Derek McInnes, involved in his fourth semi-final as Aberdeen manager, just made the one change, Mark Reynolds came in for the injured Ash Taylor. Skipper Ryan Jack was fit enough for a place on the bench and his influence in the changing room would be important this afternoon.
The Dons settled quickly and Hayes forced a corner in the first minute. Maddison's delivery was miskicked by Michael Doyle and the ball went behind for another corner. The second corner was played to the front post and keeper McNeil and a defender on the near post did just enough to keep out a stabbed effort from McLean. The third corner went to the same area and this time Hayes hit the bar with a header. A fourth corner from the other side was eventually cleared from a nervous looking Morton defence. In the fourth minute McGinn might have done better when Hayes played him down the line. His cut back from the left could not pick out a red jersey. Morton in the fifth minute had their first attack and did well to create some space but Jamie McDonagh put too much on his cross. Back came the Dons for another spell of pressure. McGinn on the right got to the by-line but his cross failed to find Rooney who had made a run to the near front post and the ball went to the back. A Maddison free kick was well defended before another corner was then flicked on by Hayes but the ball went beyond everyone. In the seventh minute another free kick, this time in front of the Aberdeen fans in the North Stand, was played short to Maddison who had time and space but he did not connect with the shot as well as he would have liked. In the 12th minute a McGinn cross was very well defended by Gavin Gunning and then two minutes later Mark Russell was forced to give away another corner after Hayes powered down the left. Again the corner routine looked for Maddison who had found space but his shot was always going over the bar. In the 16th minute Aberdeen forced corner number six but Maddison's ball in was poor. In the 18th minute McLean tried his luck from distance but his controlled shot never troubled McNeil.
For all their possession in the opening twenty minutes Aberdeen had not got the early goal they would have been looking for. Morton deserve credit for withstanding the pressure. The Greenock side looked very organised when not in possession of the ball. Both team then wasted free kicks before Quitongo and Oliver linked up for the first time with a one two on the edge of the area but O'Connor read the danger and cleared. Great defending. Morton then won their first corner in the 24th minute but captain Thomas O'Ware headed wide. Just before the half hour mark corner number eight fell to McGinn on the edge of the area but Niall did not get hold on his shot properly. The game then became very scrappy with a lot of niggling fouls. The constant break up of play was not suiting the Dons who could not get any tempo into their play. In the 34th minute a neat back heel by Maddison played in Shinnie and his low cross was cleared for yet another corner from which O'Connor had a half chance but he just mistimed his jump and his header looped over.
A couple of minutes later a good catch and quick throw from Lewis set Hayes free. The winger produced a much better cross which Rooney headed towards goal but the ball was deflected behind for corner number ten. Nothing came of it. Aberdeen would have fancied their chances from set pieces today but up to this point the Greenock side had defended very well. In the 41st minute good patient play forced another corner. Again Gunning and O'Ware dealt with it and McGinn's shot from the edge of the area was off target. Just before the end of the half both teams had great chances to opening the scoring. In the 43rd minute a through ball beat Reynolds and Quitongo was in. Mark tried to get back but the former Dons player got across the defender and was able to get a shot away. Joe Lewis came racing out of his goal to narrow the angle and produced a brilliant save with his legs. It was an outstanding stop. Then in the final minute Maddison's free kick landed back at his feet and this James played in a brilliant ball which found Rooney but his header thumped off the bar.
Right at the start of the second half McGinn went down inside the area after a good move but referee Clancy booked Niall for diving instead of pointing to the spot. On the 49th minute Aberdeen then forced two corners but again could not force McNeil into a save. At the other end Quitongo was starting to cause real problems. He won a number of free kicks and had one header which just went wide. Clancy produced a yellow card for Jamie Lindsay who had already committed a number fouls before taking down Shinnie in the middle of the park. On the hour mark Maddison won another free kick after a brilliant turn. His ball in was headed behind from Reynolds. It was end to end stuff at this point. O'Connor then produced another fine piece of defending to make a vital interception in the six yard box when he hooked a dangerous cross to safety. After that Logan finally forced keeper McNeil into a save but the assistant referee's flag was up.
The Morton players were visibly growing in confidence. After hardly getting a touch in the first twenty minutes they were now the side who were looking the more dangerous and the Aberdeen fans were beginning to become restless. All that was to change in the 68th minute. Shinnie played the ball to the far post. Considine deserves massive credit for winning his header and force the ball back into the six-yard box and Adam Rooney produced a superb header to loop the ball over the keeper and the defender on the line. There was a massive feeling of joy and relief.
The Dons then had some great chances to finish it.
A minute later Shinnie burst through. O'Ware did enough just to force him wide and with his right foot Graeme could not find the target. Then a minute after that a Hayes shot was deflected into the path of Maddison who stabbed the ball towards goal but McNeil did very well on the ground to block the shot. In the 74th minute a McGinn low ball found Rooney but his shot was deflected just past the post. Morton threw on Aiden Nesbitt and Scott Tiffoney and they tried to find a way back into the game. Aberdeen looked a completely different side after the goal as they relaxed and started to find space. Morton on the other hand were now struggling to produce the same energy they had done in the first 70 odd minutes. In the 77th minute Logan and Hayes combined down the left. Hayes got to the bye-line and his chipped cross was asking for someone to fire it home but Maddison sliced it wide. Three minutes later another chance for Rooney but Maddison got in his way and then at the other end Shinnie and McLean tackled each other as they tried to stop Quitongo's mazy run. That was the only moment of concern as the Dons were managing the final stages of the game well and Morton, who had given so much, looked dead on their feet.
Considine was booked before Ryan Jack replaced James Maddison and then the 10,977 Aberdeen fans in amongst the 16,183 crowd were able to enjoy the closing stages thanks to Kenny McLean getting the second goal in the 88th minute. McGinn got to the by-line and it looked like he would score but the ball was deflected into the path of Kenny who from close range found the net from a slight angle.
The Morton players deserve enormous credit for their efforts but in the end Aberdeen just had a little too much for them. Another very professional job from the players. Only a month until the Dons return to Hampden and they will find out who they are playing on Sunday.
Finally a victory a Hampden for the Red Army to enjoy.