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Hearts v Aberdeen | preview with the manager

December 29, 2016 1:45 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

“I think it would be nice to finish with a win and on a positive fashion.

“Anytime you get an opportunity to win three games in a row at any time in the campaign, it is important you try and take it.

“I have been pleased with the performances the last couple of games but the results were the most important thing.

“When you go into a period when you don’t play again for three weeks, which is quite unusual, it is important you try and win the game.

“Aberdeen v Hearts is always a closely contested match. There is always an edge to the game. Hearts challenged us last season and we were happy to take that challenge on. And it is something similar this season. There is a healthy respect between both clubs. There has been a healthy improvement within both clubs over the past few seasons. That transmits into a 90 minute game tomorrow night and we are looking forward to it.

“I have never met Ian. It might seem an unusual appointment for some, but no one can say with any certainly when any manager goes into a new position at a club how they will do (regardless of their football background). He deserves the opportunity now to go and work and take the job on. Looking at his team there has been little subtle changes. He is putting his stamp on the team.

“There is a healthy respect between manager’s and coaches in this league and I wish Ian well. It is a great opportunity for him and he is working for a very good club.

“I don’t think you need a break as much when you are winning games but it is something we have been working towards.

“It is not really a proper winter break, more an extended international break really. The only difference is when you come off an international break you have five days to prepare for the next game. This time we have two week to prepare for the next game.

“The players will be given a week off and given some time to spend with their families and time to switch off mentally. Also, the physical side of things, some players need that rest more than others but it is an opportunity to do that.

“The last three seasons we have had early starts with the Europa League and we have not had the summer break that other teams have had, or what you would class as a normal break. I think any opportunity to give the players days off during the season, especially for certain players, is always welcome.

“As the January transfer window is opening I will not be getting a break!

“I think you will find a natural chain of events, where players who are not playing regularly might attract interest from other clubs. They might be of interest to other clubs and likewise we will look to work off the back of that, we might look to get one or two things done ourselves.

“I am really happy with the squad that we have got. We have a tight squad, we don’t have huge numbers but we have a fully fit squad to choose from which is testament to how the players work but also testament to the good work the medical department does here. We have brilliant physios here. A lot of work is done now on the prevention of injuries.

“So, we have a squad good enough to get us through to the end of the season all being well but the January window is an opportunity to see what is out there. if we see a player that can maybe help our cause in the second half of the season we will maybe try and do something. That will be offset with one or two players looking for regular football elsewhere.

“We are not badly off in the majority of positions, we have good options but there is one or two areas we are looking at.”

Team news, the manager confirmed everyone is fit for the game.

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The Dons finish 2016 on a high : Live

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The Dons finish 2016 on a high

December 31, 2016 1:59 am Author: Aberdeen FC

For the final game of 2016 Derek McInnes named an unchanged line up for the third game in a row. The Dons in their white kit from last season, kicked off in a tremendous atmosphere – as usual at this venue. The weather was also perfect and mild for this time of year. The pitch however did look a bit soft.

An early cross from McLean was gathered by Hearts keeper Jack Hamilton. A few seconds later Hayes did well down the left and put over a very decent cross but Logan and then McLean were unable to work an opening.
In the fifth minute Igor Rossi just managed to get to the ball ahead of Hayes from a Considine ball forward on the left. His tackle had to be perfectly timed inside the area, and it was.

Aberdeen had the better of the early play but Hearts on the break looked lively with Bjorn Johnsen up front. On six minutes Logan was booked for a foul on Walker. On nine minutes Hayes won a free kick. He took it quickly which caught out the Hearts defence napping but McGinn could only float over a ball which Hamilton claimed easily. Hayes and then McLean put crosses over from the left but neither were close to a white shirt.

Hearts were struggling to cope with the tempo of the game and the Dons had control in the middle of the park. Shinnie, Jack and McLean have been in great form in recent weeks. Jonny Hayes was also having a major influence even although at times he played deeper.

On the quarter hour mark McGinn got the better of Smith and won the first corner of the game. The ball in from McGinn went all the way through to Reynolds at the back post and his header went inches past. So close. He was completely unmarked and probably should have scored.

A few minutes later a long ball over the top left Johnsen one on one with Taylor and referee Callum decided the Aberdeen defender had fouled the Hearts man. Collum also showed a yellow card to Ash. Jamie Walker took the free kick and although it took a nasty bounce in front of Lewis he dealt with it comfortably.

22 minutes in, Kenny McLean was fouled twice but nothing was given before a couple of loose pass backs caused both keepers a few issues. The pitch was starting to cut up a bit and was quite bobbly.

On 25 minutes a great move from the Dons, McGinn’s cross was well met by McLean coming in at the back post but Hamilton managed to scramble across his line and push his header away. Kenny had shown good determination to win the header. Aberdeen then forced a couple of corners which Hearts just managed to clear, unconvincingly. Set plays were certainly an area the Dons could prosper from if the delivery was right.
Just before the half hour mark skipper Kitchen tried a low shot which took a couple of bobbles but again Lewis’ handling was good. Then Hayes played in Shinnie down the channel and his low cross was prodded goalward by McGinn but Hamilton spread himself and was able to make the block. A very good save.  

The Hearts supporters were starting to get frustrated as Aberdeen were completely outplaying their side up to this point.  

On 35 minutes a Hayes deep free kick was won easily by Taylor in the air. Rooney tried to tee up Considine and in the end John Souttar just put the ball past his own post. Then on 42 minutes the Dons went even closer. Shinnie created room for a shot and from 25 yards he hit a low shot which beat Hamilton but rebounded off the post. Rooney was following up but could not make good enough contact and the ball went past the post. A great opportunity that Rooney would normally take. He could not quite re-adjust his feet in time. A minute before half time McGinn put over a low cross but Rooney failed to get a touch.

As dominant a first half as the Dons have had all season and they deserved to be ahead. Their energy levels were superb.

HT

An early chance for McLean at the start of the second half. His shot from the edge of the area was half blocked and spun up. Hamilton was able to grab the ball but had the ball spun slightly higher he might have been in a bit of trouble.

Hearts forced a corner on 47 minutes, their first of the game, Considine headed clear. On 50 minutes a McGinn free kick was curled in at pace but the ball was too strong and went all the way through to Hamilton.
Once again it was all Aberdeen.

On 53 minutes Shay Logan worked the ball onto his left and his shot was deflected just wide. Despite having been booked early the match, it did not affect Shay’s performance. From the resulting corner the ball was played directly to McLean outside the area. He let fly with a volley from the edge of the area but he did not get hold of shot as well as he would have liked.

On 56 minutes a strong challenge from Taylor set up another attack. Logan’s ball in found the head of Rooney but his header just went over. An hour in, the Aberdeen energy levels had dropped slightly but they still looked in control. On 63 minutes Hearts forced their second corner which Smith headed over. A decent header but it would have taken something special to beat Lewis from the angle he met the ball.

On 64 minutes Shinnie worked the ball onto his left foot on the edge of the area. He pulled his shot at bit but it gave Rooney a half chance on the six-yard box. Adam tried a flick but failed to get enough on it.
Finally, on 65 Aberdeen took the lead.

And they produced that bit of quality that was needed. Kenny McLean’s clever flick started the move and set McGinn free down the line. He powered down the right before putting over a superb cross and Jonny Hayes from close range beat Hamilton. It was actually a really good finish from Jonny, as he went back across the keeper.

Not dissimilar to the goal he scored in the same net during the League Cup semi-final in 2014. Adam Rooney was behind Jonny waiting for the ball but Jonny had spirted about 70 yards from the left wing back spot to get on the end the cross. It typified the desire and determination the players showed all night.

After 74 minutes the first change saw Djoum replaced by Rory Currie as Hearts tried to be more positive. On 75 minutes the Geogie side won a free kick in a good area, Souttar’s ball in though was too strong for everyone, More frustration for the Hearts fans.

Aberdeen instead of sitting back went looking for a second and looked the more likely to score. Kenny McLean, who was outstanding again tonight, on 80 minutes won a corner from which he then had a chance. With his back to goal he got a shot away but Hamilton, seeing the ball come through a ruck of players, made the save. After 82 minutes Rossi was replaced by Robbie Muirhead.  

Hearts threw bodies into the area and there were a few nervous moments late on. On 85 minutes Walker created an opening and his shot produced a very good stop from Lewis. Diving low down to his left at his near post he turned the ball behind. It was his first save of note, great concentration levels from the big Englishman who would be a strong candidate for the Dons player of the year so far.  

A minute later Aberdeen spurned a chance to kill the game. McLean, who’s energy levels were incredible tonight, ran down the left and then put a ball across the six yard box. Frustratingly the unmarked McGinn could not quite reach it. Shortly after that Niall was replaced by O’Connor.

The three minutes of added time saw a few more nervous moments as the ball was launched long into the Dons penalty area. There were a number of good blocks and brave headers to keep Hearts at bay. Cowie with the last touch of the game sent a header wide but he was put under real pressure. The Dons players were desperate not to concede and they held on for a very good win.

This was as good a performance, and as dominant performance as the Dons have had on their travels this year. The calendar year started with defeat at this ground in the Scottish Cup, it finished on a high.

A great way to end 2016.
 

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