Derek McInnes made two changes this evening. Russell Anderson was given a well-earned rest and was therefore replaced by Alan Tate. Barry Robson came back into the side in place of Nicky Low who dropped to the bench. He was joined by Clark Robertson who was in the squad for the first time since getting injured against Motherwell in the League Cup last year. It is likely Clark will play for the U20s tomorrow who also play Ross County in Dingwall.
The Dons lined up with Langfield in goal, Considine at left back, Reynolds and Tate in central defence with Logan at right back. Flood and Jack were the sitting midfielders with Robson on the left and McGinn on the right. Smith played just off Rooney.
As early as the second minute the Dons had a great chance to score. Considine played a little ball over the top and a poor defensive header saw the ball land at the feet of Cammy Smith. The youngster thought about a shot but instead played a clever through ball to Rooney. The striker got to the ball ahead of his marker but Mark Brown in the County goal read the situation and was out very quickly. By the time the ball reached Rooney he was on top of the striker and was able to block. The home side came back strongly and on 4 minutes Reynolds did well to get the better of De Leeuw in the area.
It was certainly a very open game in the opening stages.
On 5 minutes Robson put over a brilliant cross from the left but it was just too strong for Smith and Rooney. Both players were not far away from getting a touch. Ross County barely had time to regroup before the ball came over from the over side. Logan also put over a great cross which was brilliantly met by Robson who bulleted in a header but Mark Brown made a very good reflex save from close range. Two minutes later the keeper was again called into action. Considine did well down the left and got all the way to the by-line. He played it in for Rooney who shielded the ball well before lay it off to Robson whose low shot to the front post was again very well saved by Brown diving low to his left.
The wet surface and excellent pitch was certainly suiting Dons passing game. They were well on top in the opening stages.
After 11 minutes Willo Flood picked the ball up about 30 yards out. He was not closed down so rightly decided to have a shot but his effort was never on target. A very the positive start from the Dons there was a lull in play for a bit and County slowly started to get back into the game.
On 21 minutes the home side thought they had taken the lead when a long ball over the top found Arquin who got the better of Tate and beat Langfield but the linesman had his flag raised. It was not clear if it was for offside or for a push, either decision looked debatable. A minute later a deep cross by Considine found McGinn unmarked at the back post area but his header was off target. The striker maybe should have better. On 24 minutes Aberdeen won the first corner of the game. It was taken short but when the ball was eventually played in the home defence again looked less than convincing. Brown failed to deal with the ball as it spun up in the air, it landed at the feet of Reynolds who poked it goalwards but Songo'o was well positioned to clear it off the line.
After 32 minutes Aberdeen had a very lucky escape. Poor defending allowed De Leeuw to get in on the left hand side. As Langfeld came out to meet him he crossed for Arquin who looked like he would tap the ball in but Logan did brilliantly to clear the ball over the bar. Although a goal kick was given on first sighting it looked an unbelievable clearance. On 33 minutes Considine was booked as Ross County enjoyed a good spell. The resulting free kick was swung in by Carey and De Leeuw glanced a header beyond Langfield from about eight yards to give Ross County the lead. The keeper had no chance.
The Dons were then on the rack for the next ten minutes or so as County dominated the midfield area and the Dons defence for the first time in a long time looked disjointed. Aberdeen were all at sea as blue jerseys flooded forward. After 39 minutes the home side should have gone two ahead. Tate made a slack pass near the half way line, the ball was played wide to De Leeuw who got the better of Reynolds who had dived in. It was a two on one situation and when the ball was released early it fell perfectly for Arquin who had time and space as was one on one with Langfield but the keeper spread himself and produced a brilliant block. A top top save. The keeper then did well to get a hand on the resulting corner.
Aberdeen forced another corner just before the break but the ball was cleared. The sound of the half time whistle was music to the Dons ears. A chance for the Dons to regroup and reorganise.
The half time team talk and reorganising saw Tate being replaced by Shaughnessy. Logan moved over to left back, Considine went into the middle with Reynolds and Shaughnessy went to right back. In the first minute of the second half Smith powered forward. He played it to Rooney whose neat first time pass found McGinn but just as it looked like he would shoot the ball ran away from him and in the end his cut back was easily cleared.
The Dons though were forcing the pace again.
On 51 minutes Aberdeen were desperately unlucky not to take the lead. Barry Robson from 25 yards hit a fantastic strike which rebounded off the bar. Unfortunately the rebound went to Songo'o and not a red jersey as Brown was completely out of the game after diving in vain for Robson's unbelievable hit. A minute later Robson appealed for a penalty after his cross was blocked. It would have been harsh. From the resulting corner Rooney's header was deflected just over. Then Shaughnessy won the Dons a free kick on the edge of the area. There was only one man who was going to take it but Robson cannoned the ball into the wall. Logan then put over a dangerous cross which was cleared for a corner.
It was all Aberdeen and again they hit the woodwork. Logan floated over the ball which Smith headed towards goal. He was a long way out but directed his header brilliantly, Brown was beaten but the ball hit the bottom of the post. This time the rebound fell to an Aberdeen player but Shaughnessy's effort went over. Minutes later McGinn did well down the right but his cross was just too high for Rooney.
A really good spell from the Dons but like at the start of the first half they failed to get a goal when they were well on top. Then similarly to the first half, after Aberdeen had started brightly, County then came more into it. The home enjoyed a good spell and forced a number of corners. On 65 minutes Kiss played it through to De Leeuw. The striker would have been in but failed to control the ball. A major let off for the Dons. Arquin then had a free header at the back post but mistimed his jump. There was then another let off for the Dons on 70 minutes when Langfield hit his clearance straight at De Leeuw. The keeper redeemed himself though when he made a good save from the long range shot and did well to get up quickly to gather the spilled ball.
Robson was then booked and then on 72 minutes Scott Vernon came on for Smith.
On 75 minutes Ross County again had a great chance to win the game after more hesitation at the back from the Aberdeen defence. Sub Slew and Arquin combined to set up Kiss. The midfielder was open and had time. He set himself before unleashing a great shot which seemed to be going in the right hand corner but Langfield somehow managed to touch it round the post. What a save! Although the referee and linesman incredibly missed it and awarded a goal kick! The save that never was.
On 76 minutes Robson then tried his luck from distance again. The deflected shot was going over but Brown took no chances and touched it over. From the corner the ball fell to Jack who hit a fine shot which Brown palmed away. The ball only went as far as Vernon and it looked liked he had scored but the keeper produced another great save when he touched the ball away. Vernon was then on hand though to play the ball over for Rooney who fired home. The Dons had scrambled an equaliser! There was no celebration from Rooney. He was straight into the net to get the ball. The Dons wanted to win this game.
The Dons tails were up again.
On 78 minutes Shaughnessy's cross found McGinn but he could not get enough power on his header. Niall has been unlucky of late in front of goal but you still feel he could play a big part in final few months of the season.Then another chance as Robson played it down the line for Rooney. His low cross very nearly found Vernon who was sliding in.
The final 10 minutes were a great spectacle as both teams had great chances to win it. First of all Slew hit a shot which was deflected just wide. It was a vital touch by what looked like Reynolds but the ref gave a goal kick! With five minutes to go Zola replaced McGinn. Ross County at the same time stuck on a defender which should the Dons were the ones wanting to win the game more. Logan then won the ball in a good area. He went for a shot which went wide when Zola had peeled away to his left, would have been a better option.
Then a long ball over the top caused problems for the Dons. Carey came from nowhere and got in between Reynolds and Considine. The Ross County player was through on goal so when Andrew brought him down on the edge of the area there was only going to be one result - a straight red. Brittain took the free kick but hit Flood.
Even with ten men Aberdeen looked like the team who wanted to win the game more. The Dons had three strikers on the park and they almost combined for the winner. Rooney played it to Vernon who played in across for Zola but he scooped it over. A real chance. Slew then had a chance at the other send but his low shot was very well saved by Langfield. Another really good save from the Dons keeper.The Dons had the final chance when they won a free kick in a good area out on the left. Robson tried a rehearsed move which was cleared. The ball came back to Robson who played it to Ryan Jack and his curling effort went inches over.
The final whistle then went. Certainly one of the more entertaining games this season.