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Hearts Preview | Derek McInnes

May 5, 2017 7:46 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

Derek McInnes

“It is good to see our club quite prominent amongst all the awards.

“I think it is always a fair reflection of how other people view you. I think as a team over the last few season we have always had a real nucleus of players in the team of the year as well as nominations for manager of the year and player of the year. I think it is important that we continue to do that. I think this season some people thought we would become less relevant and I think we have been as prominent as the previous years which is really pleasing.

“I remember going to an awards ceremony when I first came to the club in Glasgow and we were barely given a mention. I remember saying to Tony, it would not happen again. The next time Aberdeen would be at the forefront come the end of the season, and I think we have done.

“I am delighted and would like to congratulate each and every one of the boys who have been nominated in the
team.

“Obviously Jonny is in good company for the player of the year award but it is a great achievement to get nominated. We also had our own Player of the Year awards last. I am sure it would have been a challenge for supporters to pick their prominent player who should get the award which Andy Considine won. It is great for Andy. I think it is thoroughly merited. But you would not have been surprised if it had been one of eight or nine players getting that award. I think that shows the strength that is in our team.

“I think for Andy to get the players award was equally pleasing for him. Andy is a player who is really appreciated within the club, players and supporters alike as well by the staff. It has been a really strong year for Andy. He has made it into the top ten all time appearances for the club, so he has been a pivotal figure. Some people get recognition a little bit later in their careers and I think Andy is one of those.

“The plan is to have something to show for our good season.

“We want to go into that cup final in good form. We have to make sure we try and get a few wins under our belt before then. We have some tough challenges to do that. Sunday will be a good game, it is one I am really looking forward to. Going down there, we have sold out our allocation, their pitch is in brilliant condition, it has all the makings of a top-class game. We are eager and excited about going down there.

“It is always the case when you don’t win a game that you want to bounce back. It is important that you don’t take three weeks to win the next one. I think there were reasons for losing the game and reasons why we did not get ourselves in front so we have been looking at our attacking play in training. I thought we defended well for long periods of the game, so our attacking play is something we are looking to get more from. We want to work the goalkeeper more from some of the good areas we get into. Hopefully we can show that side of our game as well as still being a difficult team to play on Sunday.

“Hearts like most teams in the league are capable of beating any team. There has been a change in manager and a change in style as to how they play. I think the pitch is suiting them. There are trying to get a possession based game and passing game going. Hearts have still got aspirations of trying to get that European spot so with four games to go the importance of this game is clear for both sides.

“When we have had a good pitch recently we have put in some very good performances.

“We have secured second spot early that this in previous seasons but to do it with four games to go would be a brilliant achievement.

“We are not there yet.

“I have said all along that we are into the final lap (of the season) and that is where things are decided. We are in a strong position. We need to show that confidence and mirror the results we have had over the course of the season during those final few matches.

“Everyone is fit and everyone is good to go.”

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Dons tighten grip on 2nd with Tynecastle victory : Live

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Dons tighten grip on 2nd with Tynecastle victory

May 7, 2017 5:16 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

Aberdeen fought off a second half comeback from Hearts to restore a nine point lead in second place with three matches remaining. Adam Rooney opened the scoring before O’Connor scored the winner in the second half after a Hearts equaliser. The result leaves The Dons unbeaten against Hearts with two fine wins at Tynecastle.

The Dons travelled to the last ever match in front of the Min Stand at Tynecastle without skipper Ryan Jack who had picked up an injury. That meant a couple of changes for The Dons as Jack dropped out of the squad completely with Christie dropping to the bench. Their places in the starting line-up were taken by Reynolds and Pawlett.

Around 1,400 members of The Red Army made the trip to the capital as Derek McInnes looked to tighten the grip on second place after Rangers late comeback at Firhill earlier in the day.

It only took three minutes for The Dons to have their first sight of goal. Aberdeen won a free-kick when Pawlett nipped past Hughes before being brought down 40 yards out. From the free-kick the ball found its way to Considine but unfortunately he could not add to his impressive scoring tally as he headed the ball wide of the post.

In the opening stages it was Aberdeen who were looking to make the play without really creating much more. Joe Lewis had to be off his line quickly in the 14th minute to clear up a Hearts counter-attack but generally most of the match at this point was about crunching tackles and the battle for the middle of the park.

In the 17th minute Niall McGinn had his first action of the game as he drove down the left and into the box, he skipped past his man before seeing a shot to the near post palmed away for a corner. Hearts dealt with the first delivery before Aberdeen were given a second opportunity to deliver from the corner. This time Hayes had too much on the cross and Considine had to re-build, the ball worked its way across the park and Hayes was brought down for a free-kick but his delivery was low this time and ricocheted off Rooney for a goal-kick.

The Dons were on top and got a break in the 21st minute when a speculative drive from Pawlett was palmed into the path of Rooney and the striker made no mistake from 9 yards out to send Aberdeen in front. Jack Hamilton should have done better but full marks must go to Rooney for following Pawlett’s effort in and being in a position to take advantage.

A couple of minutes later Hearts were on the front foot and won a throw-in deep in the Aberdeen half, Joe Lewis was there to prevent the throw being taken early and picked up a yellow card for his efforts.

Moments later Hearts had their first effort of the match when Walker was on the end of a free-kick from Tziolis but his header flew wide of the post.

Pawlett was making the most of his start defending from the front at every opportunity, he stole the ball in the middle of the park before striding past Buaben, the stand-in centre half picked up a yellow card for his efforts to stop him after he managed to get a cross away but it was away from Rooney.

The MK Dons bound midfielder was once again on the front foot to win a corner which was delivered in the direction of Taylor, the defender got a good connection on the ball but it trickled well wide after a deflection.

Hearts had their first corner of the match in the 35th minute after Shinnie blocked a through ball. Nowak was up for the challenge but his header wound up comfortably over the bar. The defender took a knock from the incident but was able to get back on his feet and resume play.

The home side were starting to work their way into the match with a sustained period of possession in the Aberdeen half but they didn’t get a chance to trouble Lewis thanks to some dogged defending. Hayes managed to relieve the pressure skipping by Walker who chose to stop the counter-attack early with a challenge that earned him a yellow card.

In the final minute of the first half McGinn had time to pick out Rooney in the box and this time Hamilton was in position to tip the header over the bar, it was a good save but ultimately didn’t mean anything as Rooney was offside. There was still time for Hearts to win their second corner of the match and the eventual cross was in a good area but there were no marron jersey’s in a position to attack it.

HALF-TIME Hearts 0-1 Aberdeen

At half-time Derek McInnes made one change as Pawlett, who may have taken a knock, was replaced by O’Connor. O’Connor took up a position in front of the defence with Shinnie pushing forward into Pawlett’s place.
Hamilton was called into action once again 5 minutes into the half when McGinn hit a half volley from a wide area towards goal, the keeper palmed the ball out to a central area but Shinnie was unable to strike the ball cleanly as his right footed effort trickled wide of the post.

The Dons were back on the counter-attack after Lewis claimed a cross and sent McGinn away down the left, the ball eventually made its way across to Hayes who cut inside on his left foot before dragging a shot wide of the near post.

It was an open start to the second half and Hearts soon had a chance of their own when Sowah fired the ball across the six yard area, Djoum found himself less than six yards from goal but could not direct the ball goalwards, it was a great opportunity and a let off for Aberdeen.

Lewis was called into action with the next attack when he had to collect a cross at the second attempt after close attention from Goncalves. It was time for The Dons to take a breather.

Unfortunately the lead would only last for another few minutes as Hearts equalised in the 61st minute. The home side worked the ball down the right and Smith curled a ball into the six yard box which was met by Goncalves, his header may have taken a deflection before going past Lewis and into the net. The home side were in the ascendancy and with 30 minutes of the match remaining it was all to play for.

What sort of response would we see from The Dons? We didn’t have to wait too long for the answer.

Aberdeen earned a free-kick on the left which was floated high into the area by Hayes and it was the substitute O’Connor who rose highest to head the ball into the top corner of the net from 12 yards. What a response from The Dons!

Some aggressive forward play from Rooney made something of a nothing ball when he dispossessed Buaben before finding McGinn, he burst into the area but couldn’t produce with the strike which is over the bar. Moments later Cowie was replaced by Ian Cathro and it didn’t go down well with the home support who jeered the substitution, the mood had changed back in Aberdeen’s favour in a matter of minutes with the travelling support now in fine voice.

As the match moved into the last 20 minutes McGinn was released down the left once again after a long ball from Taylor. He took his time before a measured cross found Shinnie in the area but his header frustratingly ended up the wrong side of the post.

With one goal in the game Hearts were still in it and soon one of their substitutes, Johnsen, found space in the area after good midfield play from Tziolis. Johnsen’s strike was powerful and goal bound before deflecting off Reynolds and going wide of the post. In the 78th minute Considine won a free-kick in a good area on the left after being fouled by Walker. This time it was McGinn who delivered the cross which was too close to Hamilton.

With less than ten minutes of normal time remaining Aberdeen had a chance to put the game beyond doubt when McLean set McGinn racing over the halfway line, he clipped the ball wide for Hayes and his delivery found Rooney who did well to bring the ball under control with his back to goal. His strike went across the face of the goal and just the wrong side of the post, there was still work to be done.

With five minutes remaining Rooney was replaced with Stockley and could be pleased with his work after scoring the opening goal and posing a constant threat to the Hearts defence.

In the 88th minute Reynolds picked up a yellow card after getting the better of Smith in a 50/50 challenge, it was a strong tackle but a harsh booking. It looked as if an aerial bombardment would follow for The Dons but with a few minutes remaining Walker was late in a challenge on Shinnie and picked up his second yellow card to reduce the home side to ten men.

Perhaps surprisingly only two minutes of injury time were given and The Dons defended them well to restore their nine point lead over Rangers with just three matches remaining. It was a spirited performance from the Aberdeen side who showed real spirit once again to bounce straight back and spoil the party for the hosts. It was the second victory over Hearts at Tynecastle this season and ensured that The Dons would remain unbeaten against The Jambos over the course of the campaign.

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