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Hearts Preview | the manager pre match

December 10, 2015 5:43 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

Squad News

“Ryan Jack has trained all week but Niall has not. Niall did do a bit of work today with the physio’s and is due to train tomorrow. That was always the plan after Saturday’s game so we are hopeful he comes through that and is available because obviously he is an important player for us. We think that getting him off last week at half time was the correct decision. It was always a risk because the game was far from won but we felt by doing that he would be available for this one.

“We have got a good squad here with a number of players who can play different positions. Peter Pawlett has done a lot of his best work for me in a central role but on Saturday when Niall came off we felt Peter’s pace was important to us. Niall performance during the first 45 minutes was excellent and then Peter followed that up. We have got good options if players are out through injury or suspension.

“We are hopeful that Niall will make it, it is good that we have got Ryan back. The only one who is definitely out at the moment is Barry Robson.

“The qualities of Adam Rooney have been well documented by myself. We are lucky to have him. His own game is in a good place at the minute. I think he has been playing well, as well as scoring goals. The players, the supporters and myself all recognise how much of a team player he is as well as being the one who can separate teams. He is a natural goal scorer. He anticipates well, he has a knack of finding space in the box but as I say he is more than that. He is not a player that we need to carry. He gives a good level of performance and effort every time he takes to the pitch. If you are going to have a decent campaign you need someone who is going to score on a regular basis. Adam has done that for us since we signed him almost two years ago.

Saturday’s Opponents

“Hearts bring a lot to the game, including the crowd that they bring. They deserve a lot of credit for the way that they have started the season. A lot was expected of them coming up last season. Sometimes newly promoted teams get that bounce early on and always start the season well. We have seen that with other teams before. I remember my own St Johnstone team doing that when we got promoted.

“But I think Hearts are more than that. They have got a good thing going there. It is good to have them back in the top flight. It is a game we are looking forward to. With that extra crowd it brings an atmosphere to the game.

“There will be a lot of good players on show from both teams so we have the makings of a good game.

“Hearts are probably in the position that most people thought they would be. They are a team who have that level of expectation and demand put on them because they are a big club like ourselves. There is a demand to do well. You don’t normally get a lot of grace to find your feet.

“They have some good young players. Hearts maybe benefitted from having to field young players two seasons ago. Guys that might not otherwise have played. You still see some of these players in the current team. They have also recruited well from abroad with a number of foreign lads coming in. They seemed to have made the adjustment and settled quickly in Scotland. There is a good level of experience in the team, a good level of ability and a good physicality.”

The League Table

“You can get too hung up with what other teams are doing and looking at league tables too early. I have always felt you have to try and manage your own game and concentrate on getting the type of runs we are looking for and looking for a consistency in our work and getting results.

“We have worked hard to get back to some kind of form at the minute and we want to keep that going but there are still 60 odd points available between now and the end of the season. You don’t really find out where teams are until after January, the start of February. Then you get a better picture of where teams are likely to finish in the league. At that point you might start to have a look at what other teams are doing.

“There are a lot of good teams who are capable of going on good runs. The likes of St Johnstone, Hamilton, Dundee, all these teams are capable of putting a run of results together so it would be wrong just to talk about Aberdeen, Hearts and Celtic.”

Fixture Changes

“The difficulties with the TV dates and rearranged games does not come for me and the players. We just get told when we are playing and just get on with it. But I don’t think it is easy for supporters to go to some of the games to be honest. Supporters will by a season ticket and sign up to the fact there will be some adjustments to the traditional Saturday 3.00pm KO time but when it is midweek and when people are working and then trying to get to places such as Inverness which is not exactly next door. I think with the Friday night games we have to try and be as fair with the supporters as possible. Ideally there should be a close proximity between the clubs. I am not against Friday night games but there has to be a consideration for the supporters and not just our supporters.

Changes to the League Cup

“The league cup changes were first mentioned to us as managers at the managers meeting at the start of the season. It was debated across the table. I think the authorities deserve some sort of credit for trying something new to make it different. Time will tell if it works but we should get behind it. For me the winter break should be longer. If we are going to do it we should do it properly. It should be at least three to four weeks so that is something we could work towards. But as I say they deserve credit for coming up with something creative with the League Cup format.”

REDTV | watch the manager's pre match media conference in FULL please click here

 

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Dons handed deserved victory : Live

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Dons handed deserved victory

December 12, 2015 4:00 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

Aberdeen left it late but scored in the final few minutes to win the match and a win a deserved three points. The Dons were the better team in the first half but for all their dominance they could not find a way past a well organised Hearts defence. Jonny Hayes was the man causing most of the problems. After the break the game was scrappy and a more even contest. Although the home side continued to put over plenty over crosses, the Edinburgh club hit the bar through Nicholson and Danny Ward produced an outstanding stop to keep out Juanma. It really was a top quality save and great concentration from the keeper as he had very little to do before then. Just as the game appeared to be heading for a stalemate, Jordan McGhee surprisingly put his arm up and handled a cross that appeared to be heading away from danger. Up to that point the young defender had a good game. Adam Rooney took the penalty and despite the pressure buried the spot kick, his 6th goal in the last 7 games, his 12th of the season and his 49th career goal for the Dons.

RedTV Matchday Centre | the goal, highlights, full match replay, Derek McInnes, Jonny Hayes and Graeme Shinnie post match reaction please click here

match report |

Derek McInnes made one change to the side that defeated Dundee with the injured Niall McGinn dropping out for Peter Pawlett who impressed so much during the second half at Dens Park last week.

The match had a big game feel to it in the opening ten minutes with a high tempo and good atmosphere within the ground but neither keeper was tested during this time. On the stoke of the tenth minute The Dons did have a chance when McLean found space in behind the Hearts defence and hit a half volley across the six yard box from inside the area but from a very acute angle.

From that moment on the home side bossed the first half with Jonny Hayes in particular causing plenty of problems. His free-kick delivery in the 12th minute was directed towards goal by Taylor but on this occasion it was a comfortable save for Alexander.

The Dons were awarded a number of set-piece opportunities throughout the half and showed good creativity to keep the Hearts defence on their toes. A smart corner was worked to McLean 12 yards from goal but his shot was blocked.

A few minutes later Hayes picked out Logan at the back post and his header back across goal was bundled behind for a corner. Shay got himself into a good position and was unfortunate not to create more.
Hayes was full of confidence and nearly caught out the keeper with a drilled cross from the by-line but Alexander, who was caught out of position, produced a decent save and his handling was very good. Hearts were struggling to cope with the winger and he was the victim of a number of fouls, none of them malicious, just a sign that the defensive players were struggling to cope with his pace and direct style.

The first player to go into the book was Pallardo but it was actually for a foul on Pawlett in the 28th minute. One minute later the Spaniard made an unnecessary challenge on the touchline which would have probably earned him a yellow card if he hadn’t gone into the book just seconds earlier.  Spotting the danger to his team Robbie Neilson opted to substitute the midfielder early.

The Hearts keeper was then called into action when a cross from Flood was cleared to Hayes, his snap volley was on target but it was easy enough for Alexander to collect.

It wasn’t much of a surprise that the best chance of the half fell the way of The Dons, Hayes picked out Considine with five minutes of the period remaining but his header was straight at Alexander. If it had gone anywhere else in between the sticks it would have been a goal.

Aberdeen almost got a break just before half-time but Logan’s over-hit cross ended up skimming the top of the cross bar.

With the half nearly over Aberdeen were dealt a blow when Mark Reynolds picked up a nasty head knock which meant that he couldn’t take to the field for the second half. Ryan Jack came on to replace him which meant a re-shuffle with Shinnie heading to left-back and Considine moving across into the centre of defence.

Hearts hadn’t troubled Ward at all during the first half and it was difficult to see that continuing into the second half. The away side did improve, as expected, and almost took the lead when Nicholson curled a great shot towards goal from 25 yards. The shot had the beating of Ward but rebounded back of the crossbar to the relief of most of the people in the stadium.

The Dons were back on the attack again in the 57th minute when a cross from McLean found Rooney in the box 6 yards from goal. Unfortunately for The Dons the striker got too much on the header and the ball sailed over the bar. A great chance.

The next opening for Aberdeen came just after the hour mark when a shot from Pawlett was deflected off target from the edge of the area after a very good block from McGhee. The Hearts defence had to deal with plenty of crosses all day from set-pieces and open play and to their credit they defended well.

Up the other end it was time for Danny Ward to shine as he had to be off his line sharply to close the angle and turn the ball behind from a one-on-one situation with Juanma. It was an outstanding stop from the keeper. The striker looked odds on to score but Ward’s positioning was excellent and the ball ended up the right side of the post.

One minute later it was Hearts turn to try a clever set-piece. The delivery from the corner found Paterson unmarked at the back post and his header was scrambled off the line by Flood. The rebound fell to the feet of another Hearts player but The Dons had bodies between the goal and the ball and managed to get it clear.
On a number of occasions as the half wore on Hearts were quick to break down Aberdeen attacks with a series of fouls just as The Dons looked to be hitting top gear.

In the 73rd minute Goodwillie replaced Pawlett and just a few minutes after taking to the field he showed great perseverance to create an opening. After picking the ball up on the edge of the area the striker made his way through a couple of challenges before seeing a short deflected just wide of the post. David’s physicality was a new problem for the defence.

Hearts maintained an attacking threat of their own on the break but just when Nicholson looked to have got on the right side of Logan, the defender managed to make a superb last-ditch challenge to clear. Although the Hearts player should not have been allowed to get in that position in the first place.

With the game starting to look as if it was destined to be a draw a moment of madness handed The Dons the chance to take all three points. McGhee was the villain for the visitors as he handled a cross from McLean in the area which was heading harmlessly wide of the post.

With just 3 minutes of normal time remaining Adam Rooney stepped up to the spot, used all of his composure and made no mistake from 12 yards to send Aberdeen into the lead. The keeper dived the right way by Adam’s penalty was low and hard.

The man of the match, Jonny Hayes, had a bit of defending to do in the 90th minute and earned a yellow card. It was the only negative on a day when he was at the heart of everything that Aberdeen did as an attacking force.

Hearts tried desperately to equalise and desperate is probably the best word to describe their only effort in injury time when Sow sliced a half volley wide from inside the area and towards Section Y.

The Dons held on for a valuable victory which extended their lead over the visitors to seven points.
 

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