The Manager made one change to the side that beat Dundee United last week with Clark Robertson replacing Andrew Considine. In a 4-3-3 or a 4-5-1 formation Robertson was positioned at left back with Reynolds and Anderson in central defence and Joe Shaughnessy at right back. Ryan Jack and Willo Flood were the central midfielders with Pawlett also in the centre but given licence to push forward and support Zola upfront. Hayes was wide left and McGinn wide right.
The match kicked off in perfect conditions for a game of football.
The Dons made a very positive start. On three minutes Aberdeen had the first chance of the game. Jack played in a free kick and it was not properly cleared by the home defence. Pawlett picked the ball up on the edge of the area, he was tackled as he tried to weave his way thought but Reynolds picked up the ball, made room for the shot and thumped a great left footed effort on target which Ben Williams did well to palm away. In truth it was at a good height for the keeper but he still had to make the save. Hibs still could not clear their lines and the ball was played to the back post area where McGinn was lurking but his header was blocked and eventually the ball was hacked to safety.
On five minutes the first corner of the game went to Aberdeen. McGinn swung the ball over and found Anderson at the back of the six yard box. The skipper headed the ball back across the face of goal but unfortunately there was not one red jersey there to capitalise. Hibs again failed to clear their lines and the Dons had a strong penalty shout for hand ball but referee Steven McLean waved play on. On seven minutes Pawlett showed a great turn of pace as he fired down the left flank, he got to the byline but he was left beating the turf in frustration as he could not do anything with the cross.
In the first 10 minutes it was all Aberdeen.
On 14 minutes Niall McGinn stepped in off his right wing, beat a couple of players and found an opening. The Dons top scorer from last season had a clear sighting on goal and had time to steady himself but he lifted his shot well over. On 19 minutes another chance for the Dons. Referee McLean awarded Aberdeen a free kick when he should have played advantage. As it was Jack swung in another very dangerous ball. Again no Hibs defender attacked the ball with any conviction and as it bounced about in the six yard box Anderson was very close to getting a touch before Williams gratefully grasped it.
Aberdeen were still well on top and Flood was running the show in the middle of the park.
On 23 minutes Zola did really well to keep the ball in play whilst a defender tried to shepherd the ball over the line for a goal kick. He showed impressive physical strength to turn McPake before playing the ball back to Pawlett but he slipped at the crucial moment and a promising attack was wasted. On the half hour mark Hibs, for the first time, put some pressure on as they won a series of corners. Langfield did well to punch clear the second one and McGinn and Pawlett broke at pace. They at one stage had a two on two situation but the defenders did well to regroup and Pawlett was unable to pick out McGinn in the box.
On 32 minutes the Hibs fans claimed for a hand ball against Anderson in the box, not one Hibs player appealed which rather told the story. Hibs then though put a slick move together and a cross from the left very nearly found the in form Heffernan who had escaped his marker. A minute later Liam Craig had a good opening as the home side pushed forward but from the edge of the area he dragged his shot wide.
Before the break McGinn put over another couple of dangerous corners. The Dons won six in total during the first half. He was flighting them to the back post area and Williams, who is not the tallest keeper, was struggling to deal with them. On 42 minutes Jack broke forward and picked out Zola with a good forward pass. The striker had peeled wide and his shot from a tight angle could only find the side netting. A minute later a very similar chance for Heffernan after a simple diagonal long ball. The striker got his shot on target but Langfield stood up well and saved at his near post.
Although Hibs finished the half with some pressure, the Dons would have been disappointed to go in at the break still on level terms after dominating for most of the first 45 minutes.
At the start of the second half Joe Shaughnessy had a couple of chances. First from a Hayes cross he could not quite win his header in the six yard box. Then the ball fell to him on the edge of the area and although his left footed shot was on target the ball was deflected wide. Aberdeen won a corner and Williams made a complete hash of it as he tried to punch clear but again the ball would not drop in the box to a red shirt.
On 49 minutes the Dons were handed a golden opportunity to take the lead. There was a terrible mix up at the back for Hibs and this allowed Pawlett a clear run in on goal. He was at a tight angle so hit his shot early. Williams blocked with his legs but the ball fell to Niall McGinn who was following up. The striker had an empty net to aim for but McPake did brilliantly from nowhere to get back and made a block.
On 50 minutes Ryan Jack picked up the first yellow card of the afternoon. The midfielder was less that happy. On 51 minutes another great opening for the Dons as they broke forward at pace but again the final ball let them down. A minute later, Pawlett beat a couple of players on the edge of the area, his shot was blocked but fell kindly to Zola, who chested it down but volleyed it over the bar.
On 54 minutes the first substitution of the afternoon, James Collins replaced Tudur Jones. Shortly after that Rowan Vine replaced Heffernan as Hibs went to a more attacking 4-4-2 formation in an attempt to stop the one way traffic.
On 57 minutes there was another good chance for the Dons. Hayes, who was now well on top of marker Lewis Stevenson, fired past him into the box. He cut the ball back, Zola could not win it but the on rushing McGinn had a great chance. He never really set himself though and in the end put the ball harmlessly over. After 64 minutes the first Dons change of the afternoon was made by Derek McInnes when Calvin Zola came off and Scott Vernon came on. Big Scott was given a great reception by the Aberdeen fans. Maybe they knew what was about to come? His first involvement was to win a header which landed at the feet of Pawlett in the box but Peter was unable to get a shot away.
On 70 minutes Barry Robson came on for Jonny Hayes. He had the chance to score with his first touch of the ball as Aberdeen had won a free kick 30 yards out. Barry went up and claimed the ball. He got his effort on target but Williams was able to watch it all the way and made a comfortable save.
On 78 minutes Pawlett, who had a very good game came off and was replaced by Gregg Wylde. What a substitution it turned out to be. Wylde, who was outstanding for the U20s during the week, did really well to win the ball over on the left wing area and he played a clever ball in the path of Scott Vernon. The striker took one touch before firing an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net. What a finish. It was a great moment for the striker after the disappointment of the penalty miss into the same goal in the Scottish Cup tie last season. Ben Williams, who is a friend of Scott after they played together at Colchester, saved the penalty that day but did not get anywhere near this one.
On 86 minutes a major let off for the Dons. Robson played a long back pass which Langfield had time to deal with but the Dons number one slipped in the box as he tried to kick it. Collins picked the ball up and was one on one with the keeper but thankfully he pushed his shot wide of the post. Hibs, who had not looked like scoring all afternoon, very nearly got an equaliser. You could not blame the keeper, it was just one of those things. A number of players lost their footing during the game due to the pitch being watered.
That chance lifted the home side and Hibs threw everything at the Dons in the final stages but Aberdeen defended well. Anderson and Robson used their experience and organised everyone superbly. In stoppage time, when Hibs had really run out of ideas, the Dons broke. Vernon played a great ball in behind the defence for Wylde to run onto and the winger coolly fired home his first goal for the Dons.
Aberdeen were then able to see the game out and enjoy the final few minutes.
It shows you the strength of the Aberdeen squad when you have Robson, Vernon and Wylde coming off the bench and all three played a major part in winning this game, as did the eleven other players.
An impressive performance and a thoroughly deserved victory.