Low-key build-up can only help Aberdeen in cup quest - Joe Lewis

25 May 2017

Joe Lewis hopes the benefits of home comforts will see Aberdeen return from Hampden with the William Hill Scottish Cup.

Derek McInnes took his team to St Andrews ahead of November's unsuccessful Betfred Cup final showdown with Celtic.

This time, however, the Pittodrie men are staying in the Granite City to prepare for this season's sixth and final battle with the rampant Hoops.

The Reds have lost all five meetings so far but goalkeeper Lewis reckons his boss is right to reject a change of scenery and keep the build-up low key as Aberdeen chase their first Scottish Cup win in 27 years.

He said: "We all appreciate it's a big occasion but staying at home and trying to treat it like any other game can be seen as a positive.

"No-one needs to tell us it's a big game, we all know it. Everyone has family coming along and it's a sell-out.

"We're all aware of what is at stake and hopefully we'll give a performance that reflects that."

The Dons' chances of landing the campaign's first piece of silverware folded when they handed Brendan Rodgers' free-flowing midfield the freedom of Hampden to pick their passes.

The result was a bitter 3-0 loss as the Parkhead side wrapped up their 100th trophy success.

But having made history themselves this month by beating Rangers at Ibrox for the first time in a quarter of a century, Lewis believes his side have proved they have developed a nerve for the big occasion.

"Everyone can't wait to get there," he said.

"The last time the teams met earlier this month we lost 3-1 but we did play some good football and we will take some confidence from that. We will study all the games we have played against them previously. We are confident that we can carry a threat to them and get a positive result.

"We have had moments and spells where we caused them problems. We need to make sure we do not have any lapses in concentration. We need to be fully concentrated for 90-plus minutes.

"We gave them too much space and sat off them a bit too much at Hampden last time. We will certainly have a plan in place to combat that this time.

"But a lot has happened since then. It was a harsh lesson but we have moved on from that. We've learned from all the big games we've played this season. We have played a lot of them this season. We will use those experiences to help us on Saturday.

"The result at Rangers was a big result. It showed that when we are in those big-game situations in front of a big crowd the team does have the bottle to produce big performances.

"Although Celtic are favourites to win the game we still put pressure on ourselves to perform at a certain level, as we have done throughout the whole season."

Aberdeen's last Scottish Cup triumph in 1990 also saw them take on Celtic.

Victory was clinched on penalties, with defender Brian Irvine smashing home the decisive spot-kick.

But that only came about after goalkeeper Theo Snelders made himself the hero by tipping Celtic defender Anton Rogan's effort around the post.

Lewis knows he could be called upon to perform a similar act this time but even so, he admits he will not bother limbering up for a potential shoot-out before the match.

He said: "I'm sure the lads will have a little practice going into the final so they know which way they are going to go and can step up with confidence.

"I don't tend to practice saving penalties too much though. I tend to go with my instinct on the day.

"I don't think I've ever been in a penalty shoot-out as a professional. There might have been one at youth-team level.

"Hopefully we can do it in 90 minutes and not have to bother with penalties.

"If it does goes all the way, I won't feel too much pressure. As a goalkeeper you can enjoy them a little bit - obviously if you come out on the winning side you can be the hero."

Source: PA