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Aberdeen 1 - 0 St. Johnstone

HT Score: Aberdeen 1 - 0 St. Johnstone

Challenge Cup
Aberdeen scorers: Ross 41.

15/08/2017 | KO: 19:45

With Sam Roscoe suspended for the Irn Bru Cup clash against St Johnstone coach Paul Sheerin was able to call on the services of Scott McKenna as an over age player, the competition rules having been amended to allow the inclusion of up to two senior players in second string teams this season.

The game kicked off in sunny conditions and the Dons dominated the early possession without threatening the visitors' goal. Seb Ross did well to charge down a clearance then break into the box but his inviting cross couldn't pick out a red shirt. Callum Hendry threatened on 12 minutes as he weaved into the box before firing wide from the angle. The son of former Scotland star Colin will fell he should have worked the keeper. Bruce Anderson raced on to a through ball but was halted in his tracks by a brilliant tackle from Saints skipper Gilchrist. Hendry and O'Reilly combined well to let the striker in for a shot but he again dragged his effort wide. Nice work from Frank Ross created an opening for McLennan but Connor's shot was well blocked by the Saints defence. Danny Harvie had a chance to test keeper Sinclair just before the half hour mark but his 25 yard free kick was just too high.
Full back Thomson picked up the game's first booking for a rash foul on Frank Ross. The Dons worked a brilliant corner kick routine which freed Bruce Anderson but the move was halted by a baffling offside decision. Craddock cut out a dangerous cross from O'Reilly then Docherty saw a long range effort deflected over. Frank Ross opened the scoring on 41 minutes racing half the length of the park, evading two or three challenges, then firing the ball strongly past Sinclair. A fantastic goal from Frank who showed power, pace and great composure to finish. The half time whistle came with the Dons pushing forward and they just about deserved the lead given to them by Frank's stunner although Saints will rue the two chances Hendry put wide.

Neither side made any change at the break. The early play was rather scrappy with neither side able to assert any real dominance. A foul by McCann on Frank Ross saw the Perth midfielder earn a yellow card. Harvie's header from the resulting free kick was easily saved by the keeper. Saints forced four corners in quick succession but the Dons defence stood firm with Harlain Mbayo in particular dominant under the high ball. A dangerous free kick from McClean picked out Hendry but Scott McKenna got a touch on to his header to deflect it to safety.
A swift break on 64 minutes from O'Reilly saw him race into the box but his cross was turned out for a corner by Harvie. From the flag kick David Craddock produced a stunning one handed save to deny Gilchrist. Paul Sheerin made a switch on 67 minutes as Chris Antoniazzi replaced Seb Ross. Ballantyne was yellow carded shortly after for dissent - the third Saints man in the ref's notebook. A quick break saw Frank Ross and Anderson combine well but Bruce couldn't get his shot on target. Credit has to go to the retreating Saints defence who did enough to prevent the striker from getting a clean shot away.
Both coaches made changes on 79 minutes, MacPherson taking over from Wells for the Dons while Lumsden was replaced by Struthers for the Perth outfit. Bruce Anderson became the game's fourth booking after kicking the ball away after he had been penalised for a push, followed shortly after by Connor McLennan. Saints pushed hard for an equaliser but the experience of Scott McKenna was clear for all to see as he ensured the defence stuck to their tasks. McClean's frustration saw him become booking number six just before the full time whistle sounded.
A tough battle but a good win for Aberdeen, the undoubted highlight being the wonderful goal from Frank Ross.

The draw for the next round of the tournament will be made on Thursday when sides from North Ireland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland will be in the hat.
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Craddock, Harrington, Harvie, Campbell, Mbayo, McKenna, McLennan, Ross (Antoniazzi 67), Anderson, Ross, Wells (MacPherson 79).

Unused Subs: Dangana, Hutchison, Ross, MacKenzie, Mair.

Bookings:  Anderson (81),  McLennan (89).
St. Johnstone Teamsheet
Sinclair, Lumsden (Struthers 79), Thomson, McClean, Wilson, Gilchrist (C), O'Reilly, McCann, Hendry, Ballantyne, Docherty. Unused substitutes - Quigley, Brian, Spurek

Bookings:  Thomson 31',   McCann 51',   Ballantyne 71',   McClean 90'
Venue: Glebe Park, Brechin
Referee: Alex Shepherd