Motherwell striker Tony Watt slams referee for sweary red card mix-up

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Derek McInnes and his Aberdeen players were hit by a social media tsunami after being filleted by Ross County nine days ago.

Today, as the Dons sit third in the Premiership table, Ryan Hedges, an attacking forward hitting his best form for some time, asks: “Crisis? What crisis?”

It’s a question perhaps better put to Tony Watt, a key member of a Motherwell squad as yet unable to steer their way from a relegation scrap with Hamilton, the Accies left below their Lanarkshire neighbours only by goal difference.

Which is why all eyes will be on the Fir Park side’s midweek sojourn to the Highlands for a crucial fixture against fellow strugglers Ross County, just one point ahead of Graham Alexander’s team, still seeking their first victory under the recently appointed manager.

But Alexander would have liked much of what he saw of his new charges in the 2-0 Pittodrie defeat to Aberdeen, though not the defending which failed to deal with set plays that brought goals from Tommie Hoban and Andrew Considine.

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There was a fluency and crispness of play in a first half in which Watt came close to scoring on more than one occasion.

Liam Polworth’s sending off only two minutes into the second half, however, contributed to Motherwell’s decline while eyebrows were raised over the performance of Craig Napier, refereeing his sixth Premiership fixture during which he handed out four yellow cards – including one to Alexander – and a red to Polworth for “foul and abusive language”.

Watt admitted his team-mate did swear when hitting the deck following a challenge from Lewis Ferguson but insisted the profanity was not aimed at the match official.

“It should have been a yellow card to Ferguson for stopping a counter-attack,” Watt claimed. “Polly shouted: ‘f***in’ hell’ at Ferguson and the referee has taken that as it being  aimed at him. I don’t see how he could take offence.

“If it is a red card for every swear word on the park then we would be finishing games with no players on either side.”

Nonetheless, the former Celtic front man did accept that referees can’t be blamed for the position the Steelmen find themselves in currently. The storm needs to be weathered and improvement delivered in Dingwall on Wednesday night.

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The gloom which sat over the heads of the Aberdeen players following their visit to that town last week was lifted by the brightness of their display on Saturday, although McInnes will have concerns that his strikers are not carrying out the principal job for being on the pitch.

Ferguson, a defensive midfielder, is their top scorer with eight league goals, six coming from penalty kicks.

Despite that, Hedges revealed that his manager has pinpointed the next five games, starting at St Johnstone on Wednesday night, as crucial in their bid to continue to pressurise Celtic for the league’s silver medal spot.

“They are real big ones which can be a turning point in our season,” he said, “and hopefully we can get some results and pull away from the rest of the pack. From the performance against Motherwell you could see everyone was enjoying it out there. When you are playing well everyone wants to be involved.”

The Dons face Livingston, at the Tony Macaroni Stadium and at Pittodrie within four days, followed by a trip to Easter Road before hosting St Mirren.

So, what about the paucity of goals from the team’s attackers?

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“Everyone needs to play their part,” he said. “I could be out there now on my own and probably still wouldn’t score, but creating chances is the most important thing and it is only a matter of time before the front five start flourishing in front of goal.

“The performance we set today, if we can keep reaching that standard, I don’t think there are many teams who can live with us. We’ve just got to keep taking our chances and put the knife into teams.”

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