Motherwell 1 – 1 Aberdeen
Jim Goodwin will now start to shape the future of Aberdeen after his tenure as boss began with a 1-1 cinch Premiership draw against Motherwell at Fir Park.
The 40-year-old Irishman’s move from St Mirren to the Dons on a two-and-a-half-year deal had been confirmed on Saturday morning and he watched as attacker Vicente Besuijen’s first goal for the Pittodrie club in the 34th minute gave the visitors the interval lead.
However, the home side stepped up the tempo and midfielder Mark O’Hara levelled in the 68th minute with a finish from close range for a deserved share of the spoils.
Aberdeen are now without a win in seven games in all competitions, while Graham Alexander’s side are looking for their first league win in 2022.
Goodwin had a close-up look at the team he took over from Stephen Glass, who was sacked after last week’s Scottish Cup defeat at the same venue, and he has lots to work on.
For his debut as manager, Aberdeen showed three changes with Ross McCrorie, Besuijen and Adam Montgomery handed starts – Well were unchanged – and in a lively start to the match home goalkeeper and captain Liam Kelly made early saves from a 25-yard Lewis Ferguson free-kick and a Calvin Ramsay header.
In the 14th minute, Dons goalkeeper and skipper Joe Lewis was quick off his line to thwart Kevin Van Veen reaching a pass from O’Hara, the Well striker requiring treatment on his shoulder before continuing.
Aberdeen striker Christian Ramirez had the ball in the Steelmen’s net on the half-hour mark from a Connor Barron cross but was denied by the offside flag.
However, minutes later the Dons did take the lead when Montgomery took a David Bates pass and raced into the Motherwell box to provide a simple cut-back for Colombian-born Dutch forward Besuijen – the 20-year-old signed from ADO Den Haag in January – to knock over the line from six yards.
Just before half-time, Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes had to be helped off the pitch after a challenge with O’Hara, which sparked a melee, with Dons defender Declan Gallagher and Well full-back Bevis Mugabi booked by referee Nick Walsh.
In the last action of the half, Van Veen struck Lewis’ right-hand post with a 25-yard free-kick.
Hayes recovered to start the second half and within minutes he set up Besuijen with a cross but this time his shot from 16 yards was easily saved by Kelly.
At the other end, Van Veen’s angled drive was pushed round the post by Lewis for a fruitless Well corner.
However, the home side were rewarded for their increasing pressure.
Van Veen’s presence in the box disrupted the Dons defence when substitute Kaiyne Woolery’s effort fell to him and he held off Gallagher to get his shot from 12 yards away.
Lewis parried the ball but O’Hara pounced to finish from close range.
The Lanarkshire side pressed hard for the winner with Aberdeen reduced to occasional foray but both sides had to settle for the point.
What the managers said…
Motherwell assistant manager Chris Lucketti: “I thought it was reckless (Dons midfielder Jonny Hayes’s tackle on O’Hara just before the interval).
“I didn’t think it was dealt with as it should be.
“From where I was stood, it looked really reckless and Mark has got a big gash on his knee and his shin from that tackle.
“It is always difficult for referees. They can miss things and it is easy for us to go back and review things on the laptop which we did and we certainly thought it should have been dealt with better than it was.”
Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin: “I had a brief conversation with Scott [Brown] last night as club captain.
“I said I am looking forward to meeting him on Monday at the training centre and that’s where we are at.
“I know there’s speculation but I don’t know anything about it, I haven’t been told anything about it.
“Right now, I am planning on Scott being a player for me between now and the end of the season.
“His title is there as player-coach. I am very hands-on on the training pitch and I haven’t had time to look at the structure but I take the majority of sessions backed up by my assistant Lee Sharp.
“These are all conversations going forward but for now, Scott remains an Aberdeen player until somebody tells me different.”
Motherwell travel to champions Rangers a week on Sunday (3pm), while Aberdeen host Dundee United next Saturday (3pm).