Aberdeen 0-0 Hibs: Hibees left to regret Maclaren's penalty miss

The chase for second place in the Premiership table is going down to the wire, Hibs having passed up the chance to turn up the heat on Aberdeen and Rangers as striker Jamie Maclaren saw an early penalty saved at Pittodrie.

Saturday, 5th May 2018, 5:26 pm
Updated Saturday, 5th May 2018, 5:40 pm
Hibs striker Jamie Maclaren is left dejected after seeing his tame spot-kick saved by Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis.

Mark Reynold's push on the Australian striker gave Maclaren the chance to claim his sixth goal for the Capital outfit but his effort from the spot was woefully week as Dons goalkeeper Jon Lewis got down to save easily.

It was the closest Hibs came to scoring in what was a thrilling encounter in which the Dons' Niall McGinn saw a tremendous free kick crash back off the bar.

With Rangers claiming a late winner against Kilmarnock, it leaves Hibs trailing in fourth place but with only two games to go, Neil Lennon's players still have a chance to claim that runners-up spot although third place perhaps now looks a more realistic target.

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Hibs had the chance to take the lead with only six minutes on the clock when Scott Allan's pass allowed Steven Whittaker to stride forward before waiting to deliver the perfect pass into the path of Maclaren who was bundled over by Mark Reynolds.

It was a clear penalty but the Australian striker's spot-kick was poor, giving Dons goalkeeper Joe Lewis the opportunity to get down to his right to push the ball away.

The Dons had made a slow start to the game but that let-off acted as a wake-up call, Stevie May sending a free-kick just wide before Darren McGregor just managed to get a toe to the ball ahead of Gary Mackay-Steven, scorer of a hat-trick on Hibs last visit to Pittodrie, as he attempted to get on the end of Dominic Ball's pass.

Maclaren had another golden opportunity to claim the game's opening goal midway through the first half when Martin Boyle's cross found him in space at the back post but he got under the ball and headed over.

McGregor again came to Hibs rescue, being in the right place at the right time to clear as Scott McKenna got a downward header to May's free-kick after referee John Beaton had spotted an Efe Ambrose push on Aberdeen youngster Sam Cosgrove.

With the stakes so high it was little surprise this was a feisty affair, Aberdeen's Anthony O'Connor earning a first minute yellow card after he scythed down John McGinn with the Hibs midfielder following him into referee Beaton's book a few minutes after Paul Hanlon had also done so, the home crowd in each instance howling for a more severe punishment for the visiting players.

There was another real escape for Hibs a minute before the interval, Beaton adjudging Steven Whittaker's coming together with Cosgrove worthy of a free-kick. one which Niall McGinn hammered off the cross bar.

The height of Cosgrove had caused Hibs a few problems and the striker could well have put Aberdeen ahead four minutes into the restart, getting his head to Mackay-Steven's corner only to find the body of Ambrose blocking his way to goal.

Hibs had found themselves pinned down for the opening quarter of an hour of the second half but McGinn powered forward to fire in a shot which Lewis pushed aside in what had been a highly entertaining game.

McGeouch replaced Scott Allan with 13 minutes remaining and immediately linked up with McGinn to create an opening for Flo Kamberi, but the Swiss striker's effort from a tight angle was blocked by Lewis as the game finished goalless.

Aberdeen: Lewis, Logan, O'Connor, McKenna, Reynolds, Ball, Shinnie, N McGinn (Christie 68), Mackay-Steven (Rooney 81), May (Stewart 46). Cosgrove. Subs not used: Woodman, Considine, Arnason, Wright.

Hibs: Marciano, Ambrose, McGregor, Hanlon, Boyle, Whittaker, J McGinn, Stevenson, S Allan (McGeouch 77), Kamberi, Maclaren (Barker 66). Subs not used: Bell, Gray, Bartley, Slivka, Porteous.

Referee: John Beaton.

Attendance: 17,822