Aberdeen 2 St Mirren 1

17 March 2011 09:58
The Dons found the answers at the second time of asking. Aberdeen dispatched St Mirren at the second time of asking, to set up a Scottish Cup Semi Final against Celtic.St Mirren, who had outplayed, out thought and outfought their opponents in the original tie in Paisley, were far more subdued in the North-East. Michael Higdon was the chief tormentor at St Mirren Park, but he was well marshalled by Zander Diamond and Andrew Considine and could not recreate the chaos he had previously wreaked. Conditions were far from perfect, with strong winds blowing across the pitch. If spring is just around the corner, nobody told anyone at Pittodrie.Pittodrie has not been a happy hunting ground for the Buddies, having failed to achieve a victory in the Granite City since 1987. Conventional wisdom seemed to suggest that St Mirren had missed their best opportunity to progress to the semi-finals by allowing Aberdeen such a dramatic equaliser. However, in the past two seasons both Raith Rovers and Dunfermline were presented with exactly the same circumstances and managed to knock The Dons out of the competition.If there was a difference between the sides over the two fixtures it was the standard of finishing. While St Mirren controlled the initial tie, a combination of excellent goalkeeping and profligate finishing allowed Aberdeen to maintain an interest in the fixture. This would prove vital, as Rory McArdle’s equaliser offered a second opportunity the Dons barely deserved. On Wednesday St Mirren had few opportunities to work Jamie Langfield, while Aberdeen, and in particular Scott Vernon, always looked as if they would seize any opportunities presented to them.From the start it was Aberdeen who looked as if they had real attacking intent. Sone Aluko pushed a Chris Maguire shot onto the bar as early as the third minute, with the hosts early pressure producing a corner. It was from the resulting Paul Hartley set-piece that Chris Maguire forced the ball over the line for his fourth goal of the competition and Aberdeen’s opener.While the loss of the early goal was a setback, St Mirren responded well and perhaps should have equalised when Steven Thompson had a chance to test Langfield following a slack clearance. The midfielder pulled his shot wide and the chance was gone.Aberdeen then exerted a further period of sustained pressure. Maguire saw his effort from the edge of the box well stopped by Paul Gallacher, the penalty hero when Dunfermline triumphed at Pittodrie last season. Just as the first half was drawing to a close Aberdeen doubled their lead. Intricate play between Steven Smith and Sone Aluko allowed the latter to play the ball across the box, where it was knocked into the net by the unfortunate Darren McGregor. Scott Vernon had put the defender under pressure, and will likely claim the strike for himself.Vernon continued to threaten in the second half. The striker looked as if he had added a game-killing third goal ten minutes into the second half, but it was ruled out for a foul on the goalkeeper. Gallacher continued to defy the Aberdeen striker, with a smart save minutes later. The St Mirren keeper made an even more impressive save in the dying minutes of the match.St Mirren pressed for the final twenty minutes, but the tie looked to be beyond them until Nikola Vujidinovic, unbalanced and out of position, headed Darren McGregor’s cross past the incredulous Jamie Langfield. The Montenegrin had been on the pitch for less than a minute, as a defensive replacement for Sone Aluko, the main creative threat for Aberdeen.With minutes to go there was a sudden return of nerves to both the Pittodrie crowd and the players. A repeat of Saturday’s result and the possibility of extra time loomed, but again St Mirren were wasteful with opportunities. Two minutes into injury time Darren McGregor was presented with a chance to claim an equaliser as the ball fell to him inside the box, but pushed his shot to the left of the goal.“We didn’t compete as well as we had on Saturday. They had the grit between their teeth and were picking up a lot of second balls” suggested Danny Lennon. He was not wrong, but it was perhaps less than surprising given his side have managed just eight goals on their league travel this season. St Mirren must now focus on pulling away from Hamilton at the foot of the SPL.Craig Brown was far from happy with the performance his side put in on Saturday, but was more cheered by what he saw in the replay. He said: “I think this Aberdeen team is a fighting team, a fit team, a team determined to get the winning mentality ingrained and I think they’ve done pretty well in that regard”. Just how much winning mentality The Dons have will be tested by their second Hampden visit of the season to face a side that comprehensively defeated them 4-1 in the League Cup. Editor Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba.net)Admin Team (admin@scottishfitba.net)This is Scottish-Fitba.Net