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AFC - Match Report
match report 2003-04 fixture list
Heart of Midlothian 2 - 0 Aberdeen
Kick Off:  3:00 PM   De Vries (16), Kirk (90)        
Attendance: 14,260
Venue: Tynecastle, Edinburgh
Dons lose opening day battle
Aberdeen may have lost this opening match of the SPL season, but there were enough plus points on display in the last hour to suggest better results ahead. The Dons had a torrid opening 25 minutes when Mark De Vries caused all sorts of problems culminating in a brilliant solo strike in the 16th minute. Aberdeen ended the half much stronger and produced some good football after the break. Sheerin was unlucky not to equalise in the last minute, being denied by a fine save from Moilanen. Seconds later Hearts sealed the match with a late strike from Kirk.

Aberdeen kicked off the SPL season in a cauldron of noise at Tynecastle as both sets of fans turned up in numbers to see their favourites. Both teams made a positive start without carving out any clear-cut chances. Hearts forced the first corner in 6 minutes as Anderson closed down Stamp and the resultant delivery was headed inches wide by De Vries. Aberdeen won their first corner 3 minutes later through forceful play by McNaughton, but Moilanen was off his line sharply to punch clear.

Two minutes later De Vries headed a cross well over the bar as the home side looked the likelier to make the breakthrough. They nearly made that breakthrough in the 13th minute when Preece pulled off a wonderful double save from De Vries before Anderson headed the ball to safety. The home side did take the lead in the 16th minute through a wonderful solo effort from Mark De Vries. He turned several defenders inside out before drilling the ball past Preece from 12 yards.

Aberdeen tried to get on level terms and in the 21st minute Heikkinen found Zdrilic at the far post, but the Aussie striker was unable to get any power in the shot and Moilanen made a comfortable catch. At the other end Aberdeen were getting overwhelmed at times and De Vries once more threatened as he outjumped Anderson to head over. Webster became the first player to be booked in the match when he tripped Zdrilic in the 25th minute after the striker had turned him beautifully. Anderson however wasted the free kick. Zdrilic was starting to cause the home side problems and Pressley was the next to be penalised for a foul against the big man.

Phil Stamp was lucky to escape a booking in the 36th minute with a tackle that was so late that the half was almost finished. The challenge left Hart grounded, but referee Young settled for the free kick and a quiet word. Aberdeen were coming more into the game by this stage and Heikkinen showed he wasn't afraid to have a pop at goal, although it's fair to say his efforts didn't cause the home keeper many problems.

Both target men were spoken to during the first half of what had been a fairly physical match. Although Hearts had dominated the first 25 minutes Aberdeen had shown enough in the latter stages to suggest this was far from over.

The game continued at a ferocious pace after the break and Paul Sheerin had a half chance in the 46th minute when he steered the ball over the bar with no one too sure where it would end up. Three minutes later Tosh drove a cross in, but Zdrilic couldn't quite bring the ball under control and the danger was cleared. Aberdeen put together their best move of the game as Tosh and Zdrilic combined in the 52nd minute. They ripped through the Hearts defence, but unfortunately there was no finish to the move as the Australian screwed his shot over the bar.

Three minutes later Aberdeen were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box and Sheerin drilled in a low drive which was well saved by the keeper. The tempo was raised and the large travelling support was vocal as the Dons' number 12 played his part. Severin showed the home side were still in the match with a low shot which Preece held well in the 57th minute. Seconds later Webster made a timely interception as Zdrilic looked set to pull the trigger. Two minutes later Hearts were appealing for a spot kick as Hartley went down in a challenge with Hart. Willie Young was unimpressed and settled for a corner kick.

Aberdeen were a much better side this half and McNaughton started to cause problems on the right before a nasty challenge, which went unpunished, forced him to leave the field for treatment. It took several minutes to run that off. Mackie replaced Hinds in the 72nd minute as Aberdeen tried to carve out an equaliser. That almost arrived in the 75th minute when Tosh fired in a dangerous cross, which was hooked clear. The resultant corner fell to Heikkinen on the edge of the box and his fierce shot was well saved by Moilanen as he threw himself the length of his goal to hold the ball.

Steve Paterson made a final roll of the dice in the 80th minute when Scott Booth and Chris Clark replaced David Zdrilic and Kevin McNaughton. Clark looked to have been released in the 83rd minute, but the linesman adjudged him offside. Aberdeen were looking more and more likely to score, but the final ball was never quite accurate enough.

Aberdeen almost grabbed a deserved equaliser in stoppage time when Heikkinen found Sheerin on the right-hand side and the midfielder hit a sweet shot that forced Moilanen into a brilliant finger tip save. That would have secured the draw, but Hearts broke upfield seconds later and McCann drove the ball across the face of the goal and found Kirk there to tap in from close range.

Heart of Midlothian Teamsheet:  Moilanen, Maybury, McCann, Severin, Pressley, Webster, Stamp, De Vries, Wyness, Hartley, Sloan.

Unused Subs: McKenna for De Vries (57), Kirk for Wyness (64), Gordon for Stamp (73)

Bookings:  Webster,   Maybury

Aberdeen Teamsheet:  Preece, Anderson, Hart, McGuire, McNaughton (Clark 79), McQuilken, Sheerin, Heikkinen, Tosh, Zdrilic (Booth 79), Hinds (Mackie 70).

Unused Subs:


Referee: Willie Young, Clarkston

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