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Aberdeen 2 - 2 Celtic

HT Score: Aberdeen 0 - 1 Celtic

Aberdeen scorers: Stewart 69, Stewart 72.
Celtic scorers: Hartson 5, Maloney 61

07/05/2006 | KO: 14:00

Stewart double completes Dons fight back

The Dons showed some fight in the second to fight back for a 2-2 draw with the champions and to collect their first point of the season from the Glasgow club. The Dons were trailing to an early Hartson strike and a spectacular solo effort from Sean Maloney. Calderwood then handed 17-year-old Chris Maguire his senior debut and the youngster turned the game around by setting up John Stewart for the first goal. Stewart added a second and although the Dons looked the likelier to go on and win they had to settle for a draw and sixth place in the league.

Kevin McNaughton wore the captain's armband for his last Dons appearance as the more experienced Celtic held the early advantage at Pittodrie. Foster attempted to release Mackie in the 4th minute but his pass down the right hand side carried too much weight and went out of play for a Celtic goal kick. Celtic then won a soft free kick in the 5th minute and when Considine half cleared the free kick McGeady hammered a shot against the cross bar and Hartson followed up to nod into the empty net.

Seconds later Dempsey won a crunching tackle in the middle of the park and released Darren Mackie. He fed the ball through to Crawford but as a Celtic defender passed an interception back to Marshall the stand side assistant raised his flag for an offside decision. The same official was raising his flag again a minute later with a tight decision against Mackie. Then in the 10th minute Barry Nicholson was clearly upended on the edge of the box, but once again the officials were happy to ignore the appeal and let play continue.

Aberdeen threatened again when Foster delivered a deep cross that just evaded Crawford but found Macaulay at the far post. Unfortunately his cut back was easily cut out by Marshall before Mackie should have done better minute when he turned well but failed to test the keeper screwing his effort wide from 12 yards. Three minutes later Aberdeen were finally awarded a free kick but Dempsey's delivery was cleared before Nicholson made a late run but failed to connect at the back post as Aberdeen began to look more threatening.

The game then fell into a lull with neither team looking like adding to the scoring until Considine went close when he got on to the end of a Nicholson cross. Then in the 36th minute Marshall fumbled a cross but was promptly awarded a free kick because of the close proximity of Darren Mackie. Aberdeen won the first corner of the game in the 40th minute. It was cleared at the near post and fell to Kyle Macaulay who screwed his effort wide of the target. Two minutes later Crawford forced a save from Marshall before the ball was turned away for a second corner.

Then in the 43rd minute Macaulay made a telling challenge deep inside the Dons penalty area as Celtic looked certain to extend their lead. Thompson could then thank Dempsey for saving him from a booking after a late challenge. The Irishman was up quickly shaking his hand as referee Murray looked to be going to his pocket for the yellow card. A late free kick then provided a third corner as Aberdeen finished the half in the ascendancy but struggled to find the killer pass that would open up the Celtic defence.

John Stewart replaced Danny Griffin at the interval with Foster moving back to full back. Aberdeen won a fourth corner in the 48th minute but once again the ball was scrambled clear. In the 55th minute Considine was on hand to block a Hartson effort before the Dons went back up field to win another corner resulting in a looping header from a Celtic defender being scrambled over the bar. Two minutes later Nicholson played a short free kick to Dempsey and his fierce shot was deflected and booted clear for a corner that ended being a goal kick in the eyes of Mr. Murray.

Then on the hour mark a Crawford shot was deflected for yet another corner, which was headed wide by Byrne as Aberdeen continued to dominate this second half. They should have levelled in the 61st minute but instead found themselves two goals down. Mackie laid on a ball inside the box but he had no support and Maloney was released on the break and raced up field on a solo run and drilled a low shot past Esson. Aberdeen continued to press and a decent move ended with Nicholson heading well wide. Young Chris Maguire was then handed his debut in the 66th minute when he replaced Steve Crawford.

17-year-old Maguire made an instant impression on the game when he played a defence splitting pass to release John Stewart. Stewart ran in on the keeper, coolly rounded him and hammered the ball into the net. A minute later Maguire was almost released but halted by a tight offside decision. The game was then turned on its head in the 72nd minute when Stewart added a second scoring at the far post. Donald then replaced Dempsey in the 75th minute as Maguire continued to look impressive with good passing and neat touches.

In the 81st minute Maguire was sandwiched between two Celtic players and clearly held back but once again no free kick was given. Then strong play by Mackie created a golden chance before his cross was booted clear for a throw in. Three minutes later Celtic broke through Pearson and it took a fine save from Esson to deny the player. Then a minute later McNaughton had to boot the ball clear for Celtic's first corner as Pearson threatened again. Then with four minutes left on the clock Pearson did get the ball in the net but the flag had already gone up.

Maguire was then dumped by Lawson to win a free kick on the left, which was scrambled clear before the Dons forced their eighth corner. With Hibs trailing 3-1 and down to nine men at Rugby Park Aberdeen new a winning goal now would secure fourth spot. Otherwise they would end up a rather undeserved sixth. In the first minute of injury time a Telfer drive was deflected wide after Maloney had surged forward. Seconds later the whistle went to bring the curtain down on the season.

Match Stats:

Dons Celts
Goal Attempts 5 4
On Target 3 3
Corners 8 1
Possession 44% 56%

Celtic Teamsheet
Marshall, Telfer, Camara Varga, McManus, Lawson, Pearson, Thompson, McGeady (Wilson 77), Maloney, Hartson (Virgo 77) Unused Subs:
Attendance: 14,597
Venue: Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Referee: Callum Murray
Today's match programme.
John Hartson heads in the opening goal in the 5th minute.
Captain for the day Kevin McNaughton challenges Celtic's Pearson.
Kyle Macaulay puts in a last minute tackle on Pearson.
Marshall wins a free kick as Mackie challenges for the ball.
The Celtic defence is all over the place but the ball won't go in.
Mackie tries his luck in the first half.
Richie Byrne in action today.
Both managers keep a keen eye on the action.
Andrew Considine is challenged by Hartson as he rises for the ball.
Sean Maloney breaks and makes it 2-0 to Celtic.
John Stewart is released by Maguire and rounds the keeper...
...steadies himself...
...and fires the ball into the empty net...
...before turning to celebrate.
Stewart pops up at the back post to fire in the second.
Marshall tries in vain to keep the ball out...
...Stewart turns away to celebrate his second strike.
Marshall is in action again as the Dons look for the winner.
At the end of the match it's congratulations all round.