Aberdeen boost survival hopes as Gartenmann goal sinks Motherwell

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Aberdeen boost survival hopes as Gartenmann goal sinks Motherwell

Aberdeen eased their relegation worries as Stefan Gartenmann’s goal earned a 1-0 victory over 10-player Motherwell at Pittodrie.

Gartenmann headed the only goal on the hour mark, moments after Jack Vale had been sent off for catching Jack MacKenzie with a raised boot.

Motherwell were unhappy with Craig Napier’s red card decision and the award of the corner which led to the goal after Gartenmann appeared to put the ball behind himself.

The Dons missed a series of chances to leave the game on a knife edge until nine minutes of stoppage-time were up.

The result moves Aberdeen one point ahead of their opponents and both teams were boosted by defeats for Ross County and St Johnstone, with the Steelmen still seven points and 20 goals ahead of second-bottom Staggies.

How Aberdeen beat Motherwell

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - APRIL 27: Aberdeen's Stefan Gartenmann celebrates as he scores to make it 1-0 during a cinch Premiership match between Aberdeen and Motherwell at Pittodrie Stadium, on April 27, 2024, in Aberdeen, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Image: Aberdeen’s Stefan Gartenmann celebrates as he scores to make it 1-0

Motherwell made the brighter start and Stephen O’Donnell’s first-time strike was saved by the feet of Kelle Roos.

Aberdeen grew into the game around the 20-minute mark but could not test Liam Kelly during the first half.

Bojan Miovski did well to reach MacKenzie’s cross but could not turn his acrobatic effort on target and Dante Polvara sent a powerful effort just over the bar from 22 yards.

Blair Spittal threatened with two headers from Georgie Gent crosses at the other end, but Roos was not seriously troubled.

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - APRIL 27: Motherwell's Jack Vale and Aberdeen's Jack MacKenzie in action during a cinch Premiership match between Aberdeen and Motherwell at Pittodrie Stadium, on April 27, 2024, in Aberdeen, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Image: Motherwell’s Jack Vale and Aberdeen’s Jack MacKenzie in action during the match

Aberdeen’s first shot on target came after a 52nd-minute corner, but Lennon Miller produced an excellent goal-line clearance to head away Angus MacDonald’s well-struck volley.

The visitors defended their box well as the Dons kept up the pressure and Connor Barron’s lofted diagonal ball forward soon sparked the red card.

Vale cut the pass out, but his raised boot flew into the midriff of MacKenzie and Napier immediately showed the red card.

There was no VAR review, despite mass protests from the Motherwell players, who were soon unhappy again when a corner was awarded after Gartenmann took a swipe at the deflected free-kick following Vale’s foul.

Gartenmann this time made it count when he headed Junior Hoilett’s delivery in off a post. It was the Dane’s third goal for Aberdeen and his second against the Steelmen.

Aberdeen continued to create chances. Devlin and Gartenmann were off target following corners and Miovski stabbed just wide after Hoilett over-hit a pass on a two-on-one counter-attack.

Kelly saved Miovski’s low drive and pushed over Hoilett’s long-range strike before making an excellent stop from substitute Duk.

Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell threw on attacking players and they pushed for a late equaliser, but Spittal blazed a half chance well over the bar in stoppage time.

What the managers said…

On the red card that turned the game, Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell: “For me it’s laughable. Jack MacKenzie comes steaming into Jack Vale, I thought it might have been our foul.

“I’m not sure the Aberdeen player has got any place in that vicinity when our player has won the ball and hooked it over his shoulder. And he actually comes charging in, doesn’t decelerate at any point, comes haring into Jack Vale and spins him around.

“We will put a still on it and say his leg is straight and all that nonsense. He has got to the ball first, I think you have to check up when you see the Motherwell player has made contact with the ball.

“But you see the ref’s reaction. We actually had the same reaction for a penalty awarded against us when they take no time whatsoever to stop and think, maybe communicate with the assistants just to see if they are seeing the right thing. And when he brandishes the red card we all know VAR is not going to turn it over.

“I can only tell you my gut feeling, and people will see it different ways, my first reaction was just to start laughing. I couldn’t believe it was given as a red card. Neither can the players.

“I spoke to some of the Aberdeen officials, people who have been around the game a long time, and there is a smirk on their face, almost that they got a big decision in their favour.

“What irks me even more than that, is when you go and ask for a conversation with the referees, as is common practice, he has not allowed any of us in.

“The request came very amicably, we wanted a conversation to ask a couple of questions. Part of that was about his communication to some of our players, experienced players who have played for their country, and in my opinion that
derogatory manner that you speak to footballers, it’s not going to get a great reaction.”

Aberdeen interim manager Peter Leven: “I played it down this week and told the players they would be fine and they weren’t tired, but you could see some of them were still feeling the effects of it.

“The tempo wasn’t as good in the first half. We weren’t punching it through the lines or making enough options for the guys on the ball, we were forcing it. I told them they needed to up the tempo and they did that.

“You always have that worry that you have that dip after last week’s emotions, but I thought the boys’ character was brilliant.”

What’s next?

Aberdeen’s next Scottish Premiership match is at home to St Johnstone on May 4, while Motherwell host Livingston.

Both games kick off at 3pm.

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