Aberdeen U18s played Inverness CT this evening at Cormack Park in what was their first official Club Academy Scotland game of the season. It is likely that the games will be classed as friendlies as a full set of fixtures does not seem possible at the moment.
Still, it was a chance for the youngsters to impress, particularly a good number of the Aberdeen U16s who were involved this evening.
Kevin Hanratty was one of the more senior players on the pitch and his early run caused some problems for the Inverness defence. A quarter of an hour in Hanratty was brought down right on the edge of the box after a trademark mazy run. The winger picked himself up to take the free kick but fired just over the bar.
20 minutes in, Inverness were looking dangerous on the break and forced their first corner. Five minutes later a nice move down the left almost let Alasdair Riddle in. ICT, who are coached by former Don Ryan Esson, then forced four corners in a row but failed to trouble keeper Blessing Oloyumi.
On the half hour mark Aberdeen had a lucky escape after Oloyumi parried a cross then two opposition players failed to convert from close range - a combination of good defending and poor finishing.
Before the break both Hanratty and Luke Renforth fired shots over from outside the area and on the stroke of half time the impressive Adam Emslie cut in off the right wing and forced Inverness keeper Kyle Irvine into a smart stop.
HT. Aberdeen 0 Inverness CT 0
During the interval Dylan Lobban replaced Finlay Murray.
Aberdeen than started to slowly dominate possession and Hanratty was unlucky when his perfectly time run from deep resulted in him heading just over. Ethan Duncalf then could not keep a shot down, the same with Emslie who again cut in off his wing.
Lyall Booth also put in a number of dangerous crosses with his talented left foot.
The hour mark saw chances at both ends, very similar chances as well. Irvine produce a brave stop to keep out Tom Findlay as he latched onto a cross before the away side raced straight up the park and a low cross was prodded just wide by substitute Ethan Cairns.
With twenty minutes to go Liam Harvey replaced Findlay upfront.
And then with 15 minutes to go Aberdeen took the lead. A Hanratty corner eventually found the head of centre half Mason Hancock and the Englishman did well to direct his header on target, over the keeper and into the net.
Back came Caley though and Grant Hogg, also a centre back, was desperately unlucky to see his header from corner rebound off the bar.
On 79 minutes Ethan Duncalf came on for Renforth.
In the final ten minutes the wind had really picked up. There was less quality on show but with the away side pushing hard for an equaliser it made for a lively ending.
Aberdeen defended their penalty area well, not allowing to many shots in on goal.
And it was the Dons who created the better chances on the break. Emslie almost outpaced the defence but could not quite get a shot away before another clean break saw Liam Harvey taken down by the keeper outside the area. Irvine received a yellow card. Hanratty stepped forward and hit a thunderous free kick into the roof of the net.
A good way to finish the game and a thoroughly deserved goal for Kevin.
FT. Aberdeen 2 Inverness CT 0
Coach Scott Anderson spoke to afc.co.uk after the game.
"It was very pleasing to get a game and for the boys to get a run out and the opportunity to play. It is great just to be out on the pitch again.
"It was a squad that was thrown together a bit tonight because some of the U18s are in the building, and part of the Cormack Park bubble and so a lot of our young ones were involved. At times it did look like that, a team just put together, especially in the first half but there was more fluency second half and we score a couple of good goals, Mason with the header and Kevin with the free-kick. We missed a few other good chances as well.
"But we got there in the end.
"So there were positives to take from the game and we move on.
"We don't know when the next fixture is going to be.
"That was our first official Club Academy Scotland game. It was good to get back to that. Hopefully at the turn of the year we can have some more regular games and get some structure to the season. I don't see us getting many between now and December. Maybe we can get one or two in before the Christmas break and then we can get back to it in January. Fingers crossed, all being well.
"It has been difficult for the boys.
"They have not been together as a squad with the groups split. Some have been out here with me and the U16s and some are with the first team. But like everyone at the moment we just have to adapt as best we can.
"Anytime we do have an opportunity to play we want them to go out and show what they can do and play to a certain standard. That is very important."