Web reporter Mark Gillespie with his take on our first league game of the season at Pittodrie on Sunday –
at Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
on Sunday 6th August 2017 at 3pm.
Aberdeen 2 Hamilton Academical 0
After the disappointment at defeat to Apollon Limassol on the Thursday, the Dons made heavy weather against a dogged ten-man Accies and just about doing enough to get their season off to a winning start. Hamilton had hung on in there for long spells of the game, but just couldn’t find the craft to take anything from this most testing of opening day fixtures.
Accies boss Martin Canning said, “It was always going to be a difficult start coming away to Aberdeen, who were the second-best team last year and will probably be up there again this year. I thought it was going to be a difficult start, but I was proud of the players. I thought our work rate was excellent and I thought we were in the game, the whole way through the game. Even with ten men I thought that we probably improved and kept the ball better as well, I thought we were good.
“I always get the same, the honesty, the work rate, the effort, everything I would want from a group of players. Again, it was always going to be a game for us were we didn’t get a lot of chances.“The one’s we got, I think Boyd’s one in the first half, potentially he should have scored. It was in front of goal and was a great ball in from Greg, who I thought was outstanding today. Greg had a great effort himself right on half time, it was a great save from Lewis and he has tipped it over the bar.
“In the second half, one comes across the goal that I havent seen back yet, but it somehow ends up in Lewis’s arms, the boys say that it might have hit McLean’s arm. But for me, coming up here was a difficult start, I thought we gave everything we could and we obviously got hampered with a man going off. From there I thought our heads didn’t go down and we continued to work hard. If we can continue to work as hard as that and put in those kind of performances, we’ll do fine.”
Accies made three changes from the side which beat Stenhousemuir last weekend, with goal scorer Steven Boyd earning a start in place of David Templeton, Sarris back into defence for Grant Gillespie and Greg Docherty replacing Danny Redmond in the middle.
Derek McInnes meanwhile, rang four changes to the side that exited the Europa League on Thursday evening. Maynard replaced Stewart, Kari Arnason came in for Reynolds, Wright for Mackay-Steven and Tansey for Ryan Stockley.
After a cagey opening, Accies had the first glimpse of goal on nine minutes, Ali Crawford’s turn and cross on the edge of the box finding Greg Docherty who fired just wide of Joe Lewis’s right-hand post.
But it was Aberdeen who registered the first shot on target, as Ryan Christie won and drove a free kick from a tight angle, with Gary Woods alert to the threat and parried to safety on 12 minutes.
The hosts gradually grew into the game and appeals for a penalty were waved away as Scott Wright went down inside the box on 18 minutes. A minute later McLean passed up the first great chance for the Dons, latching onto Christie’s cross from the left to blast high over Woods bar from 12 yards.
But they finally got themselves off the mark on 25 minutes, when a Skondras foul won the Dons a free kick down the left, Tansey’s inswinging delivery was met by O’Connor to flick a header into Woods far corner.
Accies were a little under the cosh but registered a first attempt on goal on 29 minutes, Crawford linking up with Boyd on the edge of the Dons box, but his shot was easy for Lewis. Hamilton were lucky to escape a minute later, as a slack Woods clearance went straight to Christie in midfield. Thankfully the midfielder’s lob drifted just past the post.
The home pressure continued to build, Woods alert to beat away a powerful Scott Wright shot from the edge of the box on 34 minutes. It was crucial to survive the period up to half time and regroup.
There was another near thing on 37 minutes as neat play won O’Connor space down the left to find Maynard in the box. His cut back found Maynard to strike, with Woods parrying the low drive straight out to Christie. The Dons man’s rebound clipped the top of the cross bar on its way out.
Having survived the mini onslaught, Accies were almost level a minute from the break, when a powerful edge of box strike from Darian MacKinnon required a strong Joe Lewis hand to palm over the cross bar.
Just a goal in arrears, Accies had just about managed to blunt the Aberdeen attack, then suffered a body blow on the hour mark when Xavier Tomas was sent off for a second bookable offence after sticking out an arm to unbalance a charging Ryan Christie.
It forced Hamilton to reorganise and sit back, just after introducing David Templeton. The Dons were a man up and on the front foot, Shinnie should have doubled the lead on 67 minutes but fired wide after some good work by Wright out wide.
Suddenly it was end to end, with Accies nearly pulling themselves level a minute later when an Imrie cross was almost deflected past Joe Lewis by O’Connor. The home side were soon up the other end, with Maynard rounding Gary Woods but Donati quick enough to clear the shot off his goal line.
Despite the obvious advantage, the Dons just couldn’t find that clinching second goal as the game entered its closing stages. Accies still had a chance to take something from the game late on, with subs Templeton and Longridge introduced up front.
For all Accies endeavours in midfield, they just couldn’t seriously threaten the Dons goal. With the match now in the final minute, Aberdeen did make it two, after Shinnie dispossessed David Templeton close to halfway, with the Accies winger obviously unhappy that a free kick wasn’t coming his way. Shinnie knocked wide for Miles Storey, who then cut inside to the corner of the penalty area to curl past Woods and in at the back post.
Aberdeen: Lewis, Logan, O’Connor, Shinnie, Considine, Christie (Stewart 80), McLean, Maynard (Storey 86), Arnason (Reynolds 59 Wright, Tansey. Subs Unused:Rogers,Mackay-Steven, Harvie, Ross, .
Goals: O’Connor 25, Storey 89.
Accies: Woods, Skondras (Donati 66), McMann, Tomas, Imrie (c), Docherty, Bingham, (Longridge 70), A Crawford, MacKinnon, S Boyd (Templeton 59) Sarris Subs Unused: Fulton, Gillespie, Redmond, Lyon.
Cautions: Sarris, McMann, Skondras, Tomas
Red – Tomas (2nd yellow)
Referee: Euan Anderson.Assistants: Sean Carr & Stephen Mitchell. 4th Official: Craig Charleston.