As expected new signing Shaleum Logan came into the side and lined up at right back, alongside a back four of Anderson, Reynolds and Considine. In midfield it was Hayes, Robson, Flood and McGinn with Pawlett coming back into the side and playing off Rooney. With only five subs allowed on the bench the manager could only select four outfield players alongside Weaver. Tate, Vernon, Low and Zola were the players who got the nod.
Both sides had lost five semi-finals in the previous six seasons. St Johnstone started the game knowing they had never beaten Aberdeen in any cup tie before. Russell Anderson started the game on two bookings from previous rounds and a third this afternoon would have meant the Dons captain would have missed the final.
In the very first minute Adam Rooney produced a great turn and forced Steve Banks to tip the ball over the bar. The St Johnstone defence and goalkeeper looked hesitant. From the resulting corner the whistle went but the Dons were soon back on the attack. Keeper Banks, who looked nervous during the warm up, slid as he went to hit the free kick from the goal kick line. The ball landed straight at the feet of Rooney. He ran in down the right before putting a great low ball across the face of goal. Hayes coming in at the back post managed to slide in and put the ball in the net. Jonny did not make great contact but got enough on it to force the ball over the line. It was a fantastic cross from Rooney who took it wide before believing it - he knew exactly where to put the ball to find Hayes.
The Aberdeen support went mental! What a start.
St Johnstone came straight back at Aberdeen. Steve May had a shot from 25 yards but his effort was comfortably saved by Langfield. The Saints then won their first corner of the match but Aberdeen cleared the danger before Robson went down with a knock. Then Russell Anderson had to match the run of May before blocking his shot and from the resulting corner Steven Anderson headed wide.
Back came the Dons. On 9 minutes Hayes and Rooney linked up well down the left. Hayes' cut back was only just cut out by a Saints defender. Even though they have only played two games together for the Dons the partnership between Hayes and Rooney is extremely encouraging. Jonny said on RedTV pre match that the pair have a good understanding from their Inverness days and it was very evident again today. Maybe not just a coincidence that Hayes has put in two such excellent performances in recent weeks. On 11 minutes some nice link up play from the Dons and Logan's low cross almost found Rooney in the area.
After a hectic opening to the game, St Johnstone then laid siege inside the Dons half for the next twenty minutes or so. On 12 minutes they played in a corner which Logan headed clear at the near post. The ball was played again and this time Reynolds cleared but the Saints kept the pressure on and Robson had to help out his defenders and clear for a third time. On 15 minutes St Johnstone won a soft free kick about 25 yards out. Wotherspoon took it but hit the wall. Then a minute later they won another free kick in an even better position but this May put his shot straight into the wall. Two minutes later they won yet another free kick in and around the box and this time Barry Robson was booked. As well as winning free kicks the Saints won a series of corners. On 20 minutes Frazer Wright blasted a shot over from a corner. Apart from that the Dons blocked almost every effort that came into the box, whether it be from a cross, free kick or corner. Reynolds, Considine and Anderson were outstanding all afternoon. Robson and Flood also put in their fair share of blocks as well.
On 22 minutes the Dons finally managed to get out of their own half and Robson found Rooney with a clever little ball forward. The striker went down in the box but the referee correctly waved play on. Back came the Saints though. On 23 minutes yet another free kick which Anderson cleared and then Reynolds did well to match the pace of Hasselbaink and then to hold him off.
Then on 25 minutes a massive moment in the game.
Striker Croft picked the ball up in behind the Dons defence. It was about the only time all after the Saints got in behind the Dons back line although he did seem to pick the ball up in an offside position. Croft ran in on goal and was one on one with Langfield. The keeper narrowed the angle before making a fantastic save to put the ball behind. World class goalkeeping from the Dons number one. Had St Johnstone scored at that point, who knows how the game might have gone?
Tommy Wright's side continued to dominate so it was completely against the run of play when Aberdeen scored their second on the half hour mark. Jonny Hayes first of all did really well to keep the ball in play deep inside his half. He then ran down the line as the Dons broke forward. He left his marker for dead before trying to put an early ball in for McGinn who had peeled off to the back of the area. Anderson cleared but he did not connect properly with his clearance and Pawlett picked the ball up about 30 yards out. Peter took one touch and used his pace to power into the box past Wright and the other defenders who were out of position. He was then one on one with Banks and from a tight angle showed great composure to find the net. The keeper might have done better to narrow the angle but it was still a great finish.
The Perth side will be disappointed with the defending at both goals in the first half.
St Johnstone continued to come at Aberdeen though, Reynolds on 34 minutes did really well to block May. A minute later Robson picked the ball up about 25 yards out and he would have fancied his chances but his shot spiralled wide. On 40 minutes former Don Gary McDonald had an opening but again Reynolds and Anderson were there to block the danger. Aberdeen finished the half on top with some good possession and they won a corner but ref Madden decided there was not enough time to take it.
At the start of the second half St Johnstone came out strongly as they tried to get themselves back into the game. On 48 minutes there was a scary moment when the ball beat Anderson but Reynolds was perfectly positioned to cover the danger and clear just as it looked like May would pounce. Then on 50 minutes St Johnstone's best chance of the game. From a corner Frazer Wright won the header and sent the ball towards goal. The ball looped up and out of the reach of Langfield and the man on the post but thankfully it hit the cross bar. The ball then fell the Gary McDonald and his shot was deflected only inches past. A major let off for the Dons.
The chance maybe stung Aberdeen back into life because for the rest of the half they played a lot better and St Johnstone never again looked like scoring.
On the hour mark Robson played a nice ball forward but Banks saved at the feet of Rooney. The keeper a minute later made a great save from Pawlett. Diving to his left he managed to get a strong hand on his shot and palm it away to safety. Shortly after that the keeper though was extremely fortunate when he brought down Pawlett in the box. Initially it looked like Madden had pointed to the spot but then he gave offside. Banks was an extremely lucky boy.
On 63 minutes the first substitution of the afternoon. Hasselbaink, who had been very well marshalled by Logan all afternoon, was replaced by new signing Iwelumo. Moments later though it was game over. Pawlett disposed MacKay inside the Dons half and the break was on. In the centre circle the midfielder timed his pass perfectly for Rooney to put him in the clear. As soon as the striker received the ball he looked composed and confident and there was only ever going to be one outcome, the ball landing in the net. He waited for Banks to come out before hitting it early before the keeper could set himself and curled it past him. A top finish from a top striker. Already he looks like being a very very good signing.
St Johnstone put a lot into the game this afternoon and deserve credit but they could not deal with the pace of the Dons attack. The final half hour was an enjoyable one as Aberdeen went looking for more goals. On 67 minutes McGinn's cross picked out Hayes but he lashed his shot just over. He really does possess a power shot with his left foot. On 70 minutes Wotherspoon was booked for a bad tackle on Hayes. From the resulting free kick McGinn picked out Considine who went very close. It really was one way traffic now and on 78 minutes it was number four. Rooney did well to win the ball and set up Hayes. The midfielder played with Wright, sending him one way, then another before drilling a low shot on the wet surface past Banks. A great finish from Hayes and the goal was enough to give him the man of the match award, just ahead of Anderson.
On 80 minutes a double change for the Dons saw Robson being replaced by Vernon and Anderson, who was simply outstanding, being replaced by Tate. Then late on Pawlett was replaced by Low. The final ten minutes were joyous for the Dons fans as they were able to celebrate their first final in 14 years.