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Inverness CT 0 - 1 Aberdeen

HT Score: Inverness CT 0 - 1 Aberdeen

Aberdeen scorers: Whelan 39.

02/04/2005 | KO: 15:00

Dons steal the points to keep Euro dream alive.

The match was delayed by 10 minutes to allow the huge crowd into the stadium and despite the home side dominating the match it was Aberdeen who claimed the points built on an impressive defensive display. Inverness created all the chances before the break but an error by Munro allowed Noel Whelan to nip in and score. Aberdeen did better after the break but had to perform a real back to the wall act in the closing stages to hold on for the win. Ryan Esson produced some great saves, Scott Severin was immense at the back and Lubomir Blaha also managed to make his debut and almost scored with his first touch.

Inverness started positively and in the early stages Esson had to move smartly to deny Juanjo before the home side won their first corner as Diamond cleared from Brewster. Having weathered the early storm Aberdeen started to venture forward and Noel Whelan was causing problems for the Inverness side. In the 11th minute Anderson went in on a challenge on McBain and appeared to collect a heavy knock but recovered after treatment. At this stage defences were on top with few clear-cut chances being created. Inverness had a chance in the 16th minute when they won a free kick 20 yards out. Aberdeen appeared to have coped easily with it before referee Freeland intervened and awarded a corner kick.

This kept the pressure on the Dons but working well as a team they kept the home side out. The Inverness side won another soft free kick in the 19th minute but the ball was eventually fired well wide. Another long-range effort from Wilson three minutes later again went well wide as the home side continued to hold the upper hand. In the 25th minute Hart broke and was supported by Diamond. The defender delivered a decent cross and Whelan stretched his neck muscles but headed over the bar. Two minutes later Aberdeen won their first corner of the match but no one was able to capitalise on Winter?s delivery. On the half hour mark Esson made a fine save when he turned a Brewster effort round the post.

Aberdeen had another lucky escape in the 33rd minute when Hart had to make a goal line clearance and Juanjo could only turn the loose ball into the hands of Esson. Russell Anderson suffered another knock and in the 35th minute Phil McGuire replaced him. Four minutes later Aberdeen capitalised on a mistake from Munro as the defender sliced his clearance into the path of Noel Whelan. The Englishman accepted the gift and beat the keeper for an unexpected lead. Inverness almost hit back immediately as Brewster forced Esson into a fine save in the 40th minute and the same player drove wide a minute later. The Dons held out to half time and went in at the break delighted to hold the advantage.

Richard Foster replaced Jamie Winter at the interval but his first contribution was a poor cross in the 46th minute. A minute later Chris Clark was booked for a rash challenge as the game settled back into a similar pattern. Aberdeen were looking more composed now and appeared to carry a bigger threat than they did in the first half. Although the Dons were threatening more they were tending to get caught offside too often. In the 61st minute Whelan picked up a silly yellow card for kicking the ball away. The home side were starting to threaten again when firstly Brewster out jumped Esson before Inverness won the first corner of the second half and enjoyed a spell of sustained pressure.

Brewster went close again in the 66th minute when he peeled away at the back post and floated a header over the bar. Ex Don Bryan Prunty replaced Juanjo in the 71st minute then two minutes later Blaha made his debut for Aberdeen replacing goal scorer Noel Whelan. Within a minute Blaha got his head to a Foster throw and flicked the ball over the bar. In the 77th minute Mackie broke but his cross was deflected into the keeper's hands. Two minutes later Aberdeen conceded their umpteenth free kick in the danger area and as the Dons only half cleared Brewster knocked down to substitute Fatai and his effort missed by inches with Esson rooted to the spot.

In the 83rd minute Severin made a spectacular clearance, as Brewster looked set to head an equaliser. Two minutes later Severin was once again in place to block as Inverness through everything at the Dons defence. The Dons defence was defending desperately in the 89th minute before scrambling the ball out for a corner. The ball was then delivered back into the danger area before Aberdeen eventually managed to break out. The relief was short lived and in the first minute of injury time Esson tipped the ball on to the bar before the ball was hacked clear and Aberdeen held on.

Inverness CT Teamsheet
Brown, Tokely, Dods, Munro, Golabek, Hart (Hatai 58), Duncan, McBain, Wilson, Brewster, Juanjo (Prunty 71)

Bookings:  Golabek 42,   Brewster 75
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Esson, Hart, Byrne, Severin, Anderson (McGuire 35), Diamond, Winter (Foster 46), Heikkinen, Whelan (Blaha 73), Mackie, Clark.

Unused Subs: Stewart, Morrison, Muirhead, Preece.

Bookings:  Clark (47),  Whelan (61).
Attendance: 7,026
Venue: Caledonian Stadium, Inverness
Referee: Alan Freeland
The Inverness defence has a firm grip on Darren Mackie this afternoon.
Zander Diamond leaps over Wilson to win the ball.
Noel Whelan turns away after scoring the winning goal. His third in as many games.
Whelan after scoring this afternoon.
Diamond challenges player/manager Craig Brewster at Inverness.
The two Jimmies look on from the sidelines.
Richard Foster faces a challenge after coming on in the second half.
Lubomir Blaha uses his height to good effect as he makes his Dons debut..
Blaha in action this afternoon.
Darren Mackie is the meat in the sandwich at the Caledonian stadium.