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Match Preview | Aberdeen v Rangers
Competition: Scottish Premiership
Match: Aberdeen v Rangers
Kick Off: 15:00
TV Coverage: Sky Sports Main Event & RedTV International. Audio Commentary is available to RedTV UK subscribers.
The manager spoke to the media via Zoom on Friday morning as he previewed our game with Rangers.
“Our last two outings against them we have fallen well short of what I expect. It has been a good time for Rangers to play us. It has been a good time for a few teams in certain periods to take us on. We have probably been a bit vulnerable in terms of team selection and players available. Going into this game, we are in decent form, we have got good players and it is important that Rangers get a far tougher game than they have in the last couple of games.
“I don’t know why anyone would suggest that Rangers might take their foot off the gas because it hasn’t been the case. They have been very consistent; their league record has been as good as any team over the last period of time. Their focus has been very good.
“Our focus is on ourselves. We have to get the best performance from ourselves. Regardless if we are playing the team at the top or the bottom of the league we have got to try and manage our own performance and that is all I am interested in.
“Connor McLennan is likely to be out, he has an ongoing foot issue. Niall McGinn is a bit of a doubt with a calf strain. Young Calvin Ramsay, after signing his new deal, picked up an injury in training yesterday, he turned his ankle in a challenge with Dean Campbell. McGeough, Devlin and Leigh are still out, and McCrorie is unavailable.
“Bruce Anderson and Miko Virtanen have both been recalled from their loans at Ayr and Arbroath will both come back into the squad and have been training with us this week.
“My incentive is to win three points for Aberdeen. That is all I am interested in.
“We expect a strong Rangers team to be on the pitch. Whenever we play any team, we look at their last four to five games and try to analyse that from a tactical point of view and from our own sakes and where we can cause Rangers one or two problems.
“We have got to try and concentrate on our own aspect of our own performance.
“Some of our draws have been frustrating. I thought the performance against Motherwell was good. Against St Mirren we had Lewis Ferguson sent off and against Hamilton we lost a goal from a set play. We have to take responsibility for some of those draws. It has not been perfect of late, but we are in good form, I think we have had one league defeat in 14 games, it suggests that we are not a million miles away from where we want to be. We have to do a lot of things right on Sunday to get the result we want.
“We will be tested out of possession; we are going to be tested defensively. We have to make sure that in possession we go and land a few blows on Rangers when we get that opportunity. We are going to have give a far better 90-minute performance to get the desired outcome. For the last wee while some of the performances have been really encouraging, they haven’t been perfect.
“This is a game where a lot is expected of us and we have got to meet that head on. We have got to recognise the strength of our opponent at the minute. We have got to believe that there is that performance in us that we can win the game.
“You need a lot of things to go your way. We have got to concentrate on our performance. If we can perform as we are capable of then we are a tough team to play against us. There have been plenty of clean sheets of late, defensively we have been pretty sound as a team. We are still looking to be better in the opposition box. We have got Sam Cosgrove who is a proven goals scorer at this level over the last couple of seasons. We have got good ball carriers in the team like Scott Wright who is working his way back. We have to show the best of ourselves on Sunday.
“Bruce’s loan at Ayr didn’t go perfectly. He wasn’t starting games as much as he would have liked and we all expected a bit more from that loan. Just because it hasn’t worked at Ayr, doesn’t mean he hasn’t learnt from that. He gets some valuable experience and he gets some game time. The challenge for him is to concentrate on Aberdeen and to use his experience from Ayr and be a key player for us in the second half of the season.
“We are a country who lives for its football. A high percentage of the country have a real interest and love for football. Football can play a huge part for people to have something to look forward, watching their team play a game of football. When football was taken away from us it was awful. When football started back up, the Bundesliga was one of the first leagues back on TV, you would have watched any game of football in the world just to keep that interest. The fact that we are able to keep playing games and watch games on TV then it is a huge part. It is not the be all or end all but for those involved in football it is still a massive part of our daily lives.”
Head to Head
Played 140, won 41, drawn 50, lost 49. Scored 173, conceded 179.
Aberdeen 1 v 0 Rangers – 22/11/1989 – Pittodrie – Attendance: 23,000
Aberdeen went into the match on the back of a five game unbeaten run, that had started after the Dons had defeated Rangers in the League Cup final at Hampden the previous month. Aberdeen continued their impressive run with new signing Hans Gillhuas, following on from his debut double against Dunfermline the week before, scoring the only goal of the game at Pittodrie with a 20 yard curling shot that flew over Rangers goalkeeper Chris Wood to settle the match.
Dons Line Up: Snelders, McKimmie, Robertson, Grant, McLeish, Irvine, Nicholas (van der Ark), Bett, Mason, Connor, Gillhaus.
Match Page - Formation
Match Page - Text Commentary
Report | Ten man Dons lose after controversial 90 minutes
There were three changes to Derek McInnes’ starting line-up after the 0-0 draw with Dundee United. In came Sam Cosgrove – making his 100th appearance for the Dons – Dean Campbell and Scott Wright, Ross McCrorie unable to play against his parent club, Niall McGinn and Maty Kennedy starting on the bench. Back on the bench too were Bruce Anderson and Miko Virtanen after returning from their loan spells.
Rangers made just the one change after beating Celtic 1-0 last weekend, the injured Kemar Roofe making way for Ianis Hagi, Greg Stewart coming in on the bench.
Rangers were quick out of the blocks, Morelos getting in behind from a long ball forward, but he couldn’t get much of a contact on his finish and Joe Lewis made a comfortable save after just 20 seconds.
The Dons responded in the third minute, Ryan Hedges looping the ball forward into the centre circle. Curtis Main produced a clever pass from there to set Cosgrove off on the run, but Goldson was able to force him wider than he wanted to go and from 20 yards out, his shot was always arcing away from goal.
Hagi was next to try his luck four minutes later, unleashing a rasping drive from 30 yards out after the Dons lost possession in midfield, the ball flying over the bar as the game continued in enterprising fashion. Aberdeen were able to put the visitors under some pressure from there, neat interplay between Hedges and Wright causing Rangers concern, but the Dons couldn’t quite manufacture a shooting chance.
Wright was causing more trouble in the 11th minute, getting past Goldson down the left and winning a corner with a dangerous cross. Lewis Ferguson took the flag kick, Tommie Hoban glancing his header wide under pressure at the back post. The Dons were pressing again a minute later, Cosgrove driving into space but his pass was a fraction too heavy and Wright couldn’t quite catch up with it.
Rangers almost grabbed the lead in the 23rd minute, Kent wriggling free to get a shot away from 12 yards, Jonny Hayes there to clear it brilliantly off the line. Tavernier came in with the follow up shot, Lewis down smartly to his right to scoop the ball away to safety.
A clever one-two between Morelos and Aribo got Morelos into the box in the 26th minute. Ryan Hedges laid the slightest touch on the striker, which looked accidental, but Morelos went down and referee Beaton pointed to the spot. The penalty award was expected, but the straight red card which also followed for Hedges was incredibly harsh.
Tavernier stepped up, sent Lewis the wrong way, but put the ball well wide of goal, a let off for the Dons.
But Morelos did put the league leaders in front after 32 minutes. Tavernier drifted in from the right to pick out Kent in the centre of the box. He fed Morelos who, from around the penalty spot, struck a first time shot on the turn into the bottom corner.
Tavernier was the first Rangers man in the book after 39 minutes when he clipped Hayes as the Dons were looking to counter-attack. Main followed him into the book a minute later as he challenged with Barisic for the ball. That was Main’s last act of the game, replaced by Shay Logan in the 44th minute as the Dons went to a back four.
HALF-TIME: ABERDEEN 0 RANGERS 1
Five minutes into the second period, there was a mountain for Aberdeen to climb as Rangers made it 2-0. Aribo speared a low ball through the box, Kent with a clever backheel to send it on its way through to Morelos. His first touch was immaculate and from there, he again clubbed the ball across goal and into the bottom corner.
Kent was having a strong afternoon for the visitors and on 55 minutes, he ran across the top of the box before firing off a left footed drive at goal, Lewis making a brilliant save to his right to push the ball behind. Aberdeen weren’t far away from pulling a goal back two minutes later. Cosgrove won a free-kick after a run deep into Rangers territory and the Dons took it quickly, Cosgrove nudging the ball to Hayes whose ferocious drive across goal worked McGregor who had to go full stretch to push the ball away. Moments later, Kennedy replaced Wright for the home team.
Rangers were enjoying the lion’s share of possession, making the extra man count, but the Dons worked hard to retain a good defensive shape to keep them at arm’s length and to retain a sliver of a chance in the game. Hagi went looking for a second penalty with an outrageous dive in the 66th minute. Referee Beaton was quite right not to give it, but where was the punishment for simulation?
No matter, Aberdeen were back in the fight a minute later with a well crafted goal. A great ball forward from Logan found Cosgrove down the right. He moved the ball inside to Hayes, darting into space and, having drawn McGregor, he rolled the ball into the path of Kennedy who finished clinically from the edge of the box to reignite the game.
The Dons were beginning to ask a few more questions of a nervy looking Rangers now, a tactically intelligent and accomplished display from the ten men hosts keeping them very much in the match. Ferguson collected a booking in the 81st minute as Kent cleverly ran across him to win a free-kick around halfway, then Rangers withdrew Hagi to bring on Zungu to shore things up.
Rangers finally got themselves going as a threat again in the 87th minute, Kamara surging into the box and forcing a good low save from Lewis at his near post. Edmondson was then introduced for the last couple of minutes in place of Ash Taylor as the Dons looked for a last charge for the equaliser, but with surprisingly only two minutes of added time, there was no opportunity to fashion just one last chance.
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Hoban, Taylor (Edmondson 88), Considine, Hedges, Campbell, Ferguson, Hayes, Wright (Kennedy 58), Cosgrove, Main (Logan 44).
Subs not used: Woods, McGinn, Ojo, Virtanen, Anderson, Ngwenya.
GOAL: Kennedy (67)
SENT OFF: Hedges
BOOKED: Main, Ferguson
RANGERS: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Barisic, Aribo, Davis, Kamara, Hagi (Zungu 82), Morelos, Kent.
Subs not used: McLaughlin, Bassey, Helander, Stewart, Defoe, Itten, Patterson, Barker.
GOALS: Morelos (32, 50)