FORGET the Hand of God.
Yesterday was all about the arm of Anderson. Deep into the third minute of added time at Fir Park, with Motherwell grimly holding on to a lead which would have seen them leapfrog their visitors as the best of the rest in the SPFL, Aberdeen captain Russell Anderson registered his first goal of the season.
It came with a swing of his right wrist - following a Niall McGinn corner and a Mark Reynolds knock down - and wouldn't have been out of place on a volleyball court. The point was the least Aberdeen deserved, but that didn't make it any less galling for Motherwell that referee Steven McLean failed to notice the misdemeanour.
Loading article content
"There were a lot of bodies in there, but it was a blatant handball," said Motherwell manager Stuart McCall. "It is hard enough to take losing an equaliser in the 93rd minute but Russell scored with his arm.
"You don't expect us to see it or you guys in the stand to see it, but I saw from the players' reaction - three or four of them claimed it. It would have been nice if the ref could have seen it but he didn't. He missed it, and we have paid the price for that."
Alas, there is no longer a Champions League place for Scotland's league runners-up, but that didn't seem to deter these two yesterday.
Thanks to the efforts of some hardy members of Motherwell's front office staff, the dreaded Fir Park playing surface only just passed a 1pm inspection, with three or four problem zones on the pitch at risk of forcing an abandonment if any further rain fell. Thankfully, aside from one short downpour, the Lanarkshire weather remained dry, and the decision to play was fully vindicated by a match which was anything but a damp squib.
Aberdeen's new signing Adam Rooney, a prolific scorer in his past life at Inverness Caledonian Thistle, was pitched straight into battle and within minutes had a shot saved and a penalty claim waved away following a clash with Shaun Hutchinson.
The Motherwell defender's next intervention was equally controversial, as he took the ball in a lusty challenge with Ryan Jack. Hutchinson earned a booking while the Aberdeen midfielder was stretchered off with a hip problem, putting the Scotland Under-21 player in the doubtful category at best for Saturday's League Cup semi-final against St Johnstone.
The two managers took issue over whether Hutchinson's yellow card was sufficient penalty. "We don't know for sure yet [how bad the injury is] but he has gone for an X-ray and was in a lot of pain," said Aberdeen's Derek McInnes. "But regardless of how long he is out, I thought it was a very poor challenge. It was reckless to say the very least."
However, McCall responded: "I totally disagree with that. It was a yellow card without a doubt. In my day it wouldn't even have been a foul, but we are not living in my day."
Barry Robson would also leave the action with aching ribs due to the after effects of a full-on collision with Fraser Kerr, who himself sustained ankle ligament damage but not before he had struck the roof of the net from a free-kick and rattled a post from distance.
James McFadden finished too close to Jamie Langfield from one of the home side's few clear- cut openings, before the opener arrived immediately after half time, courtesy of a Stephen McManus header from Gareth Ainsworth's corner which Peter Pawlett, lurking on the line, couldn't keep out.
However, with Jonny Hayes tormenting auxiliary right-back Stuart Carswell, Joe Shaughnessy twice could have equalised at the far post, before Gunnar Nielsen made a meal of McGinn's long-range shot, and Rooney marked his return to Scottish football with a simple headed equaliser.
In a flash, though, Motherwell were back in front, substitute Henri Anier making an immediate impact with his low cross. Zaine Francis-Angol appeared to get the final touch just ahead of John Sutton, even if the striker came up with the more convincing goal celebration. "I thought it was mine, but whoever shouts the loudest seems to get it," said Francis-Angol.
Rooney scooped over from close range when a debut double was looming, but, not for the first time this season, Aberdeen found a crucial late goal, even if they did require a helping hand to do so.