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Scottish League Cup Round Two Preview
The Dons captain spoke to the afc media team to preview the Betfred Cup tie against Dundee on Sunday:
“What happened on Thursday, it is hard to dress the game up.
“There were some poor decisions from the players, some naivety in both legs.
“I felt coming away from the first leg in Croatia with a 2-0 scoreline was harsh but you make bad decisions in key areas then you get punished against decent opposition.
“Again on Thursday, we had a corner, we win the second phase and put it back into the box and then we are ball watching. Next thing you know, they have cleared the ball and it is one v one at the back, then two v two and even maybe three v two at one stage.
“There is nothing you can say that can dress that up.
“I felt in general play when they were in front of us, it did not feel like they were going to hurt us. But when you show that naivety, you are not going to win games of football at this level.
“When you are in possession against teams that are looking to counterattack – and coming here with a 2-0 lead and knowing that we were going to have to be adventurous – that was always what Rijeka were going to do. We spoke about it before the game.
“We have to show more experience than we did. And we need to learn from that. And we need to learn from that quickly.
“Sunday is a huge game for the club.
“We always take a massive support down to Dundee and we know need to step up as players, be brave and show confidence and go there and put in a real performance.
“The incidents that have cost us the goals, it is not good enough. We have to show a response.
“The first goal, we were still 11 v 11 players on the pitch and we defend poorly. We let them get the away goal when we had 11 players on the park. You can’t blame the referee for that one.
“There were some strange decision, some poor decisions in my opinion but that is European football. Referee’s that we are used to in the domestic game maybe don’t brandish yellow cards as easily as some of the ones in European competitions. But again, that is more naivety from us to get ourselves in those situations where we give the referee the option of giving a card.
“Again we need to show a big response on Sunday because it is now a huge game for us and it is down the lads to show that character that I know we have got to bounce back.”
The Manger, Ryan Hedges and Lewis Ferguson all spoke to RedTV after the game on Thursday night.
“We need to make sure we are ready for Sunday, it’s a different challenge again but it’s a game that’s really important for us to give a response.
“What happened on the Thursday, and the way the game went, it was hugely disappointing.
“But the game is gone. We are out now and there is no point in dwelling on it.
“What we will do – it is my job and the players job to analysis the game, certainly that opening period. After that the game is gone. We will analysis what we could have done better and learn from that going into the game on Sunday.
“It is important we don’t have any hangover from Thursday night going into this game or have any negativity. That will only help Dundee’s cause and make things more of a challenge for us.
“It is all about refocussing and bringing a performance that we know is in our team.
“I have watched Dundee a couple of times this season already, they have tried a few different systems and I think it will be a different system against us again. They have got plenty of experience in their team, a lot of new signings, they have a top flight front two and players who we are well aware of. I am pretty sure they will be confident that they can get a result against us but we need to get the job done.”
“A very disappointing night but it is gone now.
“The performance was poor but we are out of that competition and we must now turn our attention to the league cup and hopefully progressing.
“We won’t just look at the tie being lost at Pittodrie. We probably could have done a bit more when things were still quite even. We should have taken a better scoreline back to Pittodrie.
“Playing with ten was not ideal. The referee did not give us any help.
“There are not many positives you can take out of a game like that. The manager at half time told us to shore it up at the back. The fact we did not concede in the second half is one of the very few positives we can take into Sunday.
“There is not much we can do about it now apart from looking ahead and focusing on Sunday.
“We need to look forward.
“We want to do well in this competition. We want to get to final and we want to win it.
“We are in it to win it. It would be great in my first season here to go to Hampden. I played at Wembley against Spurs in the Third Round of the League Cup in 2017, when they were playing their home games at there.”
“I am suspended for Sunday.
“The boys need to rest and recover and pick themselves back up. The gaffer spoke about that in the dressing room after the game. He spoke about how important it is that we go and win on Sunday.
“We will put everything into that game now to try and put things right.
“I thought we were flying at the start of the season. We were playing well. We were playing good attacking football. But there is no getting away from the fact we have been poor the past couple of games.
“It has not been good enough. We need to turn it around very quickly.
“It will be tough sitting watching the game on Sunday. After a game like that you just want to get back out and get playing and want to put things right. Hopefully the boys can go and do their jobs and get us into the next round.”
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Match Report | Dons late show keeps Cup hopes alive
DUNDEE 1 ABERDEEN 2 (aet)
Betfred Cup Round 2
Kilmac Stadium, Dens Park
Sunday 18th August 2019
A performance short on quality from the Dons was redeemed by showing big character late in the day, Aberdeen moving into the last eight of the competition, chiselling out a 2-1 win after salvaging the game at the death at Dens Park.
With the Dons looking to get back to winning ways, Derek McInnes made just one enforced change to the side that were beaten by HNK Rijeka, Craig Bryson making his first start for the club, replacing the suspended Lewis Ferguson in midfield. Hosts Dundee made two changes from their 1-0 win over Ayr eight days previously, Josh Todd and Shaun Byrne replacing Kane Hemmings and Paul McGowan.
Niall McGinn created the first bit of excitement in the third minute, his shot blocked away for a corner after good work down the left involving Greg Leigh and Jon Gallagher. It was an encouraging opening from the Dons, looking for a goal after drawing three consecutive blanks.
The hosts picked it up from there and began to pen the Dons in, peppering them with long balls forward, looking to feed off second balls, though Scott McKenna and Andy Considine in particular handled the aerial bombardment well.
Sam Cosgrove went in the book on the quarter hour, catching Kerr in the face with a leading arm, though it looked purely accidental. From the free-kick, a long ball in saw a clever header into the box from Forster, Lewis scrambling it away, then the ball came back in from the left from McDaid, arcing through the box and giving Todd a free header at the back stick but somehow, he put his effort wide.
With the home crowd lifted, the Dons were struggling to get any sustained possession, confidence looking low after the recent run of defeats. Dundee were almost in front on 23 minutes, a superb turn on the edge of the box from Johnson culminating in a powerful shot that flew past Lewis but, fortunately, cannoned back into play off the post.
There were loud home claims for a penalty in the 35th minute, the Dark Blues arguing that Funso Ojo had handled a ball in but from there, the Dons broke quickly to force a corner at the other end. A second swiftly followed, but the danger was snuffed out by the referee’s whistle – five corners from the Dons thus far that had amounted to little, if any threat.
Dundee boss James McPake took a long lecture from referee Collum on 39 minutes after some exuberant complaining but it didn’t distract his side, Todd breaking down the right and arrowing a cross all the way through the six yard box without anyone getting the vital touch. Dundee were pressing the Dons energetically all over the pitch, giving them no time to play.
The Dons had almost got to the break unscathed but on 43 minutes, a coming together between Considine and Forster from a long ball into the box resulted in a penalty and a card for Considine, both decisions looking a little harsh. Johnson stepped up to the 12 yard mark and sent Lewis the wrong way to give his side a lead that, in truth, they deserved on the balance of the first half.
HALF-TIME: Dundee 1 Aberdeen 0
The Dons finally carved out a real chance in the 49th minute, Gallagher pulling the ball across goal from the right, Cosgrove stabbing the ball wide from 10 yards out. Dundee responded immediately, Byrne darting forward to the edge of the box before pulling his effort wide, Bryson booked for a foul in the build up.
Symptomatic of the day the Dons were having, Lewis spilled a routine cross in the 52nd minute as the Aberdeen side simply could not got anything going against a Dundee side buzzing around the pitch, Considine there to clear things up.
A bit of pressure was exerted a minute later, Ryan Hedges having a shot blocked, then Gallagher following up with a shot that lacked conviction, easily snaffled by Hamilton, early signs of much needed improvement, the Dons belatedly beginning to play more of their football in the opposition half.
Connor McLennan was introduced to the fray in the 57th minute, replacing McGinn after a quiet afternoon. Five minutes later, he was joined by Dean Campbell in place of Bryson while Dundee replaced goalscorer Johnson with Nelson.
Nelson quickly caused havoc, chasing down Considine in the 64th minute, Lewis swiftly off his line to clear. Derek McInnes made his final change in the 65th minute, James Wilson on for Hedges.
McLennan was beginning to cause problems for Dundee and in the 72nd minute, his cross found Leigh, his header looping up for Hamilton to claim. A couple of minutes later, the hosts replaced Ness with McGowan.
It was Dundee who threatened next, Kerr’s shot from the edge of the box straight at Lewis in the 76th minute. McDaid then flashed a shot over the bar from distance as the Dark Blues began to exert control again. Logan collected a card 12 minutes from time as he ended another Nelson run. McDaid followed him into the book for hauling down McLennan on the charge. From the free-kick on halfway, it was all too easy for Hamilton to come off his line and claim, another poor set play from the Dons.
Good play from the Dons finally opened Dundee up in the 83rd minute, Ojo finding McLennan who darted into the box, his shot deflected up into the centre of the penalty area where Gallagher produced a fine diving header, only to see the ball hooked clear off the line by Forster.
Into the last five minutes, Meekings replaced Todd as Dundee looked to see out the game. With the Dons raising a gallop in the dying moments, a good ball in from Leigh caused havoc, Hamilton flapping at it but getting enough of a touch on it to push the ball clear.
A foul on Ojo brought Forster a yellow card as the game entered time added on and from the free-kick, the Dons saved themselves. It was Ojo’s ball in, Cosgrove heading across to Leigh. His header was superbly clawed away by Hamilton but Gallagher was swiftly onto it, squaring the ball for Considine to slot in the equaliser from inside the six yard box.
The sides exchanged corners in the dying seconds, but onwards the game went to extra-time.
FULL-TIME: Dundee 1 Aberdeen 1
Two minutes into extra-time, McLennan’s corner caused some consternation, Hamilton missing it, Considine heading over at the back post. McLennan looked much the most likely Don to make something happen, a driving 60 yard run in the 93rd minute leaving defenders in his wake, but his shot from 20 yards flew well over.
Robertson was replaced by Moore in the 98th minute as Dundee made their additional extra-time change. The game had turned now, Aberdeen keeping Dundee penned in their half, Wilson trying his luck from distance in the 99th minute, pulling his effort well wide.
In the 103rd minute, the Dons were finally ahead. Good work between Leigh and McKenna down the left hand side ended with the left-back hitting the by-line and putting in a nice cross to around the penalty spot, Cosgrove getting up well to head the ball back across goal and inside the far post with Hamilton left flat footed.
EXTRA-TIME HALF-TIME: Dundee 1 Aberdeen 2
A horrible, entirely accidental, collision in mid-air between Wilson and Forster had both medical teams on the park early in the second half administering treatment. Forster was relatively quickly on his feet but Wilson stayed down considerably longer before gingerly getting to his feet and continuing.
The tiring hosts were looking for a way back in, McDaid driving the ball straight at Lewis, then moments later, Lewis fell awkwardly in collecting the ball, needing treatment, just as he had done against Rijeka on Thursday before he too continued.
The Dons could have made the tie safe after 114 minutes, a good ball in from Logan reaching Cosgrove but he scuffed his first time effort wide of goal. What looked like a foul throw from Nelson at the other end caused hearts to flutter in the Dons defence a minute later, Lewis quickly out to punch clear and then gather of Considine. Nelson tried it again with another throw a minute later, hurling the ball into the welcoming arms of the Dons’ captain.
A scramble in the Dons’ box was eventually cleared by Campbell as the hosts tested Aberdeen nerves by throwing everyone forward in the 118th minute and a minute later, Gallagher was replaced by Zak Vyner in Aberdeen’s fourth switch.
Great goalkeeping from Lewis calmed things down in the first of four added minutes, dashing 15 yards off his line to catch another long free-kick launched into the Aberdeen box and ease the pressure.
Still Dundee came, Marshall’s chipped cross into the box pushed behind for a corner by Lewis, Hamilton joining his colleagues in the box, Marshall snatching at his shot as the ball dropped for him and ballooning the ball over.
And that was that, the Dons squeezing through to earn a third round trip to Tynecastle. In cup football, it’s all about the result.
Dundee: Hamilton, Kerr, McGhee, Ness (McGowan 74), Forster, Todd Meekings 86), Byrne, McDaid, Johnson (Nelson 62), Robertson (Moore 98), Marshall
Subs: Ferrie, Anderson, Cunningham
Goal: Johnson (pen) (44)
Booked: McDaid, Forster
Aberdeen: Lewis, Logan, Considine, McKenna, Leigh, Ojo, Bryson (Campbell 62), Gallagher (Vyner 119), Hedges (Wilson 65), McGinn (McLennan 57), Cosgrove
Subs: Cerny, Wright, Main
Goal: Considine (90+1), Cosgrove (103)
Booked: Cosgrove, Considine, Bryson, Logan
Ref: Willie Collum