Aberdeen score seven goals shock (okay, five of them were penalties) in front of old manager as shootout win gets Stephen Glass era off to bright start
It also seems set to be blessed with the fortune every new manager wishing to make their mark needs. Glass wants to place the accent on youth eventually but here he had to rely on a pair of old-stagers to rescue his Scottish Cup dream. With time running out, Jonny Hayes crossed for Niall McGinn, the scorer of the first goal of the Derek McInnes era eight years ago, to secure extra-time.
Later came evidence that England strikers’ coach and Glass assistant Allan Russell is already working his undoubted magic. Not only did Florian Kamberi score a goal, Aberdeen also converted all five penalties in the shootout.
Jason Holt was the visitors’ fall guy. He saw his kick strike the junction of post and bar. Lewis Ferguson, Kamberi again, substitute Callum Hendry, Dean Campbell and, decisively, Ross McCrorie all scored for the hosts, who have another home tie in the last eight. It just so happens to be against Dundee United, the team Glass supported as a boy.
It’s taken nine appearances for the on-loan Kamberi to showcase his provenability to put the ball in the net. He got on the end of McGinn’s cross five minutes into extra-time. This was the second time Aberdeen had responded to going a goal behind. It’s already clear to see they are keen to impress the new manager.
A cool haar had descended by this stage on what proved a long, if entertaining, night on the North-east coast. Glass had earlier brought the sun with him from the United States. It is clearly going to take a bit more time – probably the length of a summer transfer window - to ensure a brighter outlook for Aberdeen. But this was a promising way to start after some worrying early signs.
Aberdeen ‘keeper drama
Pittodrie was bathed in early evening sunlight but even this seemed to conspire against Aberdeen to the extent that it appeared to play a part in the injury that led to goalkeeper and skipper Joe Lewis eventually going off nine minutes before half-time. Lewis came out to collect a high ball, got slightly dazzled by the low sun and collided with Livingston defender Jon Guthrie.
Lewis struggled on with painful ribs for another 25 minutes or so before being replaced by Gary Woods. When Glass said last week that he wanted to play a part in creating more Pittodrie history, this wasn’t what he had in mind. Woods was picking the ball out of the net just a matter of seconds after coming on after Jay Emmanuel-Thomas picked his spot following a neat one-two with Scott Pittman. There’s surely not an Aberdeen goalkeeper who’s lost a quicker goal on their debut.
The fact little or indeed no blame can be attached to the Woods will provide scant consolation for the 30-year-old, who has been recruited on a season-long loan from Oldham Athletic.
Something else provided some relief. He did not have to scratch around for the ball in the back of his net beneath the noses of a couple of thousand home fans in the Richard Donald stand. They were all groaning from their sofas at home and fearing they were locked in an ever-deepening spiral of gloom, new management team or not. The eventual shootout success would suggest otherwise. Woods wasn’t even required to save one.
Glass had set his team out in a 4-1-4-1 system initially, with Campbell employed in the water-carrier role, to use that old American term. McGinn seemed charged with pushing up in support of Fraser Hornby whenever possible.
McInnes makes quick return
These opportunities proved infrequent to say the least. Livingston spent a sizeable chunk of the first 45 minutes pushing Aberdeen back. It was a reminder that there’s only so much an incoming management team can do in a few days. Interestingly, former manager McInnes appeared to flout the unwritten rule that ex managers should avoid their old place of work for a reasonable amount of time to give their successor space.
To be fair, it has been a few weeks since McInnes left – over five in fact. But this was still Glass’ first game in charge due to the time spent on an interview process to identify McInnes’ successor combined with the spell of quarantine Glass had to observe on his arrival from the States.
It must have felt strange to know McInnes was judging him and his team from across the field. McInnes was in the south stand working as a pundit for Premier Sports. He will have recognised all the old failings and frustrations as Aberdeen toiled to break Livi down in the opening half.
The story of the game
A Connor McLennan mis-kick in front of goal and a Hornby effort from around 12 yards saved by the excellent Max Stryjek was the sum of things for the home team before half-time.
Most of the action occurred at the other end, including when Lewis made a sad retreat to the dressing room. Around thirty seconds later, Emmanuel-Thomas retrieved the ball on the touchline after Hayes tried to let the ball go out. The big striker made haste towards goal and after getting the ball back from Pittman slipped it past auxiliary ‘keeper Woods.
Although Aberdeen improved markedly after the break their equaliser arrived after Livi came close to making the tie safe. Alan Forrest was presented with a chance after lung-busting run down the right from Nicky Devlin but saw his shot blocked.
Aberdeen sped back up field, Hayes crossing for McGinn, who took a touch before lashing high into the net. Extra-time was an even affair between two tiring team. Emmanuel-Thomas put Livi ahead again just two minutes in from the spot after he himself had been floored by Campbell’s clumsy challenge. Kamberi’s equaliser prolonged a night of great drama under the lights.
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