The wind howling around at Pittodrie had a big say in the overall match play in our game against Hibernian yesterday evening.
That didn’t put off the 15,269 who attended the game though, who braved the elements to take in some Friday night football.
There was one change to the Dons line-up that faced Kilmarnock, Dominic Ball dropped to the bench with Stevie May starting.
Throughout the first half both sides were up against the strong wind swirling around Pittodrie making it difficult to create any clear cut chances.
That was until the 40th minute, when Gary Mackay-Steven broke the deadlock with a magnificent finish after intercepting a poor pass from Ryan Porteous and fired at goal with a powerful low left footed drive from 20 yards that left Hibs keeper Bogdan wanting.
In the second-half with the wind still causing the problems, Milligan sent a header over from a good position and Kamberi failed to finish after rounding Joe Lewis.
Stevie May failed to make Bogdan pay for his rush from the goal-line, so close but yet so far.
Whilst it wasn’t a classic, Derek McInnes will be pleased with the result, recording our fourth straight win on the trot and us leap-frogging Hibs into fifth place in the Scottish Premiership,
The manager told the club website: “It was always going to be a tough game when your expecting the conditions to be what we got tonight it was always going to be more difficult for both sets of players.
“Each game is different, and conditions can be different, but the importance of winning the game was clear from my team tonight.
“I thought we were very competitive throughout and our work rate and industry at the top end of the pitch allowed us to unsettle Hibs and they never really got into any real rhythm, which is something when they do, they are a very good side.
“We managed to limit their opportunities to have an impact in the game. It was difficult for both sets of players and chances were always going to be at a premium, but thankfully we’ve capitalised on a loose pass and Gary’s delivered a brilliant finish and that bit of quality separated the teams tonight.
“It was something to hold onto and we were competitive throughout the game. I thought the work rate from the front lads in McGinn, Wilson and May gave us the platform to really squeeze the game. It needed to be played like a cup tie and the conditions made the game the way it was. There were plenty challenges and I thought Ferguson and Shinnie tackled like lions tonight an won the majority of things in there and it helped us get the game going our way.
“One goal was enough, and three points was something we wanted at the start and it’s not easy against Hibs because I hold them in such high regard. To get on top of them and get all three points is really pleasing.”
“I thought it was important Gary delivered a performance tonight.
“I wasn’t too happy with his performances the last couple of games and spoke to him this week. I thought he had good moments in the semi-final and we were hoping for him to kick on. He’s got to feel that importance of being a really important player for us and be relevant in every game he plays, but he’s capable of big moments in the game.
“He goes into the international squad on the back of starting the season very well and he should be confident that if he gets the chance to play, he’ll be ready. When he’s relevant for us we’re a different team. His work rate was terrific tonight and once he got his goal, he was a handful. It shows you his confidence to take the shot on. For me when he reaches his levels, he’s as good a wide player as we’ve got in the league.”
“There have been reasons why we’ve not had the consistency certainly with selection due to the injuries and suspensions. Consistency of results normally comes with having that familiarity and the last four games we’ve played I think there’s only been one change in each of them.
“We’ve won different types of games and have been very solid throughout. We scored in the semi-final from a set play then score three here against Hamilton and two against Kilmarnock. One was enough tonight.
“I’m still looking for more goals and attacking threat like every manager, but for me the team is settled right down. I’ve had a full squad to choose from the last couple of games more or less and any manager will tell you you need that for competition and to deliver big performances and we’ve managed to get that up, which has allowed us to get some results. We’ve had more injuries and suspensions than I’ve ever had here, and we took a real dunt at the start of the season, but every team normally gets that in a season and hopefully we can get on with the job in hand and get ourselves up the table.”
“Stevie May was brilliant, and I didn’t want to take him off, but he was feeling his calf a bit. That’s a really strong game and half for him. Our supporters can be really forgiving when they see that type of attitude and appetite on the pitch and I thought the front three of McGinn, Wilson and May really pressed and worked their defence strongly tonight, but May was probably the one that got us up the pitch more than any other player.
“It’s not always about goals and they are clearly important for strikers, but I’m quite relaxed for him because I think they’ll come if he keeps showing that willingness. I hope it does him the world of good when he sees his work recognised by the support tonight.”
“The whole team’s desire to keep a clean sheet was there for everybody to see. We were lacking in size again and only really had two bits of height in Devlin and McKenna. You have Ferguson, Lowe and Logan giving away inches in the middle of the box, but they were still really competitive getting their head on things. It’s a team that delivers a clean sheet, but there’s no doubting there’s key players helping. The centre half partnership has been very good recently and hopefully that continues.
Niall McGinn said: “For us at the moment it’s just been about momentum.
“We’ve had a great week there with three wins and we knew coming into tonight it was a difficult game, but we knew if we worked hard and nullified their threat, which we did again with the likes of Kamberi and Boyle as threats, and I thought defensively we handled them very well. All in all, we have to be pleased with a clean sheet and the three points.
“When you’re winning games it always breeds confidence.
“We’re on a good run of form now and for us a team we know we can play better and that can only be a positive as well. Going into an international break when you come off the back of a good three points it means it’s a more enjoyable break. If you lose it’s a long two weeks to get back at it. We’re gaining momentum at a good stage at the minute and we’ve got Motherwell when we get back then the cup final to look forward to as well. So confidence is high going into these games.
“We knew coming into tonight, looking back to Sunday on the first half, we weren’t good enough and we managed to turn the game around second half. Winning ugly at times has been a good thing for us for a number of years and once we went ahead tonight, I thought we felt comfortable and kept them off. I don’t think they had many shots on target, which is pleasing for us. The conditions played a part in that. We just wanted to work hard and nullify their threat and we knew we’d get a chance and thankfully Gary put one away with a good strike.
“Shay, Mikey and Scott have a great partnership along with Max. He’s been great since he’s came into the squad and I really enjoy playing with him. He’s good going forward and defensively he’s brilliant as well and he’s always talking to me. It’s good to have that behind me and he’s an out ball for us as well and gets forward to create chances. All in all, it was a good team performance tonight and I’m delighted to get the three points.
“I remember my first season there was a lot of experience at the back with Russell Anderson and it’s changed over the years. Now we’ve got two Scottish internationals in there and it’s good for us along with four boys in the Scotland squad and that can only benefit us.
“Myself as well with Northern Ireland and there’s a couple of the young boys with Fergie, McLennan and Bruce Anderson in the U20s. It’s a real strong squad and that’s represented in the Scotland national team.
“Gary’s been brilliant. He’s a real enjoyable player to watch fans wise and for us to have him in the team we know he’ll always create chances. He stepped up and hit that strike and with it being so close to half time we gained momentum and were playing well. For a fellow winger to have Gaz on the other side is great for myself and great for the team.
“He showed when he came on the last time with getting the assist against Portugal. He’s definitely more than ready on that international stage and we know as a team how good he is for Aberdeen and hopefully he gets his breakthrough along with the other boys as well.
“I’m massively looking forward to going away with Northern Ireland because I was disappointed to miss the last games through injury. I’m looking forward to playing the Republic of Ireland and it will be a good occasion and a good game then Austria at home. All in all, they are always competitive games and Michael (O’Neill) will want to gain some momentum going into the draw for the Euros in March.”
Stevie May commented: “The wind when it’s that high is going to play a part, but I thought we dealt with the conditions well.
“It’s not always going to play the way you want with the conditions like that, but the surface itself was really good. We put pressure on them at the right times and I thought we dealt with it very well.
“The conditions when they are like that kind of makes the defenders uneasy at times and it’s a little bit harder to judge for defenders as well as strikers, but putting as much pressure on them definitely helped. As a team we worked really hard and pressed well and that comes from the top end of the park and the midfield follow on from that.
“Gary’s always got that in the locker. I think we’ve got a few players in the dressing room that can do that so when we do work hard then it always leaves us in good stead and always with a great chance of winning the game.
“He can shift to be fair (Darren McGregor) and also the fact I had to slide to get it over the keeper. I thought I was going to nick in still when it was bouncing up, but Darren did well to get back in.
“It would have been nice to score, but at the end of the day it’s another three points on the board and takes us onto four wins in a row.
“Like any striker you want to be scoring goals but as long as I a helping the team, that is the main thing. If I keep working hard the goals will come.
“It’s always great to get that reception (from the fans when I came off). I was then just sweating on the bench and you always do in the last five minutes of a game like that, as even though we were comfortable, when they get a few lastminute corners and set pieces you always have that worry, but in general we defended well. I can’t really recall any great chances they had and as a team the defence were rock solid again and that foundation gives us a real platform to push on like we’ve been doing.
“We’re all delighted in there going into the international break and it’s always nice to finish on high form.
“It is also nice to get a win when you’re the first game of the weekend and you can get the feet up and relax and watch the other scores. We’ll be keeping an eye on that and enjoying the break.
“It’s going to be a hectic Christmas period, it always is, but more so this season that ever before. It’s one you look forward to. There’s not much training as there’s a lot of recovery and playing games so keeping everyone fit will be a big part of it. But before then we have a cup final to look forward to. Everyone will be working very hard over the next couple of weeks to try and get in that team for Hampden.”