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Livingston 0 - 2 Aberdeen

HT Score: Livingston 0 - 1 Aberdeen

Scottish Premiership
Gigital programe only issued
Aberdeen scorers: Considine 29, Cosgrove 90 (Pen).

21/09/2019 | KO: 15:00

Dons claim all three points in West Lothian

Not the most inspiring afternoon of football on a dry plastic pitch but the Dons toughed it out in the end to come away with three big points against a Livingston side who failed to take their chances.

Kicking off a huge week, with trips to Hearts in the League Cup and Rangers in the league to follow, Derek McInnes made three changes to the side that drew 1-1 with St Johnstone last week, Craig Bryson and Funso Ojo both sidelined after picking up injuries in that game, top scorer Sam Cosgrove starting the game on the bench. In came Dean Campbell, Jon Gallagher and Curtis Main, while young Connor Barron made the subs' bench for the first time, having notched a hat-trick of penalties for the Under 18s against Celtic earlier this season. Barron was pulled out of the Scottish Under 18s squad for their tournament in Istanbul later this month to help the Dons' cause. Livingston, defeated 3-1 at Ibrox last weekend, made one change, Dykes missing out through suspension after his sending off in Glasgow, replaced by Robinson.

In blazing sunshine, the Dons got the ball down nicely early on, spreading the play and stretching the game from the off, Zak Vyner and Greg Leigh both looking for the crossfield ball as they tried to get forward. Players were slipping and sliding on the artificial surface early on, Lewis Ferguson seemingly turning his ankle in the 8th minute, but as the Red Army held its breath, he got up and carried on.

The two sides spent the first quarter of an hour feeling one another out, the Dons edging matters as they played with urgency and purpose, but with neither side able to carve out a meaningful opportunity. That finally arrived for Livi in the 19th minute, a quick break from Lawless allowing him to find Robinson's supporting run just inside the box, but with just Joe Lewis left to beat, the keeper quickly narrowed the angle and saved well. Main was flattened by a leading Bartley elbow moments later but fortunately got back to his feet to continue.

Livi continued to look dangerous on the break, Erskine sent on the run by Robinson in the inside-right position in the 23rd minute. Opening his body up, he tried to shape a left foot shot into the far top corner but fortunately got a bit too much lift on it and ruffled the roof of the net. The hosts' pace on the break was a clear threat to the Dons as they began to take charge of the game, Vyner having to make a headed intervention from another dangerous cross two minutes later.

Against the run of play - but who cares? - the Dons were in front in the 28th minute. Ryan Hedges drifted the ball in from a left wing corner, the cross going over Main at the near post but dropping perfectly for Andrew Considine on the edge of the six yard box, the centre-back guiding the ball beyond Stewart and into the bottom corner. Goal number 35 of his Aberdeen career.

Considine was in action at the opposite end in the 35th minute with an important header behind from a dangerous cross, the resulting corner coming to nothing. Another crunching Bartley challenge - this time on Campbell - went unpunished in the 42nd minute, the big midfielder fortunate by now not to have seen a card the same colour as his shirt.

In the final minute of the half, Considine left a pass to Michael Devlin shor , Bartley swooping on it and heading into the area before squaring for Erskine 14 yards out, a great opportunity spurned as the Livingston man produced an embarrassing air shot.

HALF-TIME: Livingston 0 Aberdeen 1

Erskine's embarrassment continued when Stobbs was introduced in his place at the break, leading the hosts to go even more direct in their play. Stobbs caused some consternation in the 57th minute, a curling ball through the six-yard box that forced Lewis into making a sharp collection as the half started in aimless fashion.

Two minutes later, Lawson replaced Bartley, the Dons then making their first change with Connor McLennan joining the action in place of Hedges. At this stage, pretty much the only action of the half had come in the shape of the changes, and that continued when Robinson made way for Tiffoney in the 66th minute, Cosgrove replacing Main moments later.

Livingston carved out a half chance with a quick break that degenerated into a goalmouth scramble in the 70th minute, Considine eventually clearing the Dons' lines. The Dons really got away with one three minutes later, a long throw causing chaos, Lewis impeded as he tried to collect, Guthrie onto the loose ball, smashing his shot across goal and back off the post, then putting the rebound wide of the other side of the goal.

Shay Logan returned to action for Vyner in the 75th minute to bring experience to the rearguard in the latter stages as Livi pressed for an equaliser. Jacobs collected the first booking of a leniently officiated game with eight minutes to go, after clattering into Campbell.

The Dons' first real sight of goal in the second half came in the 88th minute when a half cleared free-kick reached Ferguson who drive into the box from the right and fired across goal but over the bar while at the other end, Logan made an important block from a Crawford shot moments later.

As the game edged into added time, a last quick break down the left from the Dons allowed Cosgrove to head into the box where he was shoved to ground by Jacobs. Sam stepped up and rolled the penalty into the bottom corner for his 11th goal of the season, sealing the win and sending the Dons into the top three. Never mind the quality, feel those three points.

The Manager's Reaction

After the victory at the Tony Macaroni Stadium, the manager spoke to the media to give his reaction. You can also click on the red button above to watch his RedTV Interview.

"We came here to do a job.

"We knew what we needed to do - fight fire with fire. There is a reason Livingston don't lose many games here. They ask the question of you.

"All the narrative before the game was about how many injuries we had. We lacked experience and we lacked certain types in certain positions today, but we had to stand up to it and play a certain game at times to try and keep the threat away from us.

"In the SPFL, particularly when you go away from home, the opposition is always going to get a couple of moments to score and thankfully through a combination of some good defending and our goalkeeper we managed to get our clean sheet.

"We also got the win through some bits of quality.

"The quality for the ball in for the first goal and the movement of big Andy. And the weighted pass from McGinn which allowed us to break on them and get the penalty which led to the second goal.

"Some games you will play brilliantly and you don't get what you deserve. Sometimes you just need to do what you need to do to get the win. We knew coming here what we had to do.

"Also the pitch did not play well. When it is dry like that it is difficult for both teams to move the ball quickly and you have to play the percentages and fight your corner. And I thought by and large we did that today.

"It is not how I want my team to play but I want my team to win.

"There is a reason why teams don't win here.

"We have managed to win here on a few occasions now because the players get it and know what needs to be done.

"I have seen teams come here and try and take them on possession wise and move the ball quickly. Livingston are as good as any side at pressing and hunting you in packs and turning the ball over then slitting your throat going the other way.

"They are brilliant at it. There is a lot to admire about Gary's side.
"So we tried to take that element out of it and make sure we tried to play in the wider areas and switch the play, play for territory and try and bring quality in the final third. We did not do that enough. We got into the final third often enough but we did not quite bring the quality needed.

"We do though bring some quality on a couple of occasions and that has allowed us to win the game.

"There are different ways to win.

"Our away record was spot on last year. We could not fault the players for the away record. A lot of times we set up to sit in and counter-attack on teams. Sometimes you will take them on in a possession based game and have a go. And there are other times when you just need to fight fire with fire. Today was an example of that where we stood up to Livingston for the majority of the game and we get our reward.

"The pleasure comes from winning. It does not come from playing the game. It does not come from watching the game. I take the pleasure from watching my team being so committed and doing what was needed to be done despite the injuries that we have got.

"If we did not have the midweek game coming up I might have started Sam but the truth is that he was a doubt on Thursday, he never trained. While he was on the treatment table all week and not training, Curtis was training and training particularly well.

"With Sam having a little strain on his groin we will try and managed his minutes over the next three games. We always knew he would give us something coming off the bench.

"Hopefully there are no more injuries. There are no players back for Wednesday night so we will try and go again and try and find a team and a performance that can get the club into another semi-final."

Livingston Teamsheet
01.Stewart, 02.Devlin, 05.Lamie, 27.Guthrie, 21.McMillan, 06.Bartley (33.Lawson 60), 16.Crawford, 11.Lawless, 07.Jacobs, 19.Erskine (31.Stobbs 46), 17.Robinson (22.Tiffoney 66). Unused Subs: 10.Sibbald, 15.Pepe, 20.Souda, 30.Sarkic.

Bookings:  07.Jacobs 83,   02.Devlin 90
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Lewis, Vyner (Logan 75), Devlin, Considine, Leigh, Ferguson, Campbell, Gallagher, McGinn (McLennan 64), Hedges, Main (Cosgrove 67).

Unused Subs: Wilson, Barron, Anderson, Cerny.
Attendance: 2,803
Venue: Almondvale Stadium, Livingston
Referee: Nick Walsh
Next Match
10 Jul 2024 / 19:00 / Balmoor Stadium, Peterhead