Aberdeen claimed their first league win of the season in an entertaining game at Pittodrie.
Barry Robson made three changes to the side narrowly defeated by Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday night, Dante Polvara, Jack MacKenzie and Leighton Clarkson all starting from the bench. Into the starting XI came Connor Barron, James McGarry and Duk.
Malky Mackay named an unchanged Ross County side – and bench – after their 1-1 draw with Livingston at Dingwall last weekend.
The game’s first real incident came with James McGarry pulling up injured with what looked like a thigh or hamstring problem after five minutes. That required an immediate change for the Dons, with Jonny Hayes replacing him. Hayes soon took a sore one in a tangle with Brown three minutes later, the physios having to dash over to the far side once again to give him treatment as the game continued. Thankfully Hayes was ok to carry on, but it all added to a disjointed opening to the game.
He was down again on the quarter hour after a late challenge from Brown. VAR did have a look again at the tackle and a yellow card was produced. There was yet more work for the physios before Hayes continued.
Ross County had more of the possession in the opening stages and were looking dangerous when putting balls into the area.
But then a nice move down the left involving Hayes, Duk and Graeme Shinnie won Aberdeen’s first corner on 20 minutes, Barron’s flag kick skimming through the six yard box before Randall turned it behind. But the second corner counted. In from Barron, the ball bounced off a defender but only as far as Richard Jensen, already knocked flat to the ground. He manufactured an overhead kick towards goal, Bojan Miovski on the prowl close in to turn the ball past Laidlaw.
County responded quickly, Kelle Roos making a sharp save at his near post after Brown worked his way into space, a vital intervention from the Dutchman. Moments later, White was up highest to a corner at the back post, his header glancing off the post and wide as County made use of a swirling breeze to discomfort the Dons’ defence.
Duk looked like he might be in on goal after 32 minutes following a spell of real Aberdeen pressure, Nicky Devlin forcing the ball into the box. Duk turned smartly to get one on one with the goalkeeper eight yards out, but Laidlaw was quick off his line to spread himself and save well with his chest. The Dons were just beginning to find a bit of fluency after the injury delays earlier in the game.
Dhanda was booked on 38, a late tackle on Jamie McGrath that again exercised the Aberdeen medical team.
The Dons went from back to front to make it 2-0 on 43, after a County corner broke down. It went from Barron to Hayes, who split the defence to release Shinnie to sprint forward. Drawing the goalkeeper, Shinnie picked out Duk to his right and, after getting the ball out of his feet, he poked the ball into the net to open his account for the season.
HALF-TIME: ABERDEEN 2 ROSS COUNTY 0
It was a sprightly start to the second period for Aberdeen, Devlin prominent up front in the opening minute, putting a dangerous cross through the area, but there were no takers.
It was 3-0 on 48 minutes though, a beautifully worked goal for Aberdeen on the break, winning the ball in their own half through Shinnie. He found Hayes and the Irishman clipped a first time ball across the pitch and on to Miovski, darting into the box. Well aware of what was around him, he played a nicely weighted pass back across goal to McGrath who came steaming in to finish from eight yards out, a lovely team goal, not dissimilar in construction to the one scored in Frankfurt.
Miovski gathered his second goal of the afternoon as Aberdeen ran riot, making it 4-0 after 52 minutes. Duk collected a Hayes throw and bustled into the box. Falling under a challenge, Duk still managed to contrive a backheel into the path of Miovski, who turned into space and picked his moment to score with an angled shot. In the aftermath, MacKenzie and Clarkson replaced Hayes and McGrath, while for the visitors, Dhanda and Turner made way for Sims and Loturi. Murray was replaced by Brophy on the hour.
Leak was into the third County man the book on 61, kicking Duk to the floor after a rugby tackle had failed earlier in the striker’s run. From the free-kick, Clarkson’s ball arced through the penalty area, but nobody could get a touch.
Nightingale then took out Duk on the touchline after 68 minutes, another yellow card was produced. Miovski and Duk were withdrawn with an eye on Wednesday night’s cup tie, Ester Sokler and Pape Guèye coming on after 72 minutes. Reid and White were subbed for County two minutes later, Samuel and Harmon coming on.
Sims wasn’t far off a consolation goal for the visitors after 81 minutes, wrapping his foot around a vicious shot that skimmed just over the bar. Brophy blasted over from 20 yards under pressure from MacKenzie a couple of minutes later as the Dons understandably lessened their intensity with the job done.
Guèye was nearly in on 87 minutes, chasing down a long ball, but as he tried to cut inside, County put the ball behind the goal for a corner, the big striker, to be fair, still looking for real sharpness after his move at the end of the transfer window.
4 minutes added at end 1st half
3 minutes added at end 2nd half