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ANALYSIS: Aberdeen midfielder Dante Polvara proves he can make transition from American college football to Scottish top flight

Aberdeen's Dante Polvara made his first start in the 1-1 draw at Hibs.
Aberdeen's Dante Polvara made his first start in the 1-1 draw at Hibs.

January signing Dante Polvara proved he can make the step up from American college football to the Premiership.

The 21-year-old was pitched in for his for his first start in the 1-1 draw at Hibs since signing from Georgetown University.

Aberdeen beat Premiership rivals Hibs to the signing of Polvara in January.

A host of MLS clubs, as well as outfits in Italy and Germany, were also interested in landing the midfielder.

Since the midfielder’s arrival there has lingered the question on whether he could make the transition from USA college football to the Scottish top flight.

It has taken four months to get any semblance of an answer to that conundrum as Polvara has only been seen in fleeting cameos.

Prior to starting at Easter Road the midfielder had made just two late substitute appearances, for a total of six minutes.

Aberdeen’s Dante Polvara and Joe Newell of Hibs in action in the 1-1 draw.

That is not enough time to assess a player who arrived as an unknown quantity.

Polvara’s game time was also limited because he underwent a hernia procedure soon after arriving at Pittodrie.

The midfielder was certainly not out of his depth at Easter Road and delivered a solid first start with plenty of promise.

Polvara confident in possession

Polvara was tidy with passes, comfortable on the ball and able to find space when the Reds were in possession.

Operating in the centre of an attacking midfield three Polvara had 26 passes, with an accuracy of 84.6%.

He had seven passes in the final third with an 86% accuracy.

Elias Melkersen stretches to control the ball and beat Dante Polvara

Defensively he was solid and won possession five times and came out top in two of three aerial duels.

The midfielder had two successful interceptions and won seven of six duels for possession.

Polvara was efficient in possession but there was little attacking flair from the American who had six goals and seven assists for Georgetown in 22 games last season.

Aberdeen’s Dante Polvara made his first start against Hibs.

Attacking, creative spark needed

That creative spark and defence splitting pass will hopefully come because he certainly had that in his armory in college football.

Polvara won the 2021 Missouri Athletic Club’s (MAC) Hermann trophy just days prior to signing for Aberdeen.

Awarded to the best college player in the United States, it is the most prestigious individual honour an NCAA Division 1 player can achieve.

The jump from college football to the Scottish top flight will be big- but Polvara is indicating it is one he can make.

Aberdeen’s Dante Polvara and Joe Newell of Hibs battle for possession.

Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin fielded a starting XI comprising solely of players contracted for next season and beyond.

Polvara displayed enough potential to show he can be part of Goodwin’s plans going forward.

Aberdeen now ‘mathematically’ safe

A point at Easter Road  mathematically killed off any threat of the Dons being dragged into the relegation play-offs.

It was all but certain by beating Dundee the previous week – but Jim Goodwin warned it was not yet job done.

He wanted them to eradicate any play-off threat and they achieved that.

Safety is secured and Dons fans can relax for the final two games of a dismal campaign.

Aberdeen celebrate David Bates goal to go 1-0 against Hibs.

However the size of the rebuild awaiting Goodwin is a large one.

The opening opportunity came in the fifth minute when Declan Gallagher stopped a driven cross near the near post.

To prevent it going out for a corner he rolled the ball to keeper Joe Lewis who picked it up.

An indirect free kick was awarded at the edge of the six yard box but Gallagher charged to block Ryan Porteous’ powerful drive.

Aberdeen’s Jack MacKenzie is brought down by Hibs’ Joe Newell

Ferguson comes close with volley

Aberdeen’s first opportunity came via a sublime through-ball from Connor Barron that ripped apart the Hibs defence.

Jonny Hayes burst onto the pass on the left flank and delivered a cross that Lewis Ferguson, racing into the box, met.

Ferguson timed his run perfectly and unleashed a vicious half-volley from 12 yards.

It looked goal-bound but Hanlon blocked.

Ferguson and his team-mates appealed for hand-ball but referee Bobby Madden waved play on.

Aberdeen keeper Lewis came to the rescue on the half hour mark when the defence failed to close down Elias Melkersen.

Hibs’ Paul McGinn breaks away from Vicente Besuijen of Aberdeen.

He was allowed the time to fire off a low 22-yard right-footed shot, but Lewis got a fingertip on it to push the shot wide of the far post.

Hibs keeper Matt Macey was called into action in the 40th minute when diving low at his near post to push Jonny Hayes’ 22-yard free-kick wide.

David Bates fires Aberdeen ahead

Aberdeen went ahead in the 55th minute when Jonny Hayes crossed from the left to the back post.

Declan Gallagher headed down across the face of goal and found his defensive partner David Bates.

With his back to goal Bates took a touch, spun, then drilled a low, composed finish beyond keeper Macey from six yards.

Soon after keeper Lewis produced a magnificent point blank save to deny Newell’s powerful effort from six yards.

Bates should have doubled the Dons’ advantage in the 79th minute when meeting a cross from Jonny Hayes 12 yards out.

However, the defender headed over.

Hibs levelled in the 83rd minute when substitute Sylvester Jasper burst down the left flank and flighted a cross into the box.

Aberdeen celebrate David Bates’ goal against Hibs at Easter Road.

James Scott headed the ball back across goal and Paul McGinn slotted in with a right-footed half-volley.

ABERDEEN (4-2-3-1): Lewis 7; MacKenzie 7 (Montgomery 85), Bates 7, Gallagher 6, McCrorie 6 (Considine 90+6), Ferguson 7, Barron 6, Hayes 6, Polvara 6 (Ojo 64), Besuijen 6, Watkins 6 (Ramirez 64).

Subs: Woods, McGeouch, McLennan, Jenks, Ruth.

HIBERNIAN (3-4-1-2): Maley 6; Clarke 6, Hanlon 6 (Bushiri 88), Porteous 6, Doig 6, Campbell 5  (Jasper 65), Doyle-Hayes 6, McGinn 6, Henderson 6 (Stevenson 88), Newell 6, Melkersen 6.

Attendance: 14,509

Referee: Bobby Madden

Man of the Match: Lewis Ferguson

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