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AFC - Match Report
match report 2019-20 fixture list
Scottish Premiership 
31/08/2019
 
Aberdeen 3 - 0 Ross County
Kick Off:  3:00 PM   Leigh 34, Cosgrove 37 (Pen), Hedges 50.        
Attendance: 13,006 (Visitors: 285)
Venue: Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Cosgrove Hits 10 in August as County Well Beaten
Derek McInnes made four changes to the team that drew 0-0 at Rugby Park last Saturday, two of them enforced by injury to defenders Scott McKenna and Shay Logan. They were replaced by Zak Vyner and Mikey Devlin, while Niall McGinn and Ryan Hedges also returned to the starting XI in place of Jon Gallagher and James Wilson who were among the substitutes. Following the 4-1 drubbing that Ross County took at home to Livingston last weekend, they also made four changes, Kelly, Fontaine, Spittal and Chalmers replaced with Watson, Gardyne, Grivosti and the returning Richard Foster.

With Pittodrie cloaked in a blustery, swirling wind, McGinn won the Dons an early corner just two minutes in and another followed immediately after as the Dons kept the pressure on, though Sam Cosgrove twice looked to be flattened as he challenged for crosses, Ross eventually clearing their lines.

Eight minutes in, a quickly taken free-kick by Craig Bryson had McGinn in on goal, his ball across the face pushed by Laidlaw into the path of Cosgrove who seemed certain to score, but his shot from eight yards out was hooked off the line by Watson.

On the quarter hour, a great break down the left by Greg Leigh earned him time to pick out McGinn with a precise pass along the deck but from 14 yards out, McGinn skied his effort well over from a promising position.

Following a string of fouls on Cosgrove, one of them was finally given midway through the half, Hedges' ball from the right touchline reaching Mikey Devlin who couldn't get an angle on his header and put the ball well wide of goal.

Two minutes later, patient football from the Dons kept County penned in before McGinn crossed dangerously, Watson clearing the ball with a downward header that bounced over, more by luck than judgement. Two quick corners that followed came to nothing.

In the 27th minute, Stewart went into the book for an assault on Joe Lewis who had already comfortably caught a cross, Stewart jumping into him with a reckless and unpleasant challenge.

The Dons won a free-kick for a Stewart handball some 35 yards out in the 34th minute. The set play was beautifully worked, McGinn playing it short and wide to Hedges whose first time cross with the left peg picked out Leigh who rose superbly in the centre of the penalty area to thump his header into the far corner, a goal straight off the training pitch.

Two minutes later, Laidlaw and Morris got themselves into a tangle, the keeper taking out Lewis Ferguson on the far edge of the box, the referee pointing to the spot after a moment of consideration. Up stepped Cosgrove to bury the ball into the bottom corner to the goalkeeper's right, his 10th goal of the season before August is out.

Ross responded swiftly and a long ball got McKay into good space eight yards out, but he made a complete hash of his volley as the ball dropped over his shoulder and the danger was gone. Grivosti ended the half with a 40 yarder that scaled the heights of ambition but plumbed the depths of execution as it went miles over the bar.

HALF-TIME: Aberdeen 2 Ross County 0

Three minutes into the second half, Stewart and Funso Ojo collided, purely accidentally, Ojo coming off worst and needing treatment before continuing.

The Dons were patient from the restart, McGinn eventually receiving the ball out on the left. He floated the ball to the back post where Foster and Laidlaw dithered. Hedges, in contrast, was decisive, nipping between them to score from a couple of yards out and headed off to celebrate as the County pair tried to shift the blame onto one another.

The visitors were swiftly up the other end, a Stewart shot smothered by Ojo as he went to ground two yards in front of him. The ball clearly touched his hand, purely accidentally, but the referee pointed to the spot - is anybody clear on the new handball rule? McKay faced Lewis from 12 yards. He went the opposite side of the goal to Cosgrove's effort, the ball clipping the outside of the post and flying clear as the Dons remained 3-0 up.

Ross County tried to shake things up with the introduction of Spittal for Mullin on the hour. Lewis Ferguson then tried to find goal from 25 yards, the ball taking a deflection and dipping wickedly just over the bar with Laidlaw flatfooted. Scott Wright became the Dons' first swap, replacing Bryson after another neat and tidy display oiling the midfield engine in the 62nd minute.

A great ball up the line from Devlin allowed Hedges to sit Foster on his backside before cutting into the box and crossing sharply, McGinn shinning the ball wide of goal from the edge of the six yard box in the 65th minute. A minute later, Laidlaw made a good save at his near post from a ferocious Cosgrove drive as the confidence was really flowing through the Aberdeen side. Graham immediately came on for McKay in County's second change before the corner was taken.

Ross almost gave themselves a lifeline in the 70th minute after Vyner was dispossessed, Stewart sent in on goal, shaping his effort around Lewis, the ball thumping against the post and back into play, a decent attempt from the striker. Three minutes later, Considine went into the book for a late challenge on Gardyne as the game began to peter out, the Dons content to keep the visitors at arm's length.

Laidlaw had to make a good save in the 80th minute, Wright's sharp shot saved with his feet after Cosgrove had set him up with a neat lay-off from Leigh's cross.

Power became Ross County's late switch, coming on for Stewart and the Dons then made a double change with Bruce Anderson and Jon Gallagher getting a late run out in place of McGinn and Hedges with seven minutes to go. Almost immediately, Anderson took a whack as he fell awkwardly on his shoulder as he chased a ball to the by-line with Watson but was eventually able to continue.

Vigurs had a chance to reduce the arrears in the 89th minute but placed his free-kick over the bar from 25 yards out, the last meaningful action of the afternoon as the Dons made it two out of two in the league at Pittodrie.

 
Derek McInnes - Post Match

Performance

"I thought the performance was very good.

"I thought from the first roll of the ball that we were very bright with our work, I thought that we stamped our authority on the game, everything that we weren't last week at Kilmarnock in terms of being to safe, too pedestrian with our work and not showing enough intent - I thought was the opposite today.

"I thought that we had a front three pulling and running their back lot. I thought we had two very strong running performances from (Craig) Bryson and (Lewis) Ferguson in the middle of the park making good runs beyond and supporting.

"I thought we got both full backs high, I thought both full backs did very well in the game.

"The intent from everyone was there to go and get that first goal and impose ourselves on the game.

"I thought we passed up two or three really good opportunities to get the first goal but the players stuck to their task and everything that we spoke about last Saturday and worked on this week I was seeing played out in front of me and I was really pleased to see the players get the reward.

"I think it was a good team performance, it shows you what can be done when we are positive with our possession, more positive runs, more forward play and the quality is in the team and I am pleased that we have managed to pick up three points against a team that have come up and are very confident in themselves.

"Ross County are a team that is used to winning, I know they took a sore one last week but they still keep you on their toes, they have a good attacking threat and I am delighted to get the clean sheet as well as the goals.

"The only downside for me was the penalty and allowing Ross County into our box from the kick-off when we knocked off and we weren't aggressive enough and switched on enough.

"Thankfully we get our clean sheet, our second clean sheet in a row, but I think by and large, other than the penalty we looked very secure with our work.

"We would have taken the result before the start of the game."

The Goals

"It was a really well first worked goal from Greg (Leigh).

"When Sam (Cosgrove) stands over a penalty, I have said before he is very (Adam) Rooney like, you trust him to hit the back of the net and 2-0 was the least that we deserved at half time.

"I thought the third goal, a great bit of quality from (Niall) McGinn again and (Ryan) Hedges getting his goal. I have said often enough about our wide players having to contribute, they have given us assists and goals today and I thought between those two and big Sam we kept their back four worked all day."

The Penalties

"I thought our penalty was a penalty and I thought their penalty, by the letter of the law, was a penalty as well.

"I expected the referee to give the penalty, no complaints. I am just angry at my own team for letting the ball to travel into the box.

"I think last season that wouldn't have been but I think we all know that this season it is more likely to be given as a penalty and that is why I was so annoyed a few weeks ago at St Mirren when I think we never got a penalty for a clear handball but I think that the referee has got both right today."

Back Four

"That back four clearly hasn't played together but it is still a very capable back four.

"Zak played right back and did very well. I thought that Mikey got to the pitch of the game and it just shows you with Mikey - he is not getting into the team a couple weeks ago - it just shows you how you need that squad and how it changes and he is now in charge of that jersey after coming in and playing.

"It is great to have that quality within the squad to call upon if you do get injuries but you can see with the bench today we had no midfielders and no defenders on the bench and that is not through choice. It is through necessity."

Ryan Hedges

"Ryan did well.

"The wind on the pitch was a bit difficult at times with the set plays. I thought we looked a real threat from set plays, I thought that McGinn and Hedges delivery was very good. But certainly, off the free kick, it is a lovely weighted cross.

"I spoke with Ryan during the week and he is working hard to maintain that standard. We all know that wide players can be a bit up and down with their performances and it is important for all of our wide players that if they do come off their performances that they don't drop too much but certainly he was on it today."

Craig Bryson

"We knew that (Craig) Bryson had run his race because we are still working on him. I think with (Craig) Bryson it needs to be said you see his influence. With Kilmarnock last week I thought we were decent for an hour and we lost that influence in that last half hour (when Bryson went off).

"I thought that for a wee spell, we maybe lost that bit of impetus. We are almost now nearly in September without getting Bryson at full pelt.

"We knew the importance of trying to replace (Graeme) Shinnie, who was invaluable to me and our team. So, when Bryson is in the team, he brings a different dynamic to the midfield and to the team and I think the influence was certainly there until he had to come off.

"We will get some good work into him over the international break and hopefully now, with the benefit of the last three games, he will feel that his season is properly starting when he comes back after the break.

Greg Leigh

"It was never going to be easy replacing Max Lowe. Max was a real favourite here, with myself, the supporters and his teammates. They are different but what they have both done, they became really popular with the fans really quickly.

"Both with his defensive work and certainly now his goals, Greg is very good at attacking the ball in both boxes and we knew that when we brought him here.

"It is certainly one area, over last season, where we knew we would have an advantage, but his level of performance has been very good as well."

Front Three

"They started off well, we had good secure possession and that allows them to make those forward runs but their touches on the ball were very positive.

"McGinn should have scored off Greg Leigh's cut back (in the first half) but the amount of times if you freeze the picture at any time, the ball coming into the box both (Niall) McGinn and (Ryan) Hedges were constantly in goalscoring positions to score a goal and that is something that we bang on about and demand from our wide players.

"Both with their touches and their runs off the ball, I thought that both were influential today."

Update on Injuries

"Shay Logan I think will be okay for St Johnstone. Under medical instructions he was advised not to play today, but we are hoping we can get him running this week and back to contact the week of the St Johnstone game.

"Young Dean Campbell will hopefully be fit for the St Johnstone."

Aberdeen Teamsheet:  Lewis, Vyner, Devlin, Considine, Leigh, Ojo, Ferguson, Bryson (Wright 62), McGinn (Anderson 83), Hedges (Gallagher 83), Cosgrove.

Unused Subs: Main, McLennan, Wilson, Cerny.

Bookings:  Ojo (51),  Considine (73).

Ross County Teamsheet:  01.Laidlaw, 02.Fraser, 15.Watson, 05.Morris, 18.Foster, 14.Mullin (20.Spittal 60), 11.Vigurs, 12.Grivosti, 07.Gardyne, 09.Mckay (19.Graham 67), 27.Stewart (22.Power 83).

Unused Subs: 23.Chalmers, 24.Paton, 25.Ruddy, 43.Reid.

Bookings:  27.Stewart (27).

Referee: Nick Walsh

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