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Aberdeen V Hearts | Preview

December 29, 2017 4:14 pm Author: Matthew Findlay

The AFC Media Team preview the final match of 2017

We’ve reached the end of another calendar year at Pittodrie and it’s been one full of many highs on the field. Another 2nd place finish was secured with games to spare and that was followed up with a first win at Ibrox since 1991. That allowed the team to beat their own record points tally and set up a second national Cup Final appearance of the season at the end of May against Celtic. The Scottish Cup Final was a fantastic occasion for everyone associated with the Club and losing out to a last-minute goal was bitterly disappointing given the work the players had put into it.

Fast forward to December and the team, despite undergoing a number of changes in personnel, have taken control of 2nd place once again and Derek McInnes has set his side the target of reaching 45 points going into the winter break. To do that they must beat a rejuvenated Hearts, who under Craig Levein ended Celtic’s unbeaten domestic run and are unbeaten themselves since the first week of November.

The festive fixtures often attract large attendances and Saturday’s game promises to be no different. A reminder to supporters attending the match that it is “Flag Day” at Pittodrie. We are looking for The Red Army to make Pittodrie colourful for the final match of the year and are encouraging fans to bring their flags and cheer the team on to another three points.

See more information here.

The Dons go into the game after picking up a win against Partick Thistle in midweek and are boosted by the news that Niall McGinn is returning to the Club, six months after leaving for South Korea. Niall will officially join on January 1st and will be a welcome addition to Derek McInnes’s side for the second half of the season.

WHAT THE MANAGER SAID

“I’m absolutely delighted to get Niall.

“It was first mentioned a few weeks ago about Niall being a free agent and we decided we would be keen to have him with us. At that stage we were aware there would be other clubs interested, as when good players become free agents there’s normally more than one club after him.

“When you get a free agent with 50 caps for his country it’s not always easy to get those types, but his affection for the club and the way we work here has played a huge part in him wanting to come back. I think it’s a huge boost, not only for the staff, but for his teammates and the supporters.

“There’s no pressure on tomorrow. There’s an eagerness to win the game and I think we’ve been in decent form. The Celtic game apart, even though it was a decent performance, I think we’ve had some good results of late and I’ve been really pleased with what the players have given us.

“If we can get to 45 points after the first part of the season I think that would suggest good work being done. With the early start in Europe the players now get a chance to recharge with a week off after the Hearts game and then hopefully kick on as we done last season. I thought we came back from the winter break strongly and hopefully the players that we signed are more aware of what’s expected of them here.”

Read more from Derek here

WHAT THE CAPTAIN SAID

“We’ve had a good start to the season and put ourselves in a good position, but it is really important that we finish with a win so that we can all enjoy the break. It has been a tough December, so it’ll be good to go away and relax and enjoy some good time with the family before we go away.

“The campaign has felt a bit stop good wins. Some of the performances haven’t been up there with what we are capable of, but this league it is about winning games and getting points on the board. When you are doing that, you are always going to be happy.

Hearts will be a very tough test on Saturday, but it is one we know we can win if we are up to our own standards.”

WHAT KENNY MCLEAN SAID

“I think in this league; the first goal is crucial. When we get it, it relaxes us and makes teams come at us a bit more, which is ideal for us as we can pick them off. That’s what’s been happening of late. The way we’ve been starting has been excellent and that’s what the manager expects from us.

“He knows what we are capable of, but we need to keep that form going and starting games that way. Everybody has taken a lot of responsibility in the last few games. We’ve been passing the ball around very well, which maybe wasn’t happening in the games before.

“When we have control of the ball, we can really dictate games. I’ve been playing my part in that and personally, that’s where my strengths lie. I think I can influence games from both defensive and attacking positions. The performances have been coming from all the boys and we need to continue that.”

“I remember this time last year we had the say fixture away from home. We were thinking the same thing. We managed to get the win down there and hopefully we can do the same this year. It would be good to send the fans and everyone involved in the club into break feeling good about themselves.”

WHAT JOE LEWIS SAID

“As a group we spoke about it before the Partick game, can we get six points out of the next two games and finish the year on a high and go into the break feeling good about ourselves?

“We are half way to reaching that target. Hearts are a strong team, they are in decent form, especially defensively so we are going to need to work hard to break them down. We will have had to earn our victory if we get it. There are a lot of teams who are looking good at the moment. I think Hearts are looking very strong. We know that if we slip up there will be team waiting to take advantage.

Read more from Joe here


ABERDEEN V HEARTS: A HISTORY

Aberdeen first faced the Tynecastle outfit in 1905/06 when they earned a 1-1 draw in Edinburgh and recorded a 2-1 victory in the return fixture at Pittodrie. Early matches were mostly close affairs, although between 1910 and 1912 Aberdeen recorded five straight wins and then immediately suffered five straight defeats in reply.

The Dons’ record win against Hearts is 6-2 and this was first achieved in 1947 as the Dons won a League Cup semi-final replay that took them through to Hampden to face Rangers in the final. That score was repeated in 1992 at Pittodrie when Duncan Shearer helped himself to his second hat-trick in five days to help secure the victory.

The highest scoring encounter between the two sides happened back on 20th November 1926. The match is long erased from the memories of both sets of fans, but the 14,000 in Pittodrie that day were well entertained. In a ding-dong battle, Aberdeen led 4-3, and 5-4, but were pegged back on both occasions. That early Hearts goal was the only time the Edinburgh side enjoyed a lead and with only a minute remaining the sides were tied at 5-5 and it looked like ending in share of the points. However, in that final minute, Reid set up Bruce for the decisive goal as Aberdeen claimed both points and sent the crowd home happy with a win and eleven goals to savour.

Gentleman George Hamilton and Duncan Shearer share the honour of being top scorers against Hearts with 11 goals apiece. Joe Harper, Graham Leggat and Harry Yorston are all two behind with nine goals each while Davie Robb amassed an impressive eight goals in his time.

Under the current regime at Pittodrie, Derek McInnes has faced Hearts 12 times, winning five and losing four, with three draws. The last time Hearts came to Pittodrie, Aberdeen ran out 2-0 winners with goals from Shay Logan and Jonny Hayes being the difference.


Saturday’s match takes place a year to the day after The Dons recorded a 1-0 win at Tynecastle. Aberdeen put in an excellent performance and Jonny Hayes’ 66th minute winner saw off Hearts and set The Dons on course for successful second half of the season.

You can watch that goal here

If you can’t make it to the match on Saturday, join us on RedTV from 2.45pm for live coverage including video on RedTV International. After the match we will have all the reaction, highlights and a full-match replay.

Thank you for your outstanding support for this year and Happy New Year!

STAND FREE!

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Match Report | Aberdeen 0-0 Hearts

December 30, 2017 6:34 pm Author: Malcolm Panton

The Dons played out a goalless draw with Heart of Midlothian to end 2017 in second place.

Despite controlling the game and having the majority of possession The Dons had to settle for a point as they couldn’t break down a well organised Hearts defence, who were reduced to 10 men following Kyle Lafferty’s dismissal in the final moments of the match.

Following the 0-0 stalemate in Glasgow at lunchtime it meant the Dons still sit second place in the league, three points clear of Rangers in 3rd and eight points behind league leaders Celtic.

Report

McInnes made one change to the side that beat Patrick Thistle three days previous, with Kari Arnason returning to the starting XI in place of Greg Stewart who dropped to the bench.
The visitors Hearts, came into this fixture on the back of an eight game unbeaten run which included a 4-0 victory over champions to end their domestic unbeaten run. Manager, Craig Levein made four changes to his side that drew the Edinburgh derby 0-0 with rivals Hibernian.

18,000 plus fans braved the wet weather conditions for the final time of 2017 as Hearts got things underway. Aberdeen dominated the early stages and had their first half chance in the fifth minute from a corner. O’Connor took it, clipping it to the edge of the area to the arriving McLean who was unmarked but he blazed his volley high and wide.
The Dons registered their first shot on target in 10th minute. A deft touch from Gary Mackay-Steven allowed him to get a shot away which was blocked and fell to Rooney. The Dons number 9 tried an audacious overhead kick which he met well, but was comfortably saved by keeper McLaughlin.

On 14 minutes Hearts were forced into making a change, with Daniel Baur replacing the injured Michael Smith.

Moments later The Dons nearly took the lead following a dangerous in swinging ball from Kenny McLean, it only needed a touch from Wednesdays match winner Adam Rooney and it would’ve been 1-0.

Aberdeen continued to press, Christie found Gary Mackay-Steven with a cross field pass, the Dons winger found himself a yard on the by-line and delivered a floating ball to the back stick but McLean’s header was well blocked.

The Dons dominated the opening twenty-five minutes, enjoying the lion’s share of possession. However Hearts were resolute in defence and having only conceded two goals in their last eight games the Dons knew patience would be key in breaking down the visitors defence.

Hearts had their first shot on goal through an audacious effort from Hearts captain Christophe Berra. His shot was high and wide, failing to trouble Joe Lewis.

Joe was incredible form the last time the sides met, keeping the scoreline 0-0 at Murrayfield in what was Levein’s first game in change of Hearts. The Dons keepers was once again called into action on the half hour mark. Following a Hearts counter attack, Goncalves slipped in Milinkovic who was one on one with the Dons keeper and looked certain to score. However Lewis was out quickly and on the edge of the area spread himself well to keep the scoreline goalless.

In the 36th minute the visitors were forced to make their second change. Kyle Lafferty replaced the injured Anthony McDonald. Lafferty tried to make an instant impact but he couldn’t get a hold of his long range effort and it trickled through to Lewis.

Five minutes before half time Rooney had a golden chance to open the scoring. The ball dropped to him inside the six yard box, however his swivelled shot was saved expertly by McLaughlin from point blank range. From the resulting corner the ball was worked short to Logan on the edge of the area but he dragged his shot wide of the left hand post.

On the stroke of half-time Goncalves intercepted a miss placed pass from Christie but his cross come shot was well wide and the sides went in level at the break.

Half Time: Aberdeen 0-0 Hearts

The rain continued to pour as the second half began. The Dons made one change in personnel with Greg Stewart replacing Andrew Considine as Aberdeen went in search for the opening goal.

The opening five minutes of the second half was much similar to the first with both sides defences coming on out on top.

The Dons began to tighten the screw and had a flurry of half chances in the opening 10 minutes of the half. The first fell to Rooney following a long throw from Logan. The ball was flicked on and fell to the Dons striker on the penalty spot but he couldn’t control his half volley and his effort sailed over the bar.

The home side began to tighten the screw, Gary Mackay-Steven got in behind but was tackled at the last moment and the ball went out for a corner. The resulting set-piece saw the ball fall to GMS again on the edge of the area, his effort was goal bound but again well blocked and out for another corner which eventually came to nothing.
Stewart was the next Dons player to go close. He controlled and directed a volley on target, but the ball was deflected wide by Daniel Baur. Shinnie’s corner was perfectly met by Scott McKenna’s head but McLaughlin was equal too it producing another fine save.

On the hour mark referee John Beaton produced the first yellow card of the game. GMS’ feet were too quick for Don Cowie and the Hearts central midfielder caught the winger and was cautioned.
The Dons continued to dominate the second half, piling pressure on the visitors goal. Milinkovic went into the book for another foul and from the resulting free kick Scott McKenna met Greg Stewart’s free kick but placed his diving header wide of the post. It was a great chance.

Hearts remained with their backs against the walls with twenty minutes to play, yet they continued to look dangerous on the counter. A Hearts breakaway saw the ball fall to young Harry Cochrane, who curled a shot from the edge of the area just wide.

Moments later a bursting run from centre half John Souttar allowed Isma Goncalves a shooting opportunity but the Hearts striker couldn’t divert his shot on target.

Hearts then continued to look dangerous on the counter as Aberdeen pushed forward in search for a winner leaving themselves vulnerable at the back. They had two moves down the right which resulted in dangerous balls across the six yard box but on both occasions there was no one able to tap home.

In the final 15 minutes Aberdeen continued to press; Christie cut inside and his cross nearly crept in at the far post, but McLaughlin who saw it late, managed to gather.

Hearts nearly took the lead with ten minutes to play. A quick free kick allowed Milinkovic to slip in Goncalves but the Hearts forward was unable to make Joe Lewis work, curing his shot well wide. The striker had time but was unlucky as the ball took a bobble as he was away to shoot. A real let off for Aberdeen.

With ten minutes to play McInnes threw his final roll of the dice. A double substitution saw Maynard and Wright enter the field for Arnason and GMS.

The Dons continued to press but the Edinburgh side were throwing bodies at everything and remained difficult to break down. Stewart, Logan, McLean and Christie all had shots on goal but failed to seriously trouble McLaughlin.

The Dons had a penalty claim waved away late on when the ball ricocheted off Hearts defender Jamie Brandon’s thigh onto his arm but the referee deemed it accidental.

In the 87th minute Hearts substitute Kyle Lafferty was sent off for a wild challenge from behind on Dons captain Graeme Shinnie, leaving the visitors to defend the final moments of the game with 10 men.

Harry Cochrane joined Brandon, Souttar, Cowie, Milinkovic and Lafferty in the book for another foul. The Dons took the resulting free kick quickly but the shot from Christie was once again fired wide following some quick footwork from the Dons winger.

Unfortunately The Dons couldn’t find a winner and and the game finished goalless. They were not helped when there was only three minutes of added time played.

The next fixture for the Dons will be in the Scottish Cup on the 20th of January following the winter break.

Full Time: Aberdeen 0-0 Hearts

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