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Murrayfield | Hearts v Aberdeen Preview

September 7, 2017 6:57 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

Derek McInnes

“I trusted the work of Steven Gunn and the football staff here to get the registration of Dominic Ball done.

“It was agreed quite late on as it was dependant on Rotherham getting one or two things done themselves. We focussed on getting Dominic in but there is only so much you can do when another club is in charge of the situation. We are delighted to get him. I felt that we needed that type of player in the club. He gives us good options. He is more than just a player who can play a few positions. He will want to come here and nail down a position and play. He gives us a bit of physicality and a defensive edge. That flexibly though is great for any manager and he gives a good balance to the squad. Especially when we see the amount of attacking options we have.

“I firmly believe Jayden will go and do well.

“He was someone if given a few more opportunities here he might have been able to push on and show more of his capabilities. I enjoyed working with Jayden but he would be the first to admit the move maybe did not go as well as he would have hoped. He is going back to a club he knows and where he had a successful loan spell. He has the potential to go on and have a good career. We do “wish him well.
With Jayden leaving it allowed the signing of Dominic ball to be a bit more doable. I still need to thank the board in supporting me and recognising the importance of getting that type of player in.

“I have already spoken about the Gary Mackay-Steven situation at the start of the week.

“We need to draw a line under it now. My thoughts are that he got himself involved in a complicated and dangerous situation so we are just grateful he is ok. It is all about learning. Nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. It is a reminder for all footballers to be more aware and have more control. I have no problems with players going and relaxing at the right times and there was no better time to do that as the next game was two weeks away. He is one of us and we look after him. He has had a good weeks training. It was a mistake and we hope everyone learns from their mistakes. It is not going to stop him being an important player for me.

“The message from myself is having that discipline and being aware. In this day and age, both (on the pitch) in terms of being at you best athletically and being able to cope with the demands of modern football, but also (off the pitch) being aware of everything else round about you when you are out and about. It is a reminder to my players to always represent the club at all times.

“Going to Murrayfield is unusual.

“I am getting asked more about the venue than the actual game which I understand but for me it is about the game. We have to make sure we are fully concentrating and focussed on winning the game and doing our job on the pitch well. It is quite unique in a way that we can take so many supporters to a game at Hearts, when normally those tickets are at a premium. The fans will be able to say they were there on the day but we want to make sure it is a winning memory and hopefully we can do that and continue the good run.

“The number of supporters we are taking is incredible and as I say it is important we try and get a result for them. We are just looking forward to the game and want to pick up from where we left off. We are pleased with our start to the season but we want to try and push on now.

“In this spell before the next international break there are four league games and a quarter final so want to try and maximise this period.

“We asked the question if we could train at Murrayfield but we were told we could not. I do think there maybe should have been a case for us to train there ahead of the game as it is a rugby stadium. I am not going to go to war over it. I just thought it could have been worthwhile. We prepare as normal. We train here on Friday morning, have lunch and then head down to stay in a hotel and get focused for the match.  

“I am sure Craig will want to put his own stamp on it. I am not totally surprised he got appointed. It is normally the way when clubs go with a younger manager and it does not work out they then go to an experienced pair of hands. Craig knows the club inside out. I am sure he would not have predicted that he would have been back in the dugout but now the decision has been made I am sure he will be relishing it. I view him as a manager and not a director of football. That is where he has done a lot of good work in the past and he will be desperate to make sure it goes well.

“It also has to be said, and I know Craig believes this, he has got a very good team. They have got some good players there and Craig will be relishing working with them. I think Hearts will show that this season.

“Each game is a challenge. Whether it be a different stadium, a plastic pitch, playing teams in good form or bad form; the challenge is always with ourselves to make sure we are good enough to win the game.

“Team news; Craig Storie has damaged his hamstring. Daniel Harvie has a knee injury. Both injuries were picked up in the Development league game against Motherwell last week. Everyone else is fit and available.”
 

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super Joe saves the day

September 9, 2017 8:35 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

For the first ever time the Dons played at the home of Scottish Rugby; Murrayfield played host for the fixture. .

Derek McInnes made two changes to the team that beat Partick two weeks ago. Adam Rooney, the winning goal hero that day at Firhill came in for Greg Stewart and deadline day signing, Dominic Ball made his debut in place of Greg Tansey.

Aberdeen were backed by a 7,000 strong Red Army behind the goals, one of there biggest ever travelling support for a league game.

Although Aberdeen had not been given permission to train on the pitch prior to the game, they settled quickly in their new surroundings. They had a great opening in the first couple of minutes. Some good play from the midfield saw McLean play a neat pass through to Stevie May. His chip beat the keeper and was heading towards Rooney, but the number nine couldn’t get a good contact on the ball. There may have been a strong penalty shout as a panicking Hearts defence appeared to impede Adam as he went for the ball.  

On 4 minutes, Hearts were also appealing for a penalty. Rafal Grzlak found space into the box and was met by a strong O’Connor challenge. Craig Thompson thought about it but waved away the complaints and Aberdeen cleared.

Ryan Chrstie then found space at the edge of the Hearts penalty area and got a curling effort away, but McLaughlin saved; his handling had to be spot on as Rooney was there waiting in case the goalkeeper spilled.

The opening 10 minutes was played at a quick tempo, with the Dons dominating the early exchanges. May forced Souttar into a foul and the Hearts defender was booked in the process. Christie delivered a good ball into the box and Considine got his head to it, but Hearts scrambled it clear.

On 12 minutes Aberdeen forced the game’s first corner. Christie delivered an out swinger and the cross just evaded May at the back post.

Aberdeen were by far the better side in the opening 20 minutes, they enjoyed a lot of possession in good areas, but after a tactical change Hearts then started to come into the game.

The game quietened down until the 22nd minute. Christie picked up the ball in the midfield. He beat one man then another and brilliantly made it to the by-line before being brought down in a dangerous area. Ryan took the free kick and his low effort aimed at the near post came off a leg and bounced into the box, but debutant Ball hurriedly lashed a shot over.  

Stevie May was joining Christie in causing problems for Hearts and worked hard all afternoon to close down the hosts defence. After Lewis gathered from a cross he sent May on the charge but the striker was brought down before he could get away.

Hearts first opportunity came on the half hour mark as Logan brought down Walker in a dangerous area. Walker took the free kick from 25 yards and forced Lewis to make a smart save and the Dons cleared.

Back came Hearts however and Arnauld Djoum beat O’Connor and his goalbound effort was brilliantly tipped wide by Joe for a corner. From which Goncalves headed low and Lewis initially parried, but reacted quickly to stop Berra from getting in.

That series of chances woke up the home supporters, but the Dons held firm and nearly scored on the break minutes later. Stevie May found space in the middle and with Rooney and Christie either side of him but his long pass for Rooney frustratingly went astray.

After 34 minutes Shinnie fed Christie who found space on the left side – a number of Aberdeen players did the same in the first half. He took one touch before firing a shot across the keeper but the ball just went past the post.

On 36, after more high pressing from Aberdeen, McLean curled a lovely effort just wide of the bottom corner, but it had taken a deflection and went out for the Dons second corner.

The frantic first half continued and the Dons once again had the hand of Joe Lewis to thank. Hearts broke in numbers and Jamie Walker was released. He took his time to curl a shot that was destined for the top corner, but Lewis at full stretch tipped it over the bar. A quite stunning safe that drew applause from everyone inside Murrayfield.  

In the 40th minute Goncalves, who caused Aberdeen a lot of problems all afternoon, did really well to get away from his man in the middle of the Dons half. He raced towards goal, but took far too long in his decision making and that allowed O’Connor to get back and tackle well as the Dons cleared.

The services of McLaughlin were required again as the Dons forced the issue at the end of the half. Scott Wright picked out Logan superbly at the back post and he cut the ball onto his left before firing a low shot on target, but the ‘keeper saved well with an outstretched foot. The ball came back to Rooney, but he couldn’t divert his header towards goal.

Shortly after, Craig Thomson brought an exciting first half to an end, with both teams feeling they could have been ahead at the break.

HT. Hearts 0 Aberdeen 0

Hearts kicked off and immediately went on the attack. It was to be the story of the second half. Walker did well to get to the back post and forced an early corner. The corner was swung into the back post area and Berra, unmarked, volleyed but Lewis once again rescued his side.  

Hearts dominated the early stages of the second period and were testing the Aberdeen defence. On 55 minutes Lewis once again bailed out his team with a double save. Ross Callachan lost Wright in the box and his close effort was battered wide by the big goalkeeper from point blank range. Another top drawer save.

On the hour mark Aberdeen had their first chance of the second half. Logan did well to get down the right, a rare occasion the Dons got in behind Hearts in the later stages of the game, and stood a ball up to the back post. Hearts cleared, but Mclean took his time and hit a dipping effort towards goal. McLaughlin had to be alert and saved well as the ball bounced up in front of him.

Hearts then started to look the stronger in the middle of the park.

On 63 Goncalves very nearly scored the opener. He surged towards goal, beat Considine and his effort crashed off the crossbar, with Lewis beaten for the first and only time all afternoon. Goncalves has been causing all sorts of problems for the Dons, but his time was up soon after as Kyle Lafferty replaced him upfront.

Scott Wright then had a decent chance just as he was away to be substituted. After a trademark run towards goal he got a fortune break of the ball, but couldn’t get a clean contact and his shot was easily gathered by McLaughlin. Lafferty then went close with a header from a corner. He had space and should have hit the target.

In the 69th minute the Dons made a double substitution. Maynard and Mackay-Steven replaced Wright and Rooney as the Dons freshened up their attack.

The next big opportunity once again fell in the way of Hearts. Cowie did well on the right and whipped a dangerous ball low to the back post to Lafferty. He looked destined to score, but Logan out of nowhere appeared and managed to make a brilliant block.  

In the 80th minute Reynolds replaced Ball as the Dons went back to four in defence.

On 87 minutes McLean picked up the ball and drove towards goal. With substitute Milinkovic hot on his heels, Kenny was brought down in a dangerous area. He took the free kick, but it lacked height and was stopped by the wall.

As injury time ticked away, Hearts had one last chance to win it. Don Cowie got to the back post and found space. He made contact with the cross but headed straight at Lewis. At that point Joe knew it was his day! There was one last attack for Aberdeen as Mackay-Steven beat his man on the wing. He took his time and cut the ball back, but nobody in blue was there and Hearts cleared.

The full-time whistle came as a bit of a relief for Aberdeen. After dominating the opening period, they then had big Joe to thank for securing the point. Although there were still chances to win it. The team remains unbeaten in the league campaign and will be looking to return to winning ways against Kilmarnock at Pittodrie next Saturday.
 

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