Our Mark Gillespie reports from Pittodrie
Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Saturday 14th December 2019, 3pm
Aberdeen 1 Hamilton Academical 0
Another tight game settled by the odd goal leaves us looking up from bottom of the table on goal difference after St Johnstone’ s win at Hearts. Sam Cosgrove’s second half strike was enough to move the hosts third, with Accies now winless in 12 league games.
Head Coach Brian Rice can’t question his side’s work rate but knows that results are all important as we approach three huge games before the winter shut down.
“It’s fine, fine margins, but football is about winning. The players know that. I feel for the boys, who I know are giving everything they’ve got”, he said post-match.
“Today was similar to the Rangers and Celtic games. We’ve stayed in the game for 94 minutes against supposedly the third best team in the country. Aaron McGowan’s had a great chance in the first half. He’s normally good in the air. We just can’t get a break.”
“The belief is there, but maybe the quality lacks a little. We had a 17-year-old and a 20-year-old playing centre half today. They’re getting great experience but need to know what it feels like to win.”
“We need to start picking up some points in these next three games. Hopefully we’ll have one or two experienced players back for those.”
We made five changes from last weekend, three of these enforced. Captain Brian Easton and Lewis Smith missed out through injury. Davies and Ogkmpoe started on the bench as we gave starts to Hamilton, Collar, Martin, Cunningham and Oakley. Aaron McGowan captained a side for the first time in his senior career.
The hosts meanwhile were looking to bounce back from their own defeat last weekend. Derek McInnes made three changes, Ojo, Hedges and McGinn replacing Considine, Vyner and Gallagher in his starting line-up.
Aberdeen were to carry more of a threat in a goalless first half. They were almost in front from their first attack on five minutes, Hedges and Logan combining down the right to set up James Wilson inside the six yard box. But Southwood was alert to block behind.
They saw further openings in the early stages. Funso Ojo’s shot from the edge of the box was deflected over by Johnny Hunt on 15 minutes. From the resulting corner Scott McKenna should have done better, placing a free header wide of Southwood’s right-hand post.
Accies did most of the hard defending within that opening half hour. Hedges flicked a header wide on 26 minutes, before the Dons attacker followed up a blocked Niall McGinn effort two minutes later. Southwood was again to the rescue, holding on to the deflected effort.
Accies hadn’t seen much in terms of possession and knew that every set piece would have to count. But a great opportunity fell to McGowan inside the box on 33 minutes from Cunningham’s free kick. With time and space the Accies skipper could only glance wide of goal.
The hosts had their own chance of the half a minute later, McGinn’s effort parried by Southwood out to Wilson, but Sam Stubbs was on hand to clear his header off the line.
Accies had lived dangerously but had weathered the first half storm. Chances were fewer and far between in the second 45, but Aberdeen had the all-important goal just seven minutes after the restart. In form Sam Cosgrove had been quiet so far but as the Accies defence switched off he was lurking at the far post to flick home McGinn’s cross from the left of the box.
The home fans might have expected their team to kick on from there, but neither ‘keeper had much to do for the remainder. Accies tried to make attacking substitutions but weren’t able to trouble Joe Lewis for the duration of the game.
Retaining most of the possession, Aberdeen looked comfortable without giving Luke Southwood much else to think about. Wilson skied over from the edge of the box, as a game of few opportunities petered out.
Aberdeen: Lewis, Logan, Taylor, McKenna, Leigh (Considine, 44), Ferguson, Ojo (Gallagher, 45), Hedges (Campbell, 72), McGinn, Wilson, Cosgrove; Subs Unused:Cerny, McLennan, Anderson, Main
Goals: Cosgrove, 52
Accies: Southwood, McGowan (c), McMann, Hunt, Collar, Oakley (Moyo, 80), Miller, Cunningham (Beck, 70), Martin (Ogkmpoe, 80), Stubbs, Hamilton; Subs Unused: Fon Williams, Fjortoft, Davies, Mimnaugh
Referee: Willie Collum; Assistants: Graham Chambers and Graham McNeillie; 4th Official: Greg Aitken