Aberdeen were in Germany today to play Kaiserslautern for their final pre season match before the big kick -off next Saturday. It was always going to be the new look Dons toughest task to date as they took on the Bundesliga side at the Fritz Walter Stadion. Despite the scoreline there were some encouraging signs in the first half as Aberdeen put in a good performance.
Manager Mark McGhee named a starting eleven that included both Pawlett and Aluko and the Dons started the game really brightly and had some good possession. They were passing the ball about well and created a number of half chances. In the first 15 minutes Aberdeen won three free-kicks in dangerous positions. From one of them Sone Aluko landed up hitting the keepers post.
Aluko, who only played his first pre-season game for the U19s on Thursday, looked back to his best in the first half. The Nigerian international looked sharp and full of running and this will be a massive boost to Mark McGhee again of next Saturday's SPL opener against Hamilton.
The Dons were played some of the best football they have played so far during pre-season campaign. Their attacking play looked a lot more incisive and Scott Vernon had a couple of half chances after good build up play.
Kaiserslautern then started to come more into the game. Midway through the half Andrew Considine had a superb last ditch tackle to prevent a goal. From the resulting corner Mark Howard produced a quite stunning double save.
The Dons however did concede the opening goal after 33 minutes and it was a bad goal to lose. The back four were unsuccessful in trying to set an offside trap which allowed Christian Tiffert the chance to race in on goal and put the ball past Howard.
On 41 minutes the game, which had been played in a competitive spirit, almost bubbled over. The Germans were unhappy with a tackle by Peter Pawlett. Florian Dick ran after Pawlett and lifted his hands to the Aberdeen youngster. Most of the players then got involved in a scuffle. Once the referee had restored order Aberdeen's captain Paul Hartley was booked along with Kaiserslautern's Dick.
At half time Aberdeen made a couple of changes. Fraser Fyvie came on for Sone Aluko and Darren Mackie replaced Peter Pawlett.
During the next 10 minutes or the so the game was disrupted a bit as both teams made a number of changes. Jamie Langfield was the next Aberdeen sub as he replaced Howard. Again it will be a major boost to the manager to have the Scotland international keeper back after his foot injury.
Captain Paul Hartley was then replaced by Derek Young in the middle of the park.
On 55 minutes the Red Devils went two up. Running from deep Erwin Hoffer had the pace to get past Jerel Ifil and Hoffer gave Langfield no chance with the finish.
More substitutions as Ryan Jack came on for Rory McArdle at right back and Chris Maguire was replaced by Mitch Megginson. On 61 minutes Scott Vernon was then replaced by Josh Magennis up front.
By this stage of the game the German side were well in control. The Dons were certainly missing Hartley's organisational skills since he went off. You can already see how an important a player he is going to be this season.
On 68 minutes Ilicevic had a fine run down the left into the box. He was taken down and appealed for a penalty but the referee saw no foul. Then after 76 minutes the home side had another chance. Jessen played in a corner which Rodnei got his head to but his header went just wide.
Aberdeen did not give up though and on 82 minutes Andy Considine and Fraser Fyvie linked well after a corner. They set up Mitch Megginson who had a great shot but it was well saved by the goalie.
In the closing stages the game slowed down to almost walking pace and the match petered out. Again with so many changes it difficult to look too much into this result. The manager will have been happy to see both Sone Aluko and Jamie Langfield back fit again. The only injury concern at the moment is Richard Foster although last season's player of the year is suspended for the Hamilton game anyway.
Final word must go to the 50 or so Aberdeen fans who have made the trip across. They were in superb voice throughout the game.
So that was pre-season. It all starts for real on Saturday.
Aberdeen: Howard (Langfield), McArdle (Jack), Considine, Ifil, Diamond, Maguire (Megginson), Hartley (Young), Folly, Pawlett (Fyvie), Vernon (Magennis), Aluko (Mackie).
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