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Aberdeen 1 - 1 Hamilton

HT Score: Aberdeen 0 - 1 Hamilton

Youth Cup
Dons win 4-3 on penalties after extra time
Aberdeen scorers: Anderson 84.

06/11/2016 | KO: 14:00

After comfortable wins against Highland League opposition in rounds one and two, the Dons had a much tougher assignment this afternoon when they faced fellow Premiership side Hamilton at Pittodrie at the third stage of this season's SFA Youth Cup. This was the pick of the third round ties. The home side lined up with Craddock in goal behind Robertson, MacPherson, Roscoe and Wells. In central midfield were Thomas and Norris with Antoniazzi and Ross wide supporting strike pair Nuttall and McLennan.

Hamilton were on the front foot from the first whistle putting pressure on the Dons rearguard but the defence stood firm to ensure Craddock wasn't tested. A mistake by Breslin almost presented Nuttall with an opening but Want bailed his fellow defender out by closing the striker down before he could find the unmarked McLennan. Both sides were playing at a fast tempo and the tackles were certainly not lacking commitment. A neat passing move sent Smith off down the left but Roscoe was quickly across to snuff out the danger as the visitors enjoyed a spell of dominance.
Smith had a sight of goal in the 15th minute but again Roscoe blocked well. Craddock had his first direct shot to deal with shortly after but he dealt capably with Ferguson's rising 15 yard effort. The Dons began to come more into the game and McLennan fired a dangerous cross into the area but there was no-one in a red shirt to profit. Sam Robertson then tried his luck from distance but the shot flew in the Merkland Stand.
Accies took the lead in the 22nd minute when Breslin broke forward through midfield to feed the ball to Ferguson on the edge of the area and he fired the ball into Craddock's bottom left hand corner. The visitors had their tails up now and Boyd should have done better when set up on the right side of the box but he snatched at the shot and the chance went a-begging. Craddock produced a top class save on 28 minutes to turn away a fierce shot from Ferguson after great build up play down the left side from Accies. The shot was heading for the top corner but the young Irishman's tip over was of the highest quality.
Hamilton were playing some fine football and only a combination of desperate defending and fine goalkeeping was keeping the score to 1-0. Paul Sheerin made a change in the 38th minute bringing on David Dangana to replace Nuttall. McLennan was booked for a foul on Smith - a harsh decision by the referee. Ferguson, a constant thorn in the flesh of the Dons defence, was close again just before the break with a shot which hit the side net although Craddock had it covered. A disappointing first period from the home side and they were fortunate still to be in the tie.

David Dangana was first to threaten for the Dons in the second half but he couldn't direct his shot on target. On 49 minutes there were loud appeals for a penalty when Antoniazzi was bundled over in the box but referee Smith saw nothing amiss. Hamilton came close to a second goal on 51 minutes when Tierney's shot crept inches wide after a fine lay off from the impressive Kelly. David Dangana passed up a great chance to equalise on 54 minutes when he couldn't get a shot away after brilliant lead up play from Frank Ross. Dangana played Ross in shortly afterwards but the Hamilton defence closed him down and blocked the midfield man's shot.
Joe MacPherson took a knock and was forced off in 58 minutes, Kesi Omolokun taking over in central defence. On 65 minutes only a last gasp block from Omolokun prevented Tierney from making it two. From the resulting corner, home skipper Thomas was forced to clear off the line from his opposite number Want. Aberdeen made their final change on 72 minutes. Bruce Anderson coming on to replace Chris Antoniazzi who had toiled very hard for little reward. Frank Ross flighted in a free kick from the right and Marshall did really well to tip an Aaron Norris header over the bar as the Dons pressed for an equaliser. With ten minutes left a fine run by Anderson created a crossing opportunity for Robertson but Sam's cut back just evaded Dangana and McLennan on the edge of the six yard box. Accies centre back McGregor was forced off with an injury bringing O'Halloran into the action.
The Dons had changed to a front three as they hunted for an equaliser and they got their reward in 84 minutes. Hamilton all afternoon were playing a high line but finally the Dons produced the perfect pass to beat the offside trap. Toby Well sent Bruce Anderson racing clear down the left with a fine pass and the substitute showed admirable coolness in a real pressure situation to slip the ball past Marshall to make it 1-1. That's six goals in the Youth Cup for the youngster from Banff who has scored in every round so far. As the game went into stoppage time Ferguson powered a header just over for the visitors. That was the last chance in the game which headed into extra time. Although Hamilton had a couple of clear cut chances in the second half, the Dons performance was much better and they deserved to take the game to extra-time.


Shaun Want came close for Accies after six minutes of the first period of extra time but his shot deflected inches wide of the right hand post. In the end it was actually a really good block by Roscoe. Reilly came on for Boyd as the visitors looked for fresh legs. Want was booked for a tug on the shirt of McLennan as the Dons man raced towards the penalty area. Frank Ross forced Marshall into a sprawling save as the Dons pushed for a second goal.


The matched was still all square at one goal each as we entered the second period of extra time. There were a lot of tired legs on both sides but the Dons players appeared to have more energy. Dangana sprinted down the left but couldn't pick out Anderson in the box. Accies skipper Want was sent off in the 108th minute after getting a second yellow for a foul on Frank Ross. It was a tired look tackle more than anything. The centre half had played well up to that point. Bruce Anderson curled the free kick just wide. Smith was replaced by Wilson as Accies made their final substitution. At this stage the visitors looked happy to hang on for penalties as the Dons pushed for the winner. Wilson was the next man from Hamilton to see a yellow card as he crudely brought McLennan's run down the left to a halt. With seconds left Anderson won a free kick twenty yards out and somehow Accies managed to scramble the ball clear when it looked certain the Dons were going to grab a last minute winner. Roscoe probably had the best chance but his shot was deflected wide.


So we went to penalties to decide what had been a thrilling tie.

Accies went first in the shoot out and David Craddock gave the Dons the ideal start as he dived to his right to save Kelly's effort. Frank Ross made it 1-0 for the Dons with a great spot kick. Tierney scored for the visitors but Kesi Omolokun saw his kick saved by Marshall. One each!
Hughes and Ferguson scored for Accies with Anderson and Dangana replying for the Dons. Now it was three each as the tension mounted. The nerves got the better of Breslin as he saw his shot stopped by Craddock leaving the way clear for Connor McLennan to win the game for the Dons. The big man made no mistake with his penalty to send the Dons through to the next round after a titanic struggle.

It was a cruel ending for the Accies players who had given everything but a great win for the Dons whose superior fitness and never-say-die spirit saw them over the line. It is one of Aberdeen's best wins in the Youth Cup for a good number of years.
Hamilton Teamsheet
Marshall, Boyd (Reilly 97), Quitongo, Want (C), McGregor (O'Halloran 81), Breslin, Ferguson, Smith, Tierney, Hughes, Kelly. Subs not used - Reilly, Wilson, S Connelly, Sheridan, Henry, R Connelly (GK)

Bookings:  Want 99,   Wilson 116  Want 108
Venue: Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Referee: Will Smith