Apr 202015

This New Firm derby developed into a fiery encounter with plenty more to talk about than the solitary goal, says Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

merklandandrewIt was a mild Saturday afternoon with a cool wind blowing, though not enough to drastically alter the play or nature of the game.

The visiting Tangerines haven’t been playing too well as of late, but the Reds could not, and did not underestimate their east coast adversaries.

I once said before, regarding a previous encounter between the Dons and Arabs, that if every player attacked the game with the same sense of urgency as Willo Flood, then it would’ve been an entirely different spectacle.

This time, however, his recent form didn’t suggest this would again be the case. His wayward passing of late has been particularly woeful. Passing sideways, passing backwards; forever negative.

Perhaps though, Flood versus Dundee United is akin to Eoin Jess versus Rangers; always turning it on against their most bitter of rivals.

Again, he was the proverbial bull in the china shop, launching into every tackle. And again, there were boos for him, and Barry Robson, from the away crowd for the duration.

However, it was only fair that he was, again, awarded Man of the Match in this particular tussle of a fixture.  His work ethic, again, almost singlehandedly propelled the Reds’ engine room in the centre of the park.

Despite this, it was striker Adam Rooney who grabbed the headlines after 39 minutes.

Captain Mark Reynolds exploited a lapse of concentration amongst the Tannadice back four and managed to put a ball across the box for Rooney to meet, and find the back of the net.

1-0 Aberdeen!

Rooney came close, but no cigar, in the second half, too; and although United weren’t remarkable it wasn’t all one way traffic.

They forced keeper Scott Brown into a couple of fine saves. His involvement increased after 71 minutes when Robson was sent off for a seemingly dubious elbow on United’s Charlie Telfer.

Ryan Jack came on the pitch four minutes later in place of Niall McGinn. The industrious Flood left the pitch as Donervorn Daniels was drafted in a minute after normal time.

Both switches were aimed to shore up the backline after losing such an influential figure in Robson. The game, more so after his dismissal, became frenetic and bad tempered.

This, I suppose, made the victory all the more gratifying. Okay, they’ve drawn out narrow one nil victories in the past, but rarely have they done so having been reduced to ten men.

Hopefully, they might make Celtic sweat in the race to the top of the table.

Final score:  1-0.

Dec 222014

Kilmarnock looked to have frustrated the home side but the Dons prevailed in the end, recounts Andrew Watson.

pittodrieThough relatively mild for the time of year, conditions at Pittodrie were only a degree or two off of biting cold.

Initially, the Rugby Park men unsettled the home side but Aberdeen soon settled into the run of play. However, the final product proved elusive for both teams for much of the duration.

The closest any side got in the first half was David Goodwillie chasing the ball down toward the Merkland end and, at a tight angle, hammering the ball off the crossbar.

Undoubtedly, a player of his calibre would usually find the back of the net despite the odds stacked against them, but it wasn’t to be.

The incident that daresay changed the tide of things was Killie’s Darryl Westlake being stretchered off not long before half time.

After the break winger Jonny Hayes came more into his own, and was beating players for fun just about any time he was on the ball.

Eventually his efforts were rewarded when a shot of his deflected fortuitously to the feet of Peter Pawlett, who finished what Hayes had started.

1-0 Aberdeen, finally, after 69 minutes!

Jeffrey Monakana came on the pitch four minutes later, replacing Goodwillie. Like his previous outing at Pittodrie, against Hamilton, he impressed with his vision and touch.

Kilmarnock fought to the very end but Aberdeen squeaked yet another victory, and yet another clean sheet.

Final score:  1-0.

Nov 092014

It was promising to be a fiery fixture and didn’t disappoint, unless you were a Dons fan, bemoans Voice’s Andrew Watson.

merkalndpic2The controversy kicked off early, prior to the game, with numerous Celtic fans booing during the one minute’s silence for Remembrance Sunday.

Given their Irish heritage, one could forgive the Hoops for not bearing a poppy on their strip today, but to go so far as to sabotage a commemoration to ordinary men and women in conflict was just beyond the pale.

In turn the Red Army were quick to back their man, Shaleum Logan.  This was after weeks of jousting in the press with Celtic’s Aleksandar Tonev, who’d apparently racially abused the defender in the teams’ last outing.

Ex-Celt Barry Robson came on the pitch at the 10 minute mark, with Willo Flood coming off.  It’s testament to the intensity and pace of the game that the industrious Flood had to be subbed so early on.

An Andrew Considine deflection then found Adam Rooney, who bundled the ball across the line. Just.

1-0 Aberdeen after 27 minutes!

Eleven minutes later the Hoops dented the Dons hopes of a positive result.

Mark Reynolds and keeper Scott Brown were caught out by an Anthony Stokes ball which his teammate really shouldn’t have been able to latch onto. But did.

1-1 (Stefan Johansen).

Aberdeen really should’ve been ahead by this point, but instead squandered numerous chances to stamp their authority upon the game.

A power struggle of sorts ensued for the remaining duration of the game, with David Goodwillie coming on for Rooney after 67 minutes.

Eighteen minutes later Jeffrey Monakana came on, with Peter Pawlett coming off.

Roundabout this time Celtic’s skipper, Scott Brown, was shown his second yellow, offering a glimmer of hope for the Dons.

The ten-man Parkhead side didn’t succumb, though.

Johansen turned from receiver to provider with a controversial corner.

It was the first of two, and according to the eyes of many, the first one should’ve been a goal kick as keeper Brown made no contact with the ball as he dived to cover his line.

Anyway, the second corner, from the foot of Johansen, found his man at the back post.

1-2 (van Dijk) after 90 minutes.

Aberdeen had gilt edged chances to equalise and were very frustrating to watch, here onward.

To top it off, Logan was sent off in the tunnel after the game for questioning a certain decision by the linesman, apparently by using some colourful language, too.

Final score:  1-2.

Oct 302014

League Cup holders Aberdeen are through to the semis after a hard fought victory against a flying Hamilton side, says Andrew Watson.

pittodrieThough Aberdeen had the lion’s share of chances, the Accies did at times put the home side under significant pressure.

The first happening of note saw Niall McGinn through on goal via an Adam Rooney ball, only to be thwarted by the keeper who was excellent throughout.

The duo later switched things up minutes after, this time McGinn the supplier and Rooney the recipient. 

He came in with a spectacular diving header for Niall’s free kick. The keeper had no chance.

1-0 after 24 minutes!

Jonny Hayes and Peter Pawlett ran rampant on the wings, and contributed immeasurably to most of Aberdeen’s attack.

One incident saw Hamilton’s number one, Michael McGovern, display catlike reflexes, tipping over a teammate’s deflection in the penalty area.

In the second half it was time for the Dandies’ man between the sticks, Scott Brown, to perform similar heroics, twice, from close range.

Seemingly unstoppable shots were thumped towards his goal, and he somehow summoned the wherewithal to palm them away.

Winger Pawlett came off the pitch to be replaced by Cammy Smith 66 minutes into the game. Twenty four minutes later, Barry Robson came on for McGinn.

The Red Army will be happy, in a way, that Aberdeen’s makeshift back four are growing stubborn and are not losing any stupid goals as of late. Long may the clean sheets continue!

Final score:  1-0.


Oct 252014

merklandandrewThis cagey affair saw the end of Motherwell’s unbeaten record at Pittodrie since November 2008, reports Andrew Watson.

Each side practically cancelled the other out, bar the early goal.  Hardly an advert for the supposed excitement of the Friday night football fixture.
Things started promisingly, though.

Two minutes from the whistle some good passing saw Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes with a chance on goal.  He drilled low and under the keeper.


Hayes soon had another chance but his clever chip saw the roof of the net.

It actually looked like, at least for awhile, it would be end to end stuff with the Steelmen hitting two efforts just over the bar.

It didn’t help that the Dons second in command keeper, Scott Brown, was left grasping for the ball and failing miserably.

From there on it descended into a rather tedious midfield battle between the two.  Half time came and went.

61 minutes into the game, striker Adam Rooney came on the pitch to replace Peter Pawlett. Thirteen minutes later, David Goodwillie came off for Barry Robson.

Cammy Smith then came on for Hayes at the 84 minute mark.

At some point the Red Army sang the following, after some touchline drama involving the Fir Park men’s gaffer, of ex-Rangers repute:

“Stuart McCall, is a wanker, is a wanker!”

There was even the pleasure of watching their number five, Simon Ramsden, wait not so patiently to receive the ball back from an Aberdeen fan in the Main Stand, who elected to feign throwing the ball back to him for the throw in.

That is, before eventually giving him the ball back.

You had to be there for moments like that, because, excluding the lone goal, there was little else to get excited about.  Come on you Reds.

Final score:  1-0.


Oct 032014

Aberdeen threw away a victory against St Mirren with some slack defending and not enough bite up front, despairs Voice’s Andrew Watson.

pittodrie2In the last match report it was surprising there were so many yellow cards, four being the number.

Well, this game went one better, if that’s the way to put it.

The initial frenetic pace, the hunger displayed by all in racing to be the first to every ball, befitted the five cautions shown in this outing.

There were plentiful chances from both teams early on in the first half, with St Mirren smashing one off the top of the crossbar. The Reds then had a corner.

David Goodwillie’s blocked effort found Mark Reynolds. Pittodrie’s sole current Scotland international buried it into the net seconds before the whistle for half time.

1-0 Aberdeen!

After the interval, 56 minutes into the game, Jonny Hayes’ cross more or less eluded Goodwillie but came to Peter Pawlett.

The shot was most unlike a lot of Dons goals.  Instead of passing it into the net, it was hit from reasonable distance. A pleasure to watch.

2-0 Aberdeen!

Only a minute later St Mirren clawed one back.

Jamie Langfield really should have asserted himself and come out to grab the ball. His hesitation cost the Dons dearly.

Not that his defence exactly covered themselves in glory. Particularly Ashton Taylor, perhaps less so Hayes.

2-1 (Callum Ball).

Niall McGinn left the pitch on the 70 minute mark, with Andrew Considine coming on. Pawlett came off after 79 minutes; with Cammy Smith coming on.

Four minutes from normal time the Buddies got a penalty. Reynolds was the culprit, and in being so he undone the great work he did at the death of the first half.

2-2 (Kenny McLean).

Aberdeen will rue the chances missed throughout this game. Let’s hope they can shake off the frustration of this night and in the process become far more clinical in their finishing.

At the very least they really have to stop leaking goals, because at this rate doing so is the only way they’ll win games.

Final score:  2-2.

Sep 282014

This fixture against Inverness was a hotly contested and sometimes bad tempered match that made for some entertaining football, says Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

merklandandrewThere were four yellow cards throughout the match’s duration and at times the ball hardly left the middle of the field, with tackles aplenty.

Yet expansive play, even just moving
the ball slightly forward, was held to a minimum.

16 minutes into the game, a poorly defended free kick left keeper Jamie Langfield exposed. The Caley Jags eluded their opposite jerseys and headed into the net.

1-0 (Josh Meekings).

It was a worry to see the wind knocked out the sails of the Reds so quickly.

Poor passing, though, between the Thistle keeper and his teammate at the back offered perfect opportunity for Adam Rooney to score an equaliser.

Cottoning on to the pass back, he beat the man between the sticks and salvaged the game for Aberdeen.

1-1 Aberdeen after 24 minutes!

The Reds then went ahead minutes before the stroke of half time. In this passage of play it seemed imminent the Dons would hammer in another goal and put them in the lead.

However, they were pinned back by Inverness, and almost out of the box, until expert holding play by David Goodwillie afforded them another chance.

He found attacking defender Shaleum Logan who cracked the ball into the roof of the net on 40 minutes.

2-1 Aberdeen!

Ten minutes into the second half Logan went from saint to sinner.

His poor tackle left Langfield vulnerable, and although he could’ve done better one on one with his attacker, blame laid largely upon the Englishman.

2-2 (Marley Watkins).

An arguably similar scenario up the other end of the pitch gifted former Inverness player Jonny Hayes the winning goal.

3-2 Aberdeen after 59 minutes!

Cammy Smith came on for Goodwillie at the 79 minute mark.

Then Peter Pawlett came off for Jeffrey Monakana two minutes into added time.

Goal hero Rooney took his time to come off the pitch against his former club a minute later, and was replaced by Lawrence Shankland.

It’s perhaps testament to the overall strength and depth of the squad that Aberdeen are finally bringing in the right results, especially recently.

On the other hand, if they haemorrhage goals like they almost did in this match, good and plentiful additions to the score sheet might count for nothing.

Final score:  3-2.

Sep 262014

Livingston were perhaps better than the score line suggested, but Aberdeen recorded a convincing victory nonetheless, opines Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

merkalndpic2It was quite a mild night, considering it being late September.

Though spitting slightly towards the end of the match, it was nothing to impact much upon the pitch and its conditions.

Pittodrie seemed subdued and rather

Facing lower league opposition in only round three of the League Cup will do that to attendances, unless of course you’re referring to the Terrible Three in the Championship at the moment.

The Reds started well. Against the run of play, they took an early lead.

Nicky Low fired in a corner, and defender Ashton Taylor met it with a header.  What better way to shake off responsibility for that costly error, made against Dundee United, on the opening game of the season?

1-0 Aberdeen just 8 minutes in!

For a lion’s share of the first half the League Cup holders were pinned back. Come the second half, Aberdeen somewhat starved the visitors of meaningful possession in the final third.

However, it was actually surprising, relatively speaking, how end to end the game was. Nothing of note happened, though, and Aberdeen almost struggled to consolidate their lead.

Andrew Considine then came on for Low. That same minute, 61 minutes into the game, Considine was pivotal and instigated a Dons attack.

He found Jonny Hayes; Hayes found David Goodwillie; Goodwillie, easily Aberdeen’s most clever and skilful player, found Adam Rooney with a back heel. Rooney found the net.

2-0 Aberdeen!

Then after 71 minutes Ryan Jack was stretchered off, replaced by Barry Robson, and Cammy Smith came on for Goodwillie.

Only three minutes later Rooney doubled his tally for a brace. He drilled into the bottom left corner and found gold.

3-0 Aberdeen!

Considering the whipping meted out, things were quite quiet. Until the 87th minute, that is.  Peter Pawlett to Hayes, Hayes to Rooney. Goal.

4-0 Aberdeen, with Rooney the hat trick hero!

I suppose the score was quite deceiving because Aberdeen were very fortunate to go away from the match with a clean sheet intact. Considering he’s second choice keeper, Scott Brown did well to make saves more akin to that of Dons’ number one, Jamie Langfield.

Final score:  4-0.

Aug 132014

Aberdeen get hammered by their New Firm rivals, rants Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

merkalndpic2It was an overcast afternoon, not too hot and not too cold. Perfect conditions for Scottish football.

Initially it was end to end stuff from both teams.  Unfortunately this would be pretty much the best the Dons could muster offensively, unsuccessfully able to break the deadlock despite a plethora of opportunities.

Dundee United then got into their stride, pouncing upon a poor pass back by Dandies’ new boy Ash Taylor.

0-1 Dundee United (Ryan Dow) on the 29 minute mark.

“There’s only one Jamie Langfield,” the Arab Army sarcastically sang.

The Red Army were to suffer more at the hands of the Tangerines, though. Not before Niall McGinn volleyed off the post, mind. Typical.

0-2 Dundee United (Gary Mackay-Steven) just before half time.

“There’s only…”

You know the rest.

Barry Robson came off for Adam Rooney after the break. Nicky Low then came on for Andrew Considine at 81 minutes.  Neither substitution really seemed to make a difference.

0-3 Dundee United (substitute Chris Erskine) punishing the dismal Dons at the death thanks to a tactical switch by boss McNamara.

One can only hope that this crap display is only due to missing key players like captain Russell Anderson and wingman Jonny Hayes.  Hopefully the problems don’t lie any deeper than that.

On the other hand, a squad seemingly as strong as Aberdeen’s should fare well against most teams without their ideal starting eleven all the time.

Final score:  0-3.

May 142013

Whilst the more senior levels in Scottish football argue interminably about structure and finance, life goes on in the Highland League, with a last-day title decider between the top two teams set to rouse passions and tribal rivalries, just as it should. That’s this week. Last week, the Highland League Cup final was played. David Innes was in Banff supporting his hometown club Keith and doubled up by reporting for Voice.

The venue, Princess Royal Park was controversial. Although it’s a pleasant ground, there is no shelter for fans other than the impressive stand and the weather forecast was inconclusive.

It didn’t rain, it was pleasantly warm in the Banffshire coast sun and the pitch was in lovely condition for the time of year, so the organisers got it right.

Locos dominated early on and after missing a couple of chances, former Maroon Jason Begg put them ahead in 18 minutes.

Harlaw midfielder Clark Bain was dominant and although Keith posed a threat via Andy McAskill playing wide right, they were fortunate to turn around only a goal down.

Darren Still’s half time advice must have helped as the Maroons started the second half, playing uphill, in much more aggressive manner, yet it was Inverurie who looked more likely to add to their score. Then a crucial momentary lack of concentration by Stuart McKay allowed Sean Keith to cross for Andy McAskill to level at 1-1 after his first shot was blocked.

Locos came back and pressed hard. They almost went ahead again straight away, then a long free kick by Locos’ ‘keeper Andy Reid bounced off the Keith post with the defence assuming that the shot was going wide.

That bit of luck seemed to galvanise Keith and when defender Kieran Adams handled a shot on the ground, talisman and skipper Cammy Keith showed no mercy and buried the penalty behind Andy Reid. Suddenly the noise was coming from the Maroons fans.

Even Reid’s foray forward for a late corner couldn’t see Locos break down Keith’s defence with Stuart Walker and Gary McNamee dominant, and when McAskill broke away in stoppage time, Steven Park’s clumsy tackle earned the defender a red card and Keith a penalty. This time Cammy Keith’s shot hit the post but there was no way back for Locos, heads down and with a player short.

The final whistle saw gleeful celebrations on and off the pitch as Keith salvaged something from a poor season and delivered long-serving Darren Still his first trophy as the Maroons’ manager. It was a delight to see so many ex-players joining the young team as it soaked in the glory. Players are well taken care of at Kynoch Park, although the club does not pay the inflated wages offered by others. They repay that loyalty by continuing to offer their support.

The club chairman Sandy Stables, his board and committee put in incredible efforts to keep the club they love going, and even if they are never rewarded by big attendances, they put smiles on the faces of those who do attend on afternoons such as this.

Keith have an energetic squad of young players, with a few experienced hands around to guide them through the tough times. This victory will help instil belief in the squad where the traditional Keith team spirit is hugely in evidence. Rumours abound of a few experienced signing over the summer, which, allied to the abundant energy of the loons, might just see them cause a few upsets next season.

Locos manager Kenny Coull has admitted that his squad needs major restructuring and a few of the older players, who have served the club brilliantly since their days as a fledgling Highland League club, may have to move on.

Whatever the summer holds, it has been an exciting 2012-13 in the Highland League, with the Aberdeenshire Shield Final going ahead this week, before the title showdown at Pitmedden on the scheduled final day of the season. It’s the best fitba going.

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