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Aberdeen v Celtic Preview | Derek McInnes

May 11, 2017 6:27 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

The Manager on RedTV

“It was a significant result last Sunday.

“I do feel when you do play that you need to have an edge to your game. I think top players need that to bring a top performance. We still feel there is a real importance on the game tomorrow. I think the fact there will be a big crowd in here, the fact the game is live on TV, the fact we are playing against a team who have been fantastic all season.

“We as a team, regardless of what is at stake for us, the game has got to be played in a certain manner. We have to play with an edge to our game. We are all looking forward to it.

“The result last week certainly went a long way in helping us finish second.

“Our concern is that we are good enough to go out and win against a team who have a lot of attacking options and against a team who have found winning straight forward this season. We have to try and find a way of getting the balance between attack and defence.

“I think in terms of putting down a marker for the final, the performance is more important than the result. I think we will go into the cup final feeling we can win that regardless of what happens tomorrow night. Our performance is important. We have to let Celtic know that we are there. And we will be there again in a fortnight’s time at Hampden. It will be two separate games, played on two different pitches, different competition, but I think the importance of trying to bring a level of performance against Celtic before we play them in the final is important.

“I don’t think Celtic will feel under pressure coming into the game. A team on that kind of run does not feel pressure but they will recognise that some three points are harder to obtain that others. They will see us as being a challenge for keeping that unbeaten run going.

“I think there is a respect between the teams and they will know we are capable of causing them problems on the day but I don’t think they will have a pressure. They will come here expecting to win because of the run they are on. That is what you do as a player and as a team. We have to try and make them think otherwise during the 90 minutes.

“We can do all the talking before it about what we want to do, we can talk after it, I can be pleased with certain aspects of it, but during the game is where we have to go and do our work and do our talking.

“Even if I wanted to change the side and rest players, I do not have a lot of options. Ryan Jack and Peter Pawlett are injured and we are without Ryan Christie so we are three players down right away. We don’t have to many options unless we integrate a lot of our youngsters. We have 16-year-old Dean Campbell in the squad tomorrow night and 17-year-old Seb Ross alongside Frank Ross and Scott Wright. So that is where we are at at the minute in terms of a squad. We have tight numbers. We have said all season that we have not had too many injuries but we now have three unavailable for the game tomorrow night’s game. And we will have three unavailable for the game at Ibrox during the week because Jonny Hayes is suspended.

“Last week we gave Peter a game ahead of Ryan Christie in the view to giving him games and making sure we have players ready. To keep all my options open for the cup final I need to make sure players are getting minutes. We may also go into the cup final carrying injuries so I need to give myself enough options for that game and also need to try and win games in between time.

“The Ryan Jack situation is the same. He is still touch and go for the cup final. Peter had a scan yesterday and we awaiting the results back for that. Both are real doubts for the final. With Ryan Christie also out we don’t have a lot of options in the middle of the park. We have to make do.

“I not going to comment on players (linked in the media with AFC) who are at other clubs. I think we will be linked with a lot of players, we were linked with another couple yesterday. I cannot sit here commenting on every player we are going to be linked with. The only one we wanted to speak about was the Ryan Jack one a couple of weeks ago to clarify that situation. But other than that, it is important that we just concentrate on the job in hand. If we sign players then we will tell people.

“If we lose players, and I expect to lose a couple, then we will try and bring in good players to make the squad stronger again. I am confident we improve the squad. There is pressure on my myself, the recruitment staff and myself to make sure that is the case.”

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Spirited performance, but no reward

May 12, 2017 11:48 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

Derek McInnes added Jayden Stockley and Anthony O'Connor to the starting XI in place of Adam Rooney and the injured Peter Pawlett. Rooney dropped to the bench, with the manager opting for Jayden's height and strength up front.

Brendan Rodgers, looking to keep Celtic's season long unbeaten run going, named a strong team to start what would be the visitor's most challenging test of the post-split fixtures.

Celtic made the first serious move of the game with Patrick Roberts beating Andy Considine in the penalty area. Lewis made a good save from close range pushing the ball out for a corner. Leigh Griffiths delivered a good cross and Boyata, who had rolled away from Taylor, headed the ball down into the net. It was the perfect start for the Hoops and a massive early blow for the Dons.

Things were about to get worse.

No more than 10 minutes had been played when the visitors doubled their lead when McGregor drove a shot at goal. Logan made a block but Armstrong reacted well and flicked the ball into the roof of the net. A nightmare start for Aberdeen.

A nightmare turned out to be a disaster a minute later when Leigh Griffiths tried a 25 yard long shot from the left hand side. Lewis got his gloves on the ball but in the end helped it nestle in the bottom corner. There was a lot of movement on the ball but Lewis will be disappointed not to keep the ball out. All four sides of Pittodrie looked shell shocked.

When things looked hopeless, it was Jonny Hayes who gave the Dons hope. And what a goal it was, as the winger weaved his way through the green and white shirts around him and curled a peach of a strike into the top left hand corner. A lifeline, in what had been a frantic start to the game.

All of a sudden it looked like a much more familiar Dons side. Jayden Stockley was so close to making it 3-2 after McLean crossed from deep. Jayden could only head wide with the goal at his mercy. The striker will know himself that he should have scored. It was beginning to look more like a game of basketball with end to end football on show.

The game then settled down with Aberdeen's energy levels rising significantly. The teams were evenly match and were putting on a great spectacle.

Hayes tested Gordon again after 20 minutes, with the Scotland international getting down well at the near post. Shinnie added to the pressure with a set shot from outside the box with his weaker right foot, which he maybe should have hit first time.

The Dons were playing well and causing Celtic problems.

After half an hour, Niall McGinn came close when his shot was saved by Gordon. From close range the keeper made and an instinctive save. It was another great chance. Niall did win a corner as a result which was headed into the side netting by Ash Taylor.

Every man in red was giving everything to the cause. Defensively the Dons looked determined and Mark Reynolds led by example making a number of crucial blocks inside the box. Kenny McLean also did very well to deny Armstrong a second goal.
 
Despite being under pressure Celtic continued to look threatening on the break. Boyata was also proving to be a menace from corners and nearly added to his tally a couple of times as half time approached. At the other end, the visitors were beginning to make mistakes at the back, and Kenny McLean nearly exploited an error by Simunovic. His curled left footed shot slipped wide of the target.

A Dons free kick into the box was cleared after 43 minutes, unconvincingly, but Celtic had a three on one. The ball was worked to Sinclair who took a good first touch and raced through on goal but the PFA Player of the Year was denied by the tracking back of Jonny Hayes who had sprinted the full length of the pitch. It was an outstanding tackle. Jonny was putting in an incredible shift all over the park. Aberdeen had one more effort on the stroke of half time, but the free kick didn't trouble Craig Gordon.

It had been a bizarre opening half for Aberdeen, but the character was oozing out of the team, with a comeback looking possible.

HALF TIME: Aberdeen 1-3 Celtic

The second period got underway at the same pace that the first half ended. Shinnie chased won a lost cause in the corner and gave it to Considine. He fizzed a low cross into the box which was too strong for McGinn.

After 48 minutes, a real controversial moment. More Aberdeen pressure had seen a Logan shot blocked and then when the ball came back out Graeme Shinnie burst through before being taken out by Craig Gordon inside the box. Shinnie clearly got to the ball first. It looked like a stonewall penalty, but referee Steven McLean ruled otherwise. His assistant referee would also have had a very good view of the incident.

It was a massive moment in the game. The same player Aberdeen had a penalty claim turned down late on when the sides met earlier at Pittodrie.

52 minutes in, Aberdeen were scrambling for the ball inside the box. O'Connor managed to get a shot away but the flag was up.

Just after an hour, Adam Rooney came on to try and help the Dons back into the game. Jayden Stockley made way. The big striker caused the Celtic defence problems. Adam’s first job was to try and convert a corner, which Simunovic just turned over his own bar.

The ball then made its way up the park, with Patrick Robert going for a run into the box. O'Connor did well to stop the cross and managed to get the ball out for a corner. Griffiths aimed for Boyata, but some good defending put enough pressure on him to keep the Belgian at bay.

The Dons had yet another chance to cut the deficit when Kenny McLean was played in on goal on the left hand side. It was a great ball through by Shinnie on the inside left. Kenny made up the ground and looked to slide the ball low into the corner. Unfortunately, he lashed a shot into the Richard Donald Stand. Another good opportunity squandered.

The game became scrappy with 20 minutes to go, with plenty of tackle and pressing from both sides. The tempo of Aberdeen's play meant there were some heavy legs all over the pitch.

With 80 minutes on the clock Niall McGinn tried a snap shot inside the box. He was in space was looked like he was going to burst the net, sadly his volley was just too high and resulted in a goal kick.
 
With Ash Taylor pushed up front to try and cause trouble in the Celtic defence, every ball was launched forward. It was really the only time the Dons had gone long. Sadly the visitors weren't giving anything away and were have to run the clock down.

As Aberdeen pushed players forward substitute James Forrest had a couple of shots on target which Lewis palmed away.

In the third minute of added time history was made when Dean Campbell became the youngest ever Aberdeen player. He was a couple of weeks younger than Jack Grimmer who held the record. The midfield sat an English exam at school this morning.

It finished 3-1, and while the score line looks like a comfortable victory for Celtic on paper, it was anything but. The Aberdeen players got a standing ovation for the effort they put in. The Celtic players coming off the pitch knew they had been in the game.
 

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