Aberdeen 0, Hearts 1: November 9, 2003
Hearts secured victory with a solitary goal from striker Andy Kirk at Pittodrie to quell any talk of a Euro hangover after their memorable win away to Bordeaux in the UEFA Cup. Aberdeen were reduced to nine men for the final 12 minutes of a scrappy match. The first red card was shown to striker David Zdrilic after an off-the-ball incident with Alan Maybury and the second, ten minutes later, to Steve Tosh, whose unhappy day had begun to fray in the moment he applied the final touch to Kirk’s winner while standing on the goal line.
Aberdeen thereafter mounted a frantic siege of the away goal as they sought to avert a fourth straight home defeat.
Despite only returning from France a matter of hours before, the Jambos showed no sign of tiredness as they went at Aberdeen straight from the whistle.
Mark de Vries, scorer of the winning goal in Bordeaux, looked eager to continue where he left off as he cushioned a Austin McCann pass on his chest before turning and firing in an 18-yard shot that David Preece did well to fist away after nine minutes.
However, the Dons goalkeeper could do little to prevent his side from falling behind three minutes later.
Hartley swung in a dangerous corner that was headed into the ground by the unmarked Kevin McKenna ten yards from goal. The home defence failed to react and as the ball kicked up off the turf, Kirk swung out his right foot to knock it towards goal where Tosh could only help it over the line.
Dennis Wyness then squandered a great opportunity to double his tally in Hearts colours when he shot straight at Preece from eight yards after a De Vries cutback. And the Capital club were almost made to pay the penalty for that miss when an uncharacteristic slip from captain Steven Pressley presented the home side with a great chance to level the game.
Pressley badly misjudged the flight of a Tosh crossfield pass allowing Scott Booth to play in the dangerous Zdrilic at the back post with an inch-perfect cross. The Dons’ top scorer did everything right, heading the ball back across Craig Gordon only to see his effort crash back off the crossbar with the young goalkeeper stranded.
On a bitterly cold night in Aberdeen, the temperature of the game was raised substantially after the interval as the Dons battled hard to avoid slumping to their sixth home defeat of the season. However, Steve Paterson’s men showed too much of their fighting qualities as they repeatedly gave away fouls and talked back to the referee.
Late on, Eric Delomeaux went close with a rasping 30-yard drive that appeared to have Gordon beaten but the Jambos held on for an important and well-deserved victory.
Hearts: Gordon, McKenna, Maybury, Wesbter, Pressley, Severin, Wyness, Hartley, McCann, De Vries, Kirk.