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Aberdeen advance to Betfred Cup quarter-finals

Aberdeen's Niall McGinn set his side on the road to victory
Aberdeen's Niall McGinn set his side on the road to victory

It was nervier than it needed to be but Aberdeen advanced to the quarter-finals of the Betfred Cup with a 2-1 victory over Ayr United.

A Daryll Meggatt own goal after three minutes got the Dons off to a flying start before Niall McGinn doubled the advantage with only half an hour on the clock.

It was an impressive first half display for the Dons but Ayr gave themselves hope of a comeback by pulling a goal back through Alan Forrest four minutes before the interval.

The lively Wes Burns was denied by the crossbar twice after the break as the Dons chased the decisive third but it mattered not as they held on for a hard-earned win.

It was a morale-boosting triumph for the Dons, who had fallen at the first hurdle in their previous three domestic cup competitions.

Ayr's Paddy Boyle and Aberdeen's Graeme Shinnie (R)
Ayr’s Paddy Boyle and Aberdeen’s Graeme Shinnie (R)
Ayr's Alan Forrest (L) scores his side's opening goal (1-2)
Ayr’s Alan Forrest (L) scores his side’s opening goal (1-2)

Andrew Considine was the only survivor from Aberdeen’s last fixture at Somerset Park eight years ago. Chris Maguire scored the winner in that League Cup encounter which finished 1-0 to the Dons.

Both sides were missing key players with Jonny Hayes still sidelined with a hamstring injury and Ash Taylor absent through illness for the visitors, while Ayr were without on-loan duo Craig Moore and Kevin Nisbet.

Aberdeen made two changes from the side that drew 0-0 with St Johnstone with Niall McGinn and Adam Rooney brought in for Jayden Stockley and Miles Storey.

This was Aberdeen’s third away match in under a week following last Thursday’s 1-0 defeat in Maribor and the weekend stalemate in Perth.

The Dons were strong favourites to progress but Derek McInnes was well aware not to underestimate an Ian McCall side having captained Dundee United during the Ayr United manager’s spell in charge at Tannadice.

Aberdeen's Niall McGinn (R) celebrates after he scores his side's second goal
Aberdeen’s Niall McGinn (R) celebrates after he scores his side’s second goal
 Ayr's Daryll Meggatt (L) looks dejected after he scores an own goal putting Aberdeen into the lead (0-1)
Ayr’s Daryll Meggatt (L) looks dejected after he scores an own goal putting Aberdeen into the lead (0-1)
Ayr's Daryll Meggatt (18) scores and own goal putting Aberdeen into the lead (0-1)
Ayr’s Daryll Meggatt (18) scores and own goal putting Aberdeen into the lead (0-1)

The Honest Men would have taken belief from the previous night’s Betfred Cup fixtures when fellow Championship clubs Morton, Alloa and Dundee United all progressed at the expense of top flight sides.

But it was the Dons who showed the early initiative and went close to making the breakthrough after 90 seconds when Shay Logan almost converted a McGinn cross.

There was, however, no reprieve for Ayr a minute later when Daryll Meggatt turned a Wes Burns cross into his own net.

A perfect start for the Dons, although the hosts tried to muster an immediate response with Alan Forrest, the younger brother of Celtic midfielder James, almost catching out Joe Lewis with a delicate lob.

Aberdeen were looking menacing in the final third with McGinn and Graeme Shinnie both producing wicked deliveries into the area that teased and tormented the Ayr defence, while Burns’ trickery provided an additional challenge for the home rearguard.

The Dons deserved a second goal and it appeared after 30 minutes when Logan picked out the unmarked McGinn who calmly stroked the ball beyond Greg Fleming.

The visitors were inches away from a third only four minutes later when Rooney’s diving header bounced back off the post before Burns was denied by a smart stop by Fleming.

It had been one-way traffic for the majority of the half but Ayr managed to pull a goal back four minutes before the break. Adams somehow hit the crossbar with an open goal at his mercy when Lewis spilled a Jamie Thomas shot but Forrest was on hand to turn home the loose ball.

After the interval, Aberdeen immediately pressed for the third goal to kill off the tie and went close through Logan, whose half-volleyed drive looked destined for the bottom corner before deflecting wide.

Burns went close to an early goal of the season contender soon after when he picked up the ball inside his own half, darted past three Ayr defenders before unleashing a fizzing drive from 25 yards that smashed off the crossbar.

 Aberdeen's Niall McGinn (R) scores his side's second goal
Aberdeen’s Niall McGinn (R) scores his side’s second goal

The Dons shuffled their pack with an hour gone with Stockley introduced for Rooney, who had enjoyed a fairly quiet game.

Burns was determined to get on the scoresheet and showed neat footwork to evade two challenges but his well struck shot again cannoned back off the crossbar.

Ayr felt they should have had a penalty when Adams collided with Considine but referee Alan Muir waved away the protests.

It was becoming an increasingly uncomfortable watch for the Aberdeen support when the unmarked Adams almost netted from a Brian Gilmour corner.

Nicky Devlin had a late chance to force the game into extra time but he blazed over, much to the relief of the Dons defence.

 

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