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Dundee United 0 - 1 Aberdeen

HT Score: Dundee United 0 - 1 Aberdeen

Scottish Premiership
Aberdeen scorers: Church.

02/03/2016 | KO: 19:45

Church Strikes Again to See off Basement Utd

Aberdeen closed the gap at the top of the table after a thoroughly deserved 1-0 over Dundee United at Tannadice. Like on Saturday, the Dons put in a very good performance and controlled most the game after winning most of their battles all over the pitch. But with only being one goal ahead, it led to a nervy few final minutes and Scott Brown produced a couple of vital saves. Aberdeen probably should have had the comfort of a second goal. The Dons had the ball in the net on 27 minutes when Church finished off a Logan cross but the assistant referee's flag was raised for offside. Looked the correct call. A minute later though the same two players combined brilliantly after a throw-in. Logan shaped to cross on his left before spinning round and putting over a great ball with his right and Church, who had made a good run away from his marker, headed home his third goal in five games. Aberdeen then scored again ten minutes later, or so they thought. From a throw-in over on the other side, Shinnie burst into the area and appeared to be upended by Gunning who came across to stop him. The ball fell for McGinn and his deflected shot landed up in the net. However the referee refused to award to goal or a penalty and his decision was to book Shinnie for simulation. Looked a harsh call. Aberdeen continued to dominate in the second half and both McLean and Church went close but they could not get the all-important second goal. However the Dons defended well and held out for a big three points. Special mention must go to Barry Robson who made his first start of the season. The experience midfielder was outstanding. Ten games to go starting with Partick away on Tuesday.

match report

Derek McInnes made two changes to the side that drew with St Johnstone on Saturday. Shay Logan returned after suspension and Barry Robson made his first start of the season. Mark Reynolds and Willo Flood dropped to the bench.

The Dons lined up with Brown in goal, a back four of Logan, Taylor, Considine and Shinnie. Robson and Jack were in the centre of midfield with Pawlett and McGinn wide and McLean playing in behind Church.

Despite the forecast for snow not materialising, the game kicked off in dry conditions but it was very cold with a stiff breeze. The pitch was in better condition that many at this time of year.

In the second minute Shinnie made a good run down the left. He got to the by-line and put in a good cross but Church was just unable to get to it and United cleared. On four minutes McLean received the ball in a good area inside the box. He tried to put the ball into the danger area but ballooned his cross a bit and Kawashima under pressure was able to claim it.

It was a good start from the Dons and on eight minutes they won the first corner of the night. Set-pieces would have been an area Aberdeen would have looked to target United on but on this occasion the home side cleared their lines well and in fact turned defence into attack with a quick break, Shay Logan in the end did very well to snuff out the danger. A minute later United won their first corner which was taken short, when the ball did finally come over on two occasions Considine did really well to win the ball.

On 11 minutes Logan got the better of his man down the right and put over a low cross to the near post but the United keeper got to the ball ahead of Church. The Dons maybe should have made more of the opening. On 14 minutes a deep free kick by United was only half cleared to Gunning. His shot from about 12 yards out was on target but Brown made a comfortable save. The United player would have been disappointed he did not get more power in his shot.

On 17 minutes Aberdeen's second corner was beautifully swung in by McGinn. From under his own bar Dixon was forced to head the ball off the line but then referee Bobby Madden blew his whistle for a foul. Then at the other end a promising United attack saw Dixon pick the ball up in space but at the crucial moment he slipped. The Dons defence would have been glad he did.

A few minutes later Shinnie again did well over on the left. He had time and space on the edge of the area but his low ball in was just out of the reach of Church. On 20 minutes corner number three was again swung in by McGinn but this time the referee's whistle went straight away. Again it was not clear what the foul was for. On 24 minutes Rankin picked up a loose clearance by Jack. His powerful low shot from 20 yards was on target but straight at Brown.

Mark Durnan was having to take the goal kicks for United which meant anytime the Dons won a first header, their forward players could not be offside. On a couple of occasions the Dons almost profited from this.

On 27 minutes the first moment of controversy. Niall McGinn won a good ball and played it to Jack. The captain played a brilliant ball wide to play in Logan and his first time cross was prodded home by Simon Church. As the Dons players celebrated referee Madden blow his whistle and pointed to the near side assistant referee who had his flag raised. It must have been a very tight decision. None of the United defenders were really claiming for offside, they were having an inquest into why they had conceded.

A minute later though Aberdeen had the lead when the same two players combined again. Logan put over a brilliant ball and Church also produced a great low header to beat Kawashima.

On 32 minutes the Dons were incensed when McLean was taken down by Rankin out wide on the right but nothing was given. That was nothing compared with how incensed they were a few minutes later when they had another goal chalked off. From a well worked throw in Shinnie burst into the area and was up ended by a challenge from Gunning. It looked like a possible penalty but the ball rolled to McGinn and his shot was deflected off Dixon and past the keeper into the net. Instead of awarding the goal, or a penalty, referee Madden gave United a free kick and booked Shinnie for diving. Manager Derek McInnes was so angry that he was sent to the stand for complaining to the fourth official.

On 39 minutes a let off for the Dons. A United corner was swung in, Robson could only get the top of his head to it and the ball was flicked to the back post area but no one could put it in before the the ball flicked the post and went behind.

Aberdeen deserved their lead at half time. They had won the all-important battle in the middle of the park but they will have been very frustrated that they were only one goal ahead.


There was a lively start to the second half. Aberdeen won a free kick 25 yards out which McLean put over and then United won a corner which caused a few anxious moments before being cleared. On 48 minutes the first real opening for the home side when substitute Anier got the wrong side of the Dons defence but Ash Taylor produced an outstanding tackle to save the day. Then when Aberdeen cleared the resulting corner, the break was on but Paton produced a very good tackle on Church.

Aberdeen then won a couple of corners. On 56 minutes a Robson corner found its way through to McLean at the back post. He hammered in a shot which just went wide. It was a good chance. On 58 minutes a chance for Church when McLean tackled the last defender. Church looked to be clear but the ball took a bobble which forced him wide and that allowed Donaldson the chance to get back and make a tackle.

Like on Saturday, the Dons looked in control but at 1-0 the game was far from over with half an hour to go.
On 61 minutes Peter Pawlett was replaced by Mark Reynolds. Mark went central defence with Ash, Considine was pushed to wide left and Shinnie moved into the middle of the park.

On 63 minutes another great chance for the Dons. Robson's ball released McGinn down the left and his cross with the outside of his right foot almost found Church at the near post. The keeper did just enough and as the ball rolled across the six yard box it went agonisingly behind McLean. A few minutes later a superb Robson ball over the top of the defence gave McLean a shooting chance but his fist time effort was always off target.

After 67 minutes United won a corner which allowed them to put a bit of pressure on but in the end Rankin fired a shot over the bar. On 70 minutes a neat pass by Church played in McGinn. His early ball found McLean and his first time shot went inches past the far post. The early shot probably would have beaten the keeper had it been on target but Kenny might have been better taking a touch and going closer to goal.

Then on 73 minutes Aberdeen really should have scored. A superb long ball by Jack in behind the United defence found McGinn. He had acres of space and time for his cross but the ball was just behind Church who was completely unmarked eight yards from goal. Even then the striker maybe should have done better.

The boos from the home fans on 75 minutes showed just how frustrated they were with their side and how much Aberdeen were on top.

On 78 minutes a Robson free kick was just headed over his own bar by Paton. Barry had a very good game and his deliveries, despite this being his first start of the season, were up to his usual standard.

On 80 minutes a big moment in the game. For once Aberdeen failed to deal with a long ball into the area. The ball broke off Reynolds and landed at the feet of Donaldson. The centre half showed good feet to create an opening and he looked certain to score but Scott Brown pulled off a brilliant save. After that Willo Flood came on for Niall McGinn.

The final five minutes were nervy as the Dons tried to protect their lead.

Those nerves were not helped when Madden gave a free kick against Andrew Considine for what looked a decent tackle. Brown did well to come and claim. The referee then decided there would be four minutes of added time. In the first of those minutes Church and McLean almost combined.

In the third added minute, from a long throw, Gunning on the turn produced a great shot which produced an equally good save from Brown. Craig Storie came on Robson in the final seconds and then the final whistle went.

A massive three points.
Dundee United Teamsheet
01.Eiji Kawashima, 17.Mark Durnan, 19.Gavin Gunning, 28.Coll Donaldson, 03.Paul Dixon (11.Christopher Erskine 79), 06.Paul Paton, 08.John Rankin, 20.Blair Spittal, 22.Scott Fraser, 07.Billy McKay (09.Edward Ofere 86), 54.Florent Sinama-Pongolle (26.Henri Anier 46). Unused Subs: 02.Sean Dillon, 12.Kyle Knoyle, 14.Ryan Dow, 51.Luis Maria Zwick.

Bookings:  20.Blair Spittal (37),   06.Paul Paton (90+2)
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Brown, Logan, Shinnie, Considine, Taylor, McLean, McGinn (Flood 82), Robson (Storie 90), Pawlett (Reynolds 62), Jack, Church.

Unused Subs: Smith, Wright, Ross, Collin.

Bookings:  Shinnie (36).
Attendance: 9,737
Venue: Tannadice Park, Dundee
Referee: Bobby Madden