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Aberdeen fight back from three goals down for a point in six-goal thriller against Motherwell

The Dons rallied from being 3-0 down in the opening half hour in a rollercoaster 3-3 draw at Pittodrie.

Aberdeen's Duk celebrates his equaliser with Jack MacKenzie after making it 3-3 against Motherwell. Image: SNS
Aberdeen's Duk celebrates his equaliser with Jack MacKenzie after making it 3-3 against Motherwell. Image: SNS

It takes a brave man to admit when he has got it wrong – Aberdeen interim manager Neil Warnock as good as held his hands up publicly after getting his line-up all wrong against Motherwell at Pittodrie.

An opening half hour as wretched as anything we’ve seen this season threatened to turn into a humiliating night for the Dons boss as he watched his side concede three goals to the Steelmen in the opening 26 minutes.

But a double substitution and reshuffle of the pack meant the Dons were back on level terms by the 50th minute in a chaotic encounter.

In the end it was a point apiece after a six-goal thriller and both sides had reason to feel aggrieved.

Nightmare start for Aberdeen

Motherwell’s Theo Bair celebrates after making it 1-0 against the Dons. Image: SNS.

Warnock made four changes from the side which beat Bonnyrigg Rose 2-0 in the Scottish Cup fifth round on Saturday.

Kelle Roos was restored in goal, while Jamie McGrath, Connor Barron and Stefan Gartenmann were also added to the starting line-up.

Ross Doohan, Angus MacDonald and Duk dropped to the bench, while Richard Jensen missed out due to injury.

Warnock went with a 3-4-2-1 formation for the visit of the Steelmen, with Nicky Devlin and Jack MacKenzie joining Gartenmann in the back three, while Shayden Morris and Jamie McGrath were deployed as wing-backs.

For Morris, his start to the game was a disastrous one as he gave away a penalty in the third minute for a clumsy challenge on Georgie Gent.

Following a VAR check, Theo Bair stepped up to fire home the spot-kick to give Well the lead.

Well were buoyed by their goal and they could easily have been 2-0 up by the 11th minute as the ball broke to Adam Devine on the edge of the box, but his effort deflected off Gartenmann and safely into the hands of Roos.

Aberdeen were struggling to get going, but in Bojan Miovski they have a player capable of creating something out of nothing and he forced Liam Kelly into a save from a tight angle after running in behind the Well defence.

The chance gave the Dons a crumb of comfort and they gradually found their footing with Connor Barron firing just wide from Polvara’s lay-off as they searched for an equaliser.

Dons went from bad to worse

But the visitors remained a threat and Roos made two terrific saves within seconds to prevent his side from falling further behind.

The Dons goalkeeper tipped a Jack Vale shot onto the crossbar before getting back to his feet to make another fine save to deny Bair from grabbing his second goal of the game – but the Dutchman was powerless to prevent the inevitable second goal from coming midway through the first half.

Morris may have had the pace to trouble Gent defensive, but when it came to the Well wing-back pushing forward it was a mismatch as he ghosted past Morris before whipping in a terrific cross to the back post for Bair to beat Roos with a first-time shot.

A horrendous opening got even worse as Adam Devine got in on the act, flicking the ball home for Motherwell’s third after Blair Spittal’s shot had been blocked.

Warnock’s reshuffle changed the game

Duk scores to make it 3-1. Image: SNS.

The howls of disbelief and anger rang out and there was not even half an hour on the clock. Those jeers intensified when Polvara and Morris were withdrawn.

Duk and MacDonald were the replacements and the duo had been on the pitch all of 30 seconds before Duk handed his side a lifeline – turning to fire past Kelly in the 31st minute.

Six minutes later we had a game on our hands as Nicky Devlin’s header from Barron’s corner was parried by Kelly into the path of Gartenmann who fired home to reduce the arrears.

Stefan Gartenmann celebrates his goal to make it 3-2. Image: SNS.

From being in complete control the sound of the half-time whistle came as a relief to the visitors.

But their resistance lasted all of five second half minutes.

A quick throw to Graeme Shinnie led to the Dons captain flighting a ball into the box where Duk held off his marker Devine before beating Kelly with a glancing header in off the post.

From the depths of despair to back level, the Dons went in search of a winner and Bojan Miovski thought he had put his side ahead in the 66th minute, but his volley was chalked off for offside following a lengthy VAR check.

Gartenmann then clipped the crossbar with a header as the Dons piled on the pressure.

Well thought they had produced a late sting in this tale when Harry Paton scrambled home a goal 10 minutes from time, but his goal was chalked off following a VAR review for a foul on Jamie McGrath.

In the end, neither side could force a winner.

You suspect neither manager was happy with their lot – but there’s little doubt the Dons would gladly have taken a point before Warnock’s reshuffle.


Aberdeen (3-4-2-1) – Roos 6, Devlin 6, Gartenmann 6, MacKenzie 6, Morris (Duk 30) 3, Barron 7, Shinnie 7, McGrath 6, Clarkson (Phillips 77) 6, Polvara (MacDonald 30) 4, Miovski 6. Subs not used – Doohan, Gueye, Hayes, Sokler, Duncan, Milne.

Motherwell (3-5-2) – Kelly 6, Mugabi 5, Butcher 6, McGinn 5, Devine (O’Donnell 72) 6, Zdravkovski (Nicholson 58) 5, Paton 6, Spittal 6, Gent 6, Vale (Obika 72) 6, Bair 6. Subs not used – Oxborough, Casey, Blaney, Buyabu, Ferry, Miller.

Referee – Kevin Clancy 7

Attendance – 15,290.

Man of the match – Duk