Evening Express

Analysis: As Motherwell hoisted balls up, the Dons’ dream crashed down and they took route one out of cup

Aberdeen's Kari Arnason

There will be no cup glory for Aberdeen this season – only the bid to finish second, which no one will remember in years to come.

Footballing legacies are defined by silverware and the Dons came up short, for the second time this season, against a Motherwell side mired in the bottom six.

On the basis of this dismal performance the Reds face a massive battle to secure the scant consolation of runners-up spot from a season that promised so much.

Dons boss Derek McInnes has held up his hands and admitted his recruitment in the recent two transfer windows needed to be better.

There will be another large turnover of players this summer and some will have already sealed their fate after the Hampden horror show.

Ultimately this has been a season of regression for the Dons as last season they reached both cup finals and comfortably secured second.

McInnes insisted it is the first year of a rebuilt team but they should still be delivering much better than this.

Granted, there was a clear hand-ball for Well’s first goal. But this damaging defeat was not down to referee Kevin Clancy – it was due to the Dons’ inability to defend route one high punts upfield.

As Well hoisted the balls up, the Reds cup dream crashed down. Aberdeen were dragged into playing the Steelmen’s game and failed to get the ball on the deck to utilise the Hampden surface and maximise their passing game.

The Dons were minus the bite of captain Graeme Shinnie and the pace-dictating Kenny McLean through suspension. Right-back Shaleum Logan was also out through suspension.

Those were set-backs but cannot be used as an excuse for the defeat. Aberdeen lost 3-0 in the League Cup quarter-final to Well at Fir Park earlier this season when all three started.

The Dons were out-muscled and out-fought by Well for the second time in a cup competition this season.

All that is left is the fight to finish second which will be hollow for the 12,000-strong travelling Red Army who were let down at Hampden.

Securing runner-up spot for a fourth successive season will hinge on taking points off the Old Firm in the final two games of the campaign.

The Dons must end their shocking form against Celtic and Rangers this season. In six games they have yet to register a point – relegation-battling Ross County are the only other team in the top flight to draw a blank against the Glasgow two this season.

With Kilmarnock elevating themselves into the mix the Reds will have to battle for European qualification.