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Motherwell v Aberdeen | Match Preview
Competition: Ladbrokes Premiership
Match: Motherwell v Aberdeen
Venue: Fir Park
Kick Off: 3.00pm
TV Coverage: RedTV International
The manager sat down for his weekly press conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to Motherwell.
“We have got James Wilson back. He has been on the (training) pitch since Monday.
“Stephen Gleeson has managed to get some pitch sessions in as well.
“Stephen has been out a long time. He hasn’t done any proper training since the back end of last season but just having him on the pitch has been good. He has probably done about half a dozen sessions.
“Having two bodies back on the pitch has been good. We got our international boys back in full training today as well which helps.
“Bryson has done bits and pieces but still not ruled in for Saturday yet.
“Bryson is not going to be 100% fit. When you know he is not going to be 100% fit, you have to be fair to the boy and you have to be fair to the team as well.
“He was brought in the summer to be an important player. We have spoken often enough about losing the likes of a Shinnie type, that leadership qualities, that drive, energy and quality from midfield, he was the one and we have not had it really.
“We have had him at bits and pieces, but we have never really had him at 100%. He has had a tough time Craig, and has not been the influence that he wants to be and we need him to be.
“It is not going to be that 100% influence that he can give us at this moment of time. We will speak to Craig today and if he doesn’t make himself available for Saturday, we work towards the next game.
“As well as the injuries in midfield, Lewis Ferguson is suspended. At this stage the only one we have got fully fit and ready to be selected is young Dean Campbell who is a natural midfielder.
“We have been doing some work on different alternatives and how we can look to try and play without having a fully fit Craig Bryson, a fully fit Stephen Gleeson, without Lewis Ferguson.
“We have been doing some work to try and deal with the situation. Sometimes as a manager, it is easy, you have got full selection from the squad to choose from, you are winning games there are rarely any changes, same again lads, on you go.
“There are other times when the injuries start to pile up, especially in one area of the pitch, you have to try and manage the situation.
“That’s what it is being a manager. Sometimes you just have to deal with that.
“It is not always easy, but you have got to try and find a way of still getting results. Hopefully we can find a way on Saturday against a good team who are going well.
“It is still early in the season but the early indications from Motherwell is they have got plenty of optimism to have a good campaign.
“They have signed some good players.
“A couple of the players who were well known to us in the Scottish league but also, they have taken a couple of lads from down south and managed to shape a team.
“They have started the season pretty well.
“They have got good consistency of selection; we can maybe second guess their team come Saturday and the performance levels have been good.
“They always seem to find a way Motherwell, certainly they have been strong at home and we have to make sure that we are strong on the road against a good Motherwell team, but we look forward to the challenge.
“When you pick any team, you have to look at who is available. You also have to look at the opposition and how you can deal with that.
“I think Motherwell have still got traits of what they have always been; competitive in the opposition box, long throws, set plays, they have still got enough size about them.
“They have certainly changed on how they want to play. Good rotation in the middle of the park. It is one area in the team that we are a bit short of.
“We have still got quality ahead of that, we have got Cosgrove in good form, we have got good experience in the back line.
“We can still go and win a game there; despite the difficulties we are facing in terms of team selection. There are enough good players who will be wearing an Aberdeen jersey that are capable of winning the game.
“I felt the game against Hibs, we have picked up a couple of suspensions, I think the players played on the edge a bit too much.
“I was looking for more aggression certainly a lot more passion in some of our play, to make sure that we were not getting pushed about and I thought that side of the game was good.
“I thought from the point we went behind we were very good in the game. The players deserve a lot of credit.
“It is getting the balance of that physicality, the balance of confidence to play and hopefully whatever team is picked on Saturday we are good enough to go and win at a difficult venue.
“Niall gets another cap during the week and good on him.
“Mikey has come back in on Tuesday there feeling great about himself.
“It was good that he had an opportunity to go back in after the Russia game.
“It was disappointing for everybody the way the Russia game played out and Mikey was part of that, and he felt a bit down from that even though it was his first full cap.
“Clearly everybody who was involved with Scotland, Mikey included, felt a bit better after the San Marino game and it was good that he was able to get the experience of both types of games.
“Dean and Ethan, I watched them against Belarus, I watched them the other night against Germany. Good to see them playing a part in such a big victory at youth level.
“It is only youth level, but Germany have always been regarded as one of the top nations and it was great that they were part of a winning performance.
Season So Far
“I don’t think that you need to look at the league table too much.
“Ideally we want to be higher. We have just got to try and concentrate on picking up points, trying to go unbeaten, trying to go on a winning run.
“You soon find yourself normally around the turn of the year looking at the league table and it gives you an indication of where you are going to be.
“The first round of games are not even and it is still early on.
“There is no doubting that trying to find wins is more difficult because a lot of teams are doing well.
“We just want to go and try and win the game and see where it takes us.
“We have still got a lot of football to play and we will improve as we go along and once we get more players back, hopefully the league table starts to look a wee bit more what we want it to look like.
“I have put my squad together in the summer with the belief and hope that we can have a successful campaign, qualify for Europe again and do well in the cups. Nothing has changed with that.
“I still feel when we have a full quota of players that we have got the ability to try and do that, but it is to early to say if that is going to be the same. It is the same for any teams at this early stage.
“I do think that we are in a position where we can still have the confidence, despite the difficulties we have at the minute with selection, we can still give a good account of ourselves and hopefully we can still be the team if we can’t get close to the Old Firm we can still be the team that is closest to them.
“The only one who will still be out in January as we speak is Scott Wright. Ojo will hopefully be back in the middle of December, Ash Taylor hopefully back by the start of November.
“Main and Ferguson will be back after the Celtic game. Hopefully Bryson and Gleeson are up to speed. January is normally a window where you have to react to the situation, in terms of injuries and suspensions.
“I wish it was 1st January tomorrow and we could get some reinforcements in! But it isn’t and unfortunately that is where we are, and we have to deal with the situation as best we can.
“Clearly midfield is an issue and Ferguson getting sent off brings an added frustration for me because it is so important that he is available to us.
“He was brilliant in the game against Hibs so we are losing a very good player through suspension and added to the injuries it has been far from helpful.
“I have said this often enough, we have only got one chance of selling Scott, it is up to another club to come in and give us money to take him away.
“Scott spoke very honestly, and I have no problems with what he said but nobody can question his commitment to Aberdeen in terms of what he gave us.
“I see him day to day and I see him on a pitch on a Saturday, everybody sees him. He is fully committed, as he should be, and he always has been when he has been in an Aberdeen strip.”
Last Time Out
Max Lowe gave Aberdeen an early lead when his miss hit cross found its way into the net before Jake Hastie drew the away side level. However, two well taken goals from Niall McGinn in the second half gave The Dons their first league victory in four matches.
Did You Know?
– In 27 appearances against Motherwell, Niall McGinn has scored 10 goals and has seven assists against the Fir Park side.
The Game That Was…
23/04/2005: Scottish Premiership: Motherwell 0 v 1 Aberdeen: Fir Park, Motherwell
Aberdeen kept their European hopes alive with a narrow win at Fir Park. Darren Mackie grabbed the only goal of the game when he headed home a Noel Whelan cross in the first half.
Dons Teamsheet: Esson, Hart, McNaughton, Heikkinen, Anderson, Diamond (Byrne), Murihead, Severin, Mackie (Stewart), Whelan (Blaha), Clark.
Match Page - Formation
Match Page - Text Commentary
Dons show steel and style
MOTHERWELL 0 ABERDEEN 3
Saturday 19th October 2019
Referee: Euan Anderson
Despite being decimated by injuries and suspensions, a superb Dons display saw them collect three big points in a game where they were better than their hosts today – tactically, technically, physically.
On the return to action after the international break, Derek McInnes made five changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Hibernian. Curtis Main and Lewis Ferguson missed out through suspension, Ryan Hedges and Dean Campbell dropped to the bench and Ethan Ross was left out of the matchday 18.
In came Michael Devlin, Zak Vyner, Jon Gallagher, Niall McGinn and James Wilson, back from injury.
Also returning from injury on the bench were Craig Bryson and Stephen Gleeson. Bringing in Long for Cole was Motherwell’s only change from their 2-0 win at home to St Mirren before the break.
The Dons had the first sight of goal, Sam Cosgrove getting into good space but his shot lacked the power necessary from the edge of the box. Scott responded in the third minute, a curling shot from distance comfortable enough for Joe Lewis.
A short back pass from Shay Logan, under pressure from Seedorf, put the Dons in trouble on four minutes, Lewis adjudged to have brought down Long, Lewis infuriated by the Motherwell man’s reaction to his challenge. Scott fired his penalty to the right of Lewis, the skipper pulling off a fabulous save with an extended left arm to tip the ball over.
A nice move from the Dons in the 12th minute culminated in Wilson cutting in from the right and trying his luck from 30 yards, Gillespie beating the ball to safety, away to his left. Moments later, Wilson tried again, knocking Hartley clean off his feet with the ferocity of his shot as he blocked it with his head.
Hartley went off for further treatment and assessment.
The Dons pounced and made the most of their numerical advantage, Cosgrove collecting the ball from Greg Leigh some 40 yards out, accelerating away from Maguire and on into the box before producing a delicate little chip over Gillespie and in for 1-0 in the 14th minute, a terrific finish. Greg also did really well, winning an initial tackle deep inside the Aberdeen half before playing a beautiful early through ball, perfectly weighted, into the path of Sam.
With that, Hartley made way for Mugabi, making his debut for the hosts.
It could have been better yet in the 20th minute, a great cross from Logan picking out Gallagher 10 yards out, but he put his header over the bar. Motherwell could have been on terms two minutes later, miscommunication between Lewis and Scott McKenna allowing Long to nip in between them and pinch the ball, but from a tight angle he put his effort into the side netting.
Cosgrove had an opportunity to double the lead in the 28th minute, played in by Jon Gallagher, but as he advanced into the box and prepared to shoot, Motherwell’s Gallagher produced a fine last ditch tackle to rob him and keep the hosts in the game. Moments later, he made another key intervention to cut out Vyner’s dangerous looking cross.
Seedorf went to ground very easily in the 38th minute to win Motherwell a free-kick 25 yards out. Polworth stepped up but ballooned his shot well over the bar to the particular relief of Leigh in the wall – moments earlier he’d blocked a Motherwell move in an anatomical place where, after that kind of damage, you don’t rub ‘em, you count ‘em. That though was typical of the Dons’ first half commitment to their defending, a real case of they shall not pass.
Aberdeen continued to look good on the break too, winning the ball in midfield and ultimately getting it out to McGinn, Tait doing well to put his dangerous cross behind in the 42nd minute, the corner coming to nothing.
With that, the Dons went in at the break with a hard earned, and well deserved, one goal lead.
HALF-TIME: Motherwell 0 Aberdeen 1
Motherwell started the second half of the front foot, Seedorf down the left before slashing across his shot and putting it miles wide. He’d been looking threatening all afternoon but thankfully offered no end product to add to good approach play.
Brilliant pressing high up the park from the Dons doubled the lead in the 53rd minute, McGinn dispossessing Campbell 30 yards out before running into the box and placing a gorgeous, curling lob over the top of Gillespie and into the far corner.
Wilson’s race was run at that point, Connor McLennan replacing him and Motherwell responded to the two goal deficit by replacing Scott with Hylton moments later.
Confidence was coursing through the Dons now, Leigh and Considine combining well down the left, Mugabi making a brave block just in front of Gallagher in the 58th minute as ‘Well were just hanging on. A McGinn corner a minute later caused chaos, ricocheting off two players before dropping nicely for Gillespie as the Dons went hunting the third.
It came almost immediately, Vyner smashing in a superb goal on the hour mark, twisting and turning 25 yards out before driving a ball across the face of goal and in off the far post, a real cracker as the Red Army roared the side on.
The hosts soon made their third change, Cole replacing Maguire, then Polworth tried his luck with a fizzing shot from 40 yards but Lewis always had it covered as it bent wide.
With the hosts putting four up top, Aberdeen were swarming forward on the break now, Leigh drilling a shot across the face of goal and only inches wide in the 64th minute as Aberdeen were rampant against a very ragged looking Motherwell.
They might have had a sniff of a comeback in the 66th minute as Long got into space on the edge of the area, but his effort was always rising over the bar. Vyner collected the afternoon’s first card in the 72nd minute, and in the aftermath of that, McGinn was replaced by Campbell.
He made a telling contribution in the 79th corner, a lovely corner into the near post that found Considine, who couldn’t believe that he put his header across goal and wide of the target when goal number 36 was there for the taking.
Motherwell were looking a well beaten bunch by now but Long was still making himself busy, driving in a low shot from the corner of the box in the 80th minute, Lewis having it well covered at the near post. Two minutes later, Cole did well to turn away from Vyner on the edge of the six yard box but his shot was blocked away to safety.
Aberdeen players were queuing up to make it four in the 85th minute, Devlin and Vyner both having shots blocked as the visitors were in complete control of the game, recapturing some of the free flowing form we saw earlier in the season.
In fairness to the hosts, they kept plugging away and Lewis had to make a sharp save in the 88th minute to deny Cole and retain the clean sheet that he’d done so much to earn with that game turning penalty save back in the fifth minute.
The final change came with the very welcome return of Stephen Gleeson in the 90th minute, replacing Leigh. It was another high note to end a terrific afternoon that was full of them, marred only slightly by McKenna’s yellow card in stoppage time. A comprehensive win over the Steelmen, the Dons drawing to within a point of them in the table.
FULL TIME. Motherwell 0 Aberdeen 3
MOTHERWELL: Gillespie, Hartley (Mugabi 15), Gallagher, Tait, Grimshaw, Maguire (Cole 61), Campbell, Seedorf, Polworth, Scott (Hylton 56), Long.
Subs not used: Carson, Ilic, Manzinga, Semple
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan, Devlin, McKenna, Considine, Vyner, Leigh (Gleeson 90), Wilson (McLennan 54), Gallagher, McGinn (Campbell 73), Cosgrove.
Subs not used: Cerny, Gleeson, Bryson, Hedges, Anderson.
GOAL: Cosgrove (14), McGinn (53), Vyner (60)
BOOKED: Vyner, McKenna