Derek McInnes remains calm despite Aberdeen defeat
ABERDEEN boss Derek McInnes was not too downhearted despite watching his side surrender the lead in a 2-1 defeat at Motherwell, which saw them slip four points behind Ladbrokes Premiership leaders Celtic.
The Dons had looked on course to maintain the pressure on the Hoops, who had edged out Kilmarnock earlier in the day, after Kenny McLean's spot-kick just before half-time. But quick-fire second-half goals from Scott McDonald and Louis Moult turned the game on its head before the visitors' afternoon ended on a sour note after Barry Robson received a straight red card for an apparent elbow on Moult.
But McInnes believes there will be more twists and turns to come in the remaining seven games - and has urged his side to bounce back in their next assignment at home to Hamilton: "We have 21 points still to play for and that is only our second defeat in 18 games," he said.
"We knew before the game that there was little room for error but with seven games left I still think there will be more surprises and points dropped. We are sitting between Celtic and Hearts and we have to look ahead to our next game and get back to our winning ways."
McInnes was left to rue a frantic final quarter of an hour, in which Motherwell scored both goals and Aberdeen were reduced to 10 men: "We looked in control and likely to score a second goal. We managed them well, were the stronger side and kept their threat of the front three at arms length until the final 15 minutes," he said.
"Both of their goals were very cheap and disappointing but you can't lose goals like that and win matches."
McInnes had few complaints with the decision to dismiss Robson, who was given his marching orders in the 79th minute, shortly after Motherwell had taken the lead, mere moments after replacing Andrew Considine.
McInnes added: "We had a chance to get back into the game and Barry Robson is disappointed as he came on to help energise us but he has crossed the line with his enthusiasm when he raised his elbow, and the referee has called it right with a red card."
However, the former St Johnstone and Bristol City boss thinks the home side should have been reduced to 10 men when Kieran Kennedy upended Jonny Hayes in the area. The Motherwell defender received a booking after conceding a spot-kick but McInnes argued the punishment should have been even greater.
He added: "I know it is harsh and you think the penalty award is suffice but by the letter of the law he has denied Jonny Hayes a goal scoring opportunity from six yards so it would be a red card."
Motherwell boss Mark McGhee hopes his side can remain in the upper tier of the table: "It is another win and that makes it five out of six and maybe now we can start thinking about staying in the top six," he said.
"I was aggrieved at the free-kick we should have got before they got their penalty but Aberdeen were worth their first-half lead. We changed the shape in the second half going to a 4-4-2 and that got us closer to them and stopped them playing."
The win is even more remarkable because some of the Well squad had a virus, but McGhee added: "The midweek virus didn't affect many of the guys playing, only [Marvin] Johnson and [Chris] Cadden had struggled but both were keen to play."