Aberdeen 2-1 Heart of Midlothian
Friday 10th May 2019, KO 19:45 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Pittodrie
Despite a much-improved second-half performance, Hearts were unable to find a comeback against Aberdeen as they lost 2-1 to the Dons at Pittodrie.
Craig Levein rang the changes for the Jambos’ with Michael Smith, John Souttar, Arnaud Djoum, Uche Ikpeazu, Jake Mulraney and Bobby Zlamal all dropped out from last week’s home fixture against Kilmarnock.
Colin Doyle started between the sticks, with Clevid Dikamona, Oliver Bozanic, Sean Clare, Jamie Brandon and Bobby Burns returning to the starting eleven.
Both sides took their time to settle into the tie and the first chance of note didn’t arrive until the 18th minute when Lowe and Shinnie combined on the right but the Dons midfielder hesitated inside the box and couldn’t get his shot away.
The hosts gradually began to impose themselves and Greg Stewart came within inches of putting them in front when his low shot from the edge of the box crept just wide of the right post.
Derek McInnes’ men kept plugging away but were largely forced to contend with long-range efforts, most of which failed to hit the target. Stewart continued to pose a threat, however, and nearly opened the Dons’ account in the dying minutes of the half but could only steer his effort wide.
Up the other end, the last chance of the game fell to the men in maroon. Dikamona did well to get on the ball on the right side of the box, his touch set him free but his powerful shot couldn’t get the better of Joe Lewis as the two sides went into the break on level terms.
The second half was seven minutes old when Sam Cosgrove was played through on the left side of the box but Doyle produced a great save at the near post to deny him.
Moments later, however, the Dons got their noses in front as Lewis Ferguson met the ball on the left side of the box and fired a powerful shot beyond Doyle.
On the hour mark, 16-year-old Aaron Hickey made his Hearts debut as he replaced Jamie Brandon and Hearts were level soon later.
Clare and Bozanic played a one-two from a throw in and the Aussie crossed in. MacLean flicked on, then Edwards, and the ball dropped to the right foot of Bobby Burns and his shot trickled past Joe Lewis.
Aberdeen hit back strongly. First, Shay Logan put a header into the side netting before Doyle made another good save to deny an own goal.
Hearts couldn't hold the hosts at bay for much longer though. James Wilson ran down the right and crossed with his weaker foot, picking out Greg Stewart who curled a lovely right-footed shot into the corner of the net.
The Jambos almost found an equaliser just a minute later when Clevid Dikamona went close again. A free-kick was floated into the box and the Congolese defender rose highest, but his header looped onto the roof the net.
Connor Smith and Craig Wighton were introduced, and Hearts had one last chance to level. Conor Shaughnessy clipped a brilliant ball through to MacLean who ran through on goal, taking one touch past Joe Lewis befoer being brought down.
The English keeper was booked for the foul,. which was correctly adjudged to have been outside the box but only by a matter of inches. Sean Clare stepped up, but blazed his free-kick over and with that, Hearts' chance to leave Pittodrie with a point was gone.
Aberdeen: Lewis, Logan, McKenna, Considine (Devlin, 71'), Lowe, Ferguson, Shinnie, Ball, Wilson, Cosgrove, Stewart (May, 83')
Subs: Cerny, Campbell, Ross, Virtanen.
Hearts: Doyle, Brandon (Hickey, 62'), Shaughnessy, Berra, Dikamona, Burns, Bozanic, Cochrane (C. Smith, 79'), Edwards (Wighton, 84') Clare, MacLean.
Subs: Zlamal, Lee, Mulraney, Petkov.
Att: 14,371 (368 away fans)
Ref: Bobby Madden