Aberdeen went out of the League Cup this evening after being beaten 2-0 by Hibernian at Easter Road. A season full of highs so far, this was a first low point as the reds played their fourth game in twelve days. As well as the defeat the Dons lost both Willo Flood and Graeme Shinnie through injury early in the contest. The injuries certainly did not help but it was a still a flat performance from the Dons who never really got going and Hibs, who played well, deserved the win after scoring two good goals in the last ten minutes.
Derek McInnes named a strong looking side. The Dons lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with a back four of Logan, Considine, Taylor and Shinnie. Jack and Flood were in central midfield with Rooney, McLean and McGinn ahead of them and Goodwillie was upfront.
Despite two loses against Rangers this season, Hibs form of late has been decent and the Dons knew this would be a very tough tie. The Edinburgh side had yet to concede a goal at home in the league. The game kicked off in front of a crowd of 11,092 with 2,697 Aberdeen fans having made the trip to Edinburgh.
After a positive start from the Dons there was concern when Willo Flood went down in the fifth minute with what looked like an ankle injury. Willo signalled to the bench that he wanted to try and run it off. A few minutes later David Goodwillie was shaping up for a shot but Dylan McGeouch made a good tackle on the Dons striker. The Hibs midfielder then set the very pacey Martin Boyle free but Andrew Considine did well to knock the ball out for a throw in.
On 7 minutes Cummings curled a strike towards goal from 25 yards but it was a comfortable save for Danny Ward. Danny looked less comfortable on 10 minutes when a lack of communication with Ash Taylor almost caused a problem. Danny came racing out to deal with a ball over the top. His clearance landed up cannoning off Taylor but thankfully Considine was covering back and dealt with the situation.
On 10 minutes Rooney attempted to find the bottom corner from about 20 yards out but his effort went wide of the post. Two minutes later Logan raced down the right and played in Goodwillie who had timed his run perfectly to beat the offside trap. David could have had a shot but went tried to cross the ball and failed to find a Dons player. The striker might have been better having a shot himself.
15 minutes in, Stevenson knocked the ball down for Henderson who attempted a first time strike from the edge of the area but again it was comfortable save for Ward. On 16 minutes the first corner of the game went in the way of Aberdeen. Kenny McLean made a good jump to win the header but the ball was cleared by the Hibs defence. After 18 minutes Willo Flood had to admit defeat. He had not recovered from his injury so was replaced by Peter Pawlett.
The first 20 minutes were very even.
Midway through the first half Andrew Considine mistimed a tackle and gave away a free kick in a dangerous area. Liam Henderson, who is on loan from Celtic, could have played the ball into the box but elected to go for the shot and his effort went harmlessly over. On 26 minutes there was then another massive injury blow for the Dons when Graeme Shinnie limped off. Shay Logan moved over to left back and Ryan McLaughlin come on at right back.
Hibs were by now knocking the ball about well and causing the Dons a few problems. Meanwhile Aberdeen's play seemed to have been disrupted by the injuries and two enforced changes. Just after the half hour mark Niall McGinn played a ball in behind for Rooney who tried to fire a shot across Oxley. Adam caught his shot well and in the end the Hibs keeper made a good save. A minute later Dons fan Martin Boyle not for the first time managed to find some space in and around the box. From the edge of the area he managed to get a shot on target but Ward was well positioned to save.
Hibs were growing in confidence and on 35 minutes the home side won their first corner. They then won another in quick succession but Jack cleared the danger. On 37 minutes Goodwillie won a free kick 30 yards out. Ash Taylor decided he was going to try a pile-driver but his shot was always on the rise and went well over the bar. Then Hibs got lucky when Oxley punched a McLean cross into the back of the head of Rooney but the ball broke kindly for the home side.
Then out of nothing a half chance when McGinn broke free but his cross/shot was headed clear. On the stroke of half time another free kick for the Dons 25 yards out. McLean took it but his left footed shot hit the wall.
As the half ended it was a very intriguing cup tie. Niall McGinn was encouragingly getting more involved but Hibs had played well in the first forty-five and stopped the Dons from really getting going.
Aberdeen started the second half strongly and had a great chance within a minute of the re-start after a quick break. McGinn's cross to the back post found Pawlett but his header, under pressure, went just over. Taylor was then forced to make a great tackle just as Boyle looked as if he was in the clear. Back came the Dons and McGinn put over a great cross but the ball evaded everyone.
On 54 minutes Pawlett got to the by-line and squared it for McGinn but Niall just failed to get on the end of it. Then seconds later Gray was the first player to be booked. A free kick just outside the box was played in by McGinn but McLean's shot in the box was blocked and then a floated cross found Considine but his header went just wide of the post.
An hour in, better play from the Dons who were enjoying a good spell.
Hibs then made their first change, Liam Henderson was replaced by former Queen of the South winger
Carmichael. On 63 minutes Cummings broke away and into the Dons box but the defence managed to get back and recover the situation. The Hibs striker should have done better. Hibs then won a couple of corners but nothing came of them.
The game then became quite scrappy as both teams were guilty of giving the ball away. It was clear the first goal was going to be vital as the game was on a knife edge.
On 71 minutes excellent work by McLaughlin, who was now playing as a right wing back, the Liverpool man put in a low driven cross which Goodwillie got on the end of but the Hibs keeper did very well to snuff out the danger by diving at his feet and gather the ball. Then at the other end Boyle did well to create an opening, his deflected shot fell for McGeouch but he volleyed over.
In the final 15 minutes the game became quite stretched.
With ten minutes to go Hibs had a shout for a penalty as the ball came in from a corner but referee Steven McLean instead gave Aberdeen a free kick. Then on 81 minutes Hibs took the lead. The Dons had defended a spell of pressure well but failed the clear the danger. The ball fell to Jason Cummings on the edge of the area and he produced a great finish from 20 yards, chesting the ball down and drilling it past Ward.
Josh Parker replaced David Goodwillie in the closing stages as the Dons tried to find an equaliser. Hibs to their credit defended very well all night and the Dons never really looked like getting back into the game. As Aberdeen pushed players forward Hibs grabbed a second. It was a simple break and Malonga beat Logan before placing the ball past Ward.
A disappointing night for the Dons who must know lift themselves for another difficult away trip to Inverness on Saturday.