For the second season in succesion the Dons were knocked out of the league cup on penalties at Pittodrie. It was St Mirren who were victors on this occasion- winning 4-2 on spot kicks after the game had ended 2-2 after extra time. The long wait for a trophy at Pittodrie goes on...
For this one Craig Brown made two changes from the side that started against Dundee with Josh Magennis and Jonny Hayes starting in place of Chris Clark and Ryan Fraser. This saw Isaac Osbourne return to midfield.
The Dons started brightly and created a few chances in the opening stages of the game. Niall McGinn had an early chance before Jonny Hayes won a corner kick after a good run down the right. The corner from Hayes was touched towards goal by Russell Anderson and Sampson palmed away before McAusland had to block Osbourne's effort on the rebound on 2 minutes.
It was St Mirren who took the lead though after 6 minutes. A cross by Imrie was met by Thompson whose header crashed off the bar and after Langfield had touched it onto the bar but Sam Parkin nodded in the first goal of the game.
The home side tried to respond and a McGinn cross was held well by Sampson before Scott Vernon's effort was blocked by McAusland. A short time later, a fantastic move by Aberdeen saw McGinn find Hayes who passed to Osbourne. Unfortunatley his chip over the top was a little too strong for Stephen Hughes who didnt have the pace to catch it.
Scott Vernon got the Dons level on 21 minutes- taking advantage of some slack goalkeeping by Samson. After a Hayes corner and another McAusland clearence, Vernon rose above the defence to head past the flaling goalkeeper and restore parity in the game.
Aberdeen looked to capitalise further and McGinn was next to have an effort at goal while Hayes continued to get the better of the St Mirren right back, Dummet who was struglling against the former Inverness player. Another fine cross from McGinn into the box went unrewarded when no red shirted payers were there to touch the ball into net.
At the other end Langfield had to punch away a Jim Goodwin free kick which looked like it might creep in at the keepers' left hand post.
A fantastic interception by Clark Robertson set Stephen Hughes off on a long run but the momentum ran out of the attack and Hughes fired his cross out of play. Langfield then had to make anoher save from Dougie Imrie as St Mirren again threatened on the break and McLean also fired in a shot that took a deflection and went out for a corner.
After the break the Dons started well and Magennis forced Sampson into an early save before there were appeals from the Red Army for a penalty as Thompson and Vernon clashed in the box but referee Crawford Allan waived play on. Samson was then forced into two saves in close succesion as the Buddies began to sit deeper in their own half.
A cross from Issac Osbourne was flciked on by Vernon but no one was there to take advantage for Aberdeen as the ball flashed across the front of goal. The same happened again a short while later, this time McGinn with the cross into a fantastic position. There was a reminder for the Dons of the Saints threat on the break when a shot from Thompson had to be saved by Langfield.
The Dons didn't heed the warning though and it was St Mirren who took the lead again on 69 minutes with a stunning strike. A long ball deflected off Russell Anderson and landed at the feet of Kenny McLean just outside the box and he unleashed a magnificent curling shot into the back of the net leaving Langfield helpless. The keeper had no chance with either goal.
Aberdeen, roared on by the Red Army, responded well to another set back and Gavin Rae eventually won a corner after a good run into the visitors' box but they could't take advanage. Scott Vernon was replaced by Ryan Fraser as Craig Brown shuffled the pack to try and get his side back into the game then Clark Robertson was replaced by Cammy Smith on 82minutes.
A good free kick from Hayes was delfelcted wide for a corner which came to no aviail while at the other end, Steven Thompson headed against the post and the Dons cleared. Then just as it looked like the Dons would be dumped out of the cup, Josh Magennis (by now playing up front) scored after Cammy Smith's shot had been blocked in the second minute of stoppage time.
In the first period of extra time, Ryan Fraser was again influential. Firstly his pass found Cammy Smith who in turn found McGinn but the Northern Irishman dragged his shot just wide of the far post. Then Paul Dummet became the 15th player to be booked for fouling Fraser as once again the youngster got the better of a defender.
Mark Reynolds had a shot which hit the side neting before a great cross from Fraser had to be headed behind for a corner with Camy Smith lurking inside the box. Smith did have a shot at Sampson a short time later but the goalkeeper made a comfortable save.
HT in ET 2-2
Gary Naysmith replaced Josh Magennis as the Dons shuffled around again and they continued to threaten the St Mirren goal. Issac Osbourne was another to hit the side netting before Hayes tried to find Smith in the box but the pass was cut out again by the stubborn Saints defence. Persistenet play by McGinn won Aberdeen another corner but like so many others on the night this one was wasted and Sampson held well.
Ryan Fraser was victim to yet another foul for which Van Zanten was booked by referee Allan, although this one didn't seem quite as brutal as some of the rest of the treatment the Dons star has been subjected too. More persistent and inventive play by McGinn won the Dons another corner before St Mirren broke with the games last real attack. Lewis Guy found himself through on goal and having slightly over hit the ball, went down with the presence of Jamie Langfield close by. Referee Allan decided that there was no infringement by the Dons goalie and booked the St Mirren Sub for simulation. Extra time ended with no furher change to the scoreline.
FT in ET 2-2
With the teams unable to be seperated over 120 minutes, the drama of penalties was up next. St Mirren scored their first penalty to put early pressure on the Dons and Stephen Hughes succumbed to the pressure and crashed his penalty off the cross bar. Gary Teale stepped up and scored the visitors' second before Nial McGinn scored a great kick to make it 2-1 St Mirren after 2 penalties each. Jim Goodwin and Jonny Hayes then converted their spot kicks and when McAusland made it 4-2 to St Mirren- Cammy Smith had to score.
Samson saved and the Dons were beaten yet again on penalties and exit the Communities League Cup at the Quarter Final stage. A positive response is now required in Dingwall to continue their superb run in the SPL and make up for the undoubted disappointment for fans, players and staff at Pittodrie at failing to make it to Hampden.