Football: Stand-in Stillie proves his worth

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(First Edition)

Motherwell. . .1

Aberdeen. . . .1

AN own goal a minute from time by Alex McLeish gave Motherwell a draw they more than deserved last night, while Aberdeen gained their point because of a first-half goal by Duncan Shearer and an inspired performance from the stand-in keeper Derek Stillie.

The 20-year-old Stillie, Aberdeen's third-choice keeper, got his chance because of injuries to Theo Snelders and Michael Watt. He proved his worth with a triple save in the 82nd minute to deny Brian Martin, Tommy Coyne and Dougie Arnott. Stillie stood firm in the face of a second-half onslaught and was only beaten when his team-mate, McLeish, back-headed a corner into his own goal.

With both sides trailing Rangers, the leaders, by six points the game took on the mantle of a final eliminator for the right to contest the championship. Neither side, however, produced sufficient credentials to suggest that they can seriously challenge Rangers' domination.

A gusting wind did not help passing accuracy, but Aberdeen produced two early chances via Scott Booth and Brian Irvine. The opening goal came in the 38th minute when Booth delivered a crisp lay-off to Shearer, whose first-time shot from 12 yards nestled in the back of the net. Shearer was presented with an opportunity to increase Aberdeen's lead early in the second half but the unmarked striker placed his header straight at Sieb Dykstra.

The Motherwell cause was further hindered in the 54th minute when Paul Lambert was carried off on a stretcher after a challenge by Lee Richardson. However, they responded by taking the game to Aberdeen. Dougie Arnott shot across goal, Phil O'Donnell shot just wide and Stillie produced a superb one-handed save to push over a Brian Martin header.

Motherwell (4-4-2): Dykstra; Krivokapic, Martin, McCart, Philliben; Lambert (McGrillen, 54) Dolan (Shannon, 65), O'Donnell, McKinnon; Arnott, Coyne. Substitute not used: Thomson (gk).

Aberdeen (4-4-2): Stillie; McKimmie, Irvine, McLeish, Smith; Wright, Kane, Richardson, Jess; Booth (Paatelainen, 79), Shearer (Grant, 71).

Referee: R Orr (Kilbarchan).