Derek McInnes had the luxury of selecting an unchanged team this evening. So Aberdeen again lined up in Edinburgh with Langfield in goal, Logan at right back, Anderson and Reynolds were in the centre of defence with Considine at left back. Jack and Flood were the sitting midfielders and then a slight tactical change that saw Robson play on the left and McGinn on the right. Pawlett played just in behind Rooney. Hibs meanwhile suffered a major blow when they lost Paul Heffernan in the warm up. He was replaced by James Collins.
There was a free kick after only ten seconds into the game when Niall McGinn was taken down. The ball was played to Pawlett who burst into the box but Nelson and McGivern did just enough to snuff out the danger. Interesting a minute later when Liam Craig played a poor long ball forward the Hibs supporters were very quick to voice their unhappiness. The Easter Road faithful have had to endure a lot this season and understandably they have not been impressed with what they have seen in recent months. Another poor ball then almost allowed Robson to get in but he failed gather it properly. On four minutes Aberdeen worked the ball well down the right. Rooney got to the by-line, he then played it to Pawlett who evaded a tackle and also got to the by-line but his cut back failed to an Aberdeen player.
Then at the other end some good defending from the Dons. On five minutes Andrew Considine was in the right area to head the ball behind for a corner. Then a minute later a Sam Stanton run into the box was well matched by Robson who made a very good blocking tackle to stop the cross coming over.
There a frantic opening to the match, but not a lot of quality.
Flood then gave the ball away in the midfield area. The ball was well worked out to Lewis Stevenson who put over a good cross on the run but Langfield was able to take the high ball unchallenged.On 11 minutes a great ball forward from Robson, after a neat turn, looked for Rooney on the box but it was just too strong for the striker who had stolen a yard on his marker. A minute later on the break McGinn timed his pass perfectly to set Robson free down the left. Again he tried to find Rooney but despite having two attempts the home defence did just enough to clear.
The 13th minute proved to be unlucky for Hibs as Aberdeen took the lead. Reynolds played the ball forward looking for Rooney. The Irishman did really well to challenge in the air. The ball was then nodded by Ryan Jack to Niall McGinn who was about 25 yards out. He looked up and then with his left foot curled the ball into the top left hand corner. What a goal! We have just been finalising our goal of the season contenders, this one will certainly be on the list!
For the next five minutes Aberdeen knocked the ball about with ease. The movement of McGinn and Rooney in the opening stages was exceptional. Hibs then tried to get back into the game by posing more of an attacking threat. On 25 minutes Collins made room for himself on the edge of the area but Anderson was there to block. A minute later the same player looped the ball over Langfield into the net but he was miles offside.On the half hour mark another Hibs player, this time Nelson, played an aimless long ball into touch - the Hibs fans were understandable not impressed with what they were seeing.
On 32 minutes Aberdeen wasted a great chance to kill the game off. Anderson held off Craig before striding forward. The Dons captain kept going as no one challenged him. He eventually played it wide to Rooney who tried to play in McGinn. Unfortunately the pass did not find Niall, the striker would have had a clear run to goal if it had. Robson did get on the end of it but his cross to the near post was easily claimed by Williams.
On 36 minutes two good crosses from the Hibs left, the first was cleared by Considine and then the second by Reynolds at the expense of a corner. You felt the only way Hibs were going to score was going to be from a high ball into the box, but they were a threat because they do have some height in their side. On 38 minutes more poor defending from Nelson allowed Niall to have another crack at goal from 25 yards but this time on his right foot he dragged his shot just wide. Williams did not look too concerned.
In the final five minutes of the half Aberdeen stepped it up a gear.
On 40 minutes Reynolds chipped a ball into Rooney. Again the striker was able to shield the ball with little difficulty. He laid it off to Pawlett who then played in McGinn who was lurking unmarked on the right hand side of the box. Niall cut inside and then with his left foot curled a shot which beat Williams but hit the post. A great effort that deserved a goal.
Two minutes later they hit the woodwork again.
This time Robson played a superb diagonal ball for Rooney. The striker timed his run away from the defender perfectly and hit a brilliant first time volley with his side foot which hit the same post! Williams did not even move.Aberdeen kept up the tempo and Hibs could not get near them. Reynolds strolled forward without anyone challenging him. His shot was blocked but almost bounced up for Pawlett.
This game really could have been out of sight at half time.
You felt in the second half if Aberdeen kept playing the way they were, it was only a matter of time before the second goal arrived. At the same time you felt Hibs would surely offer more in the final third. On 49 minutes Shay Logan broke forward. He is the only first team player playing who has not scored so far this season. Again he had plenty of space to run into. Shay got to the edge of the area before firing a left footed shot just over. He might have had better options either side of him.Hibs were huffing and puffing without really causing the Dons defence any problems.
On 58 minutes Collins hard work won the home side a free kick out wide. The ball was played in and when Collins went down in the box there was appeals for a penalty. To be fair most of those appeals came from the Hibs fans, more in desperation than anything else. There was far more spirit about the Hibs side in the second half and at 1-0 the game was not over. The home support deserve credit for getting behind their side but then on the hour mark the Aberdeen finally grabbed a second that their dominance deserved. Anderson knocked the ball forward with a headed clearance. Robson, who was so influential all evening, played it to Flood who then knocked it down the line for Rooney. Adam had loads on time out on the right. He had so much time he was able to pick out McGinn in the box. Niall took one touch before hammering the ball off the bar into the net. Another superb finish! And another possible contender for goal of the season.
Hibs looked completely deflated.
Aberdeen again knocked the ball about for fun with Robson pulling all the strings in the middle of the park.With 25 minutes to go you could not see where how they were going to get back into the game. But then Anderson was penalised for a foul on Craig on 69 minutes. Harshly. A free kick was played into the back post area. The ball was knocked down to Sam Stanton but he miskicked. What an opportunity missed. A few minutes later the impressive young Stanton made a great run into the box. Flood and Jack, a human shield in front of the defence, for the first time all evening failed to get over and cover and Stanton was able to get a shot away which he poked just past the post. But that was really all Hibs could muster. With 15 minutes to go Aberdeen compliancy, a few tired legs and some slackness, more than anything allowed Hibs back into the game but still the visitors had very little to offer in the final third of the park. Collins worked hard up front but he did not get enough support. You could also excuse the Aberdeen players for being tired, the work rate they showed all evening was brilliant.
On 78 minutes Cammy Smith replaced Peter Pawlett. The final ten minutes were as comfortable a final period in a league game the Dons have had all season. Aberdeen were able to knock the ball about with cheers coming from the Red Army with very successful pass made. It really did highlight the gulf in class between the two sides. On 88 minutes Rooney was replaced by Vernon and in 89 minutes Low replaced Robson. On 90 minutes Vernon and McGinn combined to set up Flood and his first time effort just went past the post.
The final whistle was greeted with more boo's from the home fans and a standing ovation from the Red Army, who were as impressive tonight as the team were.