Feb 262017

By Red Fin Hall.

It only seems like a few weeks ago that we played Ross County in the Scottish Cup, well funnily enough it was.
That hard fought game is sure to be replicated today.

The last time we played them here, the Dons finished with a 4-0 victory.

Aberdeen’s starting line up was their strongest one – the same players who started the eight game run before Graeme Shinnie was suspended.

It was a glorious and sunny day, but the pitch was anything but ideal when referee, Willie Collum, got the game underway with the visitors kicking off.

Couple of moments into the game when Shay Logan crumbled when bundled to the ground by a Ross County player. A throw in was given.

Great attacking play from the Dons followed when Logan and Hayes linked well, with the latter juggling the ball in the opposition box before utilising an overhead kick to Adam Rooney who couldn’t get high enough to get much purchase on the ball, which went straight into Scott Fox’s arms.

Ross County, playing 5 at the back, we’re working hard as the home team had attempt after attempt, including a chip in by Shinnie, which was easily held by Fox.

Aberdeen, whilst not playing at their best, were intent on trying to get the opening goal, County, were sticking well to their task and thwarting them.

The first booking came in the 22nd minute when Michael Gardyne had his name entered in the referees, book for a foul on Kenny McLean.  A minute later, Dons were another free kick a on the other side of the park which was taken by McGinn, but he totally wasted it and it ended up going for a throw in to the visitors.

A call for a penalty was, rightly, ignored by Collum, when McLean went down in the box.

In the 24th minute County were awarded their first corner, but thankfully, nobody was sharp enough to stick a foot out and it went behind for a goal kick.

Mark Reynolds was the next player to be booked when he fouled Alex Schalk, but when the free  kick was taken by ex Aberdeen player, Paul Quinn, it was totally wasted.

Aberdeen were finding it hard to get to the top of their game, as highlighted when a poor cross by Shinnie was easily intercepted by Gardyne. The Lightning start to the match where the fans were anticipating  a few goals, was replaced by hard graft and team work. They were however finding an out for every ball, as all the men in red were keen to get involved.

A sharp effort was equally matched by a sharp save by Lewis.

35 minutes had passed when Aberdeen were awarded a free kick just inside the opposition half facing towards the Merkland Stand. Taken by Hayes, the ball reached Reynolds who headed it forward to Rooney. His overhead kick however ended up security in the arms of Fox.

Never despairing despite the tight attention of the men from Dingwall, McLean was the next player to try and find away through the stuffy defence. But his fierce and low shot from 20 yards out forced Fox to dive and save.

County had their first real chance of the game when Jason Naismith beat Reynolds and his shot bobbled in front of Joe Lewis who held it at the second attempt.

With 5 minutes left of the first half, Hayes took a free kick on the left side, just 2 ft from the corner post. The goalkeeper punched it clear, and the ball was still in play, but the South Stand linesman had his flag up for offside.

Three minutes after that the ball was up in the Dons’ area and the Highlanders were awarded a free kick just on the edge of the 18 yard line. A sharp effort was equally matched by a sharp save by Lewis.

Just before the half time whistle went, Aberdeen should have been ahead. A fabulous long pass from captain Ryan Jack to Hayes, who shrugged off the challenge of Quinn. He then passed to the usually deadly Rooney, who found himself practically on his own in front of and open goal.

The simplest task to just tap it in seemed to allude him, and instead he fluffed the shot, and if contact was made, it must have been surely marginal, as the ball stopped just 18 inches the other side of him and was a sufficiently simple task for the defence to deal with.

Half time: 0-0.

The second half got underway with Ross County making a change, one that the stadium announcer failed to notify the crowd. Quinn was replaced by number 28, Kenny van der Weg, as manager, Jim Hamilton went to a more traditional four across the back.

It gave them a fair lift, as they started this last 45 much stronger looking.

Ever the master tactician, Derek McInnes decided it was time to make the first change

Although Hayes and Rooney were still a thorn in their side, the visitors were the first to try and break the deadlock just 3 minutes after the resumption of play when Schalk had a go from 25 yards out, forcing Lewis to make a decent save. Hayes was then penalised for tripping that same player shortly afterwards.

Although there wasn’t too much great quality on show, it was a busy game, with first Gardyne, then Hayes shooting wild and wide.

Ash Taylor, who is improving with every game, pulled off a crucial defensive header to cut out a cross from the County sub.

At this juncture the visitors were winning the midfield battle, and still crowding out the middle of the pitch, so something needed done.

Ever the master tactician, Derek McInnes decided it was time to make the first change. Jayden Stockley, the sub who has come on it the preceding two games and scored, was not available today. Whether the omission was tactical or as the result of a chest infection due to getting a draft when his shirt was ripped last week, I am unsure.

Anyway, Miles Storey was the player that came on. He replaced Mark Reynolds. Thus the team was altered to play three at the back, with Hayes and McGinn acting as attacking wing-backs. Storey added another option up front, and his pace was useful.

The Dons were awarded a corner in the 71st minute, and the determination of McLean in the aftermath of that set piece proved crucial. His determined play and his low powerful shot, coupled with slack defending from captain Andrew Davies, meant it was a simple task for Rooney to touch the ball into the net for his 17th goal of the season and, what ended up being the winner for Aberdeen.


That was the signal for Ross County to ring the changes, with Tim Chow and Craig Curran being substituted and Jim O’Brien and Milan Lalkovic taking to the field.

Shortly thereafter McGinn went off and Anthony O’Connor went straight into defence when he came on, and with only 4 minutes of regulation time remaining, Hayes was taken off and Peter Pawlett came on to help run the game down.

There were three minutes added on at the end, and the only thing of note was that Rooney made a good breakaway and slotted the ball to Storey, but his ball was high, wide and anything but handsome.

Full Time: Aberdeen 1 Ross County 0

Next home game is the Scottish a Cup Quarter Final v Partick  Thistle on Sunday 5/02/17 when, incidentally, the latest edition of The Red Final goes on sale.
Before that however there is an away trip to Hamilton to contend with on Tuesday.

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May 162016

Ross County ran rampant against a poor, and in some cases inexperienced Aberdeen side summarises Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

merkalndpic2In terms of the pitch, it looked not too bad after some drizzle which thankfully, didn’t persist.
This rain though, did highlight some of its imperfections but these were only slight. Marked improvement from pitch conditions in recent months.

‘In The Shadows’ by The Rasmus played over the tannoy.

Was this implying Aberdeen were, under manager Derek McInnes, no longer just merely scraping top six finishes? As the game turned out, you would be just aswell dedicating the song to the Staggies.

Anyway, there were boos as Willie Collum’s name was announced as referee. This was to some extent true for ex-Don Ricky Foster who appeared for County on the bench.

Deceased Red Army veteran Norman Goldie had his caricature resurrected from the Hearts game on Thursday night, though appearing at the Dick Donald Stand, and not his native Merkland Stand. The former also had a card display akin to those previously mentioned odd socks the super fan was so fond of.  Again, Angus The Bull also sported that sock combination.

Kenny McLean, come the game proper, came close after good linkup play with Jonny Hayes.

Captain for the day, retiring Don Barry Robson was then caught looking for a free kick.

Debutante keeper, Aaron Lennox, not long later, performed a full stretch save.

Keeper down the away end, Scott Fox, came in with some heroics too. He did spill the ball, though this was safely in front of his own back four.

Robson later weighed in with superb sliding challenge to help Aberdeen retain possession.

Niall McGinn headed down a cross; but this was straight into the keeper’s arms.

Following this was a well deserved corner after an Aberdeen advance. Nothing came of it

Again, Aberdeen came close as McGinn, like McLean, wasn’t too far from converting a layoff.

There was then a drinks break which saw Aberdeen kick out of play and, in turn, almost score.

Lennox disappointed with a poor kick out down the other end after his under pressure defence passed it back. Simply no composure from the man between the sticks, and it was indicative of a scrappy game so far.

His name was to crop up again as he took down a County forward for a penalty after busy scenes in the box.

This was converted only 23 minutes into the game via Brian Graham.

0-1 Ross County.

Between this and the Hearts game on Thursday, the common denominator was poor goalkeeping.

Aberdeen seemed to be getting brushed aside in the middle of the park too. Willo Flood found himself wiped out; though, thankfully, won a free kick.  McGinn appeared later to cross the ball, but found the delivery touching the top netting.

Shaleum Logan, down the other end, headed back to Lennox, diffusing the Staggies threat.

Scott Wright then almost found himself in a crossing position, but was hassled into conceding a goal kick instead. He got it next time though. Then came another corner.

McLean won a free kick without even going down. It was encouraging he soldiered on and played advantage.

McGinn put in a more promising cross, this one looking to be the delivery for an emphatic header. No dice.

McLean then, strangely, went down this time, but wasn’t awarded anything.

County pounced again just before halftime.


The finish, a remarkable overhead effort by Alex Schalk, was a hard one to swallow.

Halftime 0-2.

‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley and the Wailers, played during the intermission. With its, “every little thing’s gonna be alright”, it seemed laughable. Was this because, really, the game was inconsequential?

After the break Ross County came with a clever free kick. It was the right idea, just a tad too high and over the crossbar.

Wright then almost, down the other end, caught out keeper Fox, but like County in the previous run of play, off the mark.

Flood, perhaps satisfying those bored, and perhaps resigned to a Dons defeat, came in with some banter for the fans. He basically bumped into his opposite number, and following this looked like he was wanting a scrap.

Lennox seemed to make amends for the penalty, coming out for a ball that looked a dead cert to be yet another goal for the Dingwall side. Very brave.

County fired in a driven shot that almost beat Lennox.

Ashton Taylor further complicated manners with a hard ball to teammate Logan, from a short distance.

McGinn was taken off in favour of Cammy Smith; and Joe Nuttall was put on for Robson. Both substitutions were made after 59 minutes.

Schalk then beat Flood and was unlucky with his shot.

Down the other end, there was a superb switch from McLean on the left, right up to Logan on the right, in a further advanced position. Nothing came of it, though.

Fox then came with an unbelievable save to deny the Dons a goal.

Liam Boyce, attacking the opposite goal, had a nightmare miss. In retrospect, his teammate should’ve pulled the trigger; instead of opting for the passback.

Boyce made up for it however. He smashed an emphatic header into the net after 68 minutes.


“Easy, easy, easy!”

Scott McKenna was taken off in favour of Daniel Harvie after 71 minutes.

Harvie, tracking his man, homed in too quick and ended up falling on his backside. He ended up not paying too highly for it, though.

Fox made another remarkable save to push out for a corner; the latter of which came to nothing.

Harvie cropped up again with a woeful pass in attack.

Martin Woods punished the woeful Dons, scoring after 78 minutes.


Having said that, the ball then somehow avoided the County net.

This was followed by some goalmouth action, or lack of it, in terms of converting from the final third. The ball crossed County’s entire box with no end product.

Hayes came pelting in and delivered a fine ball into the box. This went out for a corner, which was swatted away.

Robson was given a customary man of the match award, and one additional minute of play was added. No point extending the pain?

Final score:  0-4.

Reflecting on the game, perhaps it was good to blood the youngsters; but bad to subject them to such a demoralising team performance?

Nov 292015

Aberdeen ended the half a goal down to Ross County, but rallied as winners by the end of the game, opines Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

pittodrieIt was cold, brisk and windy. The pitch was a tad worn but looking good for the time of the year.

During warm up, the Staggies seemed to be struggling with an intense passing drill, the Red Army no doubt hoping this would be indicative of their pitch performance.

Ex-Don Richard Foster got some boos, no doubt because his history with bitter rivals Rangers.

However, Ex-County man Paul Quinn appeared to garner no sizeable reaction from the away end despite donning the red and white of Aberdeen.

The game began with the home side playing some scrappy football. This resulted in a Ross County corner, but nothing came of it.

County keeper Gary Woods was forced into a hasty clearance by striker Adam Rooney.

Graeme Shinnie then made a well-executed challenge to retain possession for Aberdeen.

One of the better chances for the Dons came as Rooney made a cut back in the opposition’s box, only for the ball to be safely mopped up by Woods.

On the other end of the pitch, keeper Danny Ward’s clearance falls to County and an ensuing free kick to little end is called by the referee.

A free kick for the home side, taken by winger Jonny Hayes, falls fortuitously into box, but knocked over the bar.

14 minutes into the game, a poorly held ball by Mark Reynolds is snatched as he claims handball. The Staggies play on their initiative is rewarded.

0-1 (Craig Curran).

Not long after there was a great individual effort from Hayes, beating the opposition and only his finishing touch on goal below par. His quick link up play with Shaleum Logan during a free kick was prior to this.

His involvement of a different kind in a tussle with Foster incurred more derision for the latter.

Rooney then almost cottoned onto a free kick with head.

Come this point Aberdeen’s game then descended into desperate sliding tackles in their own box to avoid going a second goal down. However, they almost equalised with a good counter attack.

They then incurred some Red Army wrath with negative passing, culminating in the ball winding all the way back to keeper Ward.

Ross County were in a good position to double their lead, but a free kick just outside the box wasn’t exploited.

The ball, by this point, seemed to spend half the time in mid-air and was absolutely terrible to watch.

Alternately, Staggies were almost gifted an elusive two goal cushion via a long ball. Recipient couldn’t latch onto it, though.

County captain Andrew Davies was later rolling on the pitch in pain, though stayed on the pitch. This was taken as an opportunity for his teammates to have a water break, which irked the home fans to some degree.

An Aberdeen attack then went for nothing after the Victoria Park men at the back were beaten. The end product, debateable as to whether a shot or cross, let them down.

A big decision, which was arguably one of the biggest controversies of the game, then occurred. The Dons had a fortunate bobble of the ball just outside their box, but were then penalised for picking up the ball after a perceived foul upon them. They managed to remain a goal down.

Foster was never far away from the Red Army’s desire to see him hooked for his infractions, kicking the ball away from Ward after a goal kick was declared.

Not long after Ward, in turn, and not for the first time, made a poor clearance and managed to get away with it. His kicking is a significant improvement upon Jamie Langfield’s, but not for this game.

His defensive charges in front of him weren’t faring much better, and lost the ball in their own half, which went out for a corner. Again, they didn’t pay for this.

The build up to the second half seemed daftly optimistic. One song they pumped out through the tannoy system seemed particularly bizarre:

“Don’t worry about a thing/
‘cause every little thing gonna be alright”
Bob Marley and the Wailers – Three Little Birds

Yet, what was more laughable were the tributes to a couple of the players. Ward had, of course, had a terrible game but somehow ‘Daddy Cool’ by Boney M was steady singing his praises; with minimal participation with a hacked off home crowd.

There was also ‘Baby Give It Up’ by KC and the Sunshine Band which extoled Hayes. Who was to know key moments in the remaining half would be at the hands, and feet, of those two; and for the good.

Things didn’t bode well to begin with; with the ominous first touch of the Dandies a lumped ball into the opposition’s half, and nobody there in a red shirt.

Also, when one saw Reynolds, seemingly unnecessarily put the ball over the bar for a corner, you wondered if Ward patted his backside as if to spank him for bad behaviour.

Their luck did turn when Niall McGinn offered a perfect opportunity for Rooney to score an equaliser. He hoofed into the roof of the net to jubilation.

1-1 after 51 minutes!

The Reds then went ahead two minutes after. Hayes bombed down the left and dipped his shot past Woods.

2-1 Aberdeen!

The game thereon appeared heated, with plenty of meaty challenges. Kenny McLean doing so with some fine defensive work, and also Willo Flood clearing well to safety.

Ward made yet another poor clearance, this one a low one but was lucky to be spared embarrassment.

Aberdeen fans were irate after some high feet from Ross County. Their man, Liam Boyce, in turn was rolling on the ground and earned a free kick. His teammate went for a dipping, curling effort which went over the crossbar.

At the other end, Woods came in with a dive to keep the ball out of danger and caught the resulting corner.

Ward redeemed himself when his super quick reflexes kept Aberdeen in a winning position. They earned a corner at the other end of the pitch, but the header went awry and landed on top of the net.

Hayes did go close however, keeper, at quite a tight angle, made himself big and recovered the situation.

McLean helped put it beyond the away side with a cross that McGinn pounced upon.

3-1 Aberdeen after 80 minutes!

Woods’ stopped the rot for Ross County, and they managed to scupper another well positioned Aberdeen free kick. Logan was also unfortunate with a well placed shot.

Craig Storie came on for Willo Flood at the 88 minute mark.

Then Paul Quinn came off for Ash Taylor a minute later.

Storie stopped the Staggies getting a consolation goal near the death, heading the result of a corner off the line.

Goal hero McGinn took a lateral bow after 91 minutes, and was replaced by Cammy Smith.

Aberdeen turned round an utterly dismal first half performance, and, to their credit, did so finishing with a two goal cushion for their troubles.

Final score:  3-1.

Feb 082015

The scoreline belies how utterly abject both sides were in the first half but Aberdeen made up for that after the break, remarks Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

merklandandrewIt was a chilly afternoon, with only the receding snow giving the faintest of indications it’s getting remotely warmer.

The Reds got off the starting block fast. Antonio Reguero struggled to handle a long range shot from the foot of Jonny Hayes and spilt the ball.

Adam Rooney pounced.

1-0 Aberdeen just 12 minutes in.

Nothing of note happened for the rest of the half, with the two teams jostling for possession yet doing very little with it.  Messy stuff, and quite bad tempered at times. This game saw four yellow cards between the two sides.

Joe Shaughnessy came on for Donervorn Daniels after 35 minutes. This actually came as little surprise because the on loan West Bromich Albion defender had come off the pitch twice prior with niggling pains.

Following that, arguably what changed the game, Cammy Smith then came off for Peter Pawlett.

Four minutes after that substitution, 50 minutes into the game, Pawlett proved to be a super sub.

Playmaker Hayes found Pawlett in the box; Pawlett took a touch to beat Reguero, then another to slot away goal number two for the Dons. He did well to find the net, considering the angle from which he was left to complete the move.

2-0 Aberdeen.

Then after 61 minutes Shaleum Logan directed a fantastic ball into the corner of the Ross County goal from just outside the box.

3-0 Aberdeen.

Nine minutes later, David Goodwillie came on for Niall McGinn.

This substitution was yet another tactical masterstroke by gaffer Derek McInnes, albeit not quite the near immediate impact Pawlett had earlier in the game.

Nevertheless, fifteen minutes later Goodwillie proved his worth in a red shirt.

4-0 Aberdeen.

The second half performance more than rewarded the Red Army for their patience during the first forty five.

Having said that, I hope new boys Daniels and Kenny McLean impress more in future outings because at times it was hard to see what exactly they were contributing on the pitch.

I know the former was only on for so long, but I worried it was to do with him struggling with the physicality of the Scottish game. Regarding McLean, I saw a few good touches but that was about it.

Final score:  4-0.

Sep 212014

Aberdeen punished struggling Staggies with some fine attacking football at Pittodrie, recounts Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

pittodrieIt was a fine, reasonably warm autumn afternoon on the north-east coast of Scotland.

The Dons started positively with Niall McGinn’s attempt struck off for offside.  However, there was action at the other end, too, with Jamie Langfield looking beaten.

Fortunately terrible finishing from the Ross County forward meant that Aberdeen could maintain momentum.

Again, McGinn was involved in some quality play, now stemming from a corner.  He delivered an expert ball to man of Eire, Adam Rooney.

1-0 Aberdeen with a header 20 minutes in!

The Pittodrie players then pounced upon poor defending by the Highlanders.  Classy ex-Dundee United man David Goodwillie doubled their lead with a free header just six minutes later, aided by an excellent McGinn free kick.

2-0 Aberdeen!

Then something strange happened, which this reporter couldn’t fathom.  There was a commotion of sorts in the centre of the pitch, and cards were dished out.  Apparently Willo Flood and Ryan Jack were cautioned for arguing between themselves.

Flood made amends early into the second half, spraying a ball which Rooney left for midfield maestro Peter Pawlett.

3-0 Aberdeen after 50 minutes, barely into the second half!

Jeffrey Monakana came on for McGinn seven minutes later.  Pawlett then came off for Cammy Smith at 75 minutes.  Manager Derek McInnes then swapped Rooney for Barry Robson on the 83 minute mark.

Englishman Monakana had already impressed coming on against Celtic at Parkhead last weekend and didn’t disappoint at Pittodrie either.

He made some good runs and showed promise, delivering a through ball to Goodwillie who evaded the keeper but just couldn’t quite get the ball in the net.

Hopefully these two can become prominent playmakers for the season ahead.

Final score:  3-0.