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Depleted Dons can say job well done after comfortable win over Motherwell

Zak Vyner celebrates his goal with his team mates.
Zak Vyner celebrates his goal with his team mates.

He was without five players due to injury and two of his substitutes were fit enough only to make the bench, but Derek McInnes can give himself a pat on the back for a job well done at Fir Park on Saturday.

One look at Aberdeen’s teamsheet against Motherwell showed six defenders in the starting line-up.

Those fearing a backs-to-the-wall defensive display need not have worried and it was fitting two of the defenders should play a role in an excellent win.

Greg Leigh and Zak Vyner were deployed in central midfield and they gave their side stability and energy when it mattered most, and their contribution was not lost on the Dons boss.

He said: “I’m delighted with what the players gave us. Clearly we have problems in terms of injuries and suspensions, a real shortage of natural midfielders, playing against a team that has started well, but our performance levels were really good.

“The game came too quick for Craig Bryson, Lewis Ferguson is suspended, Stephen Gleeson is working his way back, Funso Ojo is out until January and Scott Wright is out for the season.

“We worked all week with Leigh and Vyner in there.

“I feel Vyner can naturally play there and will play his best football there, but Greg really took to it too and I thought their performances were fantastic.

“It gave us a good platform. We had to do it differently.”

There was little sign of what was to come in the opening minutes as the Steelmen gave the makeshift visitors no time to settle.

Their pressing saw a great chance to open the scoring as Shay Logan’s attempted pass back to Joe Lewis was under-hit and Christopher Long got to the ball ahead of the Dons goalkeeper, who was deemed to have tripped the attacker.

Lewis protested his innocence but referee Euan Anderson pointed to the penalty spot. However, the Aberdeen captain denied James Scott, making a fantastic fingertip save to turn the spot kick over the crossbar.

It was a huge let-off for the Dons and they quickly took advantage of their captain’s efforts to deny Well.

Greg Leigh, deployed in a holding midfield role with Zak Vyner, was the creator, making a superb interception before matching his winning of the ball with a fantastic through ball that sent Sam Cosgrove clear and the striker displayed the confidence he has at the moment by racing clear before deftly lifting the ball over Mark Gillespie to give the Dons the lead.

For McInnes, the contribution of Cosgrove was again crucial.

The Dons boss said: “I showed him his goal, but having the confidence to finish like that was something. When he first came here he would have put that ball out the stadium.

“He can take credit for his progress. I played with number nines who strutted about as if they could do no wrong and he is giving us that just now.

“We depend on him, but it’s good to see others playing their part. He is carrying the mantle of being Aberdeen’s number nine at the moment and that’s not an easy task.”

Cosgrove should have doubled his lead after Jon Gallagher sent him clear but unlike his first finish he seemed to want more time on the ball and Declan Gallagher got back to tackle the striker and the chance was gone.

Aberdeen continued to impress on the counter and when their next opportunity came, nine minutes into the second half, they took it.

Well defender Gallagher’s pass put team-mate Allan Campbell under pressure and his dithering was all the invitation Niall McGinn needed to rob his opponent of possession before striding forward and curling the ball past Gillespie from the edge of the box to double the Dons’ lead.

Motherwell’s heads dropped at the loss of a cheap second goal and Aberdeen, buoyed by their two-goal lead, surged forward to make it 3-0 on the hour mark.

Zak Vyner was the third man to get his name on the scoresheet, collecting the ball with his back to goal before turning Liam Polworth and firing a low shot in off the post from 25 yards.

The cries of ‘ole’ started from the Aberdeen fans with 20 minutes remaining but by that point a fair whack of the Well support had long since departed.

All things considered, an excellent and no doubt confidence-boosting performance and result for the Dons.

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