Web reporter Martin McConnell was at Pittodrie on Tuesday afternoon
Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Tuesday 27th December 2016 at 3pm
Aberdeen 2 Hamilton Academical 1
There was to be no change to our fortune as we suffered a fourth consecutive defeat, ironically against the last side we managed beat way back in October. The Dons always looked one step ahead of Accies, keeping them busy for the most part and leaving them with precious little opportunity of striking back from their occasional forays forward.
The first half was a typically hard fought Pittodrie encounter, Aberdeen trying hard for a goal, and Accies putting a shift in at the back whilst trying to hit them on the break. Aberdeen went ahead when Ash Taylor headed in from a free kick, but not for long, as Hamilton struck back immediately after Dougie Imrie converted a spot kick.
The second half was exciting and full of incident, with Accies putting up a dogged defence of their penalty area until Rooney scored on the rebound from a James Maddison shot. Accies only answer came from shots on goal by Brophy and Crawford, with the final nail in the coffin coming when Scott McMann was shown a red for a challenge on Hayes as he ran in on goal.
Accies boss Martin Canning said, “Games change on goals and I think that in the first half there wasn’t a lot in it. There was a lot of set pieces and corners put into the box, but we defended the box well and got done with one, and a free kick. Obviously we get the penalty and the games is then level. We had a lot of pressure which you expect at Pittodrie playing Aberdeen, but I thought we defended well and defended out box properly.
“And then we go and do what we set out to do, try to counter attack well and we counter attacked great. We got a great opportunity and if we score we make it 2-1 and make it a different game, instead we sit here having been beaten 2-1. It’s frustrating again as it’s been a hard spell with a difficult run of games we’ve come through, losing by the odd goal on three occasions. The games have all been close but ultimately we’ve taken nothing from them and that’s disappointing.”
Hamilton boss Martin Canning made just the one change to the side that lost against Celtic on Christmas Eve, with Grant Gillespie coming in at the back for Massimo Donati. Dons manager Derek McInnes was confident enough to name an unchanged starting XI, after his sides 3-1 win at Fir Park on Friday night.
The Dons dominated the early stages of the match without causing too much trouble for the Hamilton defence to deal with. Then on seven minutes, Rooney played a nice ball over the top, wide for Hayes to cut into the penalty area. Thankfully his team mates weren’t operating on the same wavelength, no one made the run and the defence cleared up.
On the stroke of 15 minutes when Accies moved the ball nicely from a throw in, Darian MacKinnon tested Lewis with a strike from 20 yards, with the ‘keeper successfully throwing himself across goal to save. Minutes later, just about every Dons player had an attempt and every Accies player defended, as the ball thrashed around inside the Accies penalty box.
Aberdeen weren’t having as much luck looking for that opening goal as they would have wished, but Graeme Shinnie went close. Firstly when Rooney laid back for him to shoot wide of the upright from 20 yards, then when Hayes broke down the left and crossed inside for Rooney, who again laid back for Shinnie to shoot past the post from around 25 yards.
The deadlock was finally broken on 33 minutes when Darian MacKinnon was adjudged to have fouled Jonny Hayes as he made another run in on goal from wide left. Hayes elected to take the 25 yard kick, swinging it into the penalty area at a nice height for Ash Taylor to out jump his marker, and head just inside the back post.
But Accies struck back immediately when awarded a penalty kick after Lewis brought down Danny Redmond as the Hamilton midfielder ran in on goal. Dougie Imrie stepped up and sent the ball creeping in at the right hand post as Lewis went left. Taylor had one almighty strike from 20 yards deflected over the cross bar before the sides went in for the break.
Aberdeen’s start to the second half wasn’t quite as sprightly as their first half display, was peppered with uncharacteristic mistakes and poor first touches. But that was all to the good for Accies as they won a series corner kicks, the only effort coming when Louis Longridge shot from almost the bye line, and Joe Lewis had to throw himself to make the block.
The flow of the game swung back in the home side’s favour as they seemed to be pitched inside the Hamilton half more often than not. Corner kick after corner kick was swung into the six yard box, the defence stayed strong, standing up well against everything that the Aberdeen side could throw at them.
Accies might have taken the lead on 65 minutes if they’d had the rub of the green, when Dougie Imrie intercepted from a Shay Logan pass. He played forward to Bingham who sent inside for Ali Crawford, who then scuffed his shot from 12 yards. It looked like it still had the beating of the grounded keeper until he thrust his arm into the air and got a hand to it.
And as is often the case in football, it gives with one hand whilst taking away with the other, and it did when Woods saved from a Maddison strike, only to see Rooney swoop and send the rebound over the line. Rooney almost grabbed a second when he connected with a Jack cross, Woods having to make a spectacular goal line save to keep it out.
Rooney made a break on goal when he gathered from a loose ball, played wide to McLean who sent soaring high of goal. Moments later the ball was played forward, Rooney and Woods gave chase, Woods won and launched the ball clear from outside his penalty area. Brophy and Crawford had efforts on goal but to no avail as Joe Lewis saved both comfortably.
Then as the game entered its 90th minute, another Aberdeen attack set Jonny Hayes into another pacey attack toward the Hamilton penalty area, the only thing that could stop Hayes having an attempt on goal was McMann. He duly did, and was shown a red for his effort. With the match in to injury time, Woods saved from a McLean free kick and the Hayes follow up.
Aberdeen: Lewis, Logan, Shinnie, Considine (Maddison 60), Taylor, Reynolds, McLean, Rooney, McGinn (Pawlett 83), Hayes, Jack. Subs Unused: Alexander, O’Connor, Burns, Stockley, Storey.
Goals: Taylor 33, Rooney 67.
Cautions: Maddison, Lewis.
Accies: Woods, Devlin (c), Gillespie, Imrie, Redmond, Crawford, Bingham (D’Acol 75), Longridge (Brophy 73), MacKinnon (Donati 81), McMann, Sarris. Subs Unused: Thomson, Seaborne, Kurtaj, Sowah.
Goals: Imrie 37 penalty.
Cautions: Imrie, Sarris, Devlin
Referee: Andrew Dallas. Assistants: Alasdair Ross & Gordon Crawford. 4th Official: Graham. Beaton.
Attendance: 13131 (115 Accies)