A typically robust afternoon at Almondvale ended in a goalless stalemate as Aberdeen opened their season with a point at Livingston.
There were debuts for Slobodan Rubezic and Nicky Devlin as the Dons got 2023/34 underway on the artificial pitch at Livingston.
It was a fairly rudimentary opening to the game, both sides playing it long rather than trusting themselves to play a lot of football on the surface. The Dons did finally get it on the deck and produced a nice flowing move involving Devlin, Dante Polvara, Duk and Jonny Hayes before the hosts were able to clear their lines in the eighth minute.
The Dons were the team looking to dominate early on and a good spell of pressure culminated in Duk glancing a header over the bar from Leighton Clarkson’s near post corner after 14 minutes.
Livi had their first look at goal after 22 minutes, Sangare picking up a clearance 25 yards out. He controlled it with his chest but then dragged his first time shot just wide of the target.
Rubezic collected the season’s first yellow card for a foul on Guthrie on halfway, a harsh looking decision from the referee. Sangare joined him in the book on the half hour after a string of attempts to haul Shinnie to the ground finally succeeded. Clarkson then became the third booking inside three minutes.
Shayden Morris was beginning to get some joy down the right, winning a corner on 36 minutes, Hayes’ low delivery causing chaos as it skidded towards the near post before Livi were able to clear. Three minutes later, Clarkson swung a dangerous cross through the six-yard box but there was no Aberdeen man to take advantage. Play swung to the other end, Montano’s low cross looking a threat until Hayes put sufficient pressure on Brandon to prevent him tucking the ball away.
In added time, the Dons pressed again as Graeme Shinnie got away down the right to sit up a good looking cross for Duk, but he couldn’t direct his header on target from a dozen yards out, the ball flashing wide of the post with George rooted to the spot.
HALF-TIME: LIVINGSTON 0 ABERDEEN 0
Pittman replaced Sangare for the hosts at the break. The fourth booking of the afternoon came the way of Montano after he chopped down Morris in the 50th minute as the winger was accelerating away from him.
Hayes came the closest to a goal so far on 55 minutes, darting in at the back post to try and get on the end of a Clarkson cross after good work by Polvara and Miovski in the build up. Hayes couldn’t get quite enough on the ball as he stretched, turning it into the side netting.
Duk was next to threaten two minutes later, a flick on from Miovski getting him away from Mikey Devlin, but he hesitated before getting his effort away, giving the former Dons man the chance to recover and get a block on the shot.
Hayes was the threat again on the hour, whipping in a vicious cross from the left. De Lucas and Obileye got in each other’s way, the ball flashing just over the bar off Obileye’s thigh. Two corners ensued, the second drawing huge appeals for an Aberdeen penalty for a foul on Miovski but referee Beaton remained unmoved. Anderson replaced Guthrie for the home team on 63 minutes.
Nicky Devlin had to be alert three minutes later, chasing back with Anderson to get on the end of yet another long ball forward, producing a diving header to tidy things up on the edge of the area, an important intervention. Seconds later, he was booked for a late sliding tackle on Montano. Montano eventually limped off to be replaced by Penrice in the 73rd minute.
Livingston had a big chance to go in front two minutes later, Obileye getting a free header at the back post from a corner, but he didn’t get enough power on his effort and Kelle Roos was able to scramble the ball away.
Aberdeen made their first change on 78 minutes, Ester Sokler on for his Dons debut in place of Morris. Dons boss Barry Robson was booked for dissent with 10 minutes to go. Mikey Devlin was also carded a minute later for a late lunge on Sokler. Hayes was next to exercise the referee’s biro in the 83rd minute for a foul on Andrew Shinnie.
Duk had a great chance to win it for Aberdeen with four minutes to go. Shinnie played it forward, Sokler chested it down, but from the inside-left position about ten yards out, Duk sliced his shot at goal and watched it arc wide of the post.
A horrible clash of heads between Rubezic and Anderson on the halfway line required treatment for both, particularly Anderson who sustained a nasty looking cut. After a lengthy period, he was stretchered off and replaced by Mackay.
Mikey Devlin let fly with a ferocious drive from fully 30 yards out and across the face of goal in the 95th minute, the ball rustling the roof of the net as it went over.
The clock ticked into the 100th minute as Clarkson bent in a free-kick from 40 yards out but the delivery arced just in front of Sokler and Miovski, neither able to get a touch as the game ebbed away to the stalemate that had, in truth, looked likely from the first whistle.
5 minutes added at end of 1st half.
8+3 minutes added at end of 2nd half