Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Sunday 3rd April 2016.
Aberdeen 3 Hamilton Academical 0
Aberdeen started strongly and opened the scoring after only five minutes, when Simon Church headed home from a Johnny Hayes cross. The Dons continued to create chance after chance, and their efforts paid off for a second time when Niall McGinn found himself in position to strike past Michael McGovern. Accies struggled to contain the Dandy Dons, who looked like scoring with every sortie forward and Kenny McLean did just that to give his side a 3-0 lead going in at half time.
Aberdeen again dominated the second half, both in terms of chances and possession but failed to make anything of their creativity. This time however, Accies put up a stiffer challenge and went close on a couple occasions, from an Imrie strike and from a Diaby header. Tagliapietra and Gillespie both missed the match through suspension. Lyon and Morris were injured. Garcia Tena came in for Tagliapietra, Kemy Agustien started in place of Gramoz Kurtaj and Oumar Diaby in place of Carlton Morris.
The first decent effort fell the way of the Dons when Logan slid a nice ball through to McLean, whose cross to the back post struck the upright. Moments later Johnny Hayes sent the ball into six yard box for Welsh international Simon Church to rise and head into the Hamilton goal. If that wasn’t enough for Accies to contend with in the opening stages, McLean then made a mazy run into the Hamilton penalty, forcing McGovern to save. Minutes later, he headed over the cross bar.
On nine minutes Garcia Tena hoisted the ball forward onto the edge of the Aberdeen 18 yard line for Dougie Imrie to gather. The Accies midfielder looked to have been brought to the ground just inside the penalty area, but he didn’t make anything of it and play continued. On fifteen minutes Accies went two behind. Niall McGinn was in the right place to capitalize on a defensive mistake, then made the most of the opportunity by slotting past McGovern from 15 yards.
From the re start, McGinn almost made it three when he shot low from the edge of the penalty area and a foot wide of the back post. Willo Flood then swung the ball in from the right for Simon Church to head on goal, but again McGovern came to rescue by palming away from goal. Accies struck back with a long ball to Imrie out on the left, he crossed low to the back post but Kemy Agustien slid in fractionally too late.
The third for Aberdeen was a beautifully crafted goal. The ball was dinked down the touchline by Johnny Hayes to Graeme Shinnie, he played the ball inside to McLean who then shot past the keeper from ten yards. Ashton Taylor followed with a shot that went just wide from close range, then McGovern dived at the outstretched foot of Ryan Jack to block an attempt from five yards. Six minutes before half time, Danny Redmond replaced Kemy Agustien after the midfielder took a knock.
Accies started the second half with a decent effort on the Aberdeen goal, when Darian MacKinnon picked up and played to Danny Redmond in midfield. He spotted Imrie out on the right and sent the ball perfectly to his feet. Imrie ran toward the Dons penalty area and struck low from 20 yards, forcing Scott Brown to save at the near post. Imrie was in the thick of it once again when he won the ball and touched wide for Oumar Diaby to chase. However, the pace of the ball narrowly beat him.
Diaby almost pulled one back for Accies when his header was touched inches over the cross bar by Scott Brown. The initial attack by Hamilton broke down after the ball had been passed around the pitch. The ball was won again and crossed into the penalty area for Diaby. Aberdeen countered with an attack up the left, and only ended when McGovern touched an 18 yard McGinn strike out for a corner kick.
From the corner, a goal mouth scramble ensued that was cleared to safety after what seemed like an eternity. Simon Church then headed over from a perfectly weighted Ryan Jack cross. Accies had their best period of the game in a ten minute spell that saw the ball being stroked around nicely, unfortunately any forward momentum broke down before entering the Aberdeen penalty area. The Dons went close when Church struck wide, then McGinn struck over the Hamilton cross bar.
The Dons almost had a fourth when Shay Logan crossed into the penalty area, McGinn headed back across goal toward the back post and Flood headed wide from a foot out. A Niall McGinn corner was struck beyond the Hamilton back post to Mark Reynolds, his header was headed clear off the Accies goal line. About a minute later the same two players pulled off the exact same move, but this time McGovern was forced to touch Reynolds header over the cross bar.
Accies boss Martin Canning said of the performance ,“It was a very difficult afternoon. We didn’t start well and that’s been an issue for us, it was the same at Celtic Park. We shot ourselves in the foot again and I’m very angry. Very annoyed with the first half performance. We’ve conceded two soft goals and didn’t respond to it. I think when you look at Aberdeen, they have real quality in McGinn, Hayes and McLean.
“Aberdeen will think that they can win the league and I believe that too. Celtic will believe that they can win it too, which means that Celtic are favourites as they have the lead. But Aberdeen in this form will certainly believe that they can go and win all their remaining games.”
Martin said of his decision to take Kemy Agustien off before half time, “It was a gamble to play him, I saw it would be a difficult game up here and I thought Kemy could get on the ball and give us a platform to build from, rather than turning the ball over again and again. He took a knock, but I was going to make the change anyway.”
Aberdeen: Brown, Logan, Shinnie, Taylor (Considine 45), Reynolds, McLean, Flood (Storie 78), McGinn, Hayes, Church, Jack (Ross 85). Subs Unused: Collin, Smith, McKenna, Wright.
Goals: Church 5, McGinn 15, McLean 33.
Cautions: Storie, Ross.
Accies: McGovern, Gordon, Kurakins, Devlin, Imrie (Kurtaj 81), Diaby (Brophy 66), Crawford, Agustien (Redmond 39), MacKinnon, Docherty, Garcia Tena. Subs Unused: Martin, D’Acol, Boyd, Want.
Cautions: Agustien, Imrie, Crawford.
Referee: Kevin Clancy Assistants: Stephen Mitchell & Gary Hilland 4th Official: John McKendrick.