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St Johnstone v Aberdeen | preview

August 6, 2016 7:04 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

RYAN JACK

“The only word I can use about the Maribor game was gutting. It was hard to take. All the boys in the dressing room were left completely deflated by what happened.

“There was a lot that happened during the game with the officials that was so frustrating. It is hard when every challenge seemed to be given as a foul and you are under threat of being booked. The sending off of Jayden was shocking and had a major influence on the tie.

“We deserved to go through as we were the better team over the two legs but you don’t always get the rewards you deserve in football. I thought the way we handled ourselves we were the stronger side. There are ups and downs in football and Thursday was one of the downs for sure. We will learn from what happened on Thursday night, and from what happened in the home leg as well and use that to help us hopefully have a successful campaign.

“We played our hearts out, I think we did really well with ten men and everyone gave everything. We never gave up and the boys attitude was brilliant. That is going to be an important quality for the squad in the weeks and months ahead.

“The boys were very down after the game but we were backing in training on Friday and Saturday, we have done our preparation now and we are ready for the St Johnstone game. We must make sure we come out strongly tomorrow and get our league campaign off to a positive start.

“European football has gone now, so move onto the next challenge, which is the league game in Perth. After a game like that on Thursday you are desperate to get back out there on the pitch as quickly as possible. It is about getting in amongst each other, supporting each other and getting the confidence and spirits lifted again. We have to make sure we come out with all guns blazing in the first league game.

“We managed to make a strong start last season after getting knocked out of Europe. The way the fixtures have fallen means we have quite a difficult start as we have St Johnstone, Hearts, Partick Thistle then Celtic in the first four games.

“It will be tough but we have set our targets high this season after doing well the last couple of years. We want to keep progressing so we know what we have to do.

“A lot of people have spoken about what will happen in the league this season but we take no notice of that. We just concentrate on ourselves. We know the capabilities we have got in the squad. We set our standards high. We will look to beat our points tally from last season. It will be tough but it is a challenge we are ready to meet.

“It is a great squad to be playing in at the moment. All the new boys have gelled brilliantly. It has been great to be a part of things over the past month and the European campaign was very enjoyable. I think in the first two European games we were quite sluggish and it took us a while to get going but I think we have been excellent in the last four matches and we now need to take that form and momentum into the league campaign.

“I feel every game we are getting better. We are getting fitter and we are getting stronger.

“All the new boys have come in and down excellent. They have all settled really quickly. It can sometimes take players a while to find their feet at a new club but all the faces who have come in have been excellent and that is very encouraging.

“I have built up a good understanding with Graeme and Kenny in the middle of the park. We all understand each other’s games. We all get on well. We are all a similar age so we get on well off the park as well. This is an area I hope we can be strong throughout the season.

“St Johnstone are a good side who have done well against us recently. They play quite direct, get the ball forward quickly and battle hard for the second balls. They are good at what they do. It is up to us to be able to handle it. We are all looking forward to the game.”

GRAEME SHINNIE

“The boys were very down after the game on Thursday. I think over the two legs we were the better team.

“We wanted it more, we showed more urgency, and created enough chances to go through in the tie. Unfortunately it wasn't to be.

“The referee has let us down, especially in the second half. Every time the ball was going into their box he seemed to be blowing and we couldn't get going, we couldn't get in and about their box. I think Jayden's sending off is a really poor decision, I don't think it's a sending off at all.

“There are loads of positives to take from the game. We created good opportunities, especially in the first game. We can't dwell on it, the season starts on Sunday.

“We’ll dust ourselves down and go again. We are all bitterly disappointed but you saw last year the way we started the season. We did very well in the first couple of months and we’ve got to do that again.

“The games come think and fast at this stage of the season with the St Johnstone game on Sunday and then Ayr in the cup on Wednesday before we face Hearts at home next Saturday. They are all big games. No matter what happens in Europe we want to do well in the league and we want to be challenge in the cup competitions. That is always an aim for the team especially after we exited early on in both cup competitions last season. We will look to do our best in both cups but focus as ever is just on the next game which in St Johnstone on Sunday.

“St Johnstone did very well against us last season. I’m not sure why that is. But that was last season. We’re a different team now, we have got new players who have all settled in well and we have a strong squad. I feel we have a stronger squad that last season as there are more dimensions to our game now.

“As I say there is no time to dwell on the disappointment from Thursday and feel sorry for ourselves. We have to get on with it.

“We are looking forward to the game on Sunday, especially after what happened the other night. All our focus is on trying to win that game now.”

ADAM ROONEY

“Since I have been here we have continued to improve and improve and the squad has continued to get stronger. The manager and Tony have let a few players go but they have kept the nucleus of a very good squad. There are a lot of lads like myself on longer contracts.

“I think we have got stronger this year. The manager has picked players where we needed to strengthen. I think if you look at the performances against Maribor against the two legs we dominated a very good side. One of their players said to me afterwards that we were the better team over the two legs. I think they realise they were lucky to go through but we unfortunately did not take our chances.

“We have to go into the season now with confidence and hopefully we will kick on.

“You need competition for places. I think the lads who have come in also offer something different. It is going to be a long season. It feels like we have played half a season already and the first league game is only on Sunday! So we are going to need lots of bodies over the course of the campaign.

“You see that already with Jonny missing a number of games. Wes came in on Thursday and I thought he done brilliant. We are going to need that during the season, players to come in and do a job when we need them.

“The lads always try and pick each other up. You could see on the flight back that although the boys were disappointed, everyone was quick to try and pick you up. I think all the lads came up to me to say forget about the penalty miss, you have scored enough goals since you have been here and dug us out on other occasions. It is good to have your team mates round about you as it is never good to miss a penalty in that situation. We have to make sure we look after each other and it is something we are very good at here. That shows you the spirit in the group. We pick each other up and look forward to the next game.

“I also really appreciate the support I have from the fans as well. It means a lot.

“Last year we did not have a great record against St Johnstone. It is a game that always seems to produce goals. I know we will take a good crowd down there and hopefully we can start the season strongly and bring back the three points.

“There is a determination amongst the lads in the dressing room to get back to winning ways. Ever since I have been here that is something we have done well – we have bounced back quickly after a defeat.

“You can’t dwell on it. You take the positives and move on. Any disappointment we have we need to use as motivation.

“We will not worry what other teams are doing. We know we have done well over the past couple of seasons and although we have fallen away a bit at the end of the last couple of seasons, we go out to win every game and we go out to win as many points as we can. We are always looking to improve on each season. Setting a new points tally has to be our aim and we will see where it takes us.”

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Dons open with a point : Live

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Dons open with a point

August 7, 2016 5:34 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

As expected manager Derek McInnes freshened up his side for the Ladbrokes Premiership opener with Anthony O’Connor coming into the defence and Miles Storey making his first start. Jayden Stockley also came into the starting XI with McGinn and Rooney dropping to the bench whilst Ash Taylor missed the game due to a one match suspension carried over from last season. Peter Pawlett was also suspended after his red card in the pre-season game against Arbroath. The midfielder will also miss the trip to Ayr on Wednesday night.

The game kicked off in warm but very windy conditions.

In the third minute, when the ball was eventually played on the deck, Wes Burns won the first corner of the game. Kenny McLean’s ball in was over-hit and a chance to put some early pressure on the Saints defence was lost. That was to be the story of the day.

In the fifth minute, Storey’s cross from the left looked to have picked out Burns but the wind pushed the ball away from the Welshman and into the arms of Mannus. The visitors enjoyed most of the possession in the early stages but were having to play from fairly deep.

In the 10th minute, Storey put over the first decent cross of the game and Shaughnessy did well to flick the ball clear with his head. St Johnstone then wasted an attacking free-kick when the ball was over-hit as both teams were struggling with the conditions. Space opened up for Brian Easton and although the shot from the left-back was a poor one it fell very kindly for Cummings inside the area and from point blank range, Lewis was forced to make a good stop – the striker really should have scored.

The wind continued to cause problems. Murray Davidson looked to have way over-hit a pass and the ball appeared to be going out of play but then it held up and Davidson was able to gather with the Aberdeen players out of position. In the end, they did well to defend the situation at the expense of the home team’s first corner.

Joe Shaughnessy then put over a couple of long throws which again the Dons defence stood up to well. In the past couple of seasons, St Johnstone have tried to bully the Dons backline but they were standing up well to the physical battle today. Anthony O’Connor had a very impressive debut.

Aberdeen then enjoyed a good spell of possession 20 minutes in but frustratingly, none of the crosses picked out Stockley. On 24 minutes, Shinnie did find the Dons striker in the area with his forward pass but the knockdown by Stockley just failed to find Burns.

Referee Willie Collum award a soft free-kick to the home side in the 27th minute. The ball over from the right was won by Shaughnessy at the back post but his header was straight at Lewis. Apart from that, the referee had a good game.  

On 33 minutes came a better move from the Dons. Shinnie’s cross found Stockley who cleverly knocked it down to Jack on the edge of the area. The skipper controlled his shot well but it was too close to the keeper. Shinnie was now picking the ball up in some good areas and burst forward again, forcing Liam Craig to bring him down and the first yellow card of the afternoon was produced. Burns took the free-kick which was 25 yards out but from a central position, it was always going over the top.

After 36 minutes, Burns and Storey linked up well with Miles playing in Logan whose cross was inches away from Burns. Aberdeen continued to force the play as they won a corner and then another Shinnie run produced another yellow card, this time for Cummings. Disappointingly Aberdeen wasted the free-kick and the home side were able to release the pressure that had been building.  

On 41 minutes, another Shaughnessy long throw caused problems. McLean was not penalised for impeding Lewis and the ball fell to Danny Swanson whose powerful shot was extremely well saved by Lewis. The big keeper would not have seen much of the ball as he had a lot of bodies in front of him.

In the final minute of the half, Storey and Burns again linked up well but Burns over-hit his cross. That pretty much summed up the half.

At the start of the second half Aberdeen won a free-kick which found the head of O’Connor inside the area but again no one was on hand to create a chance. Then at the other end, O’Connor missed a header but as the ball came back in, the Irishman made a brilliant tackle to thwart Cummings from inside the six-yard box. Lewis also did very well to spread himself and smoother the shot. Aberdeen then wasted another free-kick and corner with poor deliveries before Kenny McLean tried his luck from distance – an easy save for Mannus.

On 58 minutes, Aberdeen claimed a penalty when McLean was pushed over inside the area but nothing was given. On the hour mark, Shinnie did really well to pick up the ball after a midfield tussle. He put over a decent cross but Stockley could not get a touch. On 63 minutes, another Aberdeen set piece was wasted when McLean over hit a free-kick.

Then on 63 minutes came a double change, Rooney and McGinn on, Storey and Burns off. Both players impressed but were not helped by the dry pitch which did not allow them to utilise their pace.

On 67 minutes came some superb play by Stockley on the halfway line to control a difficult ball and then flick it over his head for McGinn to run onto. Niall had space and time which resulted in a dangerous cross which had to be headed behind for a corner. From the corner the ball eventually found its way to Considine at the back of the area. He fired in a shot but again Mannus did not have to move to make the save. A minute later, the keeper was forced to make a decent stop when space opened up for Ryan Jack. Ryan fired in a good left footed shot which forced the keeper to dive to his left to make the save.

After that, the Dons started to look tired. Having to play for much of the game on Thursday night in 30 degrees heat and with ten men caught up with the players but to their credit, they dug deep to make sure they did not concede.

On 82 minutes, a rare late attack from Aberdeen forced another corner. As McGinn was now on the pitch, there was some more quality coming from the set pieces but still they could not force an opening against a very well organised defence.  

A minute later, a Shinnie cross came to McGinn at the edge of the area but his first time effort was pulled well wide. The game then finally opened up as both teams went looking for a winner. After 85 minutes, McLean’s chipped cross picked out Jack and his header was pushed wide by the keeper. Rooney then teed up McGinn but his shot was weak. In the 90th minute, a St Johnstone corner produced a really brave bit of goalkeeping from Joe Lewis as he gathered the ball under real pressure from substitute Chris Kane.

In the two minutes of added time the game was end to end but both teams were guilty of wasting the final ball.
Then in the dying seconds Aberdeen could have sneaked it when Shinnie’s ball in was just missed by the diving Stockley inside the six-yard box.

In the end, a fair result as both teams probably did not do enough to win the contest. Aberdeen had more of the possession but lacked that little spark though they can be very pleased with the defensive effort and the clean sheet.   
 

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