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Aberdeen 0 - 1 Heart of Midlothian

HT Score: Aberdeen 0 - 0 Heart of Midlothian

Heart of Midlothian scorers: Wales 90

28/01/2003 | KO: 19:45

Late blow for sorry Dons

Aberdeen were left heartbroken at Pittodrie tonight when they lost a goal in the last minute. The match was played in atrocious conditions but the visitors probably just about deserved the win on their second half pressure. However it was still a cruel way to lose and another match without a goal further emphasises the need for a goal scorer. With a trip to Ibrox next on the menu, the Dons are beginning to look like a permanent fixture in the bottom half of the league.

The match kicked off in atrocious conditions as both sets of players struggled to cope with the high winds and heavy rain. The Dons set Moilanen a couple of tests in the opening minutes, but the Fin coped well. Hearts carved out the first real opening in the 5th minute when Maybury whipped in a low cross from the right and Preece did well to smother the ball at the feet of Graeme Weir. A minute later a well-worked free kick saw Valois shoot inches over the bar from 20 yards out.

Hearts were adapting to the conditions better as the Dons struggled to create any openings. In the 14th minute the quick thinking Tosh set Clark clear on the left but the youngster failed to deliver the cross early and by the time he had a second bite of the cherry, the Hearts defence were back in numbers. The home side were being frustrated by the visitors' offside game, but persistent play by Mike in the 19th minute almost produced an opener. He dispossessed Mahe at the bye line and cut the ball back for Sheerin whose shot was deflected wide for a corner.

With Aberdeen gaining the upper hand they were almost caught on the counter when Valois broke on the right and found De Vries free 12 yards from goal. Fortunately the Dutchman's header was poor and went harmlessly over the bar. Tosh wasn't afraid to have a crack at goal but unfortunately in the 26th minute Mike blocked a fierce shot by the Fifer. A minute later the Englishman tried to make amends when he broke through the middle and set up Tosh on the right only to see the effort drilled into the side netting.

As the weather deteriorated many of the players were struggling to keep on their feet and it was Hearts who carved out the next chance. Preece raced from his goalmouth to deny Weir on the edge of his box and the loose ball was chipped back towards the empty goal and cleared by Anderson for a corner. Two minutes later Severin should have done better when he headed over from six yards.

Stephane Mahe was forced to leave the field on a stretcher in the 43rd minute after picking up a knock in a challenge with Payne. Austin McCann replaced him. Hearts went close in the final minute of the half when McAllister almost turned the ball into his own net, but fortunately Preece made the save. Another chance went a-begging for the Dons seconds later as a cross fell behind the strikers.

With surface water now covering several parts of the pitch, the chance of an early night looked a real possibility. Aberdeen almost made a dream start to the second half when Mike turned and hit a low drive towards the bottom corner of the net. Moilanen made a fine save, but referee Dallas had already blown for an earlier infringement. Hearts then started to gain the upper hand putting the Dons defence under a bit of pressure. Severin should have done better in the 53rd minute when he hammered the ball into the RDS from a Valois corner.

Aberdeen were getting little change from the Hearts defence as they were constantly pulled up for tight offside decisions. They did go close however on the hour mark when Tosh lost his marker and headed a Sheerin cross into the arms of Moilanen. Aberdeen were lucky to survive a comedy of errors in the 62nd minute as they struggled to clear their lines. They then almost took the lead a minute later when Chris Clark hit a screamer from 20 yards which took a deflection and looked to be heading for the roof of the net before Moilanen tipped the ball over the bar.

The conditions almost contributed to a Hearts opener in the 68th minute when a McAllister pass back was caught in a puddle. McKenna pounced but Preece saved his shot. Another mistake by Anderson ten minutes later gave McKenna another chance, but this time he blasted the ball over the goal. Hearts were in control of the match by this stage and following a corner, Severin had a fierce shot blocked when it looked netbound.

Michie and Derek Young replaced Mike and Mackie up front, but Hearts continued to carve out all the chances as Aberdeen were forced to soak up the pressure. The Dons almost stole it in the 86th minute in a rare break when a Tosh drive was blocked with a goal looking likely. The home side went even closer in the 89th minute when Moilanen tipped a Derek Young shot round the post.

Disaster then struck the Dons in the final minute when Gary Wales splashed beyond the Dons defence and fired past Preece. The goal was probably deserved on pressure, but nevertheless a sickening blow so late in the match. The Dons had a final chance to salvage a point in injury time when Michie was through on the keeper but had his effort blocked.

Aberdeen Teamsheet
Preece, Payne, McAllister, McGuire, Anderson, Mackie (Young 80), Rutkiewicz, Tosh, Sheerin, Clark, Mike (Michie 74).

Unused Subs: Kjaer, O'Donoghue, D'Jaffo.
Heart of Midlothian Teamsheet
Moilanen, Maybury, Mahe (McCann 42), Pressley, Severin, De Vries (McKenna 56), Valois, Webster, Boyack, MacFarlane, Weir (Wales 66) Unused Subs: Gordon, Janczyk

Bookings:  McCann 66
Attendance: 9,322
Venue: Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Referee: Hugh Dallas, Motherwell