Aberdeen were without a number of regulars: Scott Reid had flown to Kiev for revolutionary vodka based treatment on his troublesome knee injury, Messer's Duguid and Morrison were on a scouting mission to Scotland, Gordon Ho had used his secret ninja powers to good effect and made himself invisible, and Urquhart ruled himself out in the warm-up with a swollen ankle, of which a pregnant woman would be immensely proud. It wasn?t all doom and gloom though, and the return of Bryan "I do" Ritchie at the heart the defence went some way to easing the pain.
Norwich started the quicker of the two teams, and saw more of the ball for the first 10 minutes or so, without particularly threatening Ronnie Smollet's goal. The fact that they managed to take the lead without having a shot on target speaks volumes, but take the lead they did. A break down the Aberdeen right flank seemed to hold little threat, and the winger lofted/sliced the ball into the box more in hope than expectation ? he got more than he or any of his team-mates could have hoped for or expected and the cross found a way to elude the fingertips of a full stretch Smollet and somehow sneak in at the back post.
In truth this wasn't the wake up call that one would have expected, the Reds had already woken up and the gaol came against the run of play. Unperturbed Aberdeen continued to press with Gav Rand, and Geoff Aberdeen taking control of the midfield and breaking up the Norwich rhythm. Sharp and Cairns were full of running up front and it was surely only a matter of time before the equaliser arrived.
Aberdeen continued to press, although composure was lost slightly thanks to an eccentric display from a referee who flashed his yellow card with reckless abandon at anyone in a red shirt who cared to question his litany of bizarre decisions. Still it was all Aberdeen, and the defensive triumvirate of Gunn, Ritchie and Rennie were more than equal to the Norwich frontline, and the Norwich custodian was by far the busier of the two. Although little was created by either side in terms of clear-cut opportunities, the next goal was only ever going to come from one side, as Aberdeen poured forward and forced corner after corner (even though the ref decided 75% of them were actually goal kicks) and Norwich were reduced to time wasting tactics to make it to the break without conceding.
Half Time 1-0
After the break Norwich were again faster out of the blocks, and had their 10 minutes of ascendancy before Aberdeen took control of proceedings and resumed the pressure. Mr Sharp rang the changes roughly on the hour with Campbell replacing Stewart, and shortly afterwards Ruari Cairns replaced the effervescent Mark Jelinek and Aberdeen went with three up front. The fresh legs seemed to spice things up a bit, and chances were created aplenty. Rand and Aberdein got in each other?s way as they both rose to head into an empty net, and the recently introduced Cairns took one touch too many when a first-time effort may well have stretched the rigging. It was al Norwich could do to stay in the game and they proceeded to fall over at every opportunity, clutching various parts of their collective anatomy in a desperate attempt to break up the game. The ref, naturally, needed little excuse to make himself the centre of attention with his incessant blowing of the whistle, but Aberdeen retained their composure in the face of extreme provocation, and finally got the goal that their dominance deserved.
A free kick (surely given in error?) was floated to the back post by the left foot of S Cairns, and Iron Man Gav Rand rose unchallenged to bullet home a header. The relief was palpable, but the job was not yet done and there were 10 minutes left to turn one point into three. At this point Aberdeen played their trump card, removing S Cairns (luxury player that he is), and replacing him with the peerless Pritchard who immediately stamped his class all over proceedings with a classy array of drag backs and precision misplaced passing. And although he didn't have a touch in the move, his mere presence distracted the Norwich team to such a degree that Sharp was picked out by and raking through ball, and raced through one on one with the keeper. The Player Manager let rip with a vicious dipping first time shot which seemed destined to find the net, until a freak gust of wind carried it a mere fraction over the bar.
Aberdeen surely deserved more than a point from this encounter, but sometimes half a loaf is better than no loaf at all ? next week sees the visit of Exeter to the intimidating atmosphere of Hurlingham Park, and an opportunity for The Rob Roy Reds to get back to winning ways.
Man of the Match: This week goes to absent goal machine Alex Aubrey who missed the game due to a friend of his being involved in a car accident the night before. We missed his lethal finishing, but collective wishes go to his mate for a speedy recovery.