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Match Preview | Ross County v Aberdeen
Competition: Ladbrokes Premiership
Match: Ross County v Aberdeen
Venue: The Global Energy Stadium
Kick Off: 3.00pm
TV Coverage: RedTV International
The manager sat down with the media this afternoon ahead of Saturday’s trip to Ross County.
“I am pleased with the team in the last couple of weeks. There has been a couple of good results and convincing performances. We have been able to get some bodies back and that helps matters.
“We have had some decent results this season, but they have been overshadowed by the Old Firm games which we have been really disappointing in.
“We have had two positive results (Hamilton and Kilmarnock) and we look forward to hopefully getting another one.
“I said at the time if we can get a reaction of three wins in a row, those nine points, that would help matters and trying to get some sort of momentum into our season. We are in November now and we want to get another three points.
“Lewis is a key player and he has been since he came in the door. I thought his performance against Kilmarnock was very good.
“He was ably supported on Saturday and against Hamilton. It has been two really good team performances, rather than just relying on one or two.
“We have had both parts of the team functioning right. We have had two clean sheets; we have created plenty of chances and had an element of control in both games.
“Having Lewis back in, who is a proper midfielder, in that is his natural position, always helps matters.
“It has been difficult for Curtis with Sam carrying on his form from last season. Curtis knew when he signed in the summer what he was coming into.
“We normally play with one up and he knew that he had an opportunity there to work for a good club. He was keen to come, and he also backed himself to get into the team and perform but it has been difficult for him.
“Every player needs a bit of rhythm and back to back games. His performance was good, he trains well everyday and he is a very motivated boy.
“The biggest surprise to most was the fact that we went with a front two. I explained my reasons for that. It is not something that I normally do but it is something that I would like to do a bit more often if I think it is the right thing to do.
“He did well, and I am pleased that he got his goal. It is very important for strikers to get their goals.
“He loves being here and he wants to contribute more, and it was great to see that contribution on Saturday.
International Call Ups
“McKenna is now a real mainstay for the last two international managers now and that is credit to him.
“Mikey even when he hasn’t started games for the international team, he has impressed enough through his work and his application. It was great for him to start the last two games.
“What Steve was saying about trying to build a familiarity it is good for those two boys to feel a part of that and that is brilliant for them.
“Niall has got a couple of easy games against The Netherlands and Germany! Good luck with them Niall!
“It will be tough for him but a brilliant experience. He has racked up so many appearances now. He always looks forward to going away with his country.
“We have got a couple of boys going away with Scotland U21’s as well. You just hope they go away and have positive outcomes and don’t come back injured.
“I am enjoying working with Greg, I still think that there is more to come from him.
“You saw last week he can play left back, left wing back, left midfield, we played him on one just to see the game out and get our clean sheet. I really wanted us to get another clean sheet.
“We get the third goal with his assist. Having that type of player, a younger player who can play a few positions but do them all to a standard is very attractive for us and the squad.
“We are in charge if we want to bring Greg to the club and hopefully it is something that we can look at as we move ahead in the season.
“Bryson is back training. Cosgrove who came off on Saturday trained fully today and was fine. Ash is in the squad. It is just Scott Wright and Funso who are still out.
“Ash is fit to play but I am just mindful that he has been out for a long time.
“Sometimes your hand is forced to play players if you have injuries, but we have the benefit of some good options who can play at centre back at the minute.
“We never played him in the youth team game at Cove on Tuesday night because of the astro turf pitch. We will try and put some training sessions into him and try and catch him up, but he is available and in the squad. It is great to have him back.
“There is a lot that can be said for stability. In a club the board would like a manager who can provide stability, for a manager they would like that from his board, and we have had that.
“If you look at the two clubs in Scotland, Hearts and Hibernian, in my time here I think Hibs are looking for their sixth manager and I think Hearts are looking for their fifth manager.
“I have been here for six and a half years. That is a lot of turnaround, a lot of changes for any club.
“We have been at the other side of it with a bit more stability. There have been changes to the squad that have been forced upon us when we lose good players. I do think that we have worked consistently and steadily since we first came in.
“When you see people lose their jobs it is with a heavy heart because you always want to see managers get more time and implement what they are doing.
“We trained at Cormack Park last Friday ahead of the Kilmarnock game and we will train there again tomorrow.
“It is open fully functional for the academy kids straight from when they come in from school.
“There are just one or two issues we want to iron out in terms of the practicalities. The young lads move in full time from Monday.
“The first team move in after the international break. We will just try and iron out little teething problems you get with practicalities.
“The players responded brilliantly to the training session last Friday and we will train there tomorrow, have lunch there tomorrow and travel straight on the motorway up to Dingwall.
“It is brilliant that we have got that, and it is a real boost for everybody.”
Last Time Out
The two teams met at the end of August at Pittodire with The Dons running out comfortable victors. Greg Leigh headed Aberdeen ahead and Sam Cosgrove doubled the home sides lead from the penalty spot. Aberdeen put the result beyond any doubt when Ryan Hedges squeezed home a Niall McGinn cross early in the second half.
The Game That Was…
17/01/16: Ladbrokes Premiership: Ross County 2 v Aberdeen – Victoria Park, Dingwall
Aberdeen came out on top in a chaotic game in Dingwall. Mark Reynolds was sent off for Aberdeen for a last man challenge on Alex Schalk just before the half hour mark and Ian McShane scored from the resulting free kick. Adam Rooney quickly drew the Dons back on level terms with a goal from the penalty spot before two Shay Logan goals either side of half time put Aberdeen 3-1 up. McShane pulled one back for Ross County late on, but Aberdeen held on to claim all three points.
Dons Line Up: Brown, Logan, Tyalor, Reynolds, Shinnie, McGinn (Pawlett), Storie, McLean, Hayes, Goodwillie (Considine), Rooney (Robson).
Match Page - Formation
Match Page - Text Commentary
The Dons Make It Three Wins From Three
Derek McInnes made two changes to the side that beat Kilmarnock last week. Zak Vyner missed out with a shoulder injury whilst Curtis Main dropped to the bench. Craig Bryson returned to the side after injury and Andrew Considine came back into the starting XI after missing last week through illness.
Ashton Taylor, who has not been involved in any domestic games this season, was added to what was a strong looking bench. Ross County included former Don Callum Morris in their team, whilst Richard Foster was also on the bench.
Aberdeen lined up with Lewis in goal, a back four of Logan, Devlin, McKenna and Considine. Leigh sat in midfield alongside Ferguson with Bryson, McGinn and Hedges the three behind Cosgrove.
Conditions in the Highlands were dry but extremely cold – perfect for playing football but not ideal for the large crowd packed into the Global Energy Stadium. Aberdeen won the coin toss and switched ends so the home side’s defence were looking into the low setting winter sun.
Just like the game down at Motherwell Joe Lewis had to face an early penalty. In the fourth minute a ball in by Michael Gardyne struck Lewis Ferguson and referee Alan Newlands pointed to the spot. It was certainly not a clear hand ball decision. Josh Mullin took it and rolled the ball into the net to give County the lead.
Despite the loss of the early goal Aberdeen did not panic.
On seven minutes Logan crossed for Leigh but his header was straight at Laidlaw. Two minutes later Bryson led another promising break before Aberdeen won a free kick for hand ball on the edge of the area when Fontaine knocked down a Cosgrove flick. Bryson dummied the ball and McGinn then whipped it round the wall into the net past a flatfooted Ross Laidlaw.
Ten minutes in, it was 1-1 and the game was so open.
On 14 minutes Niall McGinn forced the first corner the game. Hedges and McGinn played it short but the ball back from Cosgrove failed to find any of the runners.
Aberdeen were now enjoying some possession. It was very noticeable how hard Bryson was working off the ball to create space for his team-mates. After about 20 minutes County had a promising break but Lee Erwin had strayed just offside. The Dingwall side did look good going forward and were very quick to get bodies into the area.
On 22 minutes Callum Morris was yellow carded for foul on Bryson. Again, it was in a very promising position, about 25 yards out on the left of the area. Hedges took it but his shot was always rising. Five minutes later McGinn won a free kick out on the touchline but his ball in was headed clear by the first defender.
After the hectic start the game settled down. County seemed happy to let Aberdeen have possession and looked to hit on the break. After half an hour Hedges and McGinn swapped wings as the Dons tried to break down a defence that was sitting deep.
On 35 minutes a Logan cross led to a third Aberdeen corner. The ball was cleared on a couple of occasions, McGinn kept putting it back in, but the County defence held firm. Disappointingly he could not put one of them on the head of Cosgrove who was being very closely marshalled by Fontaine and Morris. Five minutes before half time Cosgrove appeared to get the better of final defender Morris but the referee blew for a foul. Sam was not happy as he felt there had not been any contact.
Before the break Aberdeen had to do some defending as the home side won their first corner. Ross County produced a well worked move that almost gave Morris a chance, but McKenna did extremely well to do just enough to stop him getting a decent contact. Then at the other end Logan found Cosgrove and his header just went wide. Morris this time deserves credit as he just did enough to put Sam off.
An entertaining first forty-five minutes.
Half-time: Ross County 1 Aberdeen 1
At the start of the second half Logan and then Gardyne both found themselves in good areas, but their crosses were poor. Hedges then put over a really teasing ball but no one in a red shirt had made a forward run into the six-yard box.
Five minutes into the second half Curtis Main replaced Bryson.
The change made an immediate impact.
A minute later Cosgrove won a free kick on the corner of the area. Hedges took it and played the ball towards the far post. Greg Leigh and Scott McKenna could not get a touch, but the ball nestled into the corner of the net. It was a horrible one for the keeper because he could not react till the ball had gone past Leigh and McKenna. Two goals and both direct from free kicks.
On 57 minutes Ross Stewart replaced Lee Erwin.
Considine then did very well to deal with a dangerous Gardyne cross which looked as if it was going to find Brian Graham.
On the hour mark Hedges danced through the defence and nearly set up Cosgrove at the near post. Aberdeen then won two corners a few minutes apart. Considine went down in the area and as Aberdeen appealed for a penalty Ferguson had a shot charged down. County broke and Ferguson took one for the team by breaking up the attack illegally. It was a two on two so Lewis was right to take the yellow card for what can best be described as a decent rugby tackle.
Gaps were appearing in the County defence, but they were also offering more of an attacking threat with Stewart on. A goal was coming but at which end?
Lewis saved from a Kelly shot after he had played a neat one two with Graham. The home side then had the ball in the net when Ross Stewart slid in, but the offside flag went up straight away.
Just before the 70-minute mark a promising Main shot was blocked by Cosgrove. As the ball came back into the area Cosgrove turned and was clearly brought down. Both sets of players stopped as it looked a stonewall penalty, but the referee waved play on. Thankfully Andrew Considine did play on and he thundered a shot into the top corner. What a superb strike. Game number 499 for Andy and he certainly enjoyed that one, sprinting towards the Red Army as if it was game number one!
A few minutes later Lewis Ferguson from 30 yards clipped the junction of post and bar and then a Niall McGinn free kick was pushed over by Laidlaw.
On 77 minutes Dean Campbell replaced Ryan Hedges. A minute later Sam Cosgrove, who was outstanding in the second half, pulled a shot just wide on the turn. The County defence had curtailed Sam in the first half but as the game opened up the striker led the line really well.
The home might have got a goal back after Logan was wrongly penalised for hand ball. The ball clearly hit Shay on the leg. Justice was done but the free kick broke off the defence and could have gone anywhere. Thankfully Joe Lewis was able to flop on it.
At the other end Fontaine was booked for pulling down Cosgrove just outside the box. McGinn went close again, but his shot took a slight deflection and went wide of the goal.
With a minute to go Considine produced another excellent bit of defending to prevent Stewart getting on the end of a cross from Kelly. Then Bruce Anderson replaced Sam Cosgrove who was given a standing ovation by the Aberdeen fans.
Aberdeen got their pressing game spot on in the second half and fully deserved yet another victory on the road.