Aberdeen claimed their first penalty shootout victory since 1999 as they overcame Alloa Athletic to seal a place in the third round of the league cup. The shoot out came after a poor game of few chances and little excitement for the crowd of 4,897 at Pittodrie.
Derek McInnes made four changes to the side that lost to Hearts the previous weekend. Out went Weaver, Shaughnessy, Hector and Vernon to be replaced by Langfield, Anderson and Zola while young Craig Murray made his first start for the first team.
The first half began with the Dons on top and they won their first corner on 4 minutes after Calvin Zola capitalised on an Alloa error before finding Niall McGinn who won the corner. The pace of Hayes caught McCord out on 8 minutes and he was booked by referee O'Reilly. McGinn then fired a free kick straight at former Dons keeper Scott Bain in the Alloa goal.
On 14 minutes the Dons won another couple of corners and from the second one the kick was floated in towards the back post, Russell Anderson headed back across goal before Mark Reynolds headed over the bar from 6 yards out. 2 minutes later, Peter Pawlett stung the palms of Bain with a powerful drive from just outside the box.
Aberdeen continued to dominate possession but so often they were thwarted by a determined Alloa side who forced the Dons into shots from distance, the latest from Nicky Low which Bain saved comfortably. Then there was a weak Reynolds header straight at the goalkeeper while Zola also fired in a low, driven effort.
The visitors won their first corner kick on 32 minutes and from it Langfield was forced to tip Jason Marr's header on to the cross bar. The rebound landed in the box and after a bit of confusion the Dons got the ball away.
On 37 minutes Peter Pawlett hit another powerful drive just over from outside the box. Then a moment of controversy- as Zola attempted to cross the ball it appeared to hit the arm of an Alloa player. Neither the referee or his assistant gave the hand ball but instead awarded the Dons a corner. Just before the break, Niall McGinn played in a super cross but Calvin Zola couldn't get near it.
The Dons began the second half in sloppy fashion, needlessly giving away the ball on several occasions to the frustration of the home support. And the visitors tried to capitalise on the restless natives when on 53 minutes, they won a free kick. The kick was played short into the box, dummied by Cawley towards Stephen Simmons and his shot went wide right of the goal.
Aberdeen were then dealt a major blow when the industrious Willo Flood pulled up with a hamstring problem and had to be immediately replaced by Nicky Low. 10 minutes later the Dons were forced into another change when Jonny Hayes went down in the Aberdeen box after a clash of heads. He had to be stretchered off and after a delay of a few minutes was replaced by Greg Wylde. Derek McInnes made his final change of the night at this point as well with Scott Vernon replacing Clark Robertson, who had been booked a few minutes before for a foul on Ryan McCord.
The enforced changes seemed to disrupt the side and Alloa continued to compete well across the park- without ever posing much of a threat up front. They restricted the home side to long range efforts from the likes of Nicky Low, who tried a speculative effort which went well wide of the post.
Russell Anderson was booked on 87 minutes for a foul on Ryan McCord as he powered his way towards the box in a rare foray forward for the Clackmannanshire side, who had former Dons captain Paul Hartley at the helm.
The Red Army then attempted to give their side one final boost as the fourth official signalled 5 minutes of injury time but bar a McGinn volley that went well over the bar and a wasted corner their hopes looked forlorn until Russell Anderson appeared to be brought down on the corner of the Alloa box. Again referee O'Reily ignored the appeal from the Dons captain and normal time ended goalless to the frustration of the home fans.
Aberdeen dominated the first period of extra time and while a Pawlett run into the box came to nothing, Nicky Low did manage to fire in a long range effort which Bain had to palm away.The Dons also won a corner which was played in by Wylde but headed wide by Anderson at the back post.
Then they created a superb chance when Craig Murray-who played superbly throughout- crossed into the box towards Zola- but he couldn't generate enough power to trouble the goalkeeper with the header as he fell back the way.
The second half of extra time continued in the same vein with the Dons desperately seeking a winner to avoid the penalty shootout. Wylde tried his best to create down the left but so often he was left with few options in the box at which to aim at. They did win a free kick on the corner of the Alloa box which Wylde took himself and forced Bain into a good save low to his left. That was it for extra time and the game headed into penalties.
FT in ET 0-0
Aberdeen didn't have a great record in penalty shoot outs in recent years and there were some nervous faces in the stands as Alloa's Holmes stepped up and fired the first penalty confidently beyond Langfield. Niall McGinn got the Dons off to a good start scoring their first effort but the visitors weren't overawed by their Premiership opponents and hit some fine kicks beyond Langfield. Nicky Low, Peter Pawlett and Ryan Jack all scored fantastic penalties for the home side and the shootout levelled at 4-4. Former Don Darren Young scored Alloa's fifth before Scott Vernon held his nerve to keep his side in the cup. Jamie Langfield then made an excellent save from Michael Doyle and Mark Reynolds fired home beyond Bain to send the Dons into the third round of the league cup and send the Red Army home happy.
FT, Aberdeen win 6-5 on penalties.