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Match Preview | Livingston v Aberdeen
Competition: Scottish Premiership
Match: Livingston v Aberdeen
Venue: Tony Macaroni Arena
Kick Off: 15:00
TV Coverage: Livingston PPV & RedTV International. Audio Commentary is available to RedTV UK subscribers.
The manager previews our trip to Livingston at the weekend.
“The mood in the camp is good. It doesn’t get away from the fact that it was a disappointing performance and result on Sunday. It shows the mentality of the group and it shows that they want to kick on and do as well as they can in these last few games of the season. There is never a time to dwell on a result good or bad. The fact that they are ready to go again this week is a huge positive in terms of the group’s mentality.
“There is a realisation from people within the club that this is a period of transition. There are a new staff in here that follow on from a manager that had been here for eight years. We are close to the end of the season; decisions are being made on players both internally and externally. I know it was a disappointing performance and result last week. As a group and as a club we are really disappointed with how it went. It is important that we look to the future and try to build on what we have here and what we believe that we can attract.
“We are hugely disappointed with the performance last week, we know what was at stake, it was the quarter final of the Scottish Cup. Before the game I said I didn’t have to dress up the game and say how big an occasion it was. It is not something that we dressed up then fell. We did not produce at the weekend as a club, and we are hugely disappointed about it but we move on.
“There is a lot that goes into it, there is the reaction to the result and it is also what contributes to the result in the first place. There is a constant evaluation going on right now, as a coaching staff we are looking at the players and how they play, how they can handle things, and the way that we want to do things, can these guys be apart of it? That is the evaluation that is going on at the moment.
“I was saying to Allan Russell as we were walking off from training today that the spirit in the group is really good. There is a good core group of players here and I do believe that we have a lot to build on. We have got a couple of injured ones that are going to come back and help us at some point, hopefully before the end of the season. There is a lot to build on which is really important for us. The result was disappointing, it was a negative, but we need to look to the future try to build and make sure it doesn’t happen again. That is the challenge, and we know as a group of players here we are capable of standing up to that challenge.
“The club has changed a lot since I was here as a player. I would visit when I was back home for Christmas over the past few years. I have learnt that it is still a great club and it is a club that can attract good players. There is a lot of good people in it, there is a good group of players that are already within it. Everything that I thought it was that I was coming back to, it is. It’s a brilliant base and it is something that we can really build on and it is something that we can make it more than it is at the moment. That is always the challenge for a new manager and staff.
“We know it is a difficult opponent. There will be chances for us to go and score goals, if we are good enough looking after the defensive side, we believe that we can keep them out but Davie Martindale has got them playing well, I know they are a tough nut to crack. We need to make sure that we look after our business at both ends of the pitch and we believe that we have the players to come out on the right end of the result.
“It is important that we get back to winning ways and finish the season strongly. The intent is going to be there, we will try to do the right things, we are going to try and win but we know it is difficult. That is the aim, it is a big opportunity to go and get three points. Other teams stand in your way and you have to be ready for the challenge.
“We look to Livingston at the weekend, and we try to get the three points and see if it is good enough, based on what the Hibs result is, to keep the potential for third place alive going into the final week of the season.
Social Media Boycott
“Anything that highlights the issue and adds to the fact that we as a club do not accept racism in any shape or form. It is important that anytime people can take a stand that they are seen to do and hopefully it has the affect everyone wants.
“It is the last opportunity for the lads to prove to me they should be at the club next season. We have three games in a couple of weeks and we will be able to get in more training sessions which is good. It has been a constant evaluation since we got in. It is another opportunity for people to show what they have got. Some of the guys might see an opportunity elsewhere so it is an opportunity for us, its an opportunity for the lads and that is how football works.
“There is an ongoing search for summer recruits. It is not the time of year that people are willing to commit their futures. We did the Scott Brown deal which was a different situation, and we were fortunate to do that. We should not forget that is a new player coming to the club in the summer. We will add to the group, hopefully we add a decent number, we will add quality in the right position and at the right time. We will have a good group of players here next year that will be ready to compete.
“We are a club that can attract good players and I think any players that we add will make us a better team and a group. There will be the right types. I am going to try and sign winners and who are from the highest level that we can and that will help the club and the group. I think we will be able to do that.
“Anyone who is involved with the club shares the Chairman’s ambition of reaching 15,000 season ticket members. We know there might be steppingstones to get there. The first part starts this year. If we can show an attractive group that is coming into the club, show a fresh approach, show some new ideas and show some real intent with the singings that we can make. That is the ambition to get to that level. It has been that ambition for a number of years, it has not quite been achieved but we believe that we can get towards that.”
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Match Page - Text Commentary
Dons Secure European Football With Victory Over Livi
A hard fought and well deserved win for the Dons, combined with defeat for Hibs at Easter Road, saw Aberdeen close the gap to third place to just three points ahead of Hibs’ visit to Pittodrie on May 12th.
There were three changes to the Aberdeen side from last Sunday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final, Stephen Glass bringing Jack MacKenzie back into the side after the full-back was cup tied. Dylan McGeouch and Connor McLennan returned to the starting XI, and there was a welcome return to the squad for Ryan Hedges on the bench. Joe Lewis was still not fully fit and joined Ash Taylor, Michael Devlin, Greg Leigh, Miko Virtanen and Ross McCrorie on the injured list.
Livingston also made three changes from the side defeated 2-1 at Hibernian ten days ago. In came Jack Fitzwater, Matej Poplatnik and skipper Marvin Bartley with Alan Lithgow, Efe Ambrose and Josh Mullin all dropped to the bench.
As has tended to be the way in this fixture in recent times, the game opened in scrappy fashion, neither side really getting hold of the ball. Poplatnik had the first sighter on seven minutes, a long ball out from the back from Fitzwater crossed in first time by Longridge, Andrew Considine doing really well to get an important block in.
Lewis Ferguson had the Dons’ first look at goal, a rasping 30 yarder tipped over the bar by Stryjek on 12 minutes. From the corner, Niall McGinn had two bites at delivering the ball, the second picking out Callum Hendry, Stryjek clawing away his downward header from eight yards out. Gary Woods was in action a couple of minutes later, punching the ball off Poplatnik’s head as he looked poised to nod in.
Livi pressed again on 20 minutes, Devlin and Emmauel-Thomas both having attempts at goal in the same attack, Woods and Considine keeping the ball out in turn.
A good turn on halfway from Flo Kamberi allowed him to set McGinn on his way down the right on 31 minutes. His cross to the back post reached Ferguson but his downward header was straight at the goalkeeper. Two minutes later, McGinn bent a shot over the bar, the referee then going back and booking Sibbald and McLennan for an off the ball incident as the move got underway, both taking a chunk out of one another. Sibbald was nearly on the scoresheet too in the 35th minute, having two bites at a loose ball, Woods making a fine save from the second effort.
Pittman was next in the book for failing to go back ten yards at a free-kick as the game started to become fractious. Sibbald could have received a second yellow for hauling McGinn down on 38 minutes as he ran towards goal, but the referee let him away with a warning.
The hosts should have been ahead on 39 minutes, Poplatnik racing onto the end of a short McLennan back pass. Woods chased off his line to narrow the angle and Poplatnik obligingly poked his shot across goal and wide, a bad miss.
HALF-TIME: LIVINGSTON 0 ABERDEEN 0
It was a good start to the second period for Aberdeen who were in front on 52 minutes, McLennan playing a starring role. Pushing forward, he found Kamberi who then played the ball out to McGinn on the right. His cross found McLennan, who had carried his run on into the box. He produced a powerful header that Stryjek pushed onto the bar but Hendry was there, poaching in the six yard box to poke the ball over the line.
Bartley became the third Livi man in the book for a poor challenge on McGeouch on 55 minutes. There was another bad tackle from the Livi skipper within a minute, but like Sibbald, he too escaped a second yellow.
Considine might have done better with a chance on 59 minutes, Johnny Hayes picking him out at the back post from a free-kick but the captain didn’t get the connection he needed.
The first change of the afternoon saw Fraser Hornby replace Hendry on 64 minutes after the goal scorer appeared to have picked up an injury, Livi responding by swapping Sibbald for Kabia. Hedges then made his return to the Aberdeen side in the 70th minute in place of McGinn, the game settling into something of a stalemate.
Within four minutes of his return, Hedges made it 2-0. McGeouch broke play up in his own half and played it onto Hayes who sent Kamberi on his way down the left. He advance into the box and stabbed a ball across the face of goal, Hedges running onto it to produce a crisp first time finish with his left foot, sweeping the ball across Stryjek and in. Mullin was introduced in place of Poplatnik as he game restarted.
Considine went into the book for a foul on Mullin with 14 minutes to go. From the free-kick in, there was a nasty collision between Tommie Hoban and Guthrie, Guthrie first clashing with Woods and then bouncing into Hoban. Both needed lengthy treatment before continuing.
In the aftermath, Livi’s corner was half cleared, but Hedges lost possession out on the right, Kabia spearing a flat cross through the box to the back post, Emmanuel-Thomas lashing a first time volley back across goal and in for 2-1.
The Dons almost restored the two goal lead virtually from the kick-off, Kamberi through on goal only to be denied by Stryjek. Hornby was inches away from being through moments later too, but in the 86th minute, he fell awkwardly and had to make way with injury, Matty Kennedy coming on in the 88th minute. Hayes then became the sixth booking of the afternoon. From the resulting free-kick, Livi launched the ball into the box and screamed for a penalty, but thankfully, the referee was having none of it.
Woods was called into action for a crucial save in combination with Ferguson in the 92nd minute, Emmanuel-Thomas wriggling to the by-line before squaring it. Woods got a hand to the cross, then Ferguson got a second block on it as Kabia tried to swoop down on the loose ball. Woods was then eventually able to finally smother it. MacKenzie collected a yellow card as he tried to break up the play in the dying seconds, but it was worth it as the Dons secured victory.
LIVINGSTON: Stryjek, Devlin, Fitzwater, Guthrie, Longridge, Bartley, Holt, Pittman, Poplatnik (Mullin 75), Sibbald (Kabia 67), Emmanuel-Thomas.
Subs not used: Maley, Lithgow, Ambrose, Forrest, McMillan, Diani, Serrano.
GOAL: Emmanuel-Thomas (80)
BOOKED: Sibbald, Pittman, Bartley
ABERDEEN: Woods, McLennan, Hoban, Considine, MacKenzie, Hayes, Ferguson, McGeouch, Kamberi, McGinn (Hedges 70), Hendry (Hornby 64 (Kennedy 88)).
Subs not used: Woods, Ross, Campbell, Gallagher, Ruth, Ramsay.
GOAL: Hendry (52), Hedges (75)
BOOKED: McLennan, Considine, Hayes.