If you thought we had a threadbare team following the transfer window shenanigans, it may be even worse now after this encounter at Easter Road.
Aberdeen made two changes to the team that played against Stenhousemuir in the Scottish Cup replay on Tuesday. Stevie May and Gary Mackay-Steven came into the starting line-up, with Niall McGinn on the bench and Scott Wright now off on loan to Dundee (and also scored for them in their 1-1 draw with Hamilton!)
And with only 9 minutes of the game gone, Hibs were in front thanks to an Oli Shaw goal who drove a 22 yarder into the corner of the Aberdeen net.
Aberdeen weren’t having any of that, and levelled the score two minutes later, after Hibs failed to clear a free kick from Greg Stewart. Sam Cosgrove picked it up but his effort was cleared off the line, Tommie Hoban then gave it a try with a header which was also cleared, but Andy Considine managed to react to head it over the line.
However the Dons were dealt a blow when on-form goal scorer Sam Cosgrove was taken off with an injury having gone down earlier, he soldiered on but couldn’t continue beyond 18 minutes on the field. He was replaced by James Wilson.
Gary Mackay-Steven put the Dons ahead in the 22nd minute after a Stevie May shot was blocked at close range by Marciano, Gary picked it up and managed to slot it in from a tight angle.
The Dons suffered another injury to goalkeeper Joe Lewis after he knocked his head of the bottom corner of his goalpost whilst parrying away an incoming Stevie Mallan shot. He suffered a bad cut to his left eye and had to leave the pitch to receive treatment. He was replaced by Tomáš Černý.
Early in the second half, the Dons were given a chance to go 3-1 up after Lewis Ferguson was brought down in the box by Darren McGregor in the 49th minute.
Mackay-Steven stepped up but was denied after Marciano dived and saved his shot.
Hibs had a goal denied for offside in the 58th minute when Černý made a brilliant save to deny Oli Shaw from 10 yards and from there on in it was a battling performance to the end with James Wilson given an opportunity through on goal late into injury time, but his shot just went wide of the goal.
The win now puts the Dons ahead of Kilmarnock into third place in the Scottish Premiership.
Derek McInnes will be sweating over the fitness of Sam and Joe ahead of The Rangers match on Wednesday.
He commented: “The cups are really important for us and we’ve got a good cup tie next weekend, but the two league games prior with today and Rangers could both prove pivotal in terms of where we are. If you play teams in and around you in particular when there’s only 14 games to go there’s a benefit in winning those games. It’s an opportunity to do a bit of damage to teams in and around you and Rangers will be seeing that exactly the same.
“It’s a tough venue here and we’ve got a decent record over the years, but it’s never been anything other than tight games and fiercely competitive. I thought that was as comfortable as it’s been coming to Easter Road for a while. You kept waiting on Hibs throwing the kitchen sink and cracking up the pressure, but it never came. I know they are probably a bit in between with Neil losing his job, but I do feel we’ve had to work harder and defend better than what we had to today. It was a great response to losing a poor goal and I thought we were worthy of our lead at half time.
“We had Cosgrove and Lewis going off and that put a stretch on us. We were small at set plays and Cosgrove and Lewis going off takes a huge bit of height away from us in the penalty box. We stood up to that admirably and I thought we were only guilty of not putting the game to bed.
The penalty was a good save, but the work rate from the ones at the top with Wilson, May, Stewart, Mackay-Steven and Shinnie kept that intensity at the top end and kept Hibs away from where they could do damage. I don’t think Hibs caused us too many problems and we were just finding it more a challenge because we never took their chances.
“I’m hoping both Joe and Sam are fine for Wednesday. Joe’s got a nasty gash above his eye but he’s absolutely fine. The medical staff thought it was going to get stitched and it would take time, but Joe seems eager to play and we’ll see how he is. Sam’s has been the consequence of training on hard pitches with the weather and even maybe the other night at Stenhousemuir and his back went into a spasm. He felt it on Thursday but hopefully it’s something we can work on and deal with.
“As it stands McKenna and Devlin are going to probably be another week to ten days away, but we’ll see how we are. We’ve got a few patched up at the minute and because we had the midweek game we’ve not had a real chance to get on top of that. We now have another midweek game before the cup tie and it’s important we see who’s all fit for the game on Wednesday.
“I was pleased with how we defended for the majority. I thought Hoban was different class and only his second start in a long time. He strolled the game and was very influential alongside Considine. I thought James Wilson had his best game for us. I’ve said to him to not think about the missed chances because his speed, intelligence and work rate was everything I want from him. He really pleased me.
“I haven’t spoke to the Dr about Joe yet but he seems fine and I don’t think it’s anything too sinister. I’m hoping he’ll be fine for the game.”
|2nd February 2019