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Betfred Cup Semi Final | Derek McInnes

October 20, 2016 5:53 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

Ahead of Saturday’s Betfred Cup Semi-Final match with Greenock Morton Derek McInnes spoke to the press.

“What the players have been giving us over the last while has been excellent. There has been goals, clean sheets and a lot of players finding their form and playing to a high level. Hopefully we can produce all of that again on Saturday. It’s important that we play the game rather than the occasion. Hopefully we are good enough on the day to beat a good Morton side.

“My job is to get Aberdeen to a cup final and hopefully go and win it. The players have done well, it’s our third League Cup Semi-Final in four years, we have won one and lost one so we don’t need any reminding of the vast difference between winning and losing in a semi-final.

“We want to play well and show ourselves in the best light but it is all about winning the game. Hopefully the maturity of my team and our players and the experience they had of big games over the past few years helps, it doesn’t give us any guarantees of winning the game but it’s important to be able to handle the occasion and make sure that you are confident with your work.

“I want my team to be the team that everybody says “They wanted it more, they worked the hardest and they won more challenges”, if we can do that and produce what we are capable of hopefully we can win the game.

“The result last week for Morton probably made everybody else sit up and take notice but from our point of view we have been doing our own homework and they have beaten some good teams in their own division and beaten Dundee United and Kilmarnock earlier in the campaign. We are in good form and Morton are in good form so it has all the makings of a good tie.

“There was maybe a feeling that last year they would have got into the play-offs in the Championship and there has definitely been a progression under Jim there. They have some good players who a lot of our supporters won’t be aware of but we certainly are, we know every one of them and their strengths and capabilities.

“They take real strength from their organisation and their hard work but they are more than that, they have got match winners in their team. I think any team that gets to this stage has got a decent level of player and we have got to try and make sure that we are good enough on the day. We know that no one is going to give us it and we are happy to work for it.

“Ryan is not fully set as he hasn’t had a game yet but he has had a full week of training and been working with the physio doing a lot of conditioning work over the past two to three weeks and now that he has joined in again with the players it is great to have him back.

“It’s been great to have him back and his usual high standard of training has been evident. Ash is the only one, we have got a decision to make over the next 24 hours whether he will travel or not.

“The squad is picked, we will travel with 20 if Ash is ok and every one of them must be prepared to start. As well as the team have been doing it is always good to get good players back.

“I’ve had the benefit of working with the nucleus of the team for a long time now and we put the demands on each other. They want to do all they can to get to a cup final and make sure that there is still more to come from us.

“I have never thought that any of the boys in this team have been guilty of complacency. There is a thin line between complacency and confidence but we want to go there with confidence. A good Aberdeen team and good Aberdeen players should always have confidence in themselves to get the right result against any opposition. We prepare for this game as we have done for every other game.

“Jim’s influence on this team is clear, they play a certain way and have a good organised shape about them but they have shown that they are bright and inventive with set-plays and he will see this as a real opportunity for him and his team.

“Jai was a popular boy here and he was one of the younger ones in Paul’s U20 squad who never really settled. I know Jai’s dad Jose well. He is probably an inspiration to a lot of young players who maybe feel as though they are just drifting out of the game. He had been here, there and everywhere before we gave him a short term deal here but he never quite settled as he was homesick here and we let him move on. He still had a lot of his development to go when he was here but we worked with the family on this one and were understanding of the situation and I think being home has helped his performances. He had a wee bit of an edge to him that I really like and it is good to see him doing well.

“There has been a lot of expected of me and my team for a while now with European matches and trying to sustain a league challenge to Celtic over the past couple of years where a lot of games were must win and I think the majority of the time we have dealt with that pretty well.

“We have got some players with good experience but they are still hungry enough to get on in their careers and win more trophies. Hopefully that experience helps us but both sets of players will relish playing in a Hampden semi-final.

“We openly declare it at the start of the season that we see cups as a real opportunity. I feel comfortable to sit here saying that my team is good enough to win a cup and nothing has changed from that.

“I think we are almost at 11,000 tickets sold. Our supporters have had every reason not to go to this semi-final so I applaud and I thank the 11,000 or so that are going to be there for us. This is a big occasion for us, it isn’t any bigger for Morton. It’s not just their big day it’s our big day as well and we want to make sure that it is an occasion for our supporters to remember as well.

“We are so grateful and the players will be so grateful when they see that so many have made that journey and the effort to go down when there were so many reasons not to make the effort and not to buy a ticket.”

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Dons reach League Cup final

October 22, 2016 7:47 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

Derek McInnes, involved in his fourth semi-final as Aberdeen manager, just made the one change, Mark Reynolds came in for the injured Ash Taylor. Skipper Ryan Jack was fit enough for a place on the bench and his influence in the changing room would be important this afternoon.

The Dons settled quickly and Hayes forced a corner in the first minute. Maddison’s delivery was miskicked by Michael Doyle and the ball went behind for another corner. The second corner was played to the front post and keeper McNeil and a defender on the near post did just enough to keep out a stabbed effort from McLean. The third corner went to the same area and this time Hayes hit the bar with a header. A fourth corner from the other side was eventually cleared from a nervous looking Morton defence. In the fourth minute McGinn might have done better when Hayes played him down the line. His cut back from the left could not pick out a red jersey.

Morton in the fifth minute had their first attack and did well to create some space but Jamie McDonagh put too much on his cross. Back came the Dons for another spell of pressure. McGinn on the right got to the by-line but his cross failed to find Rooney who had made a run to the near front post and the ball went to the back. A Maddison free kick was well defended before another corner was then flicked on by Hayes but the ball went beyond everyone. In the seventh minute another free kick, this time in front of the Aberdeen fans in the North Stand, was played short to Maddison who had time and space but he did not connect with the shot as well as he would have liked.

In the 12th minute a McGinn cross was very well defended by Gavin Gunning and then two minutes later Mark Russell was forced to give away another corner after Hayes powered down the left. Again the corner routine looked for Maddison who had found space but his shot was always going over the bar. In the 16th minute Aberdeen forced corner number six but Maddison’s ball in was poor. In the 18th minute McLean tried his luck from distance but his controlled shot never troubled McNeil.

For all their possession in the opening twenty minutes Aberdeen had not got the early goal they would have been looking for. Morton deserve credit for withstanding the pressure. The Greenock side looked very organised when not in possession of the ball.   

Both team then wasted free kicks before Quitongo and Oliver linked up for the first time with a one two on the edge of the area but O’Connor read the danger and cleared. Great defending. Morton then won their first corner in the 24th minute but captain Thomas O’Ware headed wide.

Just before the half hour mark corner number eight fell to McGinn on the edge of the area but Niall did not get hold on his shot properly. The game then became very scrappy with a lot of niggling fouls. The constant break up of play was not suiting the Dons who could not get any tempo into their play.

In the 34th minute a neat back heel by Maddison played in Shinnie and his low cross was cleared for yet another corner from which O’Connor had a half chance but he just mistimed his jump and his header looped over.  

A couple of minutes later a good catch and quick throw from Lewis set Hayes free. The winger produced a much better cross which Rooney headed towards goal but the ball was deflected behind for corner number ten. Nothing came of it. Aberdeen would have fancied their chances from set pieces today but up to this point the Greenock side had defended very well.  In the 41st minute good patient play forced another corner. Again Gunning and O’Ware dealt with it and McGinn’s shot from the edge of the area was off target.

Just before the end of the half both teams had great chances to opening the scoring.

In the 43rd minute a through ball beat Reynolds and Quitongo was in. Mark tried to get back but the former Dons player got across the defender and was able to get a shot away. Joe Lewis came racing out of his goal to narrow the angle and produced a brilliant save with his legs. It was an outstanding stop. Then in the final minute Maddison’s free kick landed back at his feet and this James played in a brilliant ball which found Rooney but his header thumped off the bar.

HT

Right at the start of the second half McGinn went down inside the area after a good move but referee Clancy booked Niall for diving instead of pointing to the spot. On the 49th minute Aberdeen then forced two corners but again could not force McNeil into a save. At the other end Quitongo was starting to cause real problems. He won a number of free kicks and had one header which just went wide.

Clancy produced a yellow card for Jamie Lindsay who had already committed a number fouls before taking down Shinnie in the middle of the park. On the hour mark Maddison won another free kick after a brilliant turn. His ball in was headed behind from Reynolds.

It was end to end stuff at this point. O’Connor then produced another fine piece of defending to make a vital interception in the six yard box when he hooked a dangerous cross to safety. After that Logan finally forced keeper McNeil into a save but the assistant referee’s flag was up.

The Morton players were visibly growing in confidence. After hardly getting a touch in the first twenty minutes they were now the side who were looking the more dangerous and the Aberdeen fans were beginning to become restless.

All that was to change in the 68th minute. Shinnie played the ball to the far post. Considine deserves massive credit for winning his header and force the ball back into the six-yard box and Adam Rooney produced a superb header to loop the ball over the keeper and the defender on the line. There was a massive feeling of joy and relief.  
The Dons then had some great chances to finish it.   

A minute later Shinnie burst through. O’Ware did enough just to force him wide and with his right foot Graeme could not find the target. Then a minute after that a Hayes shot was deflected into the path of Maddison who stabbed the ball towards goal but McNeil did very well on the ground to block the shot. In the 74th minute a McGinn low ball found Rooney but his shot was deflected just past the post.

Morton throw on Aiden Nesbitt and Scott Tiffoney and they tried to find a way back into the game. Aberdeen looked a completely different side after the goal as they relaxed and started to find space. Morton on the other hand were now struggling to produce the same energy they had done in the first 70 odd minutes. In the 77th minute Logan and Hayes combined down the left. Hayes got to the bye-line and his chipped cross was asking for someone to fire it home but Maddison sliced it wide.

Three minutes later another chance for Rooney but Maddison got in his way and then at the other end Shinnie and McLean tackled each other as they tried to stop Quitongo’s mazy run. That was the only moment of concern as the Dons were managing the final stages of the game well and Morton, who had given so much, looked dead on their feet.

Considine was booked before Ryan Jack replaced James Maddison and then the 10,977 Aberdeen fans in amongst the 16,183 crowd were able to enjoy the closing stages thanks to Kenny McLean getting the second goal in the 88th minute. McGinn got to the by-line and it looked like he would score but the ball was deflected into the path of Kenny who from close range found the net from a slight angle.

The Morton players deserve enormous credit for their efforts but in the end Aberdeen just had a little too much for them. Another very professional job from the players. Only a month until the Dons return to Hampden and they will find out who they are playing on Sunday.

Finally a victory a Hampden for the Red Army to enjoy.

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