Derek McInnes freshened up his starting XI after a busy few weeks in Europe. Scott Wright, Kari Arnason, Nicky Maynard and Greg Tansey came into the starting line-up with Reynolds, Mackay Steven and Stewart dropping to the bench whilst Stockley was suspended. The Dons were in need of a strong performance to put Thursday night's defeat in Europe out their minds.
It was a back and forward start to the game with neither team keeping possession for very long. Graeme Shinnie was booked early on for a strong challenge as Accies looked to break. Whilst it probably was a foul, the yellow card was harsh. The Red Army were becoming increasingly frustrated with some of the decisions going against the Dons, and were screaming for a penalty after 19 minutes when Scott Wright was barged over in the box. Nothing was given. Aberdeen's first chance of the game was carved out by Ryan Christie, he dribbled through three men in the box and cut it back for Kenny McLean, who hit a snap shot but sent the ball over the bar into the Merkland end.
The visitors responded through a nice counter attack. The impressive Docherty put over a great cross from the right and Steven Boyd couldn't find the target when he probably should have opened the scoring. The visitors looked to keep the pressure on the Dons and then produced some nice one touch football inside the penalty box with Crawford heavily involved but he was well closed down in the end. Aberdeen then started to get some control of the game and Scott Wright was causing the Hamilton defence all kinds of problems. After 26 minutes, from a free kick, Greg Tansey demonstrated what an asset he'll be this season with a beautifully floated ball in from 30 yards out. Inside a crowded box, Anthony O'Connor glanced a header away from goal which nestled nicely in the bottom corner of the goal.
The Dons were rewarded for their perseverance and you could feel the mood lifting inside Pittodrie. It was nearly 2-0 a couple of minutes later when Ryan Christie tried to lob the goalkeeper after a poor clearance. It was a good effort from Ryan, only just missing the target. Scott Wright had a couple of chances and came close after driving at the Accies defence. He burst through the defence unleashing a powerful shot that Woods managed to palm away. The young winger pulled off some outrageous skill moments later laying the ball off for Maynard. The Hamilton goalkeeper could only again palm the ball back into the danger zone, leaving Christie with a great opportunity. It wasn't to be, with Ryan unable to adjust his feet in time and therefore keep the shot down as it crashed off the crossbar on its way over.
It was a good spell of pressure from Aberdeen. Hamilton continued to look dangerous coming forward though, despite fielding a defensive line up. Docherty gave Joe Lewis something to think about, smashing a shot from 20 yards. Joe was alert to the danger and managed to two handed touch the ball over the bar. That rounded off a decent half for Aberdeen with the score at 1-0. It could have been more, but Derek McInnes would have been content with the one goal advantage after several Hamilton chances.
HALF TIME: Aberdeen 1-0 Hamilton Academical
There were very few chances following the restart, with a lot of stop start play and a lot of fouls. Four Hamilton defenders were by now booked. Andrew Considine headed over from the Dons first corner following some good pressing from Tansey. After an hour, Kari Arnason made way for Mark Reynolds. Then Xavier Tomas was given his marching orders after 61 minutes for pulling Ryan Christie back on the counter attack. He'd been booked just five minutes earlier. It was a soft yellow card.
Scott Wright had been locked in a battle with Skondras the whole game, but got the better of his man after 66 minutes. Wright played a nice cross across goal with Shay Logan waiting at the back post. Shay's first time shot was met by Woods who got the ball wide. Wright continued to look dangerous on the left hand side, continuing to provide a spark in the game. He decided to shoot this time and was denied by a very good Woods save. Shinnie followed up the rebound and with his weaker right foot could only poke the ball wide. Despite their dominance no second goal and there were a few tired legs out there now.
Joe Lewis was called into action after 69 minutes. Kenny McLean's attempts to clear the ball inside the box saw the ball come back towards goal. Lewis leapt on top of the ball to stop the equaliser. It would have been a cruel goal to lose and needed a very smart stop to keep the ball out. The best chance of the half came shortly afterwards as Nicky Maynard was played in on goal. He rounded Woods, but was pushed close to the line as a result. He did manage to get his shot away but Donati was there to clear it off the line. Nicky deserved a goal for his work rate today. He made so many runs as he tried to make things happen. After 79 minuted, Ryan Christie came off to a standing ovation to be replaced by Greg Stewart. Christie had a good game and always looked a threat going forward.
After 82 minutes, Greg Tansey tried a long shot from the middle of the park, but it didn't trouble Woods. With five minutes to go Miles Storey came on for Nicky Maynard, who as I say worked his socks off throughout the match. Miles made an immediate impact after he was played in by Shinnie. From wide on the left he cut inside and hit a low curling shot past the goalkeeper. It was a great calm finish from a man who has spent a lot of his time at Pittodrie on the fringes. All his team mates were delighted for him.
It was job done from Aberdeen, who did well to recover from Thursday night's Europa League exit. A hard earned three points and some encouraging signs.