Ten-man Motherwell went down to league leaders Aberdeen at Fir Park on Sunday as their troubling start to 2015 continued.
Manager Ian Baraclough handed a fine debut to 17-year-old Luke Watt at left back and 18-year-old Dom Thomas lit up the stadium during a 20 minutes cameo.
However, there were few pass marks for the more experienced members of his squad who failed to get to grips with the Dons, even long before Stephen McManus was shown a farcical red card.
Dan Twardzik was called into action twice to deny a powerful shot from David Goodwillie and then tip a mishit Jonny Hayes cross over the bar as the ball threatened to loop over his head.
At the other end Henrik Ojamaa had a go from 25 yards, but sliced wide and then a good burst forward by Watt found John Sutton at the edge of the box, but he fired over.
On 36 minutes the visitors took the lead as Fraser Kerr’s pass was cut out by Andrew Considine and Goodwillie clipped the ball over the top for ADAM ROONEY to steer past Twardzik.
It was almost 2-0 before half-time but Niall McGinn was just too high with a long range shot that hit the bar.
In the second half the Dons hit the woodwork again from a Considine header before ’Well managed their first shot on target after 68 minutes with a low shot from Ojamaa that was easy for Scott Brown.
On 70 minutes Thomas replaced Kerr and the young left winger suddenly gave ’Well some purpose with his jinking runs and trickery.
He came very close to a goal with a 25-yard shot that was just off target, and certainly should have had an assist as his cross gave Ojamaa a clear sight of goal, only for the Estonian to miskick.
However, they had to be careful at the back with Goodwillie prowling and he should have scored after holding off Mark O’Brien, but could only fire across the face of goal.
With two minutes left ’Well were reduced to ten men as Twardzik flapped at a McGinn cross and Hayes’s fizzing shot hit McManus’s shoulder as he was stationed on the line.
Referee Willie Collum stunned everyone by pointing to the spot and showing McManus a red card before ROONEY rolled in the penalty.
Motherwell: Twardzik, Reid, McManus, Ainsworth, Sutton (Erwin 70), Lasley, O’Brien, Law, Kerr (Thomas 70), Ojamaa, Watt. Subs not used: Nielsen, Carswell, Cummins, Cadden, McMillan.
Aberdeen: Brown, Logan, Considine, Taylor, Reynolds, Rooney (Shankland 89), McGinn, Hayes, Pawlett (Smith 76), Goodwillie (Flood 86), Jack. Subs not used: Langfield, Monakana, Robson, Shaughnessy.
Referee: Willie Collum.