Aberdeen had never beaten Stenhousemuir in any of the previous four competitive games during the past 116 years. Something the Dons were desperate to put right after the 1-1 draw in the first game.
Derek McInnes made three changes for the Scottish Cup replay against Stenhousemuir at Ochilview. Niall McGinn, Scott Wright and Tommie Hoban came in for the injured Scott McKenna whilst Gary Mackay-Steven dropped to the bench with Ethan Ross also named as one of the substitutes.
On a very cold evening the game kicked off with a real cup tie atmosphere inside the small ground.
Aberdeen won a corner early on after a good run and cross from Sam Cosgrove down the right hand side but full back Alan Reid was able to usher the ball behind. From the Shinnie in swinger the home side were able to the clear the corner at the second attempt.
Then just after five minutes Niall McGinn missed a great chance.
There was good build up play by Wright and Shinnie on the right and they found Lewis Ferguson. His low curling shot was well saved by Graeme Smith and then fell to McGinn. Although the winger was at a tight angle, he probably should have done better than just finding the side netting.
A few minutes after that Shay Logan received a yellow card for a hand ball. The home side had a free kick in a decent position, but Thomas Halleran put his shot into the wall and then Cook blasted it and high and wide.
On 12 minutes a shooting chance for Wright on the edge of the area. His shot was blocked behind by McBrearty for a second corner. Aberdeen tried a set piece they had worked on in training, but it did not go to plan, in fact nowhere near actually and Stenhousemuir cleared.
A minute later Aberdeen took the lead.
Scott Wright produced a great 25 yard run, taking four or five players with him. He had engineered a shooting chance for himself but unselfishly squared the ball for McGinn who took a touch before coolly placing the ball into the net. A fine finish from Niall as it was a crowded penalty box and superb pace and direct running from Wright, something the Dons have maybe been missing in recent weeks.
Despite the goal the home side continued to keep bodies behind the ball and looked to hit on the break. On 22 minutes another strong run from Wright produced corner number three. His direct running was causing Stenhousemuir real problems and opening up space. The training ground move worked better this time. The ball was played to Lowe and his cross very nearly found Stewart who was unmarked inside the six yard box. Any touch would have taken the ball past Smith.
Scott Wright then tried his luck from distance, and his effort was not far away. It is great to see Scott playing with this level of confidence again.
Greg Stewart then had a shot which completely wrong footed the keeper but deflected inches past the post. The resulting corner was headed on by Considine who instantly claimed for a hand ball.
There did appear to be contact from a Stenny player as the pace was taken off the ball as it went through to Smith. Referee Barry Cook waved play on.
A minute later though Aberdeen did have a penalty.
Just before the half hour mark a through ball broke off Shinnie, fell to Stewart who was taken down by Smith as he rounded the keeper. There were no complaints from any of the home players. Sam Cosgrove confidently stepped forward and knocking the ball to the keepers left for his 12th goal of the season.
On 32 minutes Shinnie won corner number five before Logan cleared a Stenhousemuir corner at the near post.
And then on 38 minutes the Dons pretty much made the game safe. Greg Stewart beat his man on the left and with the keeper scrambling towards him he expertly dinked it over him from close range. A touch of real quality from Greg. The striker had scored at this ground before in an Aberdeen shirt ? when he helped the Development side to win over Hearts last season. He will be delighted to have opened his account second time around.
Half time: Stenhousemuir 0 Aberdeen 3
The home started the second half brightly and Alan Cook volleyed a shot in. Although he was going for goal his effort went across the box and striker Mark McGuigan was not far away from getting a touch.
On 50 minutes Graeme Smith produced an excellent save to keep out Stewart from close range after fine build up play by Wright once again. Then at the other end a fine save from Joe Lewis. Mark Ferry was allowed to fire in a shot from 35 yards, the skipper caught it perfect and with the ball sailing into the top hand corner, Lewis managed to get a touch. From the corner, Cook put a decent cross over and Andy Munro headed the ball home to give the home side a lifeline. The Dons keeper almost made another great save to keep it out, but Munro?s strong header found the net. Big Joe was not happy with his defence.
Stenhousemuir deserved the goal for the way they had played after the break. The intensity that Aberdeen played with in the first forty-five had dropped and they were not enjoying the same control.
There was no hint of any upset at this point, but the evening had become a bit more uncomfortable.
Scott Wright tried to get the Dons going again and his thunderous shot was well blocked by Ferry. Then on the hour mark they won a free kick in a good area. McGinn played in a dangerous ball but it was cleared.
On 65 minutes Aberdeen won corner number six, and the first of the second half. Shinnie?s left footed ball in was cleared at the front post and Scott Wright?s return pass failed to find his captain.
Aberdeen had taken the sting out of the Stenhousemuir comeback and they added a fourth.
After 67 minutes Stewart chipped the ball up to the ball post, there appeared to be no danger but Ruaridh Donaldson headed the ball in off the bar and past his own keeper. Unknown to the defender there was no Aberdeen players coming in behind him. A sad moment for the centre half who had such a good game at Pittodrie. It was a finish any striker would have been happy with.
On 72 minutes McGinn was tripped in a promising position but Stewart curled the free kick well over. A minute later another Aberdeen corner was flicked on by Hoban but went past the back post.
With fifteen minutes to go the first Dons change, Gary Mackay-Steven replacing Niall McGinn. Within seconds of coming on he set up Sam Cosgrove who produced a fine double save from Smith and then Wright following up produced a third stop. Brilliant goalkeeping before a wonderful block from a defender kept out Cosgrove. It was an incredible scramble inside the box but credit to the home side for not giving the situation up.
Mackay-Steven looked very lively when he came on as Wright continued to cause problems in the closing stages. On 82 minutes Cosgrove went close with a curling effort from 20 yards. That was his last involvement as he was replaced by James Wilson.
With five minutes to go a special moment for Ethan Ross as he came on to make his competitive start. The winger has been in brilliant form for the U18s this season and thoroughly deserves his debut at the ground where his brother Seb is on loan. James Wilson fired in a great shot late on but the ball deflected wide. Aberdeen continued to push for a fifth, winning some more corners but when the whistle sounded they will have been well pleased with the night?s work.
Aberdeen will now play Queen of the South in the fifth round after the Championship side beat Dundee 3-0 this evening in a replay at Palmerston Park.
Full time: Stenhousemuir 1 Aberdeen 4