STEPHEN GLASS cut a frustrated figure after watching his Aberdeen side extend their winless run to six games in all competitions following a 2-0 defeat at Fir Park.

The Dons boss knew that a win would take his side to the top of the standings – at least, for 24 hours – but Kevin van Veen’s first-half header and Juhani Ojala’s second on the hour-mark were enough for the Steelmen to see off their opponents in a wholehearted contest.

Nine bookings were dished out by referee John Beaton in what was a stop-start game but it was Motherwell who took advantage of some sloppy defending to record a third consecutive league victory.

“It was another game where we had a lot of the ball and didn’t do much with it,” Glass rued. “We didn’t defend a couple of situations well at all and we got what we deserved as a result.

“It’s the first time we’ve been beaten in the league. There are a lot of teams beneath us in the league that don’t get asked the same question. But people are going to point to things – that’s what happens when you’re at a big club.”

The visitors started the game brightly enough but there was always a hint of lethargy about their build-up play. Determined to play out from the back, often they managed to draw Motherwell onto them deep in their own half but failed to spring the trap after it had been set. The ball would be shelled forward sporadically but home debutant Sondre Solholm and his defensive partner Ojala were waiting to greedily hoover up any stray passes.

Those lost balls became concerningly frequent as the game progressed. The Dons were sloppy in the final third and looked vulnerable in transition on occasion, and it was little surprise when van Veen nodded Motherwell in front.

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Tony Watt had headed a corner downwards and wide just 60 seconds before van Veen’s made the breakthrough in almost identical circumstances. In came a whipped delivery from Kaiyne Woolery, and there was the striker to show Watt how it was done by steering the ball home.

Rather than wake Aberdeen from their malaise, though, that strike caused the away side’s heads to drop. Motherwell’s efficient defending at the back left no gaps to exploit and the Dons lacked the sufficient guile to play through the small pockets that remained.

Glass’s men came out with a renewed sense of purpose after the restart but still Liam Kelly remained largely untested. Marley Watkins and Lewis Ferguson peppered the keeper’s goal with pot-shots but none could be said to have seriously worried the ‘Well No.1.

The result was all but sewn up shortly afterwards. Mark O’Hara played a free-kick short to van Veen on the left, the forward beat his man and swung in an inviting delivery, and Ojala was at hand to power a header beyond Joe Lewis as it crashed in off the underside of the bar.

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The remainder of the game passed largely without incident, barring a van Veen challenge on Ross McCrorie that prompted Glass and his assistant Alan Russell to remonstrate with the officials on the park at full-time. Glass’ protests were rewarded with a yellow; Russell was on the receiving end of a red.

“It was a brilliant afternoon,” said a delighted Graham Alexander. “A top-quality opponent came to Fir Park today but I thought my players showed great discipline and competed well at the right times.

“The players’ discipline and work ethic off the ball was unbelievable today. When we were in those 1v1 duels we didn’t give cheap fouls away and that was the underpinning of the result really.”