The title challenge is still on as the Dons end 2018, fourth in the Scottish Premiership – three points behind top spot – thanks to goals from James Wilson and Dean Campbell.
The Red Army travelled in numbers, with over 3,700 descending on Almondvale an excellent turn out for the away game.
Niall McGinn was ruled out following the groin injury he sustained against Celtic on Boxing Day, while Lewis Ferguson was suspended to to an accumulation of yellow cards. Therefore, Scott Wright and Bruce Anderson came into the starting line-up.
The first half the Dons maintained most of the possession with chances coming from Stevie May and Dominic Ball being the most notable in the first half.
Aberdeen suffered an injury set back on the half-hour mark when Shay Logan was taken off. Stephen Gleeson came on as his replacement, but Shay’s injury adds to an already lengthy list of injuries for the Dons.
Into the second half, and yet another injury, this time to youngster Bruce Anderson in the 61st minute who was replaced by Man Utd striker, James Wilson.
It wasn’t long until Wilson was on the scoresheet, when a ball from Wright on the left was cleared to Gleeson. Wilson picked up the low shot at goal to hit it into the far corner from close range on the 70th minute.
And it was 2-0, Wilson powering down the right wing before delivering a fantastic cross to the back post, helpded by Steven Lawson for Dean Campbell to then dink it into the net in the 85th minute.
Livingston got one back in the final minute before the 90th when Ryan Hardie fired in a shot from 10 yards to get a goal back, setting up a nervous three minutes of injury time for the Dons.
Derek told the club website: “We got exactly what we expected.
“It’s a tough place to come for any team and Livingston are a team who have been used to winning, especially at home. This season good teams have rolled up here and come away with nothing or very little for their efforts.
“I think what pleased me today was we came here light in defence and then Shay goes off.
“We had to try and adjust again to deal with injuries. We went with two attacking wide players and went with three centre forwards effectively with Stevie behind the front two. It looked as though it was going to be 0-0 for long spells in the game, but the players dug deep.
“What Livingston do, certainly at home, is they always test your resolve and determination to keep doing the dirty side of the game – match runs, win headers and stand up when they apply pressure. I think they’ve overcame teams when teams haven’t stood up to them.
“They are a credit to the league and to their manager.
“The evidence is there. Livingston are very good home and away, particularly at home. They took us on today with three strikers. They maybe looked at us and felt we were bodies light and we were there to be got at. But we stood up to it and we got our just rewards. We have those moments of quality that separated the teams.
“The game was untidy at times and we were looking for moments of quality. Scott Wright does well to force them back into the box, Gleeson gets his shot in and because we’ve got four or five bodies in the box Wilson gets the all important touch. I felt once we got in front we were always going to win the game because of the way we were defending. The second goal is a brilliant counter attack from Wilson and young Dean Campbell makes up the ground at the back stick which forces the goal and Wilson showed electric pace to get away.
“Although we lose an untidy goal towards the end, I thought we just about deserved to win, but there was nothing in the game and I thought Livingston were good value in it.”
“The strikers have been really contributing of late. Stevie May’s performance today, yes he should have hit the target once or twice, but his work rate is incredible. He goes beyond the striker, makes good runs time and time again and he’s playing with a lot of confidence.
Cosgrove wasn’t as effective as he’s been recently and that’s maybe a consequence of all the games, but James Wilson came on, and like all good players do, was ready to make an impact from the bench. Hopefully that does him the world of good because it’s important for any player to feel as though he’s contributing, and he certainly did that.”
“I’ve been concerned by the nine games in December. A cup final and eight league games in 24 days is really unfair on everybody at our club. We’ve picked up injuries to Anderson, Logan, McGinn and Max Lowe and it’s just down to scheduling. It’s the fatigue, but we put enough into the game on Wednesday against Celtic. When you play the best teams in the league it’s important to have that familiarity in selections. We were patched up a bit defensively to try and stop a good team and we almost got a result against them (Celtic).
“We have 38 points going into the winter break. I would certainly have taken that going into December.
“I think we have produced the youngster team in the SPFL Premiership this season. We are getting to know a lot about our players. McLennan was maybe not as electrifying as he was in the first game against Livingston but he was very trust worthy today. He got back and did his bit for the team. he showed good fitness and good maturity.
“There were a couple of even younger boys on the bench.
“We really had to dig deep within the squad as we had eight or nine unavailable. We have good young players and this group have shown me, more than any other during my time here, have maybe got a wee bit more personality and maturity to go with their talent.
“We should get Logan back quickly and have Reynolds, Devlin and Hoban back. There’s four defenders right away. We lost Max Lowe to Derby but he has shown me the importance of having that type of full back at the club. We will try and look to bring in something similar.
“We believe Max is going back to play so it is very unlikely he would be able to return at the end of the month.
“Mackay-Steven should be back, McGinn should be back, Lewis Ferguson will be back from suspension, so we will have re-enforcements from within the club to help us in January.
“Everyone has been talking about how the Celtic and Rangers squads have been stretched recently; we have had nine games.
“We have had to deal with these games when we don’t have the numbers they do. I do think the scheduling was harsh on us. They (the SPFL) could easily have pushed one of those games back to January but what it has done, we have had to find out about some of the younger ones.
“So the youngsters will bolster the squad.
“The injured players will bolster the squad.
“And hopefully we can get one or two in to help us meet our objectives in the second half of the season.
“We have scored 17 goals in six games. So we are starting to find our shooting boots. But most managers will look at their attacking options and see if you they can bring in a player to make the difference. But they are always the hardest players to get.”
|29th December 2018