Aberdeen played host to a sometimes frustrating CS Fola Esch side, though got there in the end, says Voice reporter Andrew Watson.
The pitch was immaculate, suitably reinvigorated for the new season. In terms of the weather, it was rather balmy for an evening kick off. Rather warm.
‘Club Foot’ by Kasabian, via the tannoy, with lines such as, ‘you’re messing with the enemy’, evoked international turf war on a Europa League scale.
The game proper came to a halt when an advancing Aberdeen attack, via Niall McGinn, was halted prematurely because of a very soft foul he apparently committed.
A peroxide blonde Jonny Hayes was in on goal twice, and denied in both instances.
Fola’s keeper, Thomas Hym, mopped up another Aberdeen advance.
At this point it was noted how vocal one particular section of the Merkland Stand was, their tribal drumming definitely creating an atmosphere.
The opposition’s first advance, though, came shockingly close, shaving the post.
Pressure from Willo Flood then forced Fola to kick out for a throw.
Kenny McLean’s subsequent cross, or maybe shot, went right into the keeper’s arms.
After this, a free kick via Hayes was palmed away by Hym, and the Luxembourg side somehow got it out of danger.
Hayes then came with a ball to new boy, Jayden Stockley. The attempt was put out for a corner, delivery of which eluded every red jersey in the box.
Hayes, seemingly the man of the moment, also helped out down the other end. His defensive work snuffed out a rare dangerous Fola advance.
Aberdeen then got turned over, though managed to put the ball out for Fola’s first corner.
Shaleum Logan, bombing down the wing into the other half, was looking to make a cross. However, he tempted fate for too long and then lost the ball for a goal kick.
Arguably the chance of the game for Aberdeen resulted in Hym saving the shot of captain, Ryan Jack.
McGinn then opted to dance over a challenge rather than seek a foul, though his ensuing attack was soaked up.
Jack, following that, tried to chip the keeper. The effort was not too far from the crossbar though.
Hayes cropped up, again, and won a free kick in a fortuitous position. This was headed out.
Tom Laterza, during some physical confrontations, lashed out at the ball, hammering it off the hoarding, earning himself the first of seven cautions given to his team throughout the match.
Big man at the back, Ashton Taylor, was then denied a goal. The Dons’ confidence was growing though.
Andrew Considine thankfully came in with a last gap challenge to deny Fola a golden opportunity.
Hayes then won a corner with a surging run, the ball sticking, it seemed, to his feet.
Taylor was on the attack, again. A powerful header, at that.
Some fortune was earned when Hayes was chopped down for a seemingly fortuitously positioned free kick. McGinn then went for glory, but his kick, though well weighted, went over the bar.
Hym, arguably Fola’s star man, caught a subsequent ball over the line, this deemed a corner.
The Red Army’s man between the sticks, Joe Lewis, also caught the ball. This was far more comfortable, and wasn’t deemed a corner.
Hym produced a fine save down the other end. This was from close range, too.
Flood skied a ball well over his teammates. Poor delivery.
An in-swinging ball proved not too far from the head of Stockley, the keeper catching it rather bravely.
McGinn defied, again, the feet of his opponents, to make a daring run into the box. His final shot wasn’t brilliant, but deserved credit for the effort.
‘Seven Nation Army’ by The White Stripes, boomed. Maybe conveying buoyance, despite the stalemate at end of first half.
This looked set to change, play recommencing, when Aberdeen seemed to have a shot knocked off the line. They appeared, from the crowd’s eyes, to go one better, not long after. The roar of the crowd, though, was cut short as celebrations proved to be immature.
A swinging free kick also then defied the goal. It was perfectly balanced, just a tad high.
Fola then came close. This was arguably preventable, had Graeme Shinnie went in for a sliding challenge.
Later, Aberdeen had another chance cleared off the line, again, amidst plenty of action in the Fola box.
Down the other end, there was an excellent save from Hym from an Aberdeen free kick.
McGinn then darted across the box, but having maybe held onto the ball too long, his final pass fell a tad short.
There appeared to be, for a while, denial after denial, Fola’s backline with seemingly unlimited resolve.
Flood was taken off, with Adam Rooney coming on after 55 minutes.
McGinn dragged a ball inches from the post.
Hayes won a throw with a powerful run.
Hym, prominent as ever, came into action with an acrobatic save, putting the ball out for a corner.
Then followed, for the second time in the game, the keeper in a crumpled heap on the ground.
The ball defied the net yet again with a goal line clearance and plenty of goalmouth action. The away side were definitely under the cosh, though still level.
Then came a flashpoint with Shinnie and the aforementioned, temperamental Laterza. The latter was taken off whilst the former avoided a booking – which wouldn’t have been deserved anyway.
Aberdeen then whipped in a dangerous ball, but there was no one there to exploit it.
Logan then bundled a volley into the net after much frustration for the Dons going forward.
1-0 Aberdeen – after 68 minutes into the game!
The relief that they were finally on the front foot disappeared two minutes later. Captain Julien Klein levelled for his side.
Aberdeen were actually lucky not to fall behind. They were penetrated, but the final ball, thankfully, was well over the bar.
A Hayes corner then bobbled in the box, and Fola then went on a counterattack. This won them a corner.
Stockley, perhaps the highlight of the game, fared well with an overhead effort, which was palmed over expertly by Hym.
Down the other end, Taylor mopped up a ball seemingly destined for the feet of his opposite half.
McLean then skied an effort over the bar, which was met with a chorus of boos. A lengthy period of time passed by with a Fola player on the floor, though not the keeper this time. The man in question was taken off by stretcher and was substituted.
This was followed by a fine drive from Jack which soared just a tad too much in its trajectory.
Hym, again Fola’s talisman, mopped up another Aberdeen attack.
Seven minutes additional play were added. The crowd jubilant that the match could yet be won.
A shot eventually did go over the line, via McGinn. This was decided after much deliberation amongst the officials. Aberdeen had officially scored.
2-1 – after 93 minutes into the game!
Then there were penalty claims only minutes later. Rooney, from the penalty spot, scored after 97 minutes.
The crowd went bananas, chanting his name. Next kick of the ball, and the game was over.
Final score: 3-1.