Maroon Memories: Hearts battle hard despite Ukio Bankas collapse
Aberdeen 1, Hearts 1. SPL. Saturday, May 18, 2013
The visitors arrived at Pittodrie with the potential threat of a points deduction and possible relegation hanging over them, not to mention dreich skies. The collapse of Hearts’ parent company, Ukio Bankas Investment Group, will be discussed by the SPL board on Monday. On the field, their players showed a will not to give up.
The home side dominated much of the proceedings and were unfortunate not to be ahead at half-time. Hearts improved after the interval, scored through Ryan Stevenson but had to settle for a point in the end. Their fate now rests in the hands of the SPL, who must decide whether to punish the Edinburgh club for “suffering an insolvency event”.
A short headed backpass by Andy Webster presented Josh Magennis with the game’s first scoring opportunity. The Aberdeen striker flicked the ball over the advancing Jamie MacDonald, however Dylan McGowan’s presence prevented him converting into an empty net. Cameron Smith then glanced Joe Shaughnessy’s cross narrowly over the crossbar, and Kevin McHattie’s sliding tackle denied Jonny Hayes in the act of shooting following a piercing attacking run.
Hearts broke clear down the left flank on 14 minutes as Jason Holt and Mehdi Taouil exchanged passes. The move ended when Holt’s left-footed cross was deflected goalwards by Isaac Osbourne’s challenge, forcing Jamie Langfield into a save at his near post.
Aberdeen continued attacking and MacDonald produced a fine save to push Niall McGinn’s first time effort from Hayes’ low cutback over for a corner. The goalkeeper parried Smith’s powerful drive moments later, only for Hayes to lash the rebound high. The hosts were dominating and Hearts found themselves pinned inside their own half.
When Clark Robertson stroked a perfect ball across the face of goal in the 38th minute, MacDonald again found himself airborne to tip Josh Magennis’ first-time finish over his crossbar. That was the last noteworthy action of a first half which belonged almost entirely to Aberdeen.
The same theme continued at the start of the second period, with MacDonald keeping Aberdeen at bay almost single-handedly. Nicky Low’s cross was met first-time by Smith only for the Hearts goalkeeper to again push the ball over for a corner. Then came a goal for Hearts from absolutely nowhere.
David Smith’s corner was planted high beyond Langfield by the head of Stevenson. Both players’ involvement had been minimal up to that point but their combination saw the 500 or so travelling fans erupt in delight as the ball nestled in the net. In many ways, the goal would have been viewed as an act of defiance at the end of another difficult week.
Aberdeen continued taking the game to their opponents and earned an equaliser with 13 minutes remaining. Hayes scampered towards the byline and drilled a low right-footed cross beyond MacDonald. As Jamie Hamill slid in on the slippery surface, he could only divert the ball into his own net.
The mood of the Hearts fans lifted soon after when Marius Zaliukas entered the fray to play for the Edinburgh club one last time. His contract expires soon and he had been sidelined since February with injury. He saw the game out and then bid an emotional farewell to the travelling support.
Aberdeen (4-2-3-1): Langfield; Shaughnessy, Osbourne, Reynolds, Robertson; Rae (Masson 85), Low; Hayes, Smith (McManus 64), McGinn; Magennis (Vernon 72). Subs: Twardzik, Hughes, Murray, Storie.
Hearts (4-2-3-1): MacDonald; Hamill, McGowan, Webster, McHattie; Holt, Stevenson (Zaliukas 83); Carrick (Walker 75), Taouil, D Smith; Ngoo (Sutton 87). Subs: Ridgers, McKay, B King, McGhee.
Referee: Crawford Allan.