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FC Chikhura Sachkhere 1 - 1 Aberdeen

HT Score: FC Chikhura Sachkhere 1 - 0 Aberdeen

Europa League Second Preliminary Round First Leg
FC Chikhura Sachkhere scorers: Koripadze (pen) 40
Aberdeen scorers: Cosgrove 67 (Pen).

25/07/2019 | KO: 17:45

Dons leave Georgia on level terms

A tight encounter in Georgia saw Aberdeen battle back from going behind just before half time to gain a vital away goal ahead of next week's Pittodrie second leg. Sam Cosgrove kept up his ratio of a goal a game in the Europa League qualifiers as his spot-kick cancelled out a penalty conversion from Koripadze for the home side.

For the second successive away trip, the Dons travelled to a country not previously visited on European duty, Georgia becoming the 37th nation to be visited by the men from Pittodrie. Although the stadium in Tbilisi has a capacity in excess of 50,000, only a very small crowd was in attendance despite free admission, lending a somewhat surreal air to proceedings.

The Aberdeen side showed just one change from last week, Funso Ojo making his debut in place of Dean Campbell who dropped to the bench. The Belgian is Aberdeen's sixth European debutant this season.

Chikhura head coach Samson Pruidze's side showed three changes from last week's clash with CS Fola Esch with Lekvtadze, Ergemlidze and Chiteishvili coming in for Pantsulaia, Chikhladze and Ardazishvili.

Aberdeen created the game's opening chance. Good work on the right gave Logan a chance to cross, but Gallagher's effort from the full back's ball to the back post was always too high.

The Dons had started brightly and forced a corner on the left. Hedges' delivery found McKenna, but the Georgian defence snuffed out the knock-down from the centre back.

A second corner for the Dons was cleared and the Georgians broke at pace, however Sardalishvili was offside when the ball was played to him.

Lekvtadze picked up the game's first booking in the ninth minute when he pulled Ferguson down as the Dons looked to profit from a loose pass in midfield. From the free kick, Taylor couldn't get his header on target after being found by Hedges.

Aberdeen were enjoying the lion's share of possession but Chikhura were difficult to play through although a cross from Logan found Cosgrove, the striker's shot not powerful enough to test Hamzic.

On 14 minutes Ash Taylor was booked for a clumsy challenge on Lekvtadze, but the set-piece came to nothing. Taylor had picked up a knock and despite treatment was unable to continue, Craig

Bryson coming on for his first appearance in a red shirt.

Gallagher moved to right back with Logan going to the left and Considine slotting into central defence alongside McKenna.

Considine did well to clear as Chikhura pushed forward, then Ergemlidze was cautioned after a late challenge on Gallagher. Shortly after, Funso Ojo was the fourth man booked after a poor challenge in midfield.

McGinn looked for Cosgrove in the box from a free kick, but the foul went against the striker even though was the man who ended on the deck as the ball came in.

Lekvtadze was walking a tightrope after being spoken to following a clash with Hedges. Already on a booking, the Chikhura number ten was going to have to watch his step.

The opening half hour had gone fairly well for the Dons, although they hadn't forced Hamzic into a save. The downside of course was the enforced substitution of Ash Taylor, but the team had reorganised quickly and were keeping the Georgians quiet as an attacking force.

Chikhura's defence looked a bit shaky when they were put under pressure, but the Dons weren't enjoying the run of the ball in the final third. Joe Lewis had seen very little action in front of his goal in the opening thirty five minutes.

Out of the blue, the Romanian referee gave Chikhura a penalty in the 40th minute when Ojo pulled down Lekvtadze. Although Lewis guessed correctly, Georgi Koripadze's shot from twelve yards found the bottom left-hand corner of the net to make it 1-0 to the home team. On the balance of play, the Georgians could feel very fortunate to be in the lead as they had been second best in terms of possession and really had not threatened.

Ferguson fired wildly over as the Dons pushed for a leveller before the break, then Hedges tested the keeper with a cross-cum-shot but the half ended with the Dons trailing by a goal to nil. Plenty of possession for the Dons, but they were finding it hard to create anything clear-cut in front of goal. Although Chikhura had not been impressive, they had a lead to hold on to going into the second period.

Half time - Chikhura Sachkhere 1 Aberdeen 0

Bryson and Hedges combined to put the Welshman down the left and Mamasakhlisi did well to turn the cutback behind for a fruitless corner.

Sardalishvili tried an ambitious shot from the left edge of the area, the effort just not dipping quickly enough to trouble Lewis. Chikhura had their tails up and were now playing their best football of the match and were seeing more of the ball than the Dons.

Pressure from the Dons saw Chikhura defending desperately as the hour mark was reached, a tantalising ball in from Considine almost reaching Cosgrove.

This was much better from the Dons but the final piece of the jigsaw was still missing. A great run from Hedges saw Maisashvili penalised for hand ball as he sought to block the winger. Penalty to the Dons. Sam Cosgrove stepped forward to do his usual immaculate job from the spot to score for the third successive game and draw the Dons level. All square in Tbilisi at one goal apiece with a quarter of the game remaining.

It was nearly 2-1 to the Dons a few minutes later when Cosgrove almost picked out Gallagher in the box. At the other end Chiteishvili fired in a rocket shot from 25 yards which was inches too high.

It was the full back's last action as he was replaced by Chikhladze for the remaining 17 minutes of the game.

A second change from coach Pruidze saw him bring Pantsulaia on for Lekvtadze. Going into the last ten minutes it was still anyone's game to win.

Derek McInnes made his first tactical switch on 81 minutes, introducing James Wilson in place of Gallagher. Chikhura were almost through in the 85th minute when Dekanoidze found Ergemlidze who rounded Lewis, the goalkeeper saving wonderfully well as the striker tried to lift the ball over him into the net. A huge save from the Dons skipper.

Aberdeen were now sitting deep having the cushion of an away goal in the bank as the game went into two minutes of stoppage time. Although ply was mainly deep in Dons territory the defence managed the remaining time well to secure the draw.

Now its on to Pittodrie next week with the prize of a third round tie against HNK Rijeka the reward for the winners. Overall tonight we enjoyed the better of the possession without being very threatening, but Chikhura will be underdogs as they head for Scotland next week.

Full time - Chikhura Sachkhere 1 Aberdeen 1  

Derek McInnes:

"It was not a perfect performance and not the perfect result.

"I think under the circumstances, losing another defender to injury - we already have two injured defenders back home - and then our options to play someone at full back was a bit of a challenge for us.

"I thought we started the game with confidence and looked assured.

"I think when Ash Taylor got injured it threw us out of our flow a bit.

"We did not finish the first half as well as I would have liked.

"I was very disappointed with the penalty given against us. I did not think that there was any contact. I think it was a poor decision.

"We felt a grievance at half-time.

"The response from my team was good.

"The decision for our penalty, there was a delay which then causes a bit of a surprise. But I have seen it again and I think it was a handball.

"We don't know how Ash Taylor is.

"It is a hamstring injury and we will reassess it when we get back to Aberdeen tomorrow morning.

"I think it is half-time in the tie.

"I am pleased with the response of my team when we needed a response at half-time.

"We gave it.

"We know it is only half-time in the tie and we still have it all the do in Aberdeen.

"The away goal is very important to us. But it does not give you any guarantee.

"Our opponent showed enough quality at times for us to recognise that we are still have a difficult task.

"I have been impressed by Chikhura.

"They are a well managed team. Clearly they have good technical players and play with a lot of passion. And they deserve every respect.

"From our point of view, we have a high regard for our opponent, and we knew at this early stage of the season for us, it was going to be a difficult tie.

"And we still feel that it will be difficult."


FC Chikhura Sachkhere Teamsheet
Hamzic, Koripadze, Maiasashvili, Mamasakhlisi, Chikvaidze, Chiteishvili (Chikhladze 74), Kashia (C), Sardalishvili, Dekanoidze, Ergemlidze, Lekvtadze (Pantsulaia 76)

Unused substitutes:- Kamladze, Markozashvili, Mtskerashvili (GK), Kapanadze, Megrelishvili

Bookings:  Lekvtadze 9,   Ergemlidze 21,   Maisashvili 67
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Lewis, Logan, Considine, McKenna, McGinn, Hedges, Taylor (Bryson 18), Cosgrove, Ferguson, Gallagher (Wilson 82), Ojo.

Unused Subs: Main, Wright, Anderson, Campbell, Cerny.

Bookings:  Taylor (14).
Attendance: 3,218
Venue: Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, Tibilisi, Georgia
Referee: Horatiu Micea Fesnic, Romania