Scottish Premier League - Saturday 16th October 2010
Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Aberdeen slipped to another defeat at Pittodrie this afternoon, as their poor form continues. Kevin Kyle popped up with the only goal of what was bad-tempered game, just 37 seconds into the second half. Despite the return of Aluko, Hartley, Maguire, and Velicka making his debut, the Dons struggled to create chances, and Hearts saw out the game with relative ease.
Despite cries of "shoooooooooot!" from the kickoff, it took until the 9th minute for the first real chance to materialise. Aluko beat four players as Aberdeen broke at pace, before giving it to Maguire on the wing. His cross though was just out of reach for Vernon and Velicka. Elliot drew a good save from Howard a minute later, firing in a powerful shot from the edge of the box.
There was controversy in the 17th minute when Kyle led with his elbow in a challenge with Diamond. The striker received a long talking to, but no booking. As the players made their way up the pitch, Kyle pushed into Diamond, but again went unpunished. Two minutes later Skacel seemed to be hurt after Maguire's hand accidently caught him in the face, the Czech needing treatment with a nosebleed.
Aberdeen had a half chance in the 22nd minute, when Aluko blocked a Hearts clearance. The ball fell for Velicka in the box, but the on-loan striker sliced his effort on the turn well wide. A mistake at the back from Considine allowed Santana in in the 26th minute. His shot was parried by Howard, McArdle then got in the way of Elliot's follow up. Aluko was then brought down by Barr as he looked to break, the Hearts man earning himself a yellow card.
In the 27th minute, there were a series incidents as Hearts looked to be losing their cool. First Santana had a kick at McArdle after he tackled him, then Bouzid fouled Vernon, and finally Skacel took out Maguire with a late challenge on the right, going into the book for his troubles. A minute later Vernon almost got his head onto a great cross from Aluko.
There must have been a sniper in the stadium because Santana went down like he'd been shot after a challenge from McArdle in the 31st minute. Miraculously, the Hearts player recovered almost instantaneously, and even felt well enough to give Velicka a whack round the back of the head as he stood taking a drink. A really well-worked move from the Dons in the 38th minute almost culminated in a goal; Kello flopping onto Vernon's cross just before Velicka could get there.
Maguire must have said something out of turn, as he was given a yellow card in the 39th minute, seemingly out of the blue. In the 42nd minute, the ball fell to Skacel in the box, after Diamond challenge on Jonsson, but the bloodied striker fired well wide. Hearts were claiming for a penalty in the 45th minute, as Kyle went down in the box, the referee was not interested though.
In the 47th minute, Chris "halfway line" Maguire went close, flashing his effort low past the post from just outside the box. As the haltime whistle went, Howard jumped to claim a cross, however the keeper rolled over Kyle's back on his way back down and fell awkwardly, requiring several minutes of treatment.
Aberdeen made the worst possible start to the second half, and were a goal down after just 37 seconds. Kevin Kyle netting with a free header from six yards out after a cross from Elliot. The goal scorer then proceeded to run straight to the section of the south stand where this reporter was sitting, and slap his backside, you could argue this should have earned Kyle his second yellow, but he was not even shown his first.
The sniper struck again in the 50th minute, taking out Elliot as McArdle made an innocuous challenge. Once again though, the Hearts player made a miraculous recovery immediately. Tempers flared again a minute later, Considine taking exception to being unnecessarily barged into by Elliot.
There was a real opportunity for the home side to level in the 53rd minute. As Vernon broke into the box from the left, Maguire was unmarked in the middle; unfortunately, Vernon's cross turned out to be more of a delicate chip into the keeper's arms. Langfield replaced Howard in the 54th minute, Howard clearly still struggling from the knock he took at the end of the first half.
Two minutes later, Mackie came on for the largely ineffective Velicka. Kyle had another opportunity with his head into the 59th minute, heading over the bar this time. Kyle was finally booked in the 63rd minute, following a pull back on McArdle. Mrowiec became the fourth Hearts player to go into book, after a nasty lunge on Maguire.
Diamond's drive from the D was blocked by a defender in the 66th minute. As Diamond claimed for handball, Maguire had a go from the left hand side, but didn't get a hold of his shot properly. Maguire played in Vernon in the 68th minute, but the Englishman had no support and his shot was blocked. The ball fell to Aluko though, who put in a decent cross which Mackie couldn't quite divert goalwards.
Langfield looked to be in real trouble in the 71st minute, when Skacel slid into him. Magennis, on the bench, sat up and paid attention as Langfield lay clutching his shoulder. Magennis started his career as a goalkeeper, but thankfully was not required as Langfield managed to play on.
A great ball forward from McArdle, found Mackie in the 73rd minute. However, the Dons number 10 couldn't find any of the three red shirts in the box, his cross getting put behind for a corner. In the 76th minute, Santana went on a mazy run before squaring to Kyle, Considine was then required to make an impressive block to deny the striker.
Diamond went into the book with 10 minutes left for a late tackle. Maguire then went off for youngster Ryan Fraser. A Barr shot from range fell at the feet of Stephen Elliot in the 82nd minute, but the substitute could not control it and the ball deflected out for a goal kick. Jack was then forced into a goal line clearance with five minutes to go, from yet another Kyle header.
Unbelievably, four minutes after coming on, 16-year-old Fraser was booked by referee Euan Norris for his first foul! Moments later, Norris endeared himself to the Red Army further, sending Scott Leitch to the stand. Hearts were bossing the game now, and saw out the remaining minutes easily to secure the win.
A below-par performance and a bad day all-round then. With only 41% of possession at home, we struggled to create chances. The fact we still seemed content, despite the return of Aluko, Hartley and Maguire, to play route one, which is difficult against a big Hearts team anyway, was worrying.
The antics of today's visitors was poor, but we let ourselves get bullied. The refereeing was again questionable though, on another day Kevin Kyle could easily have seen red. Not many positives to take then, although McArdle put in a good shift this afternoon in his preferred position of centre-back.
Hibs next week is now surely, if not a must win, then a must not lose. That and the Falkirk game could well decide McGhee's fate now, in many people's eyes. Who knows what a good win next Saturday could do for us though; after all, we're only six points off 3rd.
Danny McKay won RedTV's Junior Reporter competition: click here
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