On a wild and windy night, Aberdeen got the job done in Dingwall, a magnificent strike from Graeme Shinnie and a first Aberdeen goal for Ester Sokler seeing them through to another Hampden semi-final.
After the 4-0 win over Ross County in the league on Sunday, Barry Robson made one enforced change for the Viaplay Cup-tie, Jonny Hayes replacing the injured James McGarry. Jack Milne was added to the substitutes’ bench.
The hosts made three changes after that game, Josh Reid, Kyle Turner and Jordan White all dropping to the bench to be replaced by George Harmon, Victor Loturi and Josh Sims.
The rain was pouring down in Dingwall as the game kicked off but the Aberdeen fans were in good voice. They were given something to enjoy after four minutes when Duk sprinted away down the left, his cross deflecting into the hands of Laidlaw.
They were certainly cheering on eight minutes when Graeme Shinnie found an absolute screamer to give the Dons the lead. Stefan Gartenmann’s long throw into the area caused chaos and, as the ball was half cleared to the edge of the box, Shinnie was waiting to cream a left foot volley past Laidlaw and into the roof of the net. One for the Shinnie show reel.
County responded quickly to put Aberdeen under pressure, but the Dons got bodies behind the ball, forcing Sims to try a curling shot from 25 yards that flew well over the bar.
Aberdeen were sniffing around for a second on 13 minutes when Duk was sent away on the chase at inside-left by a long ball from Shinnie. Bearing down on the penalty box, as he accelerated past Baldwin, the defender knew he couldn’t leave him to run on and so hauled him down and collected the inevitable red card, though not before berating his goalkeeper for not coming off his line to collect. Sadly, the free-kick came to nothing, but four minutes later, Murray collected a yellow card for lashing out at Gartenmann as the frustration began to mount for the home team.
It should have been 2-0 after 24 minutes. Duk brought the ball down the right, Bojan Miovski accompanying him through the middle. As Duk played the ball across, with just the goalkeeper to beat, Miovski lost his footing eight yards out and the chance went begging, a real escape for County, who remained very much in the game.
A good Aberdeen move on 29 culminated in Connor Barron producing a lovely cross field pass into the box, but Nicky Devlin couldn’t quite get the ball under control and County were able to clear.
Aberdeen weren’t far away on 35 minutes with a clever free-kick routine. With everyone expecting Barron to put the ball in the box, instead he square it for Hayes on the right who clipped it first time into the area, Slobodan Rube i winning the header only to watch it drift past the post.
Moments later, the impressive Barron was the instigator again, a beautiful chipped ball over the defence getting Miovski in behind. His first touch took him slightly away from goal and as Laidlaw closed in, the number nine tried to chip him, but the ball ended up on the roof of the net. The Dons were creating plenty of chances, but County were hanging in there.
Shinnie was next to cause problems after Miovski had held the ball up well. The skipper collected the ball 20 yards out, his shot deflected just wide. That created a flurry of three corners, the third eventually being snaffled by Laidlaw to relieve the pressure.
HALF-TIME: ROSS COUNTY 0 ABERDEEN 1
Aberdeen kept good possession in the first few minutes of the second half and it almost brought dividends on 51 minutes when Duk found a neat pass to the oncoming Hayes whose low shot from a dozen yards was comfortable for Laidlaw.
It was Hayes again three minutes later, this time from the right, but he didn’t get the connection he wanted. Aberdeen recycled the ball, Shinnie firing off another shot that was well blocked by Randall.
The Dons made their first changes on 55, Ryan Duncan and Leighton Clarkson replacing Duk and Hayes. Barron was in the book for a late tackle on Murray three minutes later, White replacing the feisty Murray in the aftermath. Harmon was yellow carded after 64 minutes for pulling back Duncan on halfway as the game became rather scrappy.
From a half cleared Aberdeen corner on 68 minutes, Shinnie darted into the box and went down under challenge right in front of the Aberdeen fans, but despite a thousand claims for a penalty, there was nothing doing from referee Beaton. County made two more changes right after that, Dhanda and Harmon making way for Reid and Turner.
Turner was almost immediately booked, a stray arm catching Richard Jensen as the two went up for a header. Sims was the next in the wars in a challenge with Duncan. As he received treatment, Henderson and Samuel became County’s final changes, replacing Loturi and Sims, who sadly departed on a stretcher. Ester Sokler replaced Jamie McGrath moments later.
It proved an inspired change, for within a minute he had doubled the lead. A quick, incisive break down the right saw Devlin feed Clarkson. From the wing, he speared a cross into the six yard box where Sokler found a lovely first time finish with his left foot, guiding the ball past Laidlaw.
But County weren’t done yet. As a long ball came over the top, Rube i bundled Samuel over, wide on the left side of the box, the defender getting a yellow card, but more importantly conceding a penalty. Turner produced an emphatic finish into the top corner from the 12 yard mark and it was game on all over again.
Pape Guèye replaced Miovski as we headed into the last four minutes of normal time as Aberdeen looked to see the game through to a successful conclusion as County threw more and more bodies forward. Three minutes into added time County flung yet another long ball into the box, causing concern for a moment until Roos gratefully dropped upon the ball.
Still they came, winning a corner, then another, Roos punching clear, Barron completing the clearance. The Dons kept the ball in the County half and it looked as if Sokler might have been caught in the box by Leak. No matter, seconds later the final whistle sounded, and the Dons were through.
1 minutes added at end 1st half
6 minutes added at end 2nd half