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Match Preview | Aberdeen v Celtic
Competition: Ladbrokes Premiership
Match: Aberdeen v Celtic
Kick Off: 12:00pm
TV Coverage: Red TV International & Sky Sports Main Event
The manager sat down with the press this morning at Cormack Park to look ahead to Sunday’s match with Celtic.
“It was an important win and it was important to get back to winning ways.
“What we saw the other night was the attacking threat that I believed was in the team.
“We scored three very good goals and we could have scored more.
“Part of the reason that we were able to show that attacking threat was that Hamilton came onto us and had a go. A lot of the games recently, especially at Pittodrie, teams have sat in against us and the space has not been there to exploit.
“We managed to exploit the space and we were very clinical with our work. It was good to get the three goals but more importantly for us was getting the three points.
“At this stage of the season every three points is very important to us. We move onto Celtic now on the back of a very good team performance.
“It is not easy going to Hamilton, a lot of teams struggle there. Hamilton are fighting for their lives. What I thought that we did well is Hamilton have always got bags of spirit and I thought we knocked it out of them.
“I am delighted to get all three points and to come through unscathed in terms of injuries.
“Anytime we play Celtic they seem to be in good form. What I see in this Celtic team is not only the attacking threats that they have always possessed, there also seems to be a hunger about them that they probably needed in the last few weeks.
“The strength and options that Neil has in the squad has helped with that hunger. You see they have good players who don’t even make the bench. The hunger is in that Celtic team.
“When you come up against a team with so many good players and attacking threats, for us it is about getting the balance between attack and defence.
“We are the home team, we have got to recognise that, we have got to try and carry a threat but also making sure, as we were at Celtic Park a couple of months ago, a lot closer to them. We defended well, we competed well, I thought from our performance we merited a point.
“There is a lot to be impressed with Celtic with the form they are in, but we cannot go into the game waxing lyrical about Celtic. We have got to concentrate on our own needs for the points and our own performance.
“Hopefully the performance mirrors a lot of what we had that day at Celtic Park. If we do that, we are capable of getting a positive result.
“We are just concentrating on ourselves. We have got points to get; we need positive performances to do that.
“Other parts of the team have been very good. Up until the other night I think we had only lost two goals in six games. That is not a team who are really struggling. That is a team who are concentrating, competitive, defending well as a team. It was the attacking threat that was letting us down.
“The other night was a sign of things to come. Hopefully we can start to get more wins than draws and get more points on the board. Regardless of what other teams do we concentrate on ourselves. We still have enough games left between now and the end of the season to do that.
“For us we are just trying to make sure that we enough points to qualify for Europe for the seventh year in a row.
“There is an understanding from all managers that if you don’t get results then you get criticised.
“For us it is important that we try and win games, show what we have done over the last wee while, the evidence is there that we can get the job done. If we can qualify for Europe for the seventh year in a row, when before we came in, Aberdeen had only qualified twice in 10 years.
“With managers there is always an instant support for each other because there is a real understanding that the job is not always a bed of roses and you need to go through tough spells.
“The other night we had Niall playing a lot closer to Curtis, trying to work beyond him and trying to find space. It was good to see not only Curtis scoring from the central area but Niall as well.
“Connor McLennan’s goal the other night, where our left centre back, Andy, crosses for our right wing back, Connor to score. It shows the desire from Andy to be so high up the pitch but the quality of McLennan to get in and get his goal. We have been asking for that. We have been saying to the players to have more desire to get into the box, don’t be scared to miss chances.
“Niall playing centrally helped us the other night and it is a role he can play in certain games. It was the desire of the whole team to have more shots and crosses. We had more shots and crosses than we have had in a while. We could have scored more.
“Regardless of where players play the intent has got to be there to score goals and contribute.
“We have got to be fair to him, he has been out for a long time. What I am seeing from him in training is the Bryson we intended to bring in.
“He came in, he got injured. We probably forced him and pushed him too early. As a consequence of that we have probably not had the full free flowing Craig Bryson.
“He is over that now. You see his running and the way he goes about his business; he looks like the player we thought that we had in the summer.
“I could not be more pleased.
“He is coming into the squad at the right time. It is the business end of the season where we need everybody to pull their weight and get the job done. To have a player of Bryson’s quality to call upon is fantastic.
“Like one or two others that we brought in during January, they are not quite up to speed yet. He won’t be up to full match speed just yet, but he can still contribute.”
“Scott Wright and Greg Leigh remain out.
“Ash Taylor will do some work today with a view of hopefully training tomorrow. We cannot say for certain that Ash will be in the squad, but we are hoping that he will be part of it.”
So Far This Season
The sides have faced each other once at Pittodrie and Celtic Park so far this season with Celtic triumphing on both occasions. When the sides met at Pittodrie back in October, the away side took all three points thanks to four first half goals. The sides met just before Christmas at Celtic Park where the Dons ran Celtic a lot closer. Christopher Jullien gave the home side an early lead, but a Sam Cosgrove header drew the Dons level at the break. Odsonne Edouard scored what proved to be the winning goal when he finished off a sweeping counterattack in the second half. The Dons finished the game with 10 men when Sam Cosgrove was shown a straight red card with 20 minutes to go.
The Game That Was
23/10/1976: Scottish Premier League: Aberdeen 2 v 1 Celtic: Pittodrie
Just two weeks before the sides were due to meet in the League Cup final, which The Dons would go onto win, the sides met at Pittdorie in the league. Having not won in three league games, a crowd of just under 20,000 were inside Pittodrie to see The Dons claim the three points. Joey Harper grabbed a double, with one coming from the penalty spot. Kenny Dalglish pulled one back for Celtic also from the spot but Aberdeen held on to claim the three points.
Dons Line Up: Clark, Kennedy, Williamson, Smith, Garner, Miller, Sullivan (Jarvie), Scott, Harper, Shirra, Graham.
Match Page - Formation
Match Preview | Aberdeen v Celtic : Live
Match Page - Text Commentary
match report | Dons lose out late on
Aberdeen 1 Celtic 2
Michael Devlin missed out with an injury so Ashton Taylor returned to the starting XI. Shay Logan replaced Dylan McGeouch in the only other change from Tuesday night’s side which beat Hamilton. Craig Bryson returned to the squad also and was given a place on the bench. The Dons returned to a back four.
Aberdeen started well in what were very difficult windy conditions. An early Logan cross and then a McGinn free kick posed problems for the Celtic defence as the ball moved about in the air. On six minutes an early ball forward saw Edourard get the wrong side of Logan but the right back did well to get back and make a perfect tackle.
On 10 minutes Celtic took the lead. McKenna misjudged a long ball forward which allowed Leigh Griffiths to get in behind after picking up the bouncing ball. McKenna looked to have recovered the situation, but Griffiths was able to play the ball inside to Edouard who in turn played the ball across the box to James Forrest who shrugged off Matty Kennedy and fired in a shot. Joe Lewis made a very good stop but Callum McGregor was well positioned and bundled the ball into the net. There may have been a push by Griffiths on McKenna in the build up, but it was still a poor goal for Aberdeen to lose.
After 13 minutes Curtis Main won the first corner of the game. McGinn put over a great ball but there was not one red shirt in the six yard box. After quarter of an hour McLennan won a free kick on the edge of the area. McGinn dinked it in but McLennan could not get any power on his header.
On the 20 minute mark Kennedy and McGinn linked up well down the left. Niall put over another excellent cross but it was just out of the reach of Curtis Main. Two minutes later Taylor made an excellent tackle which allowed Main to pick the ball up in a good area but his shot from distance was always on the rise.
After 23 minutes Greg Taylor went down with an injury which allowed the players a break as it had been a very high tempo opening. Taylor was unable to resume so was replaced by Jonny Hayes.
On 26 minutes Aberdeen equalised. A McLennan cross was flicked on by Kennedy. Ash Taylor picked the ball up in space and did brilliantly to control the ball on his chest before lashing it past Forster with a brilliant half volley. It was a finish any striker would have been very proud of.
It was a deserved equaliser as the Dons pressing had caused Celtic plenty of problems in the opening half hour.
On 31 minutes a McGinn free kick almost found Taylor. Celtic could not clear their lines for a few minutes and had to deal with a second McGinn corner. On 35 minutes Forrest put over a dangerous cross which was well dealt with by the Dons defence. 38 minute in, Funso Ojo fired in a shot which Forster could only palm away and McGinn followed up but he put his header into the side netting.
A minute later McLennan went down in the area but was booked for diving after going past Jullien. On replay it looked the correct decision as Jullien had his foot planted on the ground. Connor was having a very good game and causing the Celtic defence problems with his direct running.
On 43 minutes Griffiths was booked for mouthing off to referee Andrew Dallas – rather highlighting some frustration amongst the Celtic players with the way things were going. Aberdeen then had a stronger penalty shout when Jullien went through the back of Main inside the area before Taylor was booked for a foul on Edouard on the halfway line.
Half Time: Aberdeen 1 Celtic 1
Aberdeen also started the second period strongly. In the first five minutes they worked the ball into some good areas but failed to put over any real crosses when they maybe should have. On 52 minutes Scott Brown took down McGinn as Aberdeen tried to break. The Celtic captain rather fortunate not to receive a yellow card.
On 55 minutes Ferguson produced a great tackle and his early ball forward set Main free. The striker went for goal and although his shot took a nasty bounce in front of Forster the keeper’s handling was good.
The home side appeared to be handling the conditions better than Celtic who at this stage were struggling to get their passing game going. On 58 minutes Ryan Christie replaced Leigh Griffiths.
On 63 minutes Main won a free kick which allowed McGinn to put the ball back into the area. Celtic cleared and again Aberdeen wasted some good possession after that. A minute later a Logan throw in bounced over the heads of everyone in the six yard box.
At the other end Hayes put over a few crosses but his deliveries were caught by the wind which was still causing real problems. On 67 minutes Derek McInnes made his first change with Craig Bryson coming on for Matty Kennedy. Straight away Bryson linked up well with McGinn who burst into the area but Jullien produced a good tackle.
With twenty minutes to go it was Aberdeen who were looking the more likely to get the next goal.
A McGinn cross was completed misjudged by Forster who rather unconvincingly palmed the ball off his own defender.
Aberdeen had been on top but on 74 minutes Hayes off the left linked with Edouard who played a won two. Jonny was clean through but Joe Lewis got out quickly the made a terrific block. It was a reminder of the quality of Edouard who up to that point had been very well marshalled by Ash Taylor.
On 76 minutes Forster punched a McGinn corner clear. Niall then put over a dangerous cross which was flicked on by Considine and McKenna frustratingly headed the ball over the bar when Main behind him was better positioned to attack the ball.
With ten minutes to go Neil Lennon made his final change when Ntcham was replaced by Rogic. Considine put over a cross with his right foot which Forster gathered. With Andy still up the park Celtic worked the ball to Forrest and he switched the play to the unmarked Ajer and the defender coolly fired the ball into the roof of the net. In a double blow Funso Ojo was injured trying to make a block and went off injured, replaced by Sam Cosgrove.
On 85 minutes Bitton was booked for shoving Cosgrove off the ball. From the free kick the ball in from McGinn was took strong.
With four minutes to go Edouard should have made the game safe when Forrest found him in the six yard box but the striker’s shot was brilliant saved by Joe Lewis’ outstretched leg.
The Dons tried to get an equaliser but they had given everything and just could not do enough to force an opening. In the third and final minute of injury time Sam Cosgrove was pulled to the ground on the edge of the area but the flag had done up for offside.
Full time: Aberdeen 1 Celtic 2
Aberdeen: Lewis, Logan, Taylor, McKenna, Considine, Ojo (Cosgrove 82), Ferguson, McLennan, McGinn, Kennedy (Bryson 67), Main.
Subs: Cerny, Hernandez, Campbell, McGeouch, Bryson, Anderson.
Celtic: Forster, Jullien, Taylor (Hayes 25), Britton, Brown, Griffiths, Ntcham (Rogic 79), Edouard, Ajer, McGregor (Christie 58, Forrest.
Subs: Bain, Bayo, Elyounoussi, Frimpong.
Attendance 14,135 (including 1,701 away fans)