The Dons lost 2-0 at Ibrox this afternoon, but it was a result that was undeserved as the Dons put in a great second half performance. Aberdeen showed little in the first half and trailed to a Steve Davis goal after 14 minutes. After the break a rejuvenated Dons pinned Rangers back for long spells, but missed a series of chances. In the opening minute Vernon went one-on-one with McGregor, but he took the ball too wide. Arnason was next go close from a free kick then McGregor produced a great save from Vernon before Foster agonisingly headed the loose ball on to the bar with the goal gaping. A mistake from Gonzalez in injury time gave Rangers a second goal, but this is the second match against the Old Firm that Aberdeen have deserved something from the game, but left with nothing.
The Dons line up in a 4-5-1 formation with McArdle at right back. Mawene and Considine were in central defence with Foster at left back. In midfield Jack played wide right, with Fyvie, Osbourne and Arnason in the middle and Milsom wide left. Vernon was up front on his own.
There was concern for the Dons as early as the opening minute when Osbourne went down with a face knock after a clash with Edu. He had to go off for treatment. The Dons played on with 10 men whilst the midfielder got stitches for over 9 minutes. Thankfully the home side had made a very subdued start to the game. Not the fast start Aberdeen might have expected from Rangers after their midweek defeat in Europe. The match almost felt more like a pre-season friendly.
On 12 minutes and the first chance of the game. A simple long ball caused the Aberdeen defence problems. Mawene went to challenge the ball but misjudged it. The head flick by Jelavic put Lafferty through. He was able to get his shot away despite the close attentions of Considine but his shot went just over the bar.
On 13 minutes the Dons broke and momentarily had a four on three but Vernon played the ball to the wrong side. Milsom was screaming for the ball to his left and he was in acres of spaces.
Then on 14 minutes, out of absolutely nothing Rangers opened the scoring after poor defending. A simple one two on the edge of the box and Davis was in. The midfielder poked the ball past Gonzalez. Foster was furious with his midfielders for not tracking his him. After looking so comfortable in the opening stages it a shocking goal to lose. For the next 10 minutes or so the Dons actually enjoyed the majority of possession but struggled to get numbers forward to support Vernon. Also they could not get Milsom or Jack on the ball in wide areas.
The game continued to be played in a surreal atmosphere and was more little a game of chess. Both teams allowed the other to enjoy possession in their own half and doing very little pressing.
On 20 minutes Fyvie went through on goal and seemed to be body checked. Nothing given. Fyvie was by now though becoming more influential on the game in the middle of the park. Just before the half hour mark Dorin Goian was given a free header from a corner but thankfully he put the ball over the bar. Fyvie then set up Arnason but his left foot shot was always going wide.
The Dons continued to enjoy plenty of possession still struggling to get any width despite the five in midfield.
On 43 minutes Edu was put through but was brilliantly tackled by Mawene. Rangers then picked up possession again and this time Edu put a header just wide. Mawene had looked a little uncomfortable in the opening stages but he came onto an excellent game.
On the stroke of half time Goian was replaced by Whittaker. During the half time interval Aberdeen made a change. Ryan Jack had been injured prior to the game and despite his brave attempts he could not continue. Peter Pawlett came on in a direct swap.
Before most of the prawn sandwich brigade had returned to their seats the Dons should have been level. A mistake allowed in the ever alert Vernon. He was through on goal. He rounded McGregor who came out very quickly. He still had a chance to shoot from a very tight angle but decided to try play the ball back to Pawlett, he lost possession though and the chance was gone. You simply cannot miss opportunities like that at Ibrox.
The Dons heads did not go down though. They continued to dominate the game. Fyvie and Vernon were now linking up well. Fyvie was playing just off the striker in a more advanced position that he had played in the first half. On one occasion they linked up and Fyvie was hauled down by Whittaker. The Rangers player should have been booked. From the free kick the ball was dummied by Fyvie and laid off to Arnason who hit a great strike but the ball just went past McGregor's near post.
On 55 minutes after some good possession play by Rangers Edu headed the ball down to Jeavic but he dragged his shot wide. Apart from that it was all Aberdeen. Osbourne was immense in the middle of the park. He had stopped the influential Davis getting any supply.
Then on 56 minute the chance of the game. Pawlett, who was running riot on the right hand side played the ball back to McArdle. He steadied himself before putting in a great cross. Vernon headed hit goalwards by McGregor made a good save. The ball was kept in by Milsom and eventually found its way to Vernon just outside the penalty box. He hit a great shot which McGregor could not deal with. It was palmed out and Foster was the only player to react. He dived forward but his header clipped the bar. Everyone in the ground though it was a goal.
The Dons continued to push forward. From a corner a Mawene header was just cleared off the line.
It continued to be all Aberdeen. Pawlett was now providing some width and Fyvie was getting forward to support Vernon. On 64 minutes a good move between Fyvie and Arnason allowed Fyvie to get a shot on goal but it was straight at keeper and he held on this time. Fyvie was certainly enjoying his best game of the season. On 68 minutes Edu was booked for a poor tackle on Arnason. He caught him late on the ankle. Kari thankfully was able to continue. He had another superb game in the middle of the park. He just never gives the ball away.
On 70 mins Scott Vernon, who had run himself into the ground was replaced by Magennis. Then with 75 minutes gone, the last throw of the dice by Craig Brown. Rory McArdle was replaced by Mohamed Chalali. Osbourne went to right back. Fyvie back into a deeper midfield role and Chalali played just in behind Magennis.
The home crowd were starting to get very nervous.
On 78 minutes Naismith was booked for foul on Arnason. The player was rightly booked, and apologised immediately to Kari but the referee should have let the game go on as the Dons had the ball in a promising position. On 80 minutes great play by Foster and Milsom down the left. Milsom created space for himself and he dinked in a great cross but there was no one there in a red jersey. Then Magennis on the other side did really well. He beat a couple of men before putting in a great ball across goal but again frustratingly no one there.
The Dons were by now throwing everything at Rangers and they almost got caught on the break. Osbourne though made a great saving tackle on Davis. Isaac looked very comfortable at right back.
The Aberdeen players were now looking very tired. Their heads then dropped when the fourth official held up the board indicating there would only be two minutes of injury time. Quite how they managed to work out there was only two minutes considering both physios had been on the park more than six times between them was a mystery. At that point the Aberdeen players knew the game was up.
Mawene was booked for taking out Jelavic. Rangers then won a free kick which Davis hit. Gonzalez tried to catch it. The ball spilled out and Nasmith was on hand to put the ball into the empty net. The goal made no difference really as the Dons would not have had time to mount another attack.
A disappointing way to end a very frustrating afternoon.