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Aberdeen 0 - 0 KF Shkëndija

HT Score: Aberdeen 0 - 0 KF Shkëndija

Europa League First Preliminary Round Second Leg

09/07/2015 | KO: 19:45

Dons Progress on Away Goals after Pittodrie Stalemate

Aberdeen moved into the second qualifying round of the Europa League after an extremely tight game at Pittodrie this evening. The Dons had to withstand a nervous finish and Danny Ward was forced to make a great diving save in the final minute. In a game with very few chances, Graeme Shinnie and Kenny McLean went close in the first half and after the break a brilliant long range effort from substitute Pawlett hit the bar. Despite the lack of goals Aberdeen go through to face Croatian side Rijeka next Thursday whilst the Macedonians, who can be proud of their performance, go out.

With vice-captain Mark Reynolds missing Andrew Considine moved to central defence with Shinnie reverting to left back. So the Dons this evening lined up with Ward in goal. Logan was at right back with Considine and Taylor partnered in central defence and Shinnie was at left back. The midfield four were Hayes, Jack, Flood and McGinn with McLean playing in an advanced position in behind Rooney.

In front of a very good crowd Aberdeen started brightly and the Macedonian keeper did well to tip the ball clear from an early corner. Shkendija then broke but Flood stopped the move deep inside the Dons box.
On 6 minutes Alimi scuffed an effort just wide after clever play by the impressive Ibraimi who was casuing problems down the left flank. A minute later another corner to the Dons. Taylor won the header but it is an easy catch for keeper Jovanovski. Hasani then tried his luck from long range but the shot was always going well over. On 9 minutes a good ball in by Hayes and McGinn coming in at the back post was not far away from getting a touch.

On 14 minutes a quick free kick set McGinn free down the left. His cross landed at the feet on Rooney but his shot was blocked. Then on the break it took a great covering tackle from Shinnie to stop Abdula getting a shot away.

After a positive start to the game from both sides the game then started to get quite scrappy and both teams were guilty of giving away petty fouls. After 28 minutes Shkendija looking dangerous on the break again. The ball was fed out to Juffo and he placed a curling shot from the edge of the area just over the bar. On the half hour mark a good catch from Jovanovski stopped Taylor getting on the end of a Hayes free kick. A minute later

Ash then did well at the other end to head clear a dangerous free kick.

Aberdeen were now enjoying more of the possession but the visitors were defending very well. The Dons also were guilty of trying to force the issue instead of just keeping the ball and probing away. They did however finish the half strongly.

On 41 minutes a chance. McGinn's shot was fumbled by the keeper and as he went for the rebound Rooney was taken down by the keeper. No penalty was given. Aberdeen kept the pressure on and Shinnie was put in but his shot was well saved. Then a couple of minutes before the break McLean hit a good shot from distance that just went past.


Right at the start of the second half McGinn played over a good ball to the near post area and Hayes was not far away from getting a touch. Then on 52 minutes a long ball set Hayes free, from a tight angle the keeper blocked his shot. After 56 minutes Ward did well to come and cut out a cross from Todorovski. McLean then almost broke free at the other end, only a very good tackle stopped him in his tracks.

The game was very end to end and just after the hour mark a let off for the Dons. A free kick from Alimi moved all over the place and troubled Ward who could not hold the ball but thankfully his save bounced up over the on rushing Shkendija striker.

On 67 minutes a change from the manager. Kenny McLean came off and Peter Pawlett replaced him. On 70 minutes good play by Shinnie on the left led to a half chance for Rooney on the turn but he could not get his shot away.

With 15 minutes to go the game became very tense. The 14,000 crowd were getting very nervous as well. Those nerves were almost calmed on 78 minutes when Peter Pawlett smashed a shot off the bar. The ball sat nicely for Pete and he hid a dipping long range shot which crashed off the bar and bounced down but not over the line. Willo Flood then hit a shot which just went wide. That was Willo's last involvement in the game as he was replaced by Barry Robson and David Goodwillie replaced Hayes. The visitors also made a change and brought on striker Kirovski who scored in the first leg. With a very attacking formation the last ten minutes were going to be a real test for the Dons defence.

On 81 minutes a great double chance for Todorovski but he failed to find the net, the Dons defence doing just enough to block his shots. Five minutes later Kirovski beat the offside trap and had a chance but dragged his shot wide. On 88 minutes Ibraimi found space but his low shot just went wide. He should have passed to a colleague. Then in the final minute of normal time a very lucky escape for the Dons after a game of ping ball inside their penalty box. The ball was bouncing about everywhere but thankfully it never fell kindly for a Shkendija player.

There were three minutes of injury time to be played, and in the first minute Ward had to produce a fine save to keep out a shot from Ibraimi. In the final minute Robson used his experience to keep the ball down at the corner and he even created a chance after a strong tackle but could not pick out a red jersey in the box.
The final whistle was greeted with delighted and relief from everyone connected to AFC. On to Croatia....

Aberdeen Teamsheet
Ward, Logan, Taylor, Considine, Shinnie, Hayes (Goodwillie 79), Jack, Flood (Robson 79), McGinn, McLean (Pawlett 67), Rooney.

Unused Subs: Smith, Quinn, Shankland, Brown.

Bookings:  Considine,  Goodwillie.
KF Shkëndija Teamsheet
12 Jovanovski, 03 Abdula (09 Kirovski 80), 06 Cuculi, 05 Alimi 24 Hasani, 08 Polozhani, 25 Ibraimi, 15 Todorovski, 11 Demiri, 20 Juffo (04 Bejtulai 71), 18 da Fonseca Salazar Junior (10 Vrucina 84). Unused Subs: 01 Azizi, 07 Imeri, 22 Idrissou, 27 Totre.

Bookings:  06 Cuculi,   24 Hasani,   08 Polozhani.
Attendance: 14,112
Venue: Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Referee: Nikolaj Haenni, Switzerland