Aberdeen were magnificent in magnolia. They christened their new away strip in style, stretching out the tie to extra-time. The only reason for their fans to lament in Lancashire was the result.
Jack Cork’s header after 112 minutes of pulsating, end-to-end action broke Aberdeen’s resistance. Ashley Barnes’ penalty with seven minutes of extra-time left meant the Scots were out but far from down.
Joe Lewis was immense in goal. Michael Devlin showed it isn’t all about Scott McKenna, his much-admired partner in central defence.
Graeme Shinnie played like what he was: a local boy giving everything for the team he loves.
And then there was Lewis Ferguson, who scored the goal of his young life to silence the home crowd. There was a moment of surreal hush as everyone, including Ferguson himself, tried to process what had just happened.
What had happened was an 18-year-old had flipped himself into the air and scored with a right-footed overhead kick to score his first senior goal to cancel out Chris Wood’s opener. It was an act of audacity that surely saw his father’s chest swell with pride. Derek, the former Hearts and Rangers midfielder, has clearly tutored him well.
As for uncle Barry, he might have smiled as he remembered his own coming of age performance for Scotland against England at Wembley in 1999.
As well as signifying a potential turning point in Ferguson’s life, it also marked a changing point in the game. Prior to Ferguson’s inspired intervention he and his teammates were finding life tricky.
McKenna had to display his defensive nous early on to cut out a dangerous through ball that was otherwise destined for Sam Vokes, scorer of the late equaliser last week. But he looked slightly more leaden-footed when Burnley made the breakthrough just a few minutes later.
“Come on you Reds!” the travelling fans implored in the direction of players sporting a different colour entirely. Come on they did.
The last time Aberdeen faced English opposition in Europe they drew 1-1 in the first leg as well. But the return game was at Pittodrie, where they triumphed 3-1 over Bobby Robson’s English champions.
Aberdeen were required to do something special in an unfamiliar setting. The visiting fans did their best to turn Turf Moor into a Little Pittodrie. Over 2000 had travelled south and took over the cricket ground next door to the football stadium, singing and drinking in the sun.
Many might have found it a wrench to leave this enchanted spot. But they did, filling up the end where Lewis spent the first-half. Wood punctured their reverie by scoring under their noses after just seven minutes. Frustration at the loss of such a quick goal was compounded by the knowledge it was cheaply conceded.
Aberdeen had possession of the ball in the form of a shy on the right. Shay Logan’s throw was directed towards Shinnie, who lost control under pressure from Westwood. The Burnley player then launched a high through ball between the Aberdeen centre-halves. Lewis, too, was slow to react and Wood did well to keep his composure and score after switching feet and rounding the ‘keeper.
Aberdeen took time to find their feet. But then, after 27 minutes, came Ferguson’s moment. A better-taken corner, from Gary Mackay-Steven this time, was cleared but the ball made its way back to the winger, who crossed again. Wood tried to clear but sent the ball back across the goal to where Ferguson was lurking. In the flick of an eye he was in the air. Another flick, of the boot this time, saw the ball nestling in the net. There was a brief, stunned silence and then an explosion of joy from the away end.
Shinnie nearly sent them wild again on the stroke of half-time but his shot was tipped past Anders Lindegaard. The same player should have given Aberdeen the lead midway through the second half but shot wildly over from the edge of the box after a cutback from McGinn. Shinnie was irrepressible at times.
Lewis was excelling at the other end, somehow tipping Johann Berg Gudmunddson’s effort over the bar. Better still was his stop from a Barnes shot at the far post, which again he touched over. But he could do nothing about Cork’s flying header 12 minutes into the first period of extra time.
With seven minutes left, McKenna’s handball gave Barnes the chance to make Burnley’s victory sound more comfortable than it was. Lewis guessed the right way but was beaten by the substitute’s well-hit penalty.