir Park for another Third-Round encounter and this time came away with a victory. Goals from Dean Windass and Duncan Shearer either side of half time ensured The Dons would advance to the next round. That season The Dons would reach the Semi-Final only to be undone by an injury-time winner by Allan Johnston of Hearts at Hampden.

It would be another eleven years before Motherwell and Aberdeen would cross paths in competition. The 2011-12 season was largely a rebuilding season for Craig Brown and Archie Knox, who had swapped Fir Park for Pittodrie the previous season. Backed by a strong away support, The Dons would call on the services of New Zealand international, Rory Fallon and he delivered the goods. An early header set the team on their way and Fallon doubled the advantage with a superb volley before the break. Jason Brown saved a penalty before Fallon’s second and The Dons would eventually see out the game despite a late goal from Law to set up a grandstand finish.

The following season Fallon was at it again and his goal along with Joe Shaughnessy’s tap in from close range meant a fourth win in a row in the Cup at Fir Park. The Dons had been bailed out by Niall McGinn’s last gasp equaliser at Pittodrie, but after Fallon struck early in the second half the Dons were on their way to the next round.


Aberdeen got their Scottish Cup campaign underway by playing host to Championship leaders, St Mirren. The TV cameras were there with the consensus being there was a potential cup shock on the cards. The Dons quickly silenced that theory by going 2-0 up inside 18 minutes. First Adam Rooney slotted home an early penalty and then Ryan Christie slammed home from close range to put The Dons in control. St Mirren got one back through Gavin Riley, but before the break the two-goal lead was restored thanks to a header at the back post from Christie. The game was finished as a contest as Gary Mackay-Steven rifled a beauty into the top corner. Gary’s goal would win Goal of The Round and no wonder and it helped send The Reds into the next round.

For the second tie in a row The Dons faced Championship opposition at Pittodrie. This time it was in the form of Dundee United, who were struggling to keep the pace with St Mirren at the top end of the table. Just as he had done in the previous round, Adam Rooney put The Dons on the way by opening the scoring on 20 minutes. It was two shortly after as Mackay-Steven, facing his former club, latched onto a McGinn through ball and Aberdeen were coasting. Stanton got the visitors back into the game in the 34th minute, but just as they had done against St Mirren, The Dons scored quickly after to increase their lead. Christie with a fantastic piece of trickery then picked out Kenny McLean and leaped to give Aberdeen two goals ahead once again. GMS was at it again in the second half and once again put The Dons 4-1 ahead. United did make it a slightly uncomfortable final 20 minute for the hosts and grabbed a second in the 70th minute, but Derek McInnes’s side were able to get the job done.

The Quarter-Final draw presented The Dons with another home tie, but this was a much stiffer test. A revitalised Kilmarnock side travelled north in confident mood having been an impressive strong of results under new manager Steve Clarke. Backed by a noisy away support from Ayrshire, Killie made it a difficult 90 minutes for Aberdeen. The hosts took the lead in the first half through captain Graeme Shinnie but were pegged back in the second period thanks to a contentious penalty being awarded. Kris Boyd fired it past Freddie Woodman meaning the teams would have to do it all again the following week.

Many considered Killie favourites for the replay given the recent fortunes of both teams in the league. A largely uneventful 90 minutes sprung into life in the first period of extra time when Stephen O’Donnell sprinted the length of the pitch to fire home from close range after Killie broke on the counter attack. The goal appeared to wake The Dons up and the team showed a tremendous amount of character to get themselves back in the game minutes later. Stevie May was hauled down in the penalty box and the referee pointed to the spot. Kenny McLean stepped up and scored the goal that would force a shootout. Freddie Woodman was the hero against his former club on the night as he saved three penalties alongside his teammates, Shinnie, McLean and Stewart scoring theirs to send the 1,400-strong Red Army wild behind the goal. Graeme and Kenny knew that bookings in the match meant they would miss the semi-final but were professional in helping their teammates get their day out at Hampden the following month.


Please click here for further information on attending Saturday’s match at Hampden.


If you can’t make the game on Saturday RedTV will be live from Hampden Park at 12pm, including video for RedTV International Subscribers. Post-match we will have reaction, highlights from 2pm on Sunday and a full replay on Monday lunchtime due to SFA Competition regulations.

Enjoy the match and let’s cheer The Dons into another Scottish Cup Final.

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