There was nothing to play for so perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised - especially as we seem to enjoy goalless draws with the Dons at Pittodrie. We had a few chances in the first half and none in the second, while Aberdeen had a few in each. And that's yer lot. Little to get excited about and it was a relief when the game ended it as it was rather cold.
Changes were expected and changes we got - just not the ones we assumed there would be. Grant Adam, who many folk felt would be starting, wasn't even on the bench and Paul McGowan and Graham Carey were also conspicuous by their absence from the squad. Kenny McLean was missing through suspension, Steven Thompson was benched to ensure he didn't get a booking that would keep him out of the start of next season and he was joined by Lee Mair, Sander Puri and kids Jack Smith and Kieran Hughes. Sam Parkin, Dougie Imrie and Jon Robertson all made rare starts, with Jim Goodwin back from suspension. He and fellow defender Marc McAusland would have to deal with the big threat of Niall McGinn - who scored the goal that kept us up last week. Jonny Hayes promised to be a threat from midfield.
Anyone who was running late will wish they hadn't bothered hurrying as the first 15 minutes were absolutely dire - summed up by a terrible corner from Gary Teale. Things finally started to liven up a bit after that, Scott Vernon curling a shot wide before Imrie stung the palms of Jamie Langfield with a long range free-kick. Parkin looked like having a chance when Conor Newton sent a fine ball into the box but Mark Reynolds knocked it behind. A repeat of the Teale/Robertson corner trick from the Brechin cup game was tried but the midfielder's effort was sclaffed, the ball eventually falling to Newton who hit a half volley Langfield was able to save.
At least there was now something for us to get excited about on a freezing day, Imrie failing to find the target with his attempt from David van Zanten's throw. We were getting plenty of corners but were posing little threat, Parkin only able to head behind from Teale's delivery. Our defence hadn't had much to do for a while, which may explain the lapse in concentration from Vanzy and Marc McAusland that gave Vernon a chance at the edge of the area. He was promptly flattened by Robertson, McGinn's free-kick going behind thanks to Vanzy at the end of the wall. It gave the Dons their first corner of the game and they immediately posed more of a threat than we had from any of ours, Joe Shaughnessy's header from point blank range being superbly kept out by Craig Samson to keep the scores level. It was his only meaningful save of the half, Gavin Rae shooting over just before the break.
Sammy had a far easier save to make just after the break, Vernon's shot lacking power before he should have scored when he got his head on a Hayes cross, McAusland in the right place to block it on the line and prevent a certain goal. The Dons were certainly on the ascendancy but looked vulnerable on the break, one such counter giving Newton a sight of goal but his shot was always going wide. After that it was back to endeavour from both sides with little chances until Parkin headed Teale's corner wide. It was then time for farewell to Isma, the forward almost certainly playing his last home game for us and he was clapped off as a thank you. Lewis Guy took over, with Aberdeen putting Robert Milsom on for Cammy Smith.
The change in shape almost paid off straight away, Vernon knocking the ball down to Jack and he looked odds on to score, somehow firing wide with the help of the post when he should have burst the net. Hayes was rather more clinical when he got in behind to slot past Samson, but he appeared comfortably offside and the goal was chalked off - although the flag was a little slow in going up. Nicky Low - who'd done well for Aberdeen against Dundee last week - was immediately brought on in place of Rae in a bid to force the issue, with John McGinn coming on for Robertson soon after. Smith was then handed his debut, the moment even more memorable for the fans as he replaced Guy! After eight minutes on the park it's fair to say the more experienced man wasn't too happy. Vernon has a knack of scoring against us but was to be denied adding to his tally when Josh Magennis came on for the final 10 minutes or so.
It looked like both sides would just play the game out but in stoppage time Aberdeen won a free-kick when Goodwin fouled Low just outside the box. Knowing our luck it looked a stick on goal but thankfully Hayes' attempt was blocked by Dummett and that was that. Not a great game by any means. A few players took the chance to clap the fans at the end - Dummett and Newton unsurprisingly as their loans are ending, but it looks as if Samson and maybe Imrie are on their way. And quite what happens with Guy after today is anyone's guess.
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