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Csaba Laszlo <-auth auth-> Douglas McDonald
[L Miller 42]
6 of 006 Andrew Driver 62L SPL A

Late Hearts surge can't force win

Published Date: 18 October 2009
By Martin Hannan at Pittodrie
WHEN two sides are evenly matched, they either produce a high-scoring thriller or cancel each other out. Yesterday at Pittodrie we had a good example of the latter, though it was still thrilling at times.
At the 80 minute mark, Aberdeen could rightly claim to be the better side, but a furious late onslaught by Hearts almost gave them the winner, and in injury time it was the Dons' fans who were begging for the final whistle.

Aberdeen manager Mark McGhee said: "I thought we deserved to win. We made so many chances we should have won the game."

His opposite number, Csaba Lazlo, echoed those remarks from his point of view: "We attacked well in the final 20 minutes and could have won the game late on. David Obua was particularly unlucky to miss a header late on."

It didn't look as good as McGhee wanted for the Dons at first. Hearts started brightly and had an excellent chance inside the first five minutes, when a cross from Craig Thomson found Obua in the Aberdeen box. The lanky Ugandan turned and fired in a quick shot which was deflected wide.

It took Aberdeen 15 minutes to create a chance, Andrew Considine heading over from a long free kick by Charlie Mulgrew. At the other end, Thomson hit a free kick just wide of Jamie Langfield's right-hand post.

At this point the match was open and entertaining, if curiously passionless. Both midfields lacked precision in their work, with Hearts' Suso Santana and Andrew Driver unable to make headway, while Lee Miller often had to come back to help out for Aberdeen for whom Stuart Duff and Mark Kerr worked hard. In contrast to open play, Thomson's 23rd minute corner was highly accurate in finding David Witteveen, the Austrian's header flashing only narrowly past the home goal.

The 29th minute saw some controversy when Peter Pawlett was edged off the ball by Jose Goncalves in the visitors' area. Referee Dougie McDonald ruled the shoulder challenge was fair, to the chagrin of the home fans.

A product of the Aberdeen youth system, Pawlett continued to trouble Hearts and it was the youngster who began the move which led to Aberdeen scoring a quite superb goal. Pawlett's cross-field ball released Mulgrew who sent Michael Paton down the left. He fired in a fierce cross which Janos Balogh grazed with a fingernail before it reached Miller who headed home from close range into an empty net.

It was the striker's first goal of the season and he admitted to a "little bit of relief". Miller added: "I could have had a hat-trick but the goals will come"

Another of Aberdeen's impressive youngsters, Fraser Fyvie, almost doubled his side's lead direct from the corner spot after 50 minutes, but Balogh leapt at the last moment to tip the ball over from underneath his crossbar. And had Pawlett shown a little more composure a minute later, he might have hit the target from a rebound rather than blasting his effort well wide.

The same remark applied to Fyvie shortly afterwards, after Gary McDonald sent him free behind the Hearts' defence only for the youngster to lose his cool and shoot well over. Pawlett then had to leave the field with a pulled hamstring, and the Dons fans rose to acclaim the return to Pittodrie action of Sone Aluko from the U20 World Cup where he starred for Nigeria.

Christian Nade had earlier replaced the ineffective Witteveen, and thanks largely to him, Hearts grabbed a well-worked equaliser against the run of play just after the hour mark. Nade picked up the ball in midfield, strode forward and sent an inch-perfect pass to Driver whose finish across Langfield and into the bottom corner was perfection itself.

Laryea Kingston came on to complete his rehabilitation after the club v. country row. He was involved in much of Hearts' good work from then on. "I wasn't happy being out of the team," said Kingston, "but in life people make mistakes. I am capable of bringing the fans back to my side again."

His manager was emphatic: "Kingston has more to do, but this was a first step. I am in charge and nobody, but nobody, can do anything that is not what is best for the club."

Aberdeen substitute Chris Maguire replaced Paton and fired in a corner which came off Miller straight into the arms of Balogh. Having skinned Lee Wallace, Miller was stopped only by Balogh's fine work as we entered the final 15 minutes. Fyvie looked to have scored a bonnie late goal with a volley, but Goncalves dived to head clear the goalbound shot.

In the final minutes, it was all Hearts. Bouzid should have scored with a powerful header from Thomson's corner after 87 minutes, but Langfield palmed the ball over.

Obua then scorned an easy opportunity, his downward header off Driver's cross hitting off himself and going wide when it looked easier to score.

The final seconds of injury time saw a dramatic stramash – there's no other word for it – in Aberdeen's goalmouth as Hearts player after Hearts player queued up to have a blast, all of them blocked until Nade finally blasted over.

In the end a draw was just about fair. Like their managers, neither set of fans, of course, will see it that way.

Taken from the Scotsman

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