Port Vale 0 v 1 Aberdeen - ft score at Vale Park kick off 7.30pm
Paton pen 80 mins
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There was excitement among Dons fans at the Vale Stadium as word went round that Paul Hartley was in the stands. On the pitch tonight Scott Vernon made his debut for Aberdeen with the other new signing Yoann Folly starting for the first time as an official Dons player. There was also the welcome return of Derek Young making his first start of the pre-season campaign in midfield. Trialists Jim Collins and Grant Basey were named on the bench.
It was just as well there was a buzz around the stadium as on the pitch there was little to get excited about in the early stages.
Neither side creating any chances in the first 10 minutes.
Andrew Considine had the best early chance for the Dons. He picked up the ball at the edge of the box after good hold up play by Scott Vernon. The big defender took a touch and fired in a left foot shot that was saved by Tomlinson in the Port Vale goal.
Trialist Jim Collins got an early chance to impress after 16 minutes, coming on for injured Darren Mackie. Port Vale had a great effort midway through the first half after Gary Roberts cut inside from the right and fired in a shot that was blocked by Jerel Ifil.
The Dons went straight up the park and almost opened the scoring. Fraser Fyvie did well to hit the byeline and the youngster whipped in a vicious cross that Scott Vernon was inches away from connecting with, but the Port Vale defence stood firm and cleared.
Mark Howard did his chances of holding on to the goalkeeping position no harm with an assured performance for Aberdeen in the first 45. He did well to save a Justin Richards shot after the Port Vale striker was put through one on one. Howard stayed tall and blocked his effort. Good goalkeeping by the Dons shotstopper.
The best chance of the first half fell to Aberdeen. Great hold up play by Vernon allowed Folly to pick up the ball. He played a superb pass through to Fyvie, and the Dons youngster knocked the ball through to Jim Collins. The trialist took his time and fired in a shot, but the Port Vale keeper saved. Collins could have done better, but a great move by Aberdeen.
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Aberdeen only made only on one change at half time, trialist Grant Basey coming on for Andrew Considine, who did well in only his second start since the turn of the year.
Scott Vernon continued to impress on his debut almost creating a chance out of nothing after 47 minutes. He showed good pace to chase down a punt from Mark Howard and McCombe in the home sides defence did well to prevent the striker from getting a touch that would have seen him tap the ball into an empty net.
The Dons continued to play some nice football, with Folly and Fyvie linking well to release Vernon, who in turn set up Young, but his shot was blocked by McCombe. Mark McGhee changed things around a bit after 55 minutes, bringing on Michael Paton for Chris Maguire to play alongside Vernon in attack.
For the next few minutes the Dons pinned Port Vale back in their own box with a succession of corners but despite some good delivery the home defence held firm. Vernon then left the field to be replaced by Josh Magennis on the hour, the big English striker can be well pleased with his debut and looked like he could be a very good addition to the squad.
Port Vale offered little in attack, their best effort a solo run from Sean Rigg. The winger beating two Dons players before unleashing a shot that went just over the bar. This gave them confidence and they won a free kick at the edge of the box after a crude challenge on Richards by Ifil. Port Vale wasted the chance and saw their set piece go well over the bar.
There was a real worry for the Dons midway through the second half. A crude challenge by Griifth on Fraser Fyvie saw the youngster lying on the ground clutching his shin. It looked a bad injury but the teenager recovered to play on, only to receive a yellow card from the referee together with one for Griffith. Boss Mark McGhee was incensed by the decision and had to be calmed down by the man in black.
With fifteen minutes to go Mark Howard pulled off an excellent save from a Richards header to keep the score level. And Port Vale winger Doug Loft worryingly ran the length of the pitch without before a challenge from a Dons player prevented him from firing his side into the lead.
Mark McGhee will have worried at the space given to the player to run at the Aberdeen defence.
With ten minutes to go Aberdeen took the lead from the penalty spot. Ryan Jack made a great run into the box and was upended by Rob Taylor. Michael Paton stepped up and coolly slotted the ball home.
Port Vale tried to respond and Loft was unlucky to see his free kick go just past the post, but it looked like Howard had it covered if it had been on target. And seconds later Sean Rigg saw his shot creep just wide after he hit a volley from the edge of the box. The match ended with an audacious effort and save from Mark Howard. Justin Richards looked like he had no sight of goal after picking up the ball in the box. Two Dons defenders behind him so he couldn't turn and shoot, but instead the striker back heeled a great effort that Howard clutched.
So it ended with a one nil win for the Dons and a great workout for Mark McGhee's men.
Aberdeen: Howard, McArdle, Considine, Ifil, Diamond, Maguire, Folly, Young, Fyvie. Vernon, Mackie
Subs: Bain, Paton. Megginson, Magennis, Collins, Robertson, Shaughnessy, Jack, Basey
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