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St. Mirren 1 - 3 Aberdeen

HT Score: St. Mirren 0 - 1 Aberdeen

SPFL Development League
St. Mirren scorers: Stewart 86
Aberdeen scorers: Shankland 44, Smith 65, Shankland 76.

17/02/2015 | KO: 14:00

The Young Dons kept in touch with Hamilton Accies and Celtic in the chase for the SPFL Development League title with a solid performance this afternoon in Paisley. Paul Sheerin's side had the better of the first half but were unable to get on the score sheet until the very stroke of half time when a great pass by Clark Robertson set Shankland free and he scored.
At the start of the second period half St Mirren put the Dons under some pressure but McKenna and new signing Lukas Culjak were excellent in central defence. On the one occasion the home side did break through, Jamie Langfield was on hand to make a great save to keep out Emmanuel Sonupe who is on loan from Spurs. Just after the hour mark Shankland pounced on a mistake to set up Smith who finished well and then with about 15 minutes to go substitute Frank Ross did brilliantly to create an opening for Shankland and the Dons striker scored goal number 22 of the season. St Mirren did grab a late consolation but that should not take the gloss off a very good Aberdeen performance.

The U20s lined up with Langfield in goal, Clark Robertson at left back, McKenna was partnered in central defence by Lukas Culjak who was making his Aberdeen debut and Michael Rose was at right back. Gibbons was the holding midfielder with Masson alongside him. Orsi played wide left and Scott Wright was wide right. Cammy Smith played in the hole just behind Shankland. St Mirren, who have been doing well in the Development League this season with mainly a young squad, fielded a number of more experienced players with Mo Yaqub and Jeroen Tesselaar starting and also recent signing Emmanuel Sonupe played.
On 4 minutes Scott Wright put over a decent ball and then 5 minutes Smith and Shankland combined well in the box but Shankland's effort never troubled keeper Wilks. On 8 minutes the Dons won their first corner which Masson put over. The ball came back out to Jamie and he swung in a fantastic cross which Shankland very nearly touched in at the far post. The ball only went inches past. A strong breeze was making life difficult for both teams, but both sets of players were trying to play football on what was an excellent surface. The young Dons enjoyed some good possession in the opening stages but they could not find that killer pass to create a clear cut opening. On 12 minutes Rose found a good area but his ball picked out a black and white shirt, on 13 minutes Masson played a neat reverse pass but Shankland was ruled just offside and a few minutes later Wright did really well to play Shankland in but again the striker was just offside.
On 18 minutes Orsi made a strong run forward. The winger was brought down but the referee played advantage as the ball fell to Shankland in the box. The striker poked the ball towards the corner of the net but Dan Wilks made a really good save diving low to his left and he managed to get a strong enough arm on the ball to turn it behind for a corner. From the corner McKenna headed the ball into Wilks arms. Paul Sheerin's side continued to enjoy the territorial advantage and they were playing some good stuff but their decision making in the final third could have been better at times. For the Saints Sonupe, a recent loan signing from Spurs, was very pacey and anytime he picked the ball up the Dons defence needed to be on guard. On 31 minutes, after the home side had enjoyed a good spell, Robertson played a good ball in from the left but Shankland was again adjudged to be offside. On 35 minutes, on the break Orsi played it wide to Wright who played in a brilliant first time low cross which went right across the box but frustratingly Smith nor Shankland could get a touch. Then a minute later Smith burst into the box, he cut the ball back to Shankland but his effort from close range was blocked. Then a great move set Orsi free down the left and he put over a dangerous ball but he could not pick out a red shirt.
In the 39th minute Lewis Morgan showed good pace to race from the half way line into the box and Scott McKenna had to come over a make a very good tackle. The timing of the tackle was perfect, it had to be as well. On 41 minutes Smith had a shot from distance which he caught well and Wilks had to produce a good save. Seconds later he produced an even better save from the same player as Smith hit a volley from close range but again the keeper was equal to it. On the stroke of half time Aberdeen took a deserved lead. Clark Robertson, who had three assists last week, had another this afternoon when he played a brilliant ball through to Shankland. The Development League's top scorer had time to pick his spot which he did without any problem.

The home side started the second half strongly and on 46 minutes a cross from the right picked out Brewster but his header was off target. Then Sadlier fired a shot just wide. On 51 minutes Gibbons was booked for taking down Yaqub as the Saints continued to work hard and be very competitive as they tried to get back into the game. St Mirren were far more direct than they were in the first half and were getting bodies forward. The Dons back four all played very well and new signing Culjak did really well considering this was his first game in Scotland. Gibbons also had a fine game, picking up every loose ball that was cleared by the back four.
On 56 minutes the first change of the game saw Robbie Mitchell replace Brewster. Within seconds of the change the Saints should have been level when the pace of Sonupe took him clear from the Dons defence. He just had Langfield to beat but the keeper produced a top class save to keep the shot out. A minute later Aberdeen had a great chance when Wright cut his way through the defence to the by-line but his pass just failed to land at the feet of Shankland. On 61 minutes Paul Sheerin made his first change, Frank Ross replaced Orsi in the midfield. Then on 65 minutes the home side undid all their good work when they gifted the Dons a second. They needlessly lost possession in their own half. Shankland was quickly onto it and spotted the run of Smith. He threaded the ball through to Cammy who coolly rolled the ball past the keeper. The link up play between Shankland and Smith was very impressive once again, they have a very good understanding.
After that the Dons were always going to win the game. On 70 minutes Jamie Masson put over another delightful ball, this time from a free kick, but there were no takers. Jamie's ball deserved better. Shankland then almost found Smith in the box and then Masson should have found Smith but Shankland got in the way. On 76 minutes Aberdeen got a third and it was all thanks to some brilliant play by Frank Ross down the left. He played little ball to Clark Robertson to set the move going. He then rounded Robertson to collect the ball back before making his way to the by-line. Frank then beat the full-back which gave him time to look up and pick out Shankland at the edge of the six yard box which he did and Lawrence provided the finish, beating the keeper at his near post. On 83 minutes Sam Robertson came on for Rose and Felek replaced Wright. On 86 minutes a slip allowed Saints in down the right. With the Dons defence out of position the ball was played across the box to the unmarked Morgan and he picked out substitute Jordan Stewart who tapped home from close range. After that St Mirren had another half chance but in truth the Dons ran out comfortable winners.
St. Mirren Teamsheet
Wilks, Beattie, Yaqub, Reilly, Tessalar, Baird, Sonupe (Murray 76), Brewster (Mitchell 56), McDonald, Sadlier (Stewart 76), Morgan Subs: Fodden, O'Keefe
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Langfield, Rose, Robertson, Gibbons, McKenna, Culjak, Orsi, Masson, Shankland, Smith, Wright.

Bookings:  Gibbons (51).
Venue: St Mirren Park (Greenhill Road), Paisley