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Aberdeen 0 - 0 Inverness CT

HT Score: Aberdeen 0 - 0 Inverness CT

League Cup Final
AET. Aberdeen won 4-2 on penalties.
Inverness CT scorers: Penalties: Billy McKay O, Greg Tansey O, Nick Ross X, Aaron Doran X.

16/03/2014 | KO: 14:30

Cup Joy for Dons as Anderson Lifts League Cup

Derek McInnes made one change to the side that beat Dumbarton last week. Peter Pawlett failed to make the game because of injury so Niall McGinn came back into the starting XI and Cammy Smith dropped to the bench. Joe Shaughnessy was the unlucky player who missed out. Joining Cammy on the bench were Weaver, Tate, Low and Vernon. So the Dons lined up with Langfield in goal, Logan at right back, Anderson and Reynolds in central defence with Considine at left back. Flood and Jack were the sitting midfielders with Robson on the right and Hayes down the left. McGinn filled the hole just behind Rooney.

With 40,000 plus Aberdeen fans it was probably the biggest crowd the Dons have ever taken to Glasgow for a cup final. The noise as the teams came out for the warm up was incredible. So by the time kick off came it was almost deafening.

In the opening seconds there was a major concern for the Dons when Jonny Hayes landed awkwardly on his shoulder. The winger, and arguably the Dons most influential player, looked in some distress on the side of the pitch when he got treatment. As he did, the game carried on and Niall McGinn had the first shot of the game on two minutes, but the effort went well wide. Jonny eventually came back on but it was obvious he could not continue. The Irishman walked off in tears as Cammy Smith replaced him with only 5 minutes on the clock. When play resumed after the substitution McGinn had a snap shot which just went over. The loss of Hayes took the complete sting out of the Dons and the crowd.

On 10 minutes Mark Reynolds strolled forward but he lost control and Inverness launched an attack. A dangerous ball was put across the face of goal but thankfully Ryan Jack was on hand to knock the ball behind. A nervous moment for the Dons. Then a great move from Aberdeen on 12 minutes helped settle the nerves. Rooney knock the ball down for Smith before it was played out to the left. Considine put a great ball over which Smith met but he got underneath it and his header went over. The Dons were starting to settle down a bit.

On 15 minutes Robson played a great diagonal into the box but Brill claimed it despite Rooney putting him under pressure. A minute later Considine was forced to give away a corner. From the set piece Inverness claimed for a penalty when Anderson handled but ref McLean correctly awarded Aberdeen a free kick for a push. On 20 minutes the Dons again put some pressure on ICT and were camped outside their box but Robsons' through ball was too strong. He may have tried a shot but couldn't get the ball onto his left foot.

A good move down the right saw Logan put over a dangerous cross but he failed to find Rooney. ICT were certainly not going to shirk away from the physical battle and Forlan went in hard on Robson on the half way line. After a stern talking too he was not booked. It looked like the Dons had taken the lead in the 24th minute when a cross played into the box pinged about in the air before Smith bravely attacked the ball and his header was knocked back to Anderson. Russell's superb volley appeared to be going in but smashed off the post and across the face of goal before it was cleared off the line by Foran. From the resulting corner Anderson knocked it down for Rooney but at full stretch he poked it over the bar.

On 25 minutes Forlan was finally booked for a foul and once again Robson was the victim. Robson then wasted the free kick by over hitting it. The half hour mark saw a better spell from Inverness as they forced a corner, but the Dons defence did their job. After 32 minutes Robson played another good ball in from the right after he had cut inside but both centre-halfs' snuffed out Rooney. It was clear if Aberdeen were going to win this game Robson was going to have to have a major influence on proceedings.

On 34 minutes the Dons appealed loudly for a penalty. After many passes had Inverness camped on the 18 yard line, Logan eventually put some pace into the attack and he went past the full back as if he was not there. He played a good low cross to the near post, which Rooney met but after taking a touch he was brought down by Josh Meekings who he had got across. McLean thought about it for a second before pointing for a goal kick. On 39 minutes another passing move from the Dons saw Inverness again defending deep with ten men behind the ball. This time Robson did shoot, but his right-footed effort was easily held by Brill.

As half time approached the game had become very fragmented with lots of niggly fouls. In added time Shinnie got inside Logan after he the full back slipped. His cut back picked out the ever dangerous McKay but Willo Flood was on hand to make a brilliant blocking tackle and the teams went in at the interval with the game still goalless.

The second half started with the Dons enjoying a good spell of possession. On 47 minutes Russell Anderson had a shot from the edge of the area but his effort went well over. The game then became far more open as both teams went in search of the opener. On 51 minutes Russell Anderson made a quite superb goal saving tackle after McKay had played in Vincent. Seconds later the Dons captain then made a great tackle on Shinnie after he burst forward. The skipper was leading by example yet again.

For the next ten minutes or so Aberdeen had all the play and the all the ball but failed to create anything with Inverness getting everyone back behind the ball. You really could not see where the breakthrough was going to come from. Langfield then spilled a cross, but Anderson was on hand to hack clear. Tansey then had a free kick in a good area but he put it over. Apart from that Inverness never really threatened much although from set pieces they always looked dangerous.

With the game becoming a bit of a stalemate, both managers started to look at their dugouts. On 65 minutes the first tactical change of the afternoon saw James Vincent being replaced by Aaron Doran. It was a bit of surprise that Doran had not started the game. Again the Dons enjoyed a spell of possession but Inverness again just forced them back.

On 67 minutes McGinn played a great forward ball for Rooney. He was too wide to have a shot so elected to chip over a cross but there were no red jerseys in the box. On 69 minutes Nicky Low replaced Cammy Smith. Cammy deserves a lot of credit and had a good game. He would have woken up this morning and probably thought he would not even be on the bench, so he did very well. Derek McInnes though had to do something and correctly put Nicky over to the right and Barry into the middle where he could have more of an influence on the match.

Almost immediately Rooney worked his way down the right before putting over a cross which in the end was well cut out by Raven with McGinn behind him completely free. Russell was outstanding at the back and also fancied his chances at the other end. The ball bounced up nicely for him about 30 yards out but he just pulled it wide. Finally though the Dons had a shot on goal, which got the crowd involved again. The Dons were now looking like the only team trying to win the game. The pace of the game though was so slow and this really suited Caley.

On 77 minutes Ryan Jack tried his luck and hit a shot which Brill elected to palm away and Rooney was not far away from the rebound. Robson was then taken down on the edge of the area but the Dons wasted the free kick. With just over 10 minutes to go Watkins was replaced by Nick Ross. A Rooney cross was then missed by two defenders but also missed by McGinn. Then an early cross from Low caught Rooney on his heels. Robson then had a shot from 30 yards, which Brill pushed away. The keeper did not look too convincing and the crowd came to life again despite the frayed nerves.

A corner for Caley had them appealing loudly for a penalty. Then with three minutes to go Aberdeen should have taken the lead. Robson and Rooney battled for the ball, which they won. The ball landed at the feet of Niall McGinn who stepped inside and with the goal in front of him you thought he would score but he blazed his shot over. What a chance. In the final stages the game became very stretched. At one end Anderson did brilliantly again when Doran broke and had McKay in space inside the box. The skipper came across making sure the cross never reached the ICT striker. Then At the other end McGinn looked like getting the better of Meekings but the defender did just enough to hold off Niall. There was only two minutes of injury time but the Dons still had to withstand two dangerous free kicks, which they did. We were going to extra time.

The first shot of extra time came when ICT were down to 10 men. Devine was having a problem with his boot on the touchline but the game continued. Robson played it to McGinn who created room for the shot but his effort was pulled wide. In the 102nd minute a mistake by Inverness saw McGinn gallop forward before being taken down by Devine on the edge of the area. Robson took the free kick, which was a bit of a surprise because of the angle. It would have been easier for a right footer. Barry got the ball over the wall but it would not come down and went well over the bar. Four minutes later Inverness had a dangerous free kick on the edge of the area when Reynolds brought down Christie. Tansey took it and his effort whistled just over the bar. Then Doran hit a shot, which took a horrible bounce in front of Langfield so the keeper did well to push it behind. From the corner Meekings headed over. Robson then picked out Rooney but his glancing header sailed wide. Worryingly in the first half of extra time Inverness were starting to enjoy more of the possession in the middle of the park, something that did not happen throughout the 90 minutes.

The start of extra time did not see much happening. The final Dons sub saw Considine being replaced by Vernon as Barry Robson was forced to move to left back. It was obvious at this point that some of the player's legs had started to go. The pace of the game had dropped and it was now the survival of the fittest. Set pieces therefore were going to be even more important. Robson put one way over everyone's heads. After that he chipped in a dangerous ball but it was headed to safety. With four minutes to go Low won the Dons a dangerous free kick. It was in a great central position, maybe a bit close and Nicky failed to keep it down and it went well over. Low then gave away a free kick at the other end. It was probably in a better position because it was further out. Doran thankfully blasted over though. In the final minute Robson played in a free kick from deep, which Vernon won in the air but the ball went harmlessly wide.

So to penalties!

The decision of which end the penalties would be taken was made before hand. Although they were to be taken at the ICT end, there was a wall of noise from the Aberdeen fans as the players made the long walk to the penalty spot. Billy McKay took the first spot kick, but Jamie Langfield diving low to his right brilliantly saved it. Crucially Barry Robson took the Dons first one and scored. Tansey then blasted his effort over. Nicky Low then stepped forward to put Brill the wrong way. Two of the best penalty takers had done first and second and the Dons had one hand on the cup. Nick Ross scored ICT's third with a good effort straight down the middle. Scott Vernon then scored by sending the keeper the wrong way. Doran though did the same so it therefore came down to Adam Rooney to score the winning kick. And he did.

The Dons had won the League Cup.

Aberdeen Teamsheet
Langfield, Logan, Anderson, Reynolds, Considine (Vernon 108), Robson, Jack, Flood, Hayes (Smith 6), McGinn, Rooney.

Unused Subs: Weaver, Tate.
Inverness CT Teamsheet
Dean Brill, David Raven, Daniel Devine, Josh Meekings, Graeme Shinnie, Marley Watkins (Nick Ross 80), Ross Draper, Greg Tansey, James Vincent (Aaron Doran 63), Richie Foran (Ryan Christie 100), Billy McKay. Unused Subs: Carl Tremarco, Ryan Esson.

Bookings:  Richie Foran (27),   Graeme Shinnie (112),   Ross Draper (117).
Attendance: 51,143
Venue: Celtic Park, Glasgow
Referee: Steven Mclean