Aberdeen 2 – 1 Hearts Supplements: Scott Brown class, Stephen Glass tactical change and Pittodrie segregation fence
There have been a number of good performances among the Aberdeen squad with Ryan Hedges and Marley Watkins causing all kinds of trouble for Hearts. Dylan McGeouch played a low-key role in midfield. However, Scott Brown was the best player on the pitch. He stood out as someone who had clearly played football at a much higher level, but who had been thrown into a situation where he had to show those on the pitch what it took to achieve such level.
In the first half, a short clearance aside in preparation for the Hearts’ penalty, the former Celtic captain showed his conscience and play-reading ability to ensure he was well placed on crosses , while intervening or showing force against Armand Gnanduillet. After the break he brought that bluster to the midfield, took inspiration from Graeme Souness’ book to plant a big flag in the midfield as if to say “the midfielder is mine”. He, alongside McGeuch, gave Aberdeen a platform for build then attack Hearts. When the ball came back, he won the ball and recycled it.
His class was highlighted across the field, next to the corner flag on his own touchline, as he easily turned away from Barrie McKay.
A captain’s performance.
One of the great features of Pittodria is the fence that separates home supporters and visiting support. It is a step backwards. A symbol of two separate tribal gangs. This thin little fence keeps anarchy from breaking loose. This allows supporters on both sides to act more courageously than they normally would, knowing full well that no one is climbing the cage, especially with stewards and police in close proximity. When a goal is scored, it’s natural to skip the celebrations on the pitch and head for the fence. To hit and crush opposition fans, knowing full well that they could easily repay the favor later in the game. It adds an edge element to the procedures, to the atmosphere. However, possibly due to incidents in past matches at Pittodria, a tarp banner was put in place to put even more distance between the two groups of fans.
As for the players. Hearts winger Gary Mackay-Steven of his former club started after being on the bench during the week. Against Funso Ojo, he failed to test the Dons defense with his pace and skill and hung ahead of time. A player who must show himself more for the club of Tynecastle.
Aberdeen had been slightly the most positive team in the first half and the most likely to score with impressive Dylan McGeouch. Hearts struggled to get their attackers into the game with Josh Ginnelly well organized and the aforementioned Mackay-Steven on the outskirts. Armand Gnanduillet wanted the ball to be behind or to be crossed. Without Liam Boyce, Barrie McKay and Ben Woodburn, no one was coming towards the ball to connect the attacking midfielder.
Then, just before half-time, a harmless pass from John Souttar was cleared by Scott Brown but it didn’t go far, with Gnanduillet picking it up and playing a nice pass to Ginnelly who was knocked down by Joe Lewis.
At that point, you might be thinking ‘this is a watershed’. It was. But not in the way many expected.
The halftime goal prompted Stephen Glass to tweak the system. Scott Brown was pushed into a midfield role as the Dons went from 3-4-1-2 to 4-4-2 with Lewis Ferguson playing narrow on the left and Ryan Hedges a free role on the right. They dominated the start of the second half and pinned Hearts. Michael Smith was against him in the lower right for the visitors as Dean Campbell pushed forward, Marley Watkins drifted wide and even Hedges changed wings.
It was fluid, it was fast and it was exciting.
Glass deserves huge praise for the tweak and style of play he wants to bring to Pittodria.
When Kevin Clancy is awarded a game, you can imagine there would be some nervous looks from both teams, especially at the end of a week that saw many refereeing decisions under the microscope. Yet on the play, he made all the important decisions correctly. Aberdeen wanted a penalty for a shot that hit Stephen Kingsley in the arm but his hands were by his side, as he was probably right to send Andy Halliday for a difficult and late challenge on Lewis Ferguson just at the end.
There was the reaction to the incredible stop of Craig Gordon deny Christian Ramirez. A mixture of respect, admiration and disbelief. Then there was the crowd singing songs to tunes from She’s Electric from Oasis, Heaven is a Place on Earth from Belinda Carlisle and Love Will Tear Us Apart from Joy Division. An eclectic mix.
But a shout out to Aberdeen’s consistently excellent schedule that revealed that the last time the club had scheduled three league games on consecutive Saturdays at 3pm was back in December 1984. It was also noted that there were SIX home games in a row in February 2011. “The program editor has still not recovered …” he read.
How Aberdeen and Hearts players considered Endemic Gifts ended the Capital squad …