Away From The Numbers

Aberdeen Scottish Cup Match Report

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The original postponement of East Fife's Scottish Cup tie against Aberdeen was met by disappointment then optimism for the rescheduled date. This optimism lasted three minutes before the Fifers world collapsed and the game was basically already over.

With Aberdeen coming off a disappointing defeat at the weekend and East Fife playing their first game of the month, hopes were high amongst the strong 800 or so travelling support that the Fife could hold their own against their SPL opponents, hit them on the break and cause another famous Fifers Cup shock.

Playing in the green and white away strip, Dave Baikie kept top scorer Paul McManus on the bench and went with what looked like a 4-5-1 line up, with the Dons lining up 4-4-2.

Aberdeen were keen to avoid another Cup exit to lower league opposition and went for it straight from the off. With just two minutes on the clock Tommy Wright crashed a header off the post and straight into the arms of a relieved Willie McCulloch in the Fife goal.

Willie's relief turned to anguish less than two minutes later.

With the Dons keeping the pressure on, Javan Vidal's through ball to Sone Aluko caught the Fife defence flat and defending too high up the field. As Willie rushed ten yards out of his box to try and avert the danger, the speedy Aluko knocked the ball over Willie and the goalie's immediate reaction to throw his hands up and knock the ball away was to cost him dearly. As referee Steve Conroy tried to calm the situation down, the Fife faithful were hoping for just a yellow but deliberate handball and stopping a clear goalscoring opportunity left the ref with no alternative but to send Willie off.

Four minutes in, down to ten men and Michael Brown came on at the expense of poor Goran Stanic. It was going to be a long night.

And we didn't have to wait long for things to go from bad to worse.

With 9 minutes gone, Aluko gave an indication of what was in store as he fired into the side netting. A minute later and it was 1-0 Aberdeen, with Tommy Wright getting his first goal for the Dons as he calmly looped home side footed from 12 yards out after the Fife defence failed to clear Aluko's ball across the box from the left.

With constant Aberdeen pressure, the second came with quarter of an hour gone and was the result of a nice one touch build up from the Dons. A ball over the top found Chris Maguire, who played the ball out to Aluko. Maguire cut inside, collected the ball from Aluko and played it on to the on-loan Vidal who hit it home low from 16 yards for 2-0.

With Aberdeen now clearly in control against the ten men, it was just going to be a matter of time before they added to their tally and it came just before the half hour mark.

A bad clearance from Jonny Smart rebounded to Paul Nugent who was quickly dispossessed by Aluko whose electric pace, aided by the Fife defence going to sleep, leads to a deflected goal off Greig McDonald's sliding challenge on Aluko as he went to shoot the ball across goal. Unlucky for Greig but without his challenge the Dons player would possibly have finished it himself anyway.

So 3-0 Aberdeen and it was now a damage limitation exercise, which was going to be easier said than done with the East Fife defence, and Paul Nugent in particular, being run ragged.

With 40 minutes on the clock East Fife were lucky not to go down to nine men as Shaun Fagan appeared to punch Sone Aluko. Dons boss Jimmy Calderwood went mental but the referee and his assistant both missed it, much to the relief of the Fife.

Half time came with the Fife managing to keep the scoreline down to three and neither team made any changes at the break.

Aberdeen started the second half with the clear intention of adding to their goal tally and Mark Kerr nearly did just that a minute into the half when he ran onto a pass and instead of hitting it first time, he took a touch and his shot went straight into Brown's arms.

A string of Aberdeen corners came to nothing and Vidal had a fierce rising long range effort go over the bar.

David Muir replaced Paul Nugent on 54 minutes, with the right back having had a torrid time tonight, and Div had the Fife's best chance of the game so far on 59 minutes blasting over after some good work out wide by Chris Templeman, who was showing some nice touches tonight.

As the hour mark came and went, the Dons nearly made it four. Bobby Linn gave away a free kick which Maguire whipped in for Lee Miller to meet, forcing a great save from Michael Brown. The rebound then came out to Scott Severin and his effort crashed off the bar but was given as offside anyway.

Chris Maguire had a great chance on 74 minutes, running onto a long clearance from Langfield, he outpaced the defence to leave himself one on one with Brown but blasted high and over when he should have done much better.

The Dons finally made it four with nine minutes of the game remaining. Aberdeen forced a corner and Chris Maguire met it five yards out and although Brown got a hand to it, it came off the bar and into the net.

Minutes later and Maguire added his second. Dispossessing Paul Stewart in the middle of the park, he ran on one on one with Brown and easily slotted it home for number five after 83 minutes and ended the scoring.

Overall it was a disappointing result after all the expectations but it was always going to be backs to the wall after Willie's red card. Plaudits have to go to the boys for the keeping the scoreline down when it looked like it could be a cricket score racked up.

Although the outcome was never in doubt from early on, we'll still always be left wondering what could have been.

C'mon the Fife.

EAST FIFE: Willie McCulloch, Paul Nugent (David Muir 54), Goran Stanic (Michael Brown 4), Jonathan Smart, Greig McDonald, Shaun Fagan (Paul Stewart 77), Bobby Linn, Lloyd Young, Chris Templeman, Stevie Crawford, Dougie Cameron [Subs not used - Paul McManus, and Johnny McRae]

ABERDEEN: Jamie Langfield, Charlie Mulgrew, Lee Mair, Scott Severin, Richard Foster, Chris Maguire, Mark Kerr, Javan Vidal (Peter Pawlett 65), Sone Aluko (Derek Young 76), Lee Miller (Michael Paton 72), Tommy Wright [Subs not used - Bertrand Bossu and Stuart Duff]

REF: Steve Conroy

ATT: 8960