Aberdeen 1-1 Hearts: Match Report
Aberdeen 1-1 Hearts: Match Report - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game as it happened.
Stalemate at Pittodrie
Aberdeen and Hearts defied the weather to serve up an entertaining match despite ending their Clydesdale Bank Premier League campaigns with a 1-1 draw.
The home side had the better of the game but fell behind to Ryan Stevenson's header before Jamie Hamill's own goal ensured a share of the points.
The Dons had announced the futures of nine first-team players would lie away from Pittodrie after the summer but that was tempered with the news top-scorer Niall McGinn had extended his contract until 2016 as manager Derek McInnes looks to make the former Celtic man the focal point of a re-shaped side.
Of those on the way out, only Gavin Rae and Isaac Osbourne started for McInnes' side and the manager handed young midfielder Nicky Low a rare start. Josh Magennis replaced Scott Vernon alongside McGinn in attack.
With their Lithuanian parent company, UBIG, having been declared insolvent, there is still a question mark over the very future of Hearts.
That was put to one side, though, as they looked to end the season on a positive note. They made three changes from the side that had lost in the Edinburgh derby to a last-gasp Ross Caldwell strike.
David Smith, Dylan McGowan and Dale Carrick were the men coming in, with Darren Barr missing out and John Sutton and Jamie Walker dropping to the bench.
The Dons showed they were up for this as early as the fourth minute. The presence of Magennis saw him ease Andy Webster off the ball before lifting it over Jamie MacDonald, only for McGowan to race back and clear the danger.
The home side were certainly creating the better chances and moments after Cammy Smith had headed a Joe Shaughnessy cross narrowly over, it took a superbly-timed Kevin McHattie tackle to stop Jonny Hayes in full flight.
The visitors had yet to spark into life but Jason Holt's deflected effort on the quarter-hour forced Aberdeen's Jamie Langfield into a fine save low to his right.
Smith and Hayes were linking up superbly at times and when they did so again after 17 minutes the latter laid the ball on a plate for McGinn who saw his 15-yard drive pushed over by MacDonald.
The Hearts keeper was in action again after 20 minutes as he parried away a Smith effort before Hayes' follow-up was deflected wide.
MacDonald was in inspired form and he pulled off a stunning save seven minutes from the interval. Magennis stretched to turn a Clark Robertson cross goalwards but the goalkeeper showed superb reactions to push the effort over the bar.
Hearts threatened just moments into the second half and Langfield hesitated in coming for a Hamill cross but the Dons eventually scrambled the ball away from Michael Ngoo.
But it continued to be the heroics of MacDonald that kept them level. Shortly before the hour, Smith connected with Nicky Low's cross from the left, only for the keeper to throw himself across his goal to save.
Such is the cruelty of football, that it was no surprise when it was the visitors who took the lead after 62 minutes. Smith's left-wing corner found the unmarked Stevenson and he headed beyond Langfield to open the scoring.
Before play had resumed, the first change of the day saw Declan McManus replace the impressive Smith for Aberdeen and 10 minutes later Vernon came on for Magennis.
Hamill picked up the game's first booking after his challenge on McGinn proved one too many and Shaughnessy and McHattie quickly followed into Crawford Allan's black book.
With 13 minutes remaining, Aberdeen drew level. Hayes twisted and turned in the penalty area before sending a teasing ball across the face of goal. Hamill slid in to clear but succeeded only in turning into his own net.
The former Kilmarnock man tried to make amends with a long-range drive five minutes later but Langfield got down well to beat away the strike.
As the end of the season drew nearer, so came the sentimental substitutions. Marius Zaliuskas entered the fray in place of Stevenson, with both set to leave Tynecastle in the summer.
Aberdeen's Rae was given a standing ovation as he was replaced by Jamie Masson and Hearts' striker Ngoo ended his loan spell from Liverpool as he was replaced by John Sutton.
Related Aberdeen News