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Hearts v Aberdeen Preview
“Of course we are disappointed that Jonny (Hayes) is unavailable as he is a big player for us but we respect the disciplinary process and we have to move forward and get on with it.
“Jonny’s loss is someone else’s gain.
“We have options in that position. We have tried to assemble as strong a squad as we can and we have made progress with that. In is great when you have competition for places. It is not just the quality of the players that is important, it is the type of people you are signing. They all want to start, they all want to play but they are great professionals and they all train hard to try and force their way into the side, or to keep their place in the starting XI.
“We have a very good squad of players who are very grounded and also determined. An example of that was on Tuesday night when we maybe did not play our best but still got the job done. We have winners in that dressing room. That has happened by design, it has not just happened. The players are not feeling any pressure, they are just enjoying their football at the moment.
“Going into games feeling confident is a great feeling and long may it continue. That does not just happen though. You have to work hard to get these wins. Things are gelling nicely but we are not kidding ourselves. We are only seven games into the season. There is still a lot of hard work ahead.
“It is work in progress. We are continually looking at ways that we can improve. We try and mprove game by game and also day by day. We have to keep striving to improve as a club.
“I knew some people maybe don’t like hearing it but all we are doing is focussing on one game at a time. That approach has got us seven wins out of seven which is fantastic, the boys have done remarkably well. We also had similar runs last year, it just so happens this time it is at the start of a season and that builds momentum. We are in a good place at the moment and we will do everything in our powers to win the next game which is Hearts on Sunday.
“Tynecastle is a fantastic venue. There is always a great atmosphere. Our fans will also make sure they are heard so it will make for a good spectacle against a Hearts team who are doing very well.
“I was looking at our record there and I think we have only won one of our last five games there but these stats go out window as this is a new squad of players. It is a new season and a new fixture.
“Team news is that obviously Jonny is out. Mark Reynolds was out working with the physio this morning and working very hard. We are excited about getting him back sooner rather than later as he is a very player, he is a winner and he will add to the competition for places.”
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Dons make it win number 8
Derek McInnes opted to make four changes to the side that defeated Hamilton Accies 1-0 at Pittodrie on Tuesday night as The Dons set out in search of recording an eight consecutive league win in the capital. Shay Logan and Paul Quinn returned to the backline after missing the midweek match with McLaughlin and Flood dropping to the bench. Paul Quinn came back into the defence and Peter Pawlett was handed his first start of the Ladbrokes Premiership season as a replacement for the suspended Jonny Hayes and up front David Goodwillie started instead of Adam Rooney.
After experiencing a 2-0 defeat to Inverness CT last time out Robbie Neilson also made four changes to his side as Augustyn, Pallardo, Walker and Reilly replaced Oshaniwa, McKirdy, Nicholson and Swanson.
Despite experiencing a setback in their last couple of matches on the road The Jambos had been in formidable form at Tynecastle recording wins over St Johnstone, Motherwell and Partick Thistle. Hearts had been playing in front of a full house in those three matches and the visit of Aberdeen was met with even greater anticipation with tickets for the home end selling out well in advance of the match.
The Red Army snapped up their allocation of 1400 tickets for the game in just over two hours which pretty much guaranteed that there would be an excellent atmosphere to meet the teams as they emerged from the tunnel.
The Dons set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The home side started off with a high tempo as they looked to assert themselves on the match with some very aggressive pressing in the Aberdeen half. It wasn’t until the 8th minute before The Dons were able to enjoy a spell of possession which quietened the home support down a bit.
In the tenth minute Goodwillie won a free-kick near the byline which presented Aberdeen with their first chance to get the ball into the area. McGinn's delivery was met by Goodwillie six yards from goal and Alexander was not able to keep the ball out despite getting a hand on it. It was a magnificent start for The Dons and it all came about thanks to Goodwillie chasing a lost cause to win the free-kick.
In the 13th minute The Dons launched a counter-attack as Ryan Jack carried the ball over the halfway line before slipping the ball through for Pawlett who cut inside and attempted to curl the ball past Alexander, it was a straight forward save in the end for the keeper.
Hearts had an opportunity to put the ball into the area with a free-kick in the 19th minute but Buaben’s delivery had too much on it and went straight out for a goal kick-off much to the enjoyment of The Dons fans behind Danny Ward’s goal.
Up the other end McLean beat his man with ease in the centre circle before picking out Pawlett on the touchline, he drove past his man and fizzed an inviting ball into the box but Rossi was there to hook the ball clear.
In the 23rd minute Jack played a ball over the top for McGinn after good hold up play by Goodwillie. Niall recovered the ball and showed excellent composure to skip inside one defender before waltzing into the box and past another defender as if he wasn’t there courtesy of what is becoming a trademark drop of the shoulder. The winger was now just 6 yards from goal and made no mistake to send an unstoppable strike into the top corner to double the lead. What a goal!
Hearts had struggled to test Ward in the opening half hour but there was an anticipation that filled the ground every time the Jambos went forward that suggested that the home supporters had far from given up on the game. The physical presence of the Hearts frontline had asked some questions of the Aberdeen defence but so far they had all the answers.
In the 34th minute a long diagonal found Paterson who had the beating of Pawlett in the air, his knock down found Sow and he charged towards the area but Quinn was there to put in a block before he could pull the trigger.
Hearts won a corner in the 38th minute after an effort from Ozturk was deflected behind, Shinnie got up well to clear at the near post before Ward claimed the next cross to take the pressure off The Dons. The home side were now enjoying their best spell of the match and Shinnie had to be alert again to match the run of Paterson and deflect his header behind for a corner. From the corner Rossi got up to a bullet a header towards goal but it was deflected over for another corner.
Walker was next to try his luck from the edge of the area but Considine was there to block for another corner. The Dons dealt with the dead ball again before McGinn earned a free-kick in the opposing half after being brought down cynically by Pallardo who earned a yellow card for the challenge.
As one minute of added time was signalled Hearts had one final opportunity to get the ball in the box but Shinnie was there to clear Walker’s cross. From there The Dons sprung away on another counter-attack as McGinn raced over the hallway line and past a maroon shirt before squaring the ball for Goodwillie who only had Alexander to beat. After running the full length of the pitch to support McGinn the striker showed great composure to fire the ball into the net for his second of the match.
The Jambos were booed off the pitch at half-time but that was perhaps unfair as they had just been on the receiving end of some first class counter-attacking play from The Dons.
At half-time Robbie Neilson made a change replacing Reilly with Nicholson. Unsurprisingly there were no changes for Aberdeen.
A much more subdued atmosphere met the players at the start of the second half but just 30 seconds in Ward rushed off his goal line and took down Juanma just outside the area. The keeper picked up a yellow card for the challenge which left Hearts with a free-kick 20 yards from goal. Ozturk attempted to go under the wall with the free-kick and after a couple of efforts to prod the ball towards goal it was eventually cleared.
Five minutes passed before the home side created another chance after what looked like a foul on Ryan Jack in the middle of the park. Play raged on as Nicholson picked up the ball on the edge of the area and forced Ward to turn the ball around the post. From the corner Rossi pounced on a loose ball to poke the ball into the back of the net from a couple of yards. That goal lifted the home support and it was clear that The Dons would still have work to do to close out this match.
Just before the hour mark Pawlett found space outside the area after getting on the end of a pass from Shinnie, Alexander did well to spread himself and save his strike. Shortly after that The Dons had another golden chance after the ball broke to McGinn inside the area but Alexander produced another excellent save to keep the score at 3-1.
It was a good spell of pressure for the visitors as Hearts were forced to defend a number of corner but they did so effectively. After 65 minutes Derek McInnes made his first change as Rooney replaced Pawlett who had certainly played his part.
In the 69th minute Hearts had a free-kick in a central area 30 yards from goal, Paterson stepped up to strike the ball towards goal and it cannoned off the crossbar after taking a deflection off the wall. The home side were a threat from set-pieces and it wasn’t long before they had another opportunity to get the ball in the area, this time Ward got up well to claim Nicholson’s delivery.
Nicholson had looked lively since coming on at the break and he forced another corner after seeing a strike deflected past the post from 25 yards. From the corner Paterson produced an acrobatic effort but the overhead kick cleared Ward’s bar by some distance.
In the 79th minute Shinnie was taken down by Buaben 25 yards from goal which gave McGinn a chance to test Alexander. McGinn attempted to catch the keeper at the near post but his effort found the side netting.
The home side won a free-kick in an identical area up the other end just moments later when Quinn picked up a yellow card for a foul on Sow. Ozturk opted to float the ball towards the back post but a deflection from Jack sent the ball wide of the post.
With 7 minutes remaining King replaced Buaben as Hearts looked to set up a nervy final few mnutes for The Dons. At the same time Aberdeen made a change of their own as Goodwillie was replaced by Parker. Goodwillie had been in the thick of the action all game and thoroughly deserved the reception he got from The Red Army.
Aberdeen still posed a threat on the break and McGinn could have perhaps done better when Rooney picked him out at the back post, in the end McGinn’s effort was dragged past the post.
As the match entered the final minute of normal time the ball fell kindly for Sow on the edge of the area but his volley was straight at Ward shortly before 3 minutes of additional time were signalled.
Aberdeen had time to make one more substitution in added time as McLaughin replaced McGinn who had produced an inspired performance.
As the match approached full time it was the Aberdeen boys making all the noise as the home supporters headed for the exits. There were times during the match where Aberdeen had to endure some pressure from a very physical Hearts side but this was yet another solid performance on the road from The Dons as they made it 8 wins in a row to continue the 100% winning start to the season.