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Ross County 0 - 1 Aberdeen

HT Score: Ross County 0 - 0 Aberdeen

SPFL Development League
Aberdeen scorers: Driver 53.

17/03/2015 | KO: 14:00

Aberdeen U20s increased their lead at the top of the Development League with a very hard fought win over Ross County in Dingwall. Both teams had strong line ups and The Dons included Andrew Driver in their starting XI. The winger had a very good game and set up a chance for Lawrence Shankland in the first minute which hit the post. The Dons had a penalty appeal turned down a minute later and that was really it for the first half. County started the second half very strongly and former Don, Scott Ferries won them a penalty. Mutch brilliantly saved MacLeod's spot kick. On 53 minutes Driver guided a volley into the net from a Robertson cross to give Aberdeen the lead. A bit of real quality. After that the game opened up and the Dons missed some great chances on the break. The fact they did not kill the game off made for a nervous final ten minutes and County threw everything at the Dons but they defended bravely to claim the win. With Celtic drawing yesterday and Hamilton getting beat, Paul Sheerin's side are in an ideal position with seven games to go.
Aberdeen lined up with Mutch in goal, Shaughnessy at right back, Clark Robertson at left back with Rose and Culjak in central defence. Gibbons and Masson were the central midfielders with Low wide right and Driver wide left. Smith played in behind Shankland. Ross County put out a very strong side with five first team players including Steven Saunders and Rocco Quinn.
Incredibly, in the first minute, Andrew Driver almost set up a chance after some superb wing play. He beat his man before powering forward. His low cross was met by Shankland in the six yard box and his shot thumped off the post. A few minutes after that Aberdeen should have had a penalty when Shaughnessy went down at the corner of the box but the referee waved play. Low and Smith then very nearly combined in the area but the return pass was just a little over hit. Aberdeen had settled well and the watching Derek McInnes would have been pleased. On 7 minutes Quinn was allowed to go on after a foul. He had time and plenty of room for a shot which he hit straight at Mutch from 20 yards out. On 11 minutes Robertson and Driver teamed up down the left. Robertson got into a good area but his cutback found a blue jersey. On 12 minutes Abdoulaye Meite was booked after Shankland had beaten him. The resulting free kick had to be turned away by Burgess at the back post for the first corner of the game which the home side cleared without any problem. On 20 minutes Driver beat his man again with an explosive turn of pace. He got to the by-line but no one was able to get on the end of his dangerous cut-back. On 22 minutes- from corner number three- Rose timed his run perfectly but his header looped just over.
After 23 minutes Quinn set up Dunfield on the break and his low shot was very well saved by Mutch who had to get down to his right. Aberdeen then broke after they cleared the County corner, Low and Smith had a two on two and should have done better to create a chance. Great play by Low and Masson in the middle of the park allowed Robertson to get in another cross on 25 minutes but his driven ball was turned behind. Shankland then got a header on target from the corner but he could not get enough power into it. On the half hour mark Driver won the Dons another corner. He was looking in good form.
Aberdeen were getting plenty of balls into the box and enjoying some good possession but the experienced County backline were giving Shankland and Smith very little room in behind them. On 33 minutes Low tried his luck from about 35 yards out and he nearly beat keeper Tait, who only just managed to tip the ball over the bar. It was a very good hit. On 35 minutes Driver and Robertson combined again down the left. Robertson's cross found Shankland but his shot just went past the post. On 40 minutes Low tried another shot from distance but he dragged his shot narrowly wide. Moments before the break MacLeod almost got in between Rose and Culjak and on the stroke of half time Dunfield curled a free kick just over the bar.

Ross County started the second half very strongly. On 46 minutes former Don Scott Ferries made a good run in behind the Dons defence. As Driver tried to get back to make a challenge he clipped his heels and the referee awarded a penalty. Kyle MacLeod took the kick but Robbie Mutch produced a brilliant save diving to his right. A few minutes later the keeper made another good save when he tipped a Ferries shot over the bar. County had upped the tempo and Aberdeen were lucky still to be level. The penalty save really was massive. On 53 minutes Low played a good long ball for Robertson to chase. The full back won a throw in before he put over a good ball to the edge of the box which Driver met perfectly. His first time volley was well directed and he found the corner of the net. The Dons had the lead thanks to a very good finish. As County then pushed forward Masson, Low and Smith were able to influence the game more. A minute later Aberdeen should have been two up when a brilliant ball from Masson picked out Shankland in the six yard box but the striker could not get a touch. Masson then put over another very good ball from a corner but frustratingly no one was able to get a touch. Then just before the hour mark Masson again swung in a great ball and Robertson coming in at the back post very nearly got on the end of it.
The Dons then won a corner which Shaughnessy headed over. It was a good chance as he had a free header. Then, a few minutes after that when Masson's through ball found Low. The Dons had a two on two but the last defender just managed to nick the ball away from Low. On 65 minutes there was another golden chance wasted when Shankland did really well to hold the ball up and then play it back to Masson who put it over the bar from 15 yards out. He really should have hit the target. One hoped the Dons would not come to regret those missed chances.
After 67 minutes substitute Lyall, who had just come on for Quinn, was booked for a challenge on Smith. The game was still very competitive- despite the Dingwall side being bottom of the table this was arguably as tough a test Paul Sheerin's side had faced away from home this season. After 70 minutes Shankland hit a good shot from about 30 yards out which the County keeper beat away. With quarter of an hour to go Driver was replaced by Scott Wright. Then on 80 minutes Campanile came on for Smith. The last 10 minutes were very nervous. Shankland put a free kick just over his own goal before Lyall put a shot inches over the bar. MacLeod put a ball across the goal line but thankfully Shaughnessy was on hand to clear. The home side also had a number of free kicks which allowed them to get bodies into the box but the Dons defence stood firm superbly. A gutsy win for the Dons which keeps them clear at the top of the table.
Ross County Teamsheet
Tait, Miller, Saunders, Burgess, Meite, Beeston (Dingwall 75'), Palazuelos, Dunfield, MacLeod, Quinn (Lyall 62'), Ferries Subs not used: McCarthy, McLennan, Kingston
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Mutch, Shaughnessy, Robertson, Gibbons, Culjak, Rose, Driver (Wright 75), Masson, Shankland, Smith (Campanile 80), Low.

Unused Subs: Felek, Robertson, Henry, Jones.

Bookings:  Shaughnessy.
Venue: Victoria Park, Dingwall