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Heart of Midlothian 0 - 1 Aberdeen

HT Score: Heart of Midlothian 0 - 0 Aberdeen

Scottish Premiership
Aberdeen scorers: Hayes 66.

30/12/2016 | KO: 19:45

Dons finish 2016 on a Capital High

For the final game of 2016 Derek McInnes named an unchanged line up for the third game in a row. The Dons in their white kit from last season, kicked off in a tremendous atmosphere - as usual at this venue. The weather was also perfect and mild for this time of year. The pitch however did look a bit soft.

An early cross from McLean was gathered by Hearts keeper Jack Hamilton. A few seconds later Hayes did well down the left and put over a very decent cross but Logan and then McLean were unable to work an opening.
In the fifth minute Igor Rossi just managed to get to the ball ahead of Hayes from a Considine ball forward on the left. His tackle had to be perfectly timed inside the area, and it was.

Aberdeen had the better of the early play but Hearts on the break looked lively with Bjorn Johnsen up front. On six minutes Logan was booked for a foul on Walker. On nine minutes Hayes won a free kick. He took it quickly which caught out the Hearts defence napping but McGinn could only float over a ball which Hamilton claimed easily. Hayes and then McLean put crosses over from the left but neither were close to a white shirt.

Hearts were struggling to cope with the tempo of the game and the Dons had control in the middle of the park. Shinnie, Jack and McLean have been in great form in recent weeks. Jonny Hayes was also having a major influence even although at times he played deeper.

On the quarter hour mark McGinn got the better of Smith and won the first corner of the game. The ball in from McGinn went all the way through to Reynolds at the back post and his header went inches past. So close. He was completely unmarked and probably should have scored.

A few minutes later a long ball over the top left Johnsen one on one with Taylor and referee Callum decided the Aberdeen defender had fouled the Hearts man. Collum also showed a yellow card to Ash. Jamie Walker took the free kick and although it took a nasty bounce in front of Lewis he dealt with it comfortably.

22 minutes in, Kenny McLean was fouled twice but nothing was given before a couple of loose pass backs caused both keepers a few issues. The pitch was starting to cut up a bit and was quite bobbly.

On 25 minutes a great move from the Dons, McGinn's cross was well met by McLean coming in at the back post but Hamilton managed to scramble across his line and push his header away. Kenny had shown good determination to win the header. Aberdeen then forced a couple of corners which Hearts just managed to clear, unconvincingly. Set plays were certainly an area the Dons could prosper from if the delivery was right.
Just before the half hour mark skipper Kitchen tried a low shot which took a couple of bobbles but again Lewis' handling was good. Then Hayes played in Shinnie down the channel and his low cross was prodded goalward by McGinn but Hamilton spread himself and was able to make the block. A very good save.

The Hearts supporters were starting to get frustrated as Aberdeen were completely outplaying their side up to this point.

On 35 minutes a Hayes deep free kick was won easily by Taylor in the air. Rooney tried to tee up Considine and in the end John Souttar just put the ball past his own post. Then on 42 minutes the Dons went even closer. Shinnie created room for a shot and from 25 yards he hit a low shot which beat Hamilton but rebounded off the post. Rooney was following up but could not make good enough contact and the ball went past the post. A great opportunity that Rooney would normally take. He could not quite re-adjust his feet in time. A minute before half time McGinn put over a low cross but Rooney failed to get a touch.

As dominant a first half as the Dons have had all season and they deserved to be ahead. Their energy levels were superb.


An early chance for McLean at the start of the second half. His shot from the edge of the area was half blocked and spun up. Hamilton was able to grab the ball but had the ball spun slightly higher he might have been in a bit of trouble.

Hearts forced a corner on 47 minutes, their first of the game, Considine headed clear. On 50 minutes a McGinn free kick was curled in at pace but the ball was too strong and went all the way through to Hamilton.
Once again it was all Aberdeen.

On 53 minutes Shay Logan worked the ball onto his left and his shot was deflected just wide. Despite having been booked early the match, it did not affect Shay's performance. From the resulting corner the ball was played directly to McLean outside the area. He let fly with a volley from the edge of the area but he did not get hold of shot as well as he would have liked.

On 56 minutes a strong challenge from Taylor set up another attack. Logan's ball in found the head of Rooney but his header just went over. An hour in, the Aberdeen energy levels had dropped slightly but they still looked in control. On 63 minutes Hearts forced their second corner which Smith headed over. A decent header but it would have taken something special to beat Lewis from the angle he met the ball.

On 64 minutes Shinnie worked the ball onto his left foot on the edge of the area. He pulled his shot at bit but it gave Rooney a half chance on the six-yard box. Adam tried a flick but failed to get enough on it.
Finally, on 65 Aberdeen took the lead.

And they produced that bit of quality that was needed. Kenny McLean's clever flick started the move and set McGinn free down the line. He powered down the right before putting over a superb cross and Jonny Hayes from close range beat Hamilton. It was actually a really good finish from Jonny, as he went back across the keeper.

Not dissimilar to the goal he scored in the same net during the League Cup semi-final in 2014. Adam Rooney was behind Jonny waiting for the ball but Jonny had spirted about 70 yards from the left wing back spot to get on the end the cross. It typified the desire and determination the players showed all night.

After 74 minutes the first change saw Djoum replaced by Rory Currie as Hearts tried to be more positive. On 75 minutes the Geogie side won a free kick in a good area, Souttar's ball in though was too strong for everyone, More frustration for the Hearts fans.

Aberdeen instead of sitting back went looking for a second and looked the more likely to score. Kenny McLean, who was outstanding again tonight, on 80 minutes won a corner from which he then had a chance. With his back to goal he got a shot away but Hamilton, seeing the ball come through a ruck of players, made the save. After 82 minutes Rossi was replaced by Robbie Muirhead.

Hearts threw bodies into the area and there were a few nervous moments late on. On 85 minutes Walker created an opening and his shot produced a very good stop from Lewis. Diving low down to his left at his near post he turned the ball behind. It was his first save of note, great concentration levels from the big Englishman who would be a strong candidate for the Dons player of the year so far.

A minute later Aberdeen spurned a chance to kill the game. McLean, who's energy levels were incredible tonight, ran down the left and then put a ball across the six yard box. Frustratingly the unmarked McGinn could not quite reach it. Shortly after that Niall was replaced by O'Connor.

The three minutes of added time saw a few more nervous moments as the ball was launched long into the Dons penalty area. There were a number of good blocks and brave headers to keep Hearts at bay. Cowie with the last touch of the game sent a header wide but he was put under real pressure. The Dons players were desperate not to concede and they held on for a very good win.

This was as good a performance, and as dominant performance as the Dons have had on their travels this year. The calendar year started with defeat at this ground in the Scottish Cup, it finished on a high.

A great way to end 2016.
Heart of Midlothian Teamsheet
01.Jack Hamilton, 03.Faycal Rherras, 04.Igor Rossi (23.Robbie Muirhead 82), 14.John Souttar, 24.Liam Smith, 06.Perry Kitchen, 07.Jamie Walker, 15.Don Cowie, 19.Krystian Nowak, 10.Arnaud Sutchuin-Djoum (30.Rory Currie 74), 20.Bjorn Johnsen. Unused Subs: 05.Alim Ozturk, 13.Viktor Noring, 17.Juwon Oshaniwa, 18.Conor Sammon, 26.Dario Zanatta.

Bookings:  20.Bjorn Johnsen (67),   24.Liam Smith (89).
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Lewis, Logan, Considine, Taylor, Reynolds, Shinnie, McLean, McGinn (O'Connor 87), Hayes, Jack, Rooney.

Unused Subs: Burns, Pawlett, Stockley, Maddison, Alexander, Storey.

Bookings:  Logan (8),  Taylor (18).
Attendance: 16,630
Venue: Tynecastle, Edinburgh
Referee: Willie Collum
Next Match
24 Feb 2024 / 15:00 / Rugby Park, Kilmarnock