Aberdeen this afternoon lost their first game of the season against Celtic at Cappielow. It was a very frustrating afternoon as the young Dons really should have taken something from the game. It is the first time they have lost in the Youth League to Celtic since September 2012.
The Dons lined up with Mutch in goal, Henry was at left back with Robertson at right back and Rose and Culjak again formed the central defensive partnership. Storie was the sitting midfielder with Smith, Ross and Wright ahead of him and Parker played just in behind Shankland. It was a very attacking formation that made for a very entertaining game. The home side were the better team in the early stages and had a good little spell of pressure. Striker Luke Donnelly had a half chance but Mutch was well positioned to save his effort at the near post.
After 7 minutes Shankland got the break of the ball about 25 yards. As he was on his own he elected to shoot. He hit a great strike which McCabe in the Celtic goal did well to beat away. It was something the Dons probably did not do enough of during the 90 minutes, hit shots when they had a view of the goal.
On 10 minutes Parker used his pace to chase a ball which was played in behind. He very nearly got past the last defender but he did force a corner from which Rose had a good chance but his glancing header just went wide.
By the 15th minute mark Aberdeen were on top and Celtic were struggling to deal with the Dons runners. The formation was suiting their style of play. On 18 minutes, after a good move, Henry played the ball into Shankland and his shot on the turn tested McCabe. The Dons had by now the territorial advantage but Celtic on the break then missed a great chance when Aiden Nesbitt crossed for Joseph Thomson who was unmarked in the six yard box but he could not get a touch.
On 24 minutes Cammy Smith, who was celebrating his birthday today, set up Josh Parker with a great pass. The Dons new striker went for power and his shot was blocked by McCabe. Ross then took the resulting corner and his second ball in picked out Rose who thought he had scored with his excellent header but the ball clipped the far post with the keeper rooted to his spot. Smith latched onto his rebound but his effort was blocked by a couple of defenders.
On the half hour mark McCabe was fortunate to get away with spilling a Ross shot which Shankland was onto quickly but was given offside. Three minutes later Ross curled a free kick inches over. Aberdeen were well on top but the final pass was just going astray. The half time whistle certainly came at the wrong time for Paul Sheerin's side as you felt a goal was coming.
At the start of the second half the game continued at a high tempo and there was a real intensity about the play of both teams. The Dons though will be slightly disappointed that they allowed Celtic back into the game. For the first 15 minutes of the half it was all end to end stuff without any chances. Then on 58 minutes a direct Scott Wright run set up Shankland but he failed to hit the shot as well as he would have liked and McCabe made an easy save. Seconds later at the other end Celtic had a numerical advantage and should have taken the lead. The ball was eventually squared to Nesbitt but from point blank range Mutch produced a quite outstanding save.
On the hour mark Smith became the first player to be cautioned. On 63 minutes Parker cut the ball back to Wright whose driven shot was only inches away from Shankland. Then Mutch did well to deal with a deflected Thomson effort. On 66 minutes Smith hit a free kick which was just too high. It was still end to end stuff but on 69 minutes Celtic scored. Nesbitt and Thomson took a short corner which was played over and McCart tapped in from close range. It was a well worked goal from the point of view of the home side but Aberdeen will be very disappointed as they just switched off for a split second.
Even at 1-0 down you still felt Aberdeen would be able to get something from the game. On 71 minutes Shankland was booked as his frustration got the better of him. Lawrence, who scored a hat-trick during this fixture in March, was very closely marshalled all afternoon by the Celtic defence. As Aberdeen threw players forward in the final ten minutes Celtic had a number of breaks. On one occasion Mark Hill hit the post and the rebound thankfully fell to a red jersey. Aberdeen had a lot of possession in the final stages but could not work any clear cut chances until the final minute. From a corner the ball bounced about and a Rose effort cannoned off the bar.
It was not to be the Dons day.
McCabe; Wardrop, Kelleher, McCart, Tierney; Hill, Breslin, Thomson, Nesbitt, Hendry (Archibald 70); Donnelly (Lafferty 78). Subs: Miller, Doohan, Murray, McIlduff, Higgins
Aberdeen Teamsheet Mutch
.Unused Subs: Craddock, Anderson, Thomas, Dunbar.Bookings: Shankland
Venue: Cappielow Park, Greenock