Aberdeen’s Joe Lewis aims to keep his cool in Scottish Cup clash

Matches between Aberdeen and Rangers are rarely short of controversial incidents but Joe Lewis is determined to remain an oasis of calm regardless of what happens in this latest confrontation, writes Scott Davie.

Aberdeen's Joe Lewis. Pic: SNS/Craig Williamson
Aberdeen's Joe Lewis. Pic: SNS/Craig Williamson

The Dons goalkeeper, pictured, prefers to avoid trouble at all costs and is convinced his side’s progress to a third successive Scottish Cup semi-final will depend on others doing likewise in this most explosive of fixtures.​

That’s not exactly the attitude his Ibrox counterpart Allan McGregor is known for, as a retrospective two-game ban picked up for kicking out at Lewis Ferguson in last month’s league meeting at Pittodrie illustrates.​

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Not that Alfredo Morelos and Scott McKenna required any remedial action as their dismissal during Rangers’ 4-2 victory boosted the total to five red cards and 18 yellows in the previous four meetings this season; that’s in addition to McGregor’s punishment. ​

Perhaps the best indication of how incendiary this fixture has become is that only five players have been sent off in the last 17 Old Firm meetings, and if anything the pressure will be even more intense this time with both sides’ season on the line.​

Lewis knows referee Kevin Clancy’s performance will be scrutinised every bit as closely as the players which is why the occasion calls for his cool-headed approach while being equally aware that not everyone can follow that example.​

He said:”Things can boil over, you don’t want anyone going flying in, doing a rash tackle in the first minute because they are so hyped up they want to win the game. It’s the team that will keep the lid on it that will succeed when they go out there and make the better decisions with or without the ball or when tackling. ​

“If you can keep a level head, then your team will get the advantage. I know players who want to be involved in everything and that keeps them buzzing and on edge for the game. ​

“I want to keep the ball out of the net and that’s what I focus on. Catching the ball when it comes in the air, keeping it out of the net, saving shots. That’s my bread and butter that I try to focus on. ​It’s not a conscious effort. I just don’t see the point of it. You just end up getting yourself into trouble and risk a card which isn’t too beneficial. ​

“That’s not to criticise anyone who doesn’t do that. There’s different ways of keeping goal, everyone has his own style and personality. The best players just play to their strengths and do what works for them.” ​

Whatever the outcome, Lewis is certain Gerrard’s arrival at Ibrox has been a major boost for the Scottish game, while on a personal level meeting the Liverpool legend as a youngster on England duty only reinforced the impression of what a class act the Rangers manager is.​

Lewis was at Peterborough United when Fabio Capello called him into the senior squad, but it wasn’t entirely the warmest of welcomes. First-choice goalkeeper David James for one was far from friendly, but Gerrard more than made up for that.​

Lewis said:“He was great with me, he was very welcoming to all the young players who’d come in and I really appreciated that.​ “Steven sat down with me at breakfast and had a good chat – you remember it as a touch of class.​

“He’s a massive name and we have to welcome that in Scottish football. It can only enhance the profile of the game up here.”​