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Europa League Preview | Aberdeen v KF Shkendija

July 8, 2015 3:30 pm Author: Aberdeen FC
Europa League Preview | Aberdeen v KF Shkendija

Derek McInnes spoke to the media at lunchtime in his Europa League pre-match press conference. He started by giving the team news: 

“Everyone is fit apart from Mark Reynolds who obviously misses the game. Mark went to see a specialist yesterday and will have an operation on Friday. He will be out until at least the start of October, so that is about 10-12 weeks with Mark being on sidelines.

“Mark’s disappointment is someone else’s opportunity. Paul Quinn has come in and he trains and plays the way we expected him to. He has a lot of experience and that is why we wanted to bring him in. He is a really good competitor and gives us the option to play him at centre half. He came here to play so we believe we have got good cover there tomorrow night and going forward. 

“It is a game we are looking forward to and we have to remind ourselves of that. European football is exciting for the supporters. It is exciting for all the staff and it is a busy time at the club as we have to make sure we are prepared and ready for it.  

“There is still work to be done to overcome our opponents. We got in and out of Macedonia with a decent result but there is more to come from us. We always felt the tie was never going to be won or lost over those first 90 minutes and that is the way it is. We may have a slight advantage going into this game as we have the away goal in the bag. We also have home advantage and we are playing in front of our own fans. 

“The fans have their part to play to help us get through. 

“Tomorrow night we have to get the balance right between being patient and having a good tempo and pace to our play. We know that if we play with good energy, we can be a far tougher opponent. It is important we try and impose ourselves on the opposition like we would do any game, particularly at home. I though we managed the game well enough over there apart from a couple of spells in the second half. During these periods they should how dangerous they can be if we don’t fully concentrate. Therefore, as I say, we have to get the balance right between attack and defence. 

“The players are well aware there is still a job to do. I do not have to emphasise the point too much. Despite the away goal, we have to go and try and win the game here so we have to impose ourselves on the game. 

“Although we had watched a lot of Shkendija’s previous games prior to last Thursday, we got a far better gauge on their ability when we played against them. They are a team that is littered with internationals. They have players who if you give them time and space then they will cause you problems and bring that quality. They are good technically and are a side who are very well organised. They have more than one or two players who can be match winners for them. 

“I believe they have a team who could more than hold their own in the SPFL Premiership in Scotland. 

“It is a tough match.”

Finally the manager said there would be nothing happening in the transfer market in the immediate future.

RedTV | Derek McInnes | please click here

Adam Rooney was the player who previewed the game with the press: 

“It was a difficult game over there. They are a good side. It will be another difficult game tomorrow night but hopefully with a big crowd behind us we can do enough to get through to the next round. 

“They could cause us problems. Technically they are a good side and the move the ball about well. They created some good chances last week. We are now more aware of their potential threats. 

“I thought it was a decent enough display last week considering it was our first game of the season. We controlled much of the first half and had a few chances. We then went a goal up and that would have been a great result to take back with us but a draw was still not a disaster. 

“With the extra’s weeks training behind us the lads are looking sharp. 

“Most of the lads came back fairly fit as there was not much time off. It is the sharpness though that as players we need to get back so hopefully we will be even sharper than we were last week.

“The squad is very strong. All the boys have gelled well in pre-season and the new boys have quickly fitted into the dressing room. There is a lot of competition for places in every position. With people pushing for places that should bring out the best in everyone. I know I need to keep getting goals to keep my place in the side.

“The gaffer is well aware of what we have to do and how we go about the match. Nobody in the dressing room thinks it is going to be an easy game. Hopefully if we can play to the level we can and we can get the tactics right and play the way we want to play then we can get through.

“We are expecting a tough game but we are confident. 

“Their fans over there were very good and got behind the team but we expect the same from our fans tomorrow night. They gave us tremendous backing last season and made the difference in quite a number of the games. I particularly remember them helping us get back into the game when we were 3-1 down to Dundee at Pittodrie and we fought back to get a draw. 

“We had a good run in Europe last year but at the moment we are not looking any further ahead than tomorrow night’s game. We are just focusing on getting through.”  

RedTV | Adam Rooney | please click here


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Dons hold firm to move into 2nd Rd

July 10, 2015 1:25 am Author: Aberdeen FC
Dons hold firm to move into 2nd Rd

Aberdeen moved into the second qualifying round of the Europa League after an extremely tight game at Pittodrie this evening. The Dons had to withstand a nervous finish and Danny Ward was forced to make a great diving save in the final minute. In a game with very few chances, Graeme Shinnie and Kenny McLean went close in the first half and after the break a brilliant long range effort from substitute Pawlett hit the bar. Despite the lack of goals Aberdeen go through to face Croatian side Rijeka next Thursday whilst the Macedonians, who can be proud of their performance, go out.

RedTV Reaction | Derek McInnes
RedTV Reaction | Danny Ward
RedTV Reaction | Kenny McLean

match report

With vice-captain Mark Reynolds missing Andrew Considine moved to central defence with Shinnie reverting to left back. So the Dons this evening lined up with Ward in goal. Logan was at right back with Considine and Taylor partnered in central defence and Shinnie was at left back. The midfield four were Hayes, Jack, Flood and McGinn with McLean playing in an advanced position in behind Rooney.

In front of a very good crowd Aberdeen started brightly and the Macedonian keeper did well to tip the ball clear from an early corner. Shkendija then broke but Flood stopped the move deep inside the Dons box.
On 6 minutes Alimi scuffed an effort just wide after clever play by the impressive Ibraimi who was casuing problems down the left flank. A minute later another corner to the Dons. Taylor won the header but it is an easy catch for keeper Jovanovski. Hasani then tried his luck from long range but the shot was always going well over. On 9 minutes a good ball in by Hayes and McGinn coming in at the back post was not far away from getting a touch. 

Shkendija on paper were fielding quite a defensive side but had started the game very well and were enjoying some good possession in and around the Dons box.

On 14 minutes a quick free kick set McGinn free down the left. His cross landed at the feet on Rooney but his shot was blocked. Then on the break it took a great covering tackle from Shinnie to stop Abdula getting a shot away.

After a positive start to the game from both sides the game then started to get quite scrappy and both teams were guilty of giving away petty fouls. After 28 minutes Shkendija looking dangerous on the break again. The ball was fed out to Juffo and he placed a curling shot from the edge of the area just over the bar. On the half hour mark a good catch from Jovanovski stopped Taylor getting on the end of a Hayes free kick. A minute later

Ash then did well at the other end to head clear a dangerous free kick.

Aberdeen were now enjoying more of the possession but the visitors were defending very well. The Dons also were guilty of trying to force the issue instead of just keeping the ball and probing away. They did however finish the half strongly.

On 41 minutes a chance. McGinn's shot was fumbled by the keeper and as he went for the rebound Rooney was taken down by the keeper. No penalty was given. Aberdeen kept the pressure on and Shinnie was put in but his shot was well saved. Then a couple of minutes before the break McLean hit a good shot from distance that just went past.


Right at the start of the second half McGinn played over a good ball to the near post area and Hayes was not far away from getting a touch. Then on 52 minutes a long ball set Hayes free, from a tight angle the keeper blocked his shot. After 56 minutes Ward did well to come and cut out a cross from Todorovski. McLean then almost broke free at the other end, only a very good tackle stopped him in his tracks.

The game was very end to end and just after the hour mark a let off for the Dons. A free kick from Alimi moved all over the place and troubled Ward who could not hold the ball but thankfully his save bounced up over the on rushing Shkendija striker.

On 67 minutes a change from the manager. Kenny McLean came off and Peter Pawlett replaced him. On 70 minutes good play by Shinnie on the left led to a half chance for Rooney on the turn but he could not get his shot away.

With 15 minutes to go the game became very tense. The 14,000 crowd were getting very nervous as well. Those nerves were almost calmed on 78 minutes when Peter Pawlett smashed a shot off the bar. The ball sat nicely for Pete and he hid a dipping long range shot which crashed off the bar and bounced down but not over the line. Willo Flood then hit a shot which just went wide. That was Willo’s last involvement in the game as he was replaced by Barry Robson and David Goodwillie replaced Hayes. The visitors also made a change and brought on striker Kirovski who scored in the first leg. With a very attacking formation the last ten minutes were going to be a real test for the Dons defence.

On 81 minutes a great double chance for Todorovski but he failed to find the net, the Dons defence doing just enough to block his shots. Five minutes later Kirovski beat the offside trap and had a chance but dragged his shot wide. On 88 minutes Ibraimi found space but his low shot just went wide. He should have passed to a colleague. Then in the final minute of normal time a very lucky escape for the Dons after a game of ping ball inside their penalty box. The ball was bouncing about everywhere but thankfully it never fell kindly for a Shkendija player.

There were three minutes of injury time to be played, and in the first minute Ward had to produce a fine save to keep out a shot from Ibraimi. In the final minute Robson used his experience to keep the ball down at the corner and he even created a chance after a strong tackle but could not pick out a red jersey in the box.
The final whistle was greeted with delighted and relief from everyone connected to AFC. Onto Croatia…



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