Jul 302016

Aberdeen may go out on the away goal rule to NK Maribor as it stands, but fought gallantly to equalise, remarks Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

pittodrieThere was fine weather on match night, the sunlight highlighting no imperfections on the pitch whatsoever.

The purple and yellow of the away side perhaps evoked worries that perhaps the Reds were about to face the expertise of a Slovenian equivalent to Italians, Fiorentina.

‘Two Tribes’, by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, blared around Pittodrie, signifying when two tribes go to war or, roughly speaking, Scotland versus Slovenia.

The opening moments before the game also saw red and silver streamers taken from under seats and risen above heads, making a colourful addition to the Merkland Stand.

A point of note is that Celtic, Rangers and Hibernian have all suffered defeat to Maribor.

Come the match, Aberdeen kicked things off quickly, the ball glancing the post and going out for a corner. Later, they again came in close on goal.

Further to that, the ball was knocked over the bar. Aberdeen definitely a team of intention at this point.

Maribor’s Marwan Kabha then went down outside Aberdeen’s box, and looked as if he’d been shot.

Captain Ryan Jack weighed in down the other end, winning a corner.

Adam Rooney then forced keeper, Jasmin Handanović, to spill the ball with the strength of his effort.

Jonny Hayes came with a bombing run down the wing, though seemingly got hustled off the pitch.

Rooney, following that, won a free kick outside Maribor’s box. The tension was palpable in the Merkland Stand, with clapping of hands and pounding of drum. The free kick in question was a duff one, maybe put off by those very vocal fans?

Anyway, Maribor had a slip up themselves, skying an opportunity to earn a rather easy goal. They then won a corner, followed by another. Aberdeen’s Joe Lewis seemed to flake out a bit, and was fortunate not to pay any consequences.

Aberdeen then had a fortuitous free kick, positioned at an angle and just outside and to the left of the box.

Aforementioned diva, Kabha, then got booked. Much satisfaction amongst the Red Army.

Handanović looked, later on, a bit shaky after close quarters with an Aberdeen attack.

Andrew Considine then winged in a ball, the following connection only just off the far post.

Aberdeen then had a melee of chances, just not quite getting there.

Lewis, down the other end, simply opened his arms to receive an incoming Maribor attack.

However, Aberdeen got slack, and were fortunate to live through it unscathed.

Another melee of chances occurred, this time for Maribor.

Shaleum Logan was then caught with an unfortunate handball. He slid with arms out, as done in that motion, flailing slightly as he did so and touching the ball involuntarily. The conceded free kick went over the bar.

Hayes was, again, bombing down the wing but misfired his delivery spectacularly. Not for the want of trying, though.

He later made amends, showing himself as the consummate battler and warrior. Flashes of skill, occasional brilliance, all proving how steadfast an asset he is to the team.

A cheeky moment also saw the winger take ball towards his own half, inciting an attack, before jinking, in an instant, down towards the other end.

Handanović, down said end, made a superb reactionary save to keep Maribor’s clean sheet.

Only moments later Aberdeen glanced the post.

Halftime 0-0.

Maibor started brightly, lacing together a series of slick passes.

Lewis then dived to palm out a shot for a corner.

Aberdeen were also fortunate to scurry away the ball before any damage was inflicted.

Jayden Stockley did a fine job holding up play, and winning a throw.

Logan, down the other end, made sure the ball went out for a goal kick, doing his best to get in the way of the Maribor forward.

Hayes, ever present in this game, instigated a foray into the Maribor box.

Lewis then scooped a low drive comfortably.

There were also swift moves by both Logan and the referee himself, Norwegian, Tore Hansen. The latter obviously keen for play not to stop start as the former latched expertly to a tricky ball.

Stockley, surely poised to score, hit the rebound and the ball went out for an unsuccessful corner.

The Red Army were up in arms about liberties taken with a questionable run up taken for a Maribor throw. Thankfully, Hansen whistled to put it right.

Stockley, beginning to get in amidst proceedings, fared with a superb layoff header into the box.

Hayes then had a crack on goal, in towards the post with a low drive.

Niall McGinn also had a, seemingly volleyed, attempt. Not too far off from goal, either.

Ashton Taylor, in turn, weighed in with an attempt of his own.

Hayes, all over the game so far, teamed up with McGinn for a set piece. Aberdeen heads in the box were only scratches away from connecting.

A plethora of purple shirts in box absorbed a subsequent McGinn cross.

Graeme Shinnie was taken off, with Wes Burns coming on after 72 minutes. That same minute, Kenny McLean was put on, with Stockley coming off.

Burns immediately came in with a good delivery, but there was nobody there to exploit it.

Aberdeen were then lucky that a Maribor advance happened to peter out.

It seemed there was reticence on the part of McLean to, next, cost Aberdeen an excellent chance on goal.

The moment came, though, and Rooney scored. A false dawn, however, as this goal was chalked off for offside.

Dreams seemed hammered away, down the other end, as Maribor pounced mercilessly. Taylor seemed largely at fault.

0-1 (Milivoje Novaković) after 83 minutes.

There was a sense that hope was gone, especially when the home side hadn’t exploited scoring outwith next week’s Slovenian stronghold.

Handanović was in for some punishment, too, though. He dropped to the floor, having saved an Aberdeen lash at goal.

McLean then skied a ridiculous ball, well away from any of his teammates, either in the box or the surrounding area.

Fellow substitute, Burns, took a crack on goal, which seemed easily caught by the aforementioned keeper.

Then came an emphatic equaliser, via previous guilty party, Taylor, from Hayes after 88 minutes.


McGinn then fared with a quite a poor free kick, the ball not even elevating above the Maribor wall.

There followed several attempts at goal, Maribor truly besieged.

It will be a tough call for Aberdeen to get any further in this competition, though an exemplary and disciplined performance in Slovenia might squeeze them through. To be fair, this was an excellent team performance, and it was maybe a tad unfair that they lost that goal, considering the onslaught they delivered upon their seasoned opponents.

Final score:  1-1.

Jul 162016

Aberdeen thrashed FK Ventspils, though, like a fortnight ago, the goals all came in the latter stages of the game, reports Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

merklandandrewThe pitch was still crisp and fresh. Fine weather dominated the fixture and there was even a fine breeze to keep it getting too sticky.
‘Hard To Beat’ by Hard-Fi played over the tannoy. Was this in reference to being beat on their away leg last week, but still going through on aggregate?

Anyway, during the pre-match warm up, the Ventspils’ players adopted curious yoga positions. Sorting out their chakras, maybe?

After that, bagpipes blared during a popular song, as if to draw tribal lines between Scotland and Latvia, another Europa League qualifier for Aberdeen.

‘Shut Up And Dance’ by Walk The Moon was next. One had a sense this song tried to encapsulate the feeling that, however premature and self-assured, Aberdeen would hammer into the next round.

Moving onto the game proper, Kenny McLean fared with an emphatic header. Just a tad inaccurate.

Then, down the other end, Shaleum Logan made Aberdeen’s, seemingly, second desperate defensive attempt to lash out at the ball and put it out of harm’s way.

Aberdeen then dug deep and put the ball out for a throw in, as Ventspils advanced.

At this point the drumming in the Merkland Stand was noticed, definitely making their presence felt.

Aberdeen were soon soaking up sustained pressure from Ventspils.

Adam Rooney then got taken for a ride, on the crest of a wave that saw him sliding along the ground with his opposite number. Later he, indeed, earned a foul proper as prior incident went unnoticed.

An excellent ball was floated to outside the box, though subsequent delivery into box went straight at both opposing keeper and captain, Maksims Uvarenko.

A dogged Jonny Hayes was unlucky in getting the ball out for a corner after a lengthy dribble.

There was also outrage at Pittodrie as aforementioned Hayes got chopped down, but no foul given.

Niall McGinn almost connected with Rooney with a near perfect delivery from just outwith the box to the latter in the penalty area.

A subsequent McGinn free kick then went out for a corner, and the latter was swatted out of the way.

McGinn, again putting himself about, was perhaps lucky not to get booked for a rather rash, late challenge amidst an ensuing midfield battle.

A heavy ball, later, from Ashton Taylor to Logan, went out for a Ventspils throw.

The latter then floated in a fine ball, which Rooney headed down into the penalty area. Uvarenko grasped a firm handle on it, though.

Graeme Shinnie, though, came with an incisive drag back, just no one there to capitalise on it.

Not long after followed a key corner after some expert Aberdeen pressure. The ensuing action in the box saw arguments for a penalty.

Hayes and Rooney teamed up during that same period, combining for a speedy attack, just a tad inaccurate.

Uvarenko, again cropping up as the man to watch within his team, swatted away a subsequent goal bound effort. His backline then absorbed further attempts.

After that was a melee of sorts, with the ball chipped fortuitously into the penalty area by Hayes. This, too, was somehow absorbed.

The strains of ‘Seven Nation Army’ by The White Stripes boomed out come the end of the half, the crowd singing to that famous riff.

Halftime 0-0.

Ventspils started the second half absorbing a free kick and the following rebound. Their ensuing counterattack was eventually deemed offside.

Taylor soon came in with a wild challenge. He was only booked, though. The game, at this point, was perhaps getting slightly bad tempered.

Again, Aberdeen were pushing forward to attack, and won a corner.

Shinnie, talking of previous physical goings on, was getting stuck in, with a series of fine, meaty and full on challenges.

Captain, Ryan Jack, passed the ball to keeper Joe Lewis, taking the sting out of a Ventspils attack.

Taylor, once more, came in with a hefty tackle. No reprimand, though.

Uvarenko clasped his hands onto an incoming shot, sucking it up and avoiding any damage.

McLean was taken off, with Jayden Stockley coming off after 68 minutes.

Reynolds punted the ball out of danger when, frustratingly, Lewis was right behind him, waiting to make a safe catch.

He’d only be on the pitch for three minutes, but Stockley smashed the ball into the back of the net, heading in a Hayes cross.

1-0 Aberdeen – after 71 minutes into the game!

Hayes was, again, an instigator, bombing down the wing and earning Aberdeen a corner. Goal number two came soon after, with Rooney latching onto that very corner and stroking it in only four minutes after the first.

2-0 Aberdeen!

Aberdeen, however, soon conceded a corner after their backline were thrown into relative disarray.

Hayes, prominent as ever, forced a corner with an expert ball down the left channel.

A Ventspils player, not long after, needed treatment in his own box.

Stockley then went running, determined to reach the ball, rising to it as it floated down. Real hunger.

Taylor then smashed the ball away when Logan tried to play the ball out of danger. Good to keep it simple, as skilful as Logan is as capable of being.

Wes Burns then came on, replacing talisman Rooney coming at 89 minutes. This the former’s Aberdeen debut.

Four minutes additional play was called.

Then Burns’ head met a McGinn cross after 91 minutes.


Definitely a tale of super subs, with Stockley scoring three minutes after coming on. Burns went one better, scoring within two minutes of coming on. Better late than never.

Final score:  3-0.

Jul 022016

Aberdeen played host to a sometimes frustrating CS Fola Esch side, though got there in the end, says Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

pittodrieThe 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.

Halftime 0-0.

‘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.

Aug 082015

Aberdeen are out of the Europa League after a tie that demanded maximum concentration from its players, remarks Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

pittodrie2It was almost a perfect summer’s day, come kick off. Come the final whistle, however, rain was falling and somewhat appropriate to the inner tears of the Dons and the Red Army faithful.

Generally speaking, the initial stages of the game were spent somewhat sizing each other up, despite the previous leg in Kazakhstan.
Sides tend to play a different game at home, it’s often said.

Having said that, amidst this Aberdeen survived a very early scare within the first minute but keeper Danny Ward saved their blushes.

This and another fine stop arguably woke up and composed the Reds.

A mixture of Kenny McLean and Peter Pawlett in the centre of midfield; Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn on the wings; and Shaleum Logan coming forward from the back, bombarded Kairat’s defence.

Bar two chances from the feet of Hayes in the first half, any real incision was somewhat muted by an aggressive defensive display by Kairat.  They accrued five yellow cards throughout the match.

Despite this, Aberdeen more or less continued in the same attacking vein in the second half; whilst defending with discipline; mopping up, shutting down and out any pressure.

This didn’t last too long, though. Ward had to react to a close range effort and Kairat’s Gerard Gohou responded, netting the rebound.

0-1 Kairat (Gerard Gohou) after 59 minutes.

Aberdeen made their first substitution nine minutes from that goal, with Adam Rooney replacing Pawlett.

Hayes came off for Willo Flood come the 81 minute mark. Paul Quinn then came on for David Goodwillie.

Three minutes after these two changes, twenty five after going a goal down, Aberdeen hit back. McLean dived well within the box to head past the keeper, via a McGinn free kick.


Quinn, Ashton Taylor and even Ward piled forward for a corner in the dying moments of the game. The former had a fine header denied by the opposing keeper.

If they’d snatched that second goal, a further half an hour of extra time would’ve been secured. It didn’t turn out that way, though, and it’s hard to measure progress when they’ve dropped out of the competition at the same stage as they did last season.

Final score:  1-1.

(2-3 aggregate. Aberdeen are knocked out).

Jul 252015

Aberdeen go through to the third qualifying round of the Europa League in what was at times an edgy affair at Pittodrie, recounts Voice’s Andrew Watson.

merkalndpic3It was a bright, fairly warm summer evening, but not the kind of heat the Reds contended with in the first leg of the draw in Croatia. No water breaks this time round, but again, plenty seagulls swooping.
The first half had went by in such a fashion that people would be forgiven for thinking it would end in the same stalemate as that Pittodrie showdown against Shkendija a couple of weeks back.

Rijeka after the interval, however, set about a shock bid to try and make amends that three goal deficit accumulated last Thursday.

Some fine dribbling beat the Dons defence, and a well-placed shot beat keeper Danny Ward 58 minutes into the game.

0-1 (Marin Tomasov).

It was only 63 minutes in when Rijeka found themselves only one goal away from potential success via the away goal rule.

A cruel deflection put the ball in the net once again, and the scorer had not long come on the pitch as a substitute.

Pittodrie was stunned.

0-2 (Zoran Kvrzic).

Only seconds later Niall McGinn rushed up the field, receiving a David Goodwillie pass and shooting at goal. He clawed one back.

Potential crisis everted 64 minutes into the game.

1-2 Aberdeen, and three goals in the space of about five minutes!

Goodwillie again turned provider eight minutes later, with Jonny Hayes picked out in the box to score from close range.

2-2 Aberdeen!

Two substitutions followed that goal.

Peter Pawlett came on the pitch at the 73 minute mark, with McLean coming off. Goodwillie came off two minutes later, with Adam Rooney coming on.

A final change took place after 83 minutes with McGinn coming off for Willo Flood.

The former, prior to this, was also involved in a humorous tussle as he slid for the ball in the Main and Merkland Stand corner. There was absolutely bare minimum contact but the Rijeka man went down as if dealt with by a supreme marksman.

This incurred fierce boos from the crowd, to which he responded with a rude, cupped and shaking hand gesture of self-love to the fans. This resulted in derisive cheers from the Pittodrie faithful.

However, this wasn’t the first time it appeared that someone had whipped out the sniper rifle, and to be honest McGinn’s fellow man coming off the park, Goodwillie, was seemingly another culprit in that.

Most importantly though, McGinn saved the Dandies’ with that earlier goal which killed the game for the Croatians. Hayes goal also made sure of that, making victory that bit more comfortable they go through to face Kazakhstan’s Kairat in the next round.

Final score:  2-2.

(5-2 aggregate. Aberdeen through to next round).

Jul 112015

Aberdeen were lucky to reach the second qualifying round of the Europa League but did so without the presence of defensive stalwart, Mark Reynolds, reports Voice’s Andrew Watson.

pittodrieThe only thing that blemished the fine evening conditions were the sizeable flock of seagulls dive bombing the pitch, and even flying through the stands themselves.

Attendance wise, it looked sparse in places. However, the actual amount there was deceptive, numbering well over fourteen thousand.

Graeme Shinnie, arguably his first proper game with the Dons, was given a start at left back.

Shkendija started much like they did in the first leg in Macedonia the previous Thursday. They were a threat going forward, incisive enough to run at and cut through the back four from time to time.

On the other end of the pitch the Aberdeen attackers sometimes struggled to break down the defence, and it was telling that some of their best chances were struck from distance.

The Reds only really found their rhythm towards the end of the first half. Jonny Hayes passed well to find Shinnie, who forced an excellent save from the opposition keeper.

Steven McLean made that first of two of the Reds’ significant long distance efforts not long after.

Come the second half, Aberdeen goalie, Danny Ward, had had an excellent game. However, there was an occasion where instead of the ball being caught in his hands, it fell to and bounced off his feet.

Another time he made his only poor clearance of the game, something that had become part and parcel of watching Jamie Langfield play. Thankfully both times he was rescued by team mates.

After 67 minutes Peter Pawlett came on for McLean. His impact was palpable, making the second of two of significant long distance efforts.

This one seemed to rattle off the underside of the crossbar, and many believed it crossed the line. Many would’ve been curious as to what goal line technology would’ve made of that one.

Hayes came off the pitch 12 minutes later, with David Goodwillie replacing. Barry Robson also came on for Willo Flood.

Shkendija will probably feel displeased with the result. Aberdeen will probably have to do better to progress beyond their second Europa League qualifier. They’ll face Croatia’s Rijeka.

One thing that must be said, though, is that with a player like McLean as an attacking option, there’s much to look forward to. Despite having been rather unremarkable until now, he had an excellent game.

Shinnie’s definitely a good addition to the squad, with defensive attacking play akin to that of Shaleum Logan. A Scottish Cup winner, he’ll have the necessary winning mentality.

Final score:  0-0.

(1-1 aggregate. Aberdeen through on the away goal rule).