Aberdeen 2-0 FC Twente: Dons enter season on high

Niall McGinn (right) is congratulated by Ryan Jack after putting his side ahead. Picture: SNS
Niall McGinn (right) is congratulated by Ryan Jack after putting his side ahead. Picture: SNS
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Second half goals from talismanic striker Niall McGinn and substitute Peter Pawlett gave Aberdeen a morale boosting win to take into next weekend’s opener against Kilmarnock.

The Pittodrie club’s executive vice chairman George Yule has already predicted Derek McInnes’s new look side will emerge as Celtic’s closest challengers this season.

It’s a level of expectation the manager is trying to play down but that might be difficult if is players produce the intensity and ability they showed in flashes here. Getting McGinn to extend his contract looks particularly shrewd as the former Celtic player made it nine goals in six warm up games with an adroit header in 47 minutes.

Pawlett supplied the cross for that then produced a stunning solo run and finish before clipping an acute angled drive home for the second on the hour mark.

McInnes completed his preparations for the campaign before a ball was kicked by bringing in Michael Hector on loan from Reading to strengthen the back division.

Just how crucial that was became clear when the 21-year-old was pitched straight into the starting line-up just hours after completing the six month deal.

Andrew Considine and Chris Clark have been ruled out for the start of the season and captain Russell Anderson wasn’t in the 24 man squad McInnes stripped for duty last night.

Worryingly, with the home opener against Kilmarnock due next Saturday, neither were summer signings Willo Flood and Calvin Zola. That left Hector as the only summer signing in the Aberdeen starting line up and the youngster was certainly given a stern workout by the classy Dutch opposition.

Josh Magennis did hit the post on the opening seconds after a Niall McGinn corner spun off his shins, but that apart FC Twente hogged possession.

The home players were often left chasing shadows in the opening period and Hector, alongside Mark Reynolds in central defence, had his work cut out.

In fact Aberdeen were lucky that their opponents were so profligate when it came to exploiting their slick build up play.

Perhaps it wasn’t too surprising that a team who sold Leroy Fer to Norwich City and Nacer Chadli to Spurs for a combined fee of £14m lately so lack a bit of quality where it counts.

Luc Castaignos, and William Janssen twice, missed open goals from six yards out when it looked much easier to score. But Aberdeen in general, and loan signing Hector in particular, stuck doggedly to their task with McInnes pleased simply to get his final pre-season signing in place.

He said:“I’m delighted to have been able to bring in Michael. He’s a big strong lad who comes with a good pedigree. Michael’s arrival concludes things as far as players coming in is concerned while we are looking at loan deals going the other way for one or two of our younger lads.”

That won’t include the likes of Nicky Low and Jamie Masson though as both started this game only to make way for the more experienced Barry Robson and Peter Pawlett at the interval.

The switch immediately brought the sort aggression and determination their manager had demanded before kick off as FC Twente paid for their first half slackness.

Aberdeen: Langfield, Shaughnessy, Hector (Murray 64), Reynolds, Robertson, Hayes, Jack (Storie 78), Low (Robson 46), Masson (Pawlett 46), Hayes (Wylde 64), McGinn, Magennis (Vernon 64). Subs not used: Weaver, Shankland, McKenna, Smith, O’Neill, Rumsby, McManus.