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Dons in Cyprus | Derek McInnes Preview

August 2, 2017 9:07 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

The Manager | pre-match media conference from Cyprus

“It is only half time in the game.

“The onus is on Apollon to score a goal but we never go into any game not trying to score a goal. It was simplistic for us in Bosnia where we had to score or we were out. For us we feel the game is half time and there is work to do.

“I think in any second leg of a tie the dynamic of the game can change. Whether we score or they score, we have to be ready for every possible outcome.

“We will try and play our normal game. We were try and limit the amount of chances they have and I think when you go away from home you try and get an element of control into the game, with or without the ball.

“It is difficult for my players who want to go and score goals and be on the front foot. It is difficult for them to change so we will try and play as much of our natural game as possible.

“Adam Rooney has not travelled but we have options.

“Ideally we would like Adam Rooney with us for like any time of the season, you don’t want to lose key players with injury. We have shown we can cope without key players in the past but he was our top goal scorer the past few seasons so of course you would rather have him here. It was just too much of a risk given the nature of the injury. By not travelling he has a chance of playing on Sunday and we have other options.

“I thought Limassol played well in the game and I thought they showed they were a very good team. They showed their quality. They very rarely don’t score. They had a number of opportunities to score and deservedly got an equaliser.

“We are very comfortable playing away from home. We have had some of our best results in the Europa League away from home. We won in Groningen, we won in Rijeka, we won In Bosnia. I think the weather and conditions are a factor but we have shown we can deal with those situations in the past and hopefully we can deal with that again tomorrow.

“It is a totally different climate and it is a climate the Cypriot players are more used to than my players.

“I think we have been unfortunate not to progress past the third round in previous seasons but I don’t want it to sound like a hard luck story. And we did miss good opportunities in the Maribor game at Pittodrie and we missed a penalty away from home early in the first half. Circumstances and certain things could have made the game go away and our performance was good but it counts for nothing in cup football. You are either in it or out. We need to find a way to stay in the tournament and hopefully we can do that tomorrow.

“I think it will be a tight match. I think Limassol are a good team at Pittodrie and we expect them to have periods of the game tomorrow where they are threatening but we have to try and deal with that but also be confident enough with our own work to show that we are good enough to qualify.

“I think what is clear that there is a lot of passion from the Apollon supporters for their team and that will help create a good atmosphere. Us having around 700 fans, that level of support in such a small stadium will help us as well. I think the atmosphere will lend itself to the type of game it is. We view this like a semi-final. I have said that to the players. We want to get to that final and give ourselves a chance. We want to treat the game accordingly. We want to treat it like a proper cup game. Having a good atmosphere from both sets of supporters will only add to that.

“We are well aware of the attacking threat of Apollon Limassol. They like to dominate possession, they like to get players forward in numbers, but we are also a team who are more than capable of scoring. We feel home and away, domestically and in Europe over the last few years, we have shown we are a team of similar capabilities.

“They are a very good side. They showed that last week. They have shown that over a period of time. Nothing to suggest they will be anything different tomorrow. We just have to find a way to win the game.  

“As I say I think the game will be tight and it is still in the balance and it is all to play for.

“I think one or two of the new signings are still a little bit behind. That is only natural given where they have been and the different stages they have joined us. We have had three competitive games and I have to be pleased with how quickly they have managed to become familiar with each other and bought into what we are trying to do. Good players managed to do that. We have signed good players.

“It is important we do well tomorrow night because we want to do as well as we can in European competitions. It is difficult now to get to the group stages. It is not the same as it used to be. The last time Aberdeen were there it was only one game to get there. The obstacles are there but hopefully we can find a way to overcome them and win the game tomorrow.”
 

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Dons bow out in Cyprus

August 3, 2017 8:36 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

The manager made just one change with Jayden Stockley coming into the side in place of Nicky Maynard. The home side named Jakolis in the starting XI, who he came on at half time at Pittodrie and impressed.

The match kicked off in hot conditions – hot enough for the officials to decide there would be water breaks after 25 and 70 minutes. Although the humidity was not as high as it sometimes can be.

Inside the stadium there were about 700 or so Aberdeen fans which helped produce a decent atmosphere at kick-off. The home fans had been asked by their club to make the atmosphere as hostile as possible and they were doing their best.
 
The game kicked off at a slow pace, Aberdeen happy to let the home side have possession. In the fourth minute, amongst all the smoke being given off by flares from behind the Apollon goal, Stockley won a free kick. When the ball was eventually played in, Bruno Vale collected comfortably. Considine then had a half chance two minutes later but he could not quite get on the end of a cross. On seven minutes, a fine run by Shinnie who broke past a couple of tackles in the midfield area. 30 yards out, he had options but elected to shoot and dragged his shot harmlessly wide.

In the ninth minute, Greg Stewart put pressure on the left back Roberge and won a corner for his efforts. Vale took an easy catch from the second ball in but then Christie won a free kick 25 yards out. Again though the home side dealt with a couple of balls into the danger zone.

12 minutes in, Alex turned well inside the area but his pass across the box went astray.  Jander then got on the ball on a couple of occasions and his movement was causing a few problems. Three minutes later Logan put over a cross but again it was easily dealt with by the first defender.

After 16 minutes the home side took the lead. It was a soft goal from an Aberdeen perspective. Jander was able to get down the left and put over a cross which was met by Alef. The Dons defence did enough to hold him up at the near post, but the striker managed to lay the ball into the path of Andre Schembri and his low shot went through a crowd of red bodies and landed in the net. Mackay-Steven was on the line, but a deflection seemed to take the ball away from him.

Aberdeen now had to score and they almost did when the game restarted.

On 20 minutes another Dons free kick. Christie took it and this time instead of playing a ball over he curled the ball to the near post, similar to his effort in the Scottish Cup semi-final. This time though the keeper read it and just managed to get across to save.

Three minutes later Stockley clearly had his shirt pulled inside the area, but nothing was given. The Apollon central defenders were struggling to cope with his physical presence and Jayden was winning a lot of free-kicks . Just ahead of the first water break Mackay-Steven beat his marker over on the left but his pass inside to Christie was under hit.

When the game restarted a nice cross field pass released Mackay-Steven, but he failed to get over a cross or win a corner. In the 34th minute Shinnie picked out Considine at the back post and his ball in was bundled behind for a corner. Again though the ball failed to clear the first man and Aberdeen were lucky Apollon did not make more of the break, they had a three on three. Considine then headed a Christie free kick wide – a better delivery this time.

Five minutes before half-time Alef drew a foul from O’Connor just outside the area. Jander’s shot went straight into the wall.

On the stroke of half time Stockley and Ryan Christie picked up yellow cards in quick succession. Seconds later so did O’Connor as the Swiss referee began to lose control a bit. Alef curled the resulting free kick just over the bar, although Lewis appeared to have it covered.

The Dons will have been disappointed to have gone in at the break behind as they had rarely been troubled aside from the goal. 

HT. Apollon Limassol 1 Aberdeen 0

The second half was slow to get going. The game was halted as the flares from behind the goal of Joe Lewis caused visibility problems. The stewards seemed powerless to do anything about it.

On 52 minutes some decent link up play by GMS and Stockley almost created a chance for Christie. Aberdeen won a corner but again it was comfortably cleared and on the break Apollon had a two on the two but made a complete mess of the situation. There was another break as a flare was this time thrown in the direction of Joe Lewis.

54 minutes in, the first change, Stockley off and Nicky Maynard on.

The game was quite open now and the dangerous Jander popped up on the left on a couple of occasions. The first time he drove the ball into the side netting and second time his cut back was cut out by Considine. On the hour mark the Dons were lucky to escape when O’Connor was turned and the ball was laid into the path of Jakolis. He had a clear sighting at goal but his low shot was straight at a grateful Lewis.

On 61 minutes Mackay-Steven put over a low cross before Shinnie tried to burst into the area after neat play down the touchline by Logan. Maynard then won the ball in the area but could not turn and force a shot.

On 64 minutes Greg Stewart was replaced by Greg Tansey.

This was a good spell for the Dons, their best of the game. McLean burst into the area and forced a corner. Tansey now on the field delivered a good ball but Vale eventually collected a return header.

On 68 minute a golden opportunity for Aberdeen. A ball forward was collected by Maynard who spun away from his man. He laid the ball perfectly into the path of McLean but as he tried to round the keeper he over ran it slightly. Now on the goal line Kenny tried to cut the ball back but his pass infield was snuffed out. Just ahead of the second water break, it was the chance Aberdeen had been waiting for but they could not take it.

After 72 minutes Mackay-Steven won a free kick out on the left. Tansey put over a good ball, but the referee’s whistle went for some reason.

The home side had by now put on a couple of defensive minded players as they looked to protect their lead and hit on the break.

With fifteen minutes to go another chance for Aberdeen. Logan’s cross from the right went all the way through to Mackay-Steven but a defender and the keeper blocked his shot. With thirteen minutes left Scott Wright replaced Mark Reynolds as the Dons went for broke.

Substitute Sardinero produced a highly elaborate dive with ten minutes left, but thankfully the referee was not fooled by it.

The game became very stretched in the final minutes. Scott Wright was getting on the ball, but his crossed came to nothing.

After 82 minutes the Dons best chance. A free kick was played in by Tansey and flicked on by Maynard. Somehow the ball rolled past a couple of red jerseys inside the six yard box and behind Considine. As Aberdeen piled on the pressure a Mackay-Steven shot was deflected just wide.

As Aberdeen piled forward they were bit short on the break as Apollon grabbed a second. Sardinero had acres of space and time. His cross was met by Roberge and his shot produced a brilliant save from Lewis, but substitute Zelaya fired home. 

Aberdeen still only needed a goal to take the game to extra time. Wright won a free kick which led to Lewis coming forward, but Tansey’s ball in was cleared.

There were six minutes of added time. During which time you felt that Aberdeen would at least create one opening. Four minutes in and Scott Wright picked out Kenny McLean, but his headed was straight at Vale. Then a driven cross was inches away from Christie. Agonising stuff. 

The European dream was over for another season.
 

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