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Aberdeen 2 - 1 Heart of Midlothian

HT Score: Aberdeen 0 - 1 Heart of Midlothian

Scottish Premiership
Aberdeen scorers: Watkins 49, Ferguson 69.
Heart of Midlothian scorers: Soutar 45 (pen)

30/10/2021 | KO: 15:00

Brilliant Dons end Hearts run

It was supposed to be the "Week of Death," featuring daunting games against Hibs, Rangers and Hearts, but three epic performances from Stephen Glass' side have seen the rebirth of Aberdeen's season, a storming second half display sweeping Hearts away and ending the Premiership's last unbeaten record.

Following the 2-2 draw at Ibrox on Wednesday night, Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass had just the one change to his starting XI, Marley Watkins coming in for Jonny Hayes, who took his place on the subs' bench.

Hearts, who continued their unbeaten league start when they drew 1-1 at St Johnstone on Wednesday, made two changes. Alex Cochrane and former Don Gary Mackay-Steven replaced Andrew Halliday and Barrie McKay, who took their slots on the bench.

On a soaking wet Pittodrie that tended to make the ball stick on the turf, Watkins was in behind on three minutes, Ryan Hedges intercepting a Baningime pass and setting his fellow Welshman away, but Halkett was able to get across and plug the gap. Hedges was chasing Kingsley down and making life uncomfortable three minutes later, but the visitors were again able to clear their lines.

A few sloppy passes from the Dons heralded a period of domination for Hearts, but while they enjoyed some territorial advantage, they lacked any cutting edge. Indeed, it was Lewis Ferguson who was next to threaten, a curling shot from the left drifting just over on 24 minutes.

Hedges was next, accelerating into space on the left side of the box, driving a low shot at goal that Gordon did well to save with his left leg. In the aftermath, the Dons won a free-kick 25 yards out, to the left of the D, but Ferguson's shot was driven into the wall. For all that, the game was now very much moving in Aberdeen's direction.

A very late tackle on Ferguson by Smith yielded no more than a talking to from the referee, a very lenient decision on 36 minutes. A minute later, Smith was taking a corner, half cleared to the edge of the box, Devlin swiping it wide from there. Next, Hedges took a whack from Souttar off the ball and required treatment before he was able to continue.

Some neat inter-passing from Hearts created space for Ginnelly on 40 minutes, but he was falling away from the ball as he shot and ended up putting it into the crowd from a promising position.

Ginnelly was in on goal again in the final minute of the half, played in by a first time Baningime pass that put him clear of the defence. Lewis came out to try to claim but could only upend the Hearts man and the referee pointed to the spot. Souttar stepped up and absolutely rifled it into the corner, the despairing Lewis going the right way but unable to save.

HALF-TIME: ABERDEEN 0 HEARTS 1

Scott Brown moved back into midfield as Aberdeen started the half with a back four. Ferguson began the half with a mazy run into the box but couldn;t find enough power to discomfort Gordon with his 47th minute shot.

A lovely spell of football from Aberdeen, neat and patient, was rewarded with a goal for Watkins on 49 minutes. Good possession culminated in Dean Campbell feeding Hedges on the left. He picked out Watkins who chested the ball down before crashing the ball into the top corner, beyond Gordon's despairing dive. It was Aberdeen's 450th goal in the SPFL Premiership, only Celtic having scored more goals since the division's creation.

Only a brilliant save from the Scotland goalkeeper prevented Aberdeen leading four minutes later. A miscued shot from Hedges reached Christian Ramirez on the edge of the six yard box. He controlled the ball and fired off a ferocious shot but somehow, Gordon produced a fabulous reflex stop low to his right to keep the ball out.

Ramirez was inches wide on 55 minutes, Watkins picking him out with a fine pass to the back post. He caught it beautifully with a volley on the scissor, the ball clipping Kingsley on the elbow and edging just wide, referee Clancy adjudging Kingsley's intervention to be accidental.

The visitors withdrew Mackay-Steven for McKay, Ginnelly also making way for Woodburn on 57 minutes as Hearts tried to turn back the red tide. Woodburn was introduced to the game by a strong tackle from McCrorie who collected a booking. Woodburn was booked four minutes later for dissent.

The Dons were deservedly in front on 69 minutes. After a string of corners, Aberdeen made one stick. McGeouch swung the ball in from the left, Ferguson made a driving run across the box to lose Baningime - with the help of a block from Hedges - to rise at the near post and power a header beyond Gordon.

Hearts made another change on 72 minutes, Halliday replacing Cochrane as the sun made a belated appearance above Pittodrie. Campbell took a booking for the team on 82 minutes after flooring Baningime when Ferguson gave the ball away in midfield.

Hayes was thrown into the fray on 85 minutes, replacing Watkins after another non-stop shift. Halkett went into the book a minute later as Ferguson invited the shove which the Hearts man obligingly delivered. Ferguson should have scored from the free-kick, McGeouch delivering the ball in, Ferguson heading over when unmarked. That was McGeouch's last act of the day, replaced then by Niall McGinn.

Hearts were down to ten men on 89 minutes, Halliday throwing himself into a lunge that poleaxed Ferguson, the referee dispensing a straight red card as the visiting side's frustration boiled over.

A brilliant run down the left by Hayes opened Hearts up three minutes into added time, the Irishman crossing for McGinn. His shot was blocked, as was Ferguson's after Ramirez teed him up on the rebound.

It didn't matter. The game was won.

Aberdeen Teamsheet
Lewis, McCrorie, Watkins (Hayes 85), Brown, Ramirez, Hedges, McGeouch (McGinn 88), Ojo, Ferguson, Campbell, Bates.

Unused Subs: Emmanuel-Thomas, Gurr, Samuels, Longstaff.

Bookings:  McCrorie (59),  Campbell (82).
Heart of Midlothian Teamsheet
Gordon, Smith, Kingsley, Souttar, Baningme, Mackay-Steven (McKay 57), Devlin, Cochrane (Halliday 72), Halkett, Gnandullet, Ginnelly (Woodburn 57)

Unused Substitutes: Stewart, Haring, McEneff, Moore

Bookings:  Woodburn 61,   Halkett 86  Halliday 89
Attendance: 9,736
Visitors:830
Venue: Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Next Match
Peterhead
A
10 Jul 2024 / 19:00 / Balmoor Stadium, Peterhead