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Aberdeen 1 - 1 Siroki Brijeg

HT Score: Aberdeen 1 - 0 Siroki Brijeg

Europa League Second Preliminary Round First Leg
Aberdeen scorers: Christie 18.
Siroki Brijeg scorers: Markovic 69

13/07/2017 | KO: 19:45

Honours Even as Siroki Snatch Away Goal

Aberdeen welcomed Bosnian side NK Siroki Brijeg to Pittodrie, fresh from their victory in Kazakhstan for the season opener.

Derek McInnes gave new boy Gary Mackay Steven a start. The winger played alongside Greg Tansey and the returning Ryan Christie. Whilst Greg Stewart and Nicky Maynard were on the bench.

There was little action in the first 10 minutes with the new look Dons getting used to each other's game. Adam Rooney fired a Tansey free kick over the bar from close range, only to see the offside flag raised on the far side.
The first real chance of the game came when a quick Mackay Steven free kick was turned into a counter attack for the visitors. Krstanovic was through on goal, and was only denied by a wonderful last ditch tackle from Reynolds.

At the other end Christie did brilliantly well to split the Siroki defence, winning a free kick on the edge of the box. Ryan took it himself and was unlucky not to open the scoring with keeper Bilobrk parrying the ball wide. Mackay Steven floated the ball back in but Considine couldn't get a head on it.

After an even start, on 16 minutes the Dons got their first goal of the season, and what a goal it was. Lewis did well to catch a free kick from the left hand side. Joe then showed great awareness to launch the ball perfectly for Christie who was breaking. With one touch, Ryan then opened his body and bent a delightful shot into the corner of the net. A great finish and a great assist from the keeper.

A goal had looked likely, with Aberdeen dominant in possession at this stage.

With the bit between their teeth, the Dons pressed high and nearly got a second thanks to some Mackay Steven persistence. He chipped the ball across trying to find Rooney, unfortunately the striker couldn't get anything on it. Just before that a Christie free kick was unconvincingly palmed away by keeper Bilobrk.

Siroki Brijeg did manage to settle into the game after a shaky opening spell. They were finding space in the middle of the park and were always looking to play balls into between the full backs and the central defenders.
Their big striker Ivan Krstanovic then went down in the box after being put under pressure, but the referee was having none of it. Shortly afterwards Coric did well to set up Begonja inside the box, but he could only pull his shot wide. A real warning for the Dons.

After 35 minutes it was nearly 2-0 when Gary Mackay Steven rounded the onrushing goalkeeper from wide on the left. He shot quickly but his effort was deflected just wide. The Red Army were willing GMS on, who had looked tricky on his Dons debut.

Shay Logan was slipped in on the right after 38 minutes, but couldn't cut the ball back. It was Christie, who was having a wonderful game, that set him up.

With five minutes left Siroki Brijeg looked dangerous and nearly levelled the tie with the last action of the first half. Menalo glanced a header wide of goal that had Joe Lewis at full stretch. The Bosnians would have had belief at half time that they were capable of getting a crucial away goal despite being second best for the first half hour or so.

The half time whistle actually came at a good time with the Dons looking in need of some rest time. They'd dominated the opening stages of the game, but never really kicked on after Christie's brilliant opener. They were still in control of the match, but needed to press home the advantage.

Half time: Aberdeen 1 - 0 NK Siroki Brijeg

Aberdeen got straight down to business at the restart, with Mackay Steven whipping the ball in winning a corner for his efforts. Tansey's delivery was scrambled clear by the defence.

The visitors hit back with an attack of their own, with Krstanovic charging through on goal only to be halted by the offside flag.

In a high action spell of the game, Shinnie found space in the box and looked almost certain to test Bilobrk. The captain lost his balance and could only dig the ball goalwards which the Siroki defence managed to contain.
The Dons did give Bilobrk something to think about when Shay Logan tried an audacious lob from 40 yards, which very nearly creeped in to the top corner.

The visitors carved out a decent chance on the hour mark when Cabraja got his head on a cross from the right, which dribbled out of play. The visitors were growing in confidence though and knocking the ball about well.
After 62 minutes, Mackay Steven came off making way for Nicky Maynard.

On 66 minutes Logan nearly doubled the Dons lead with a wonderful leaping header inside the box. Bilobrk got his hands behind it to make a very good stop. Some of his goalkeeping at times had not been convincing but this was a vital stop.

As Aberdeen pushed for a second to try and take real control of the tie, Shiroki kept pushing forward and were rewarded for their performance with a wonderful fizzed goal by Markovic after 68 minutes, who composed himself on the edge of the box and lashed the ball low past Lewis. The visitors had their crucial away goal. And to be fair on the balance of play you have to say they deserved it. The game was too open and Aberdeen were giving away too many opportunities.

With everything to play for the Dons had to try and find some new ideas. Derek McInnes brought Greg Stewart on for Kenny McLean to try and inspire some belief and Greg played well when he came on. Still the game though was very open and end to end.

Nicky Maynard was desperately unlucky not to open his Aberdeen account when he climbed highest in the penalty area only for his downward header to slide past the post. Ryan Christie, who was outstanding tonight, set the chance up with a run and deliberate cross. The new striker had another effort moments later with a harmless over the shoulder shot from close range. Rooney was appealing for a pass but you can understand why Maynard took it on.

It was a 50:50 game with either team looking capable of grabbing a winner. Both sides looked heavy legged and Shay Logan got the Dons out of jail with 10 minutes to go, when he tracked back well from a counter attack to make a great interception in the six yard box.

Aberdeen were then on the end of some potential penalty shouts, including a hand ball in the box by Markovic who looked very fortunate to get away with it as it was hand to ball. The was referee from Belgium was not interested. The hosts were limited to long shots from outside the box, and sadly Greg Tansey who has those sorts of goals in his locker couldn't provide the magic when he tried a shot from way out. Greg Stewart though did go close with one curling effort.

With stoppage time approaching Miles Storey replaced Adam Rooney, and got about the pitch well in the latter stages as Aberdeen desperately looked for a winner. They could not though find the energy to mount any periods of sustained pressure.

Siroki looked happy with a draw and set about slowing the game down. They held on and it finished 1-1. A night of mixed emotions for Derek McInnes' men who played some good stuff in the first half and will benefit from the match sharpness but ultimately they will be disappointed not to be taking a lead over to Bosnia next week.

Full time: Aberdeen 1-1 NK Siroki Brijeg
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Lewis, Logan, Shinnie, Considine, O'Connor, Reynolds, McLean (Stewart 73), Rooney (Storey 89), Mackay-Steven (Maynard 63), Tansey, Christie.

Unused Subs: Rogers, McKenna, Harvie, Wright.

Bookings:  Considine (59).
Siroki Brijeg Teamsheet
01.Luka Bilobrk, 17.Luka Menalo (04.Danijel Kozul 89), 05.Bernardo Matic, 09.Dejan Cabraja, 06.Josip Barisic, 24.Stjepan Loncar (22.Josip Coric 74), 27.Luka Begonja, 07.Dino Coric (16.Josip Corluka 83), 33.Stipo Markovic, 28.Slavko Bralic, 29.Ivan Krstanovic. Unused Subs: 32.Toni Nikic, 23.Martin Zlomislic, 15.Santos Lago, 20.Luca Grubisic.

Bookings:  Bralic (54),   Bilobrk (90+2).
Attendance: 17,067
Venue: Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Referee: Erik Lambrechts, Belgium