Aberdeen --- Hibernian: Report
Aberdeen --- Hibernian: Match Report - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game as it happened.
Penalty woe for Dons
Ben Williams' save from Niall McGinn's early penalty proved vital as Hibernian battled out a goalless draw against Aberdeen to maintain their two-point Clydesdale Bank Premier League cushion over the hosts.
Williams got down to his right to push away the 10th-minute spot-kick, awarded after Tim Clancy's foul on Johnny Hayes, in what was the one highlight of an otherwise poor game.
Leigh Griffiths was joined in the Hibs attack by veteran striker Shefki Kuqi, taking the place of Eoin Doyle, while Paul Cairney and Tom Taiwo came into the midfield for Lewis Stevenson and Jorge Claros.
The home side were without injured captain Russell Anderson, midfielder Isaac Osbourne filling in alongside Mark Reynolds at centre-back.
Peter Pawlett came straight into the side following his loan spell at St Johnstone, with Rob Milson also handed a starting berth. Scott Vernon and Cammy Smith dropped to the bench.
Pawlett was instantly involved, with his driving run between Clancy and James McPake ending with the winger going down, but referee Craig Thomson adjudged him to have dived and produced a yellow card.
The Hibs defence was looking uncomfortable in the opening stages. And, when Gavin Rae fed McGinn after eight minutes the Dons top scorer looked to be clear, only for McPake to get back and block.
The hosts were awarded a penalty after 10 minutes. This time it was Hayes who ran at Clancy before being sent tumbling, and Thomson did point to the spot. McGinn stepped up and fired low to Williams' right, but the former Manchester United goalkeeper got down to push the effort away.
Ten minutes later, Pawlett should have broken the deadlock when Joe Shaughnessy headed a cross from the left into his path, but the winger headed over with the goal at his mercy.
And on the half-hour, the Hibs goal was again under threat, 25-year-old McGinn this time sending his attempt wide of Williams' right post.
On the stroke of half-time, a neat move down the right saw Williams palm away Pawlett's delivery. The ball fell to Clark Robertson, but he hit over.
Hibs made a change at the break, with Stevenson replacing Ryan McGivern at left-back, the on-loan Manchester City man having picked up a hamstring injury.
Aberdeen continued to look the more likely of the sides to find the breakthrough, and were presented with a free-kick 20 yards out when Deegan hauled down Pawlett. The former Coventry player was booked for the foul, but Hayes sent the set-piece wide of the near post.
The visitors tried to liven things up with the introduction of the more mobile Doyle in place of the ineffective Kuqi on the hour but, 90 seconds later, it was Aberdeen's Osbourne who fizzed a 25-yard strike narrowly wide.
Midway through the second half, a free-kick near the halfway line was flicked on by Paul Hanlon, who had picked up his side's second booking shortly before, for Doyle, but the Irish forward could not get any power behind his header and Jamie Langfield held comfortably.
Aberdeen threw on Vernon for the lively Pawlett with 20 minutes remaining and, within seconds, they saw Hayes turn on the edge of the area to curl an effort narrowly beyond the far post.
Hibs were prone to conceding set-pieces around their penalty area, and McPake picked up another yellow card for bringing down Milsom in just such an area after 72 minutes. Again, though, McGinn failed to find the target.
As the game entered the dying stages, both sides threw on youngsters, Smith replacing Milsom for the Dons, and Hibs introducing Danny Handling for Cairney. Aberdeen would subsequently replace Hayes with Josh Magennis.
There was a late chance for Hibs as Doyle swung over a low cross from the right which seemed destined for Griffiths until Osbourne got a vital touch to turn behind for a corner. Thomson and his assistant disagreed, awarding a goal-kick, and Griffiths picked up a booking for expressing his dissent.
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