Sam Cosgrove struck late to salvage a 1-1 draw for nine-man Aberdeen against Hibs at Pittodrie.
Story of the match
Paul Heckingbottom will return to Edinburgh tonight wondering how on earth his Hibernian side failed to beat the Dons. 1-0 up against 10 men, the away side had no less than four one-on-ones against Joe Lewis, but somehow allowed Aberdeen back into the match in a pulsating second half. The first 45 offered little clue of the drama to come, however.
Poor before the break, thrilling afterwards
A bright opening 15 minutes for the visitors soon gave way to a quality-free midfield battle, with neither side creating anything of note. Ethan Ross can count himself unlucky not to be played in by Cosgrove on three occasions, but neither keeper was troubled before the break.
The second period, in contrast, was as lively as the first was insipid. Ryan Porteous made it 1-0 three minutes after the restart, taking advantage of a deflection after Aberdeen had failed to clear properly before Curtis Main saw red for a two-footed lunge on Stevie Mallan.
Despite the Dons actually looking more dynamic with 10 men, Hibs hit on the break almost at will. Christian Doidge found himself all alone in front of Lewis on three separate occasions, only to be foiled by the back-in-form Aberdeen captain.
Perhaps sensing that this would not be Hibs’ day, Aberdeen rallied again to hit the post through Ryan Hedges. With four minutes remaining, Cosgrove - who can perhaps count himself lucky not to have received a second yellow card minutes before - rose to head home Niall McGinn’s corner.
While Derek McInnes should be the happiest of the two managers, he will also have been hugely disheartened by Lewis Ferguson’s reckless and needless lunge - deep into both the Hibs half and stoppage time - which will see the vital midfielder suspended for two games. For Heckingbottom, though, the search for a first league win since opening day continues. His side will surely not get many better chances than this.
Takeaways from the match
Out with the old, in with the new?
While new signings and youth team products are bringing (some) hope for Aberdeen’s future, the old guard appears to be on their last legs. With Niall McGinn already looking far more effective from the bench (today being a case in point), Shay Logan may well be joining him there soon. Logan was simply appalling today. A series of comically misplaced headers coupled with an all-round poor performance surely means Zac Vyner will be getting more game time soon. The evergreen Andrew Considine aside, Logan and McGinn are the last of the 2013/14 League Cup-winning squad still regularly in the starting XI. Aberdeen’s best two players this season have been (arguably) Ryan Hedges and (definitely) Greg Leigh, who both arrived this summer, while today’s midfield consisted of a 20-year-old and two teenagers. With the changing of the guard nearly complete, many are wondering whether it is also time for McInnes himself to step down.
Lack of goals means lack of league progress
What do Hibs have to do to buy a win? While ‘Hibsing it’ might be a tired cliche, surely only the Edinburgh side could fail to win a game like this. 1-0 up against a 10-man side brutally short of confidence, Hibs, and Christian Doidge, in particular, were guilty of failing to kill a game most others teams would have put to bed long before the end. Indeed, it’s the ‘goals for’ column that is perhaps the biggest concern. Hibs looked comfortable at the back today, with Ryan Porteous in particular totally at ease with Cosgrove and Main. Doidge, on the other hand, looked anything but. With this summer’s main offensive signing yet to find the target in the SPFL, it’s hard to see where the goals are coming from. The rest of October - with on paper winnable games against Hamilton, Ross County and Livingston to come - could prove crucial. Fail to spark here, and Hibs could be in for an uncomfortable season in the bottom six.