Hibs had pulled themselves up to fourth place after this hard-fought victory and set their sights on clinching a European place when it hadn’t been too long before that they were being branded as relegation candidates after a terrible start to the campaign.
Aberdeen 0 Hibernian 1 (Brebner)
October 27, 2002
At times Bobby Williamson’s men failed to produce the kind of performance they had shown in some of their defeats this season, but they picked up three points to leapfrog Hearts in the SPL.
The victory made it six league victories on the trot, albeit they required a little luck against Ebbe Skovdahl’s men. The Dons began the sharper side and the visitors were given a massive let-off with just seven minutes on the clock when Darren Mackie was able to drive into the box from the left-hand touchline before firing in a powerful effort that beat goalkeeper Nick Colgan only to come back off the upright. The rebound fell straight back into Mackie’s path but, with Colgan still grounded, the striker screwed his effort wide from no more than eight yards as the goal was left gaping.
Three minutes later and the Hibees registered their first shot on goal as Yannick Zambernardi’s powerful 25-yard free-kick was well held by Peter Kjaer after Grant Brebner had been fouled.
With 14 minutes played, Aberdeen were rueing another missed opportunity as Mackie sent Nicolas Fabiano through on goal with a deft touch, but the Frenchman seemed to rush his attempt and fired across the face of the goal.
At the other end, when Garry O’Connor beat Jamie McAllister down the right flank, there appeared to be a real chance for Hibs as Mixu Paatelainen screamed for the ball in the middle but, unfortunately for Hibs, O’Connor’s cross was too near Kjaer who cut out the danger. Fifteen minutes from the break, it was Colgan’s turn to come to his side’s rescue when he spotted the danger as Phil McGuire looked to release Mackie and rushed well out of his goal to narrowly beat the striker to the long pass and head the ball into touch.
After the break there were few clear-cut opportunities and there was a sense that if the match was to be won it would be done so either by a moment of brilliance or a mistake.
It proved to be the latter and when the Dons defence was plunged into total disarray by a Craig James cross from the left, Brebner rolled the ball beyond Kjaer and into the net. Both Roberto Bisconti and Phil McGuire had opportunities to clear the danger but failed to do so.
The home side could have equalised late on when Eric Deloumeaux’s free-kick picked out the unmarked Kevin Rutkiewicz inside the area but, with only Colgan to beat, he got too much on his header which sailed wide when he should really have earned the Dons a share of the spoils.