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Analysis: Miovski the mighty delivers for Aberdeen once more

Dons striker succeeds where Hibs failed after firing 10-man Aberdeen into the Viaplay Cup final.

Bojan Miovski scores Aberdeen's winner against Hibs at Hampden. Image: SNS
Bojan Miovski scores Aberdeen's winner against Hibs at Hampden. Image: SNS

Nobody remembers semi-finals as the saying goes.

Well, Aberdeen’s Viaplay Cup semi-final against Hibernian certainly comes into that category as one which will not live long in the memory – not that anyone connected to the Dons will be complaining.

Barry Robson’s side were nowhere near their best in Glasgow but somehow, despite going down to 10 men for the second season running at the National Stadium, they found a way to win after edging Hibernian 1-0.

It was a case of triumph through adversity but so much of it was their own doing.

Fear factor prevalent at Hampden

Hibs Joe Newell and Aberdeen’s Graeme Shinnie compete for the ball. Image: SNS

Hampden played host to an occasion which struggled to wriggle fear from the fear factor gripping both teams.

The first half in particular emphasised the tension in both camps with Hibs pressing high and looking to utilise the pace on the counter of Elie Youan and Martin Boyle against Aberdeen’s defence.

The Dons, having stuck with the 5-4-1 formation which had worked to great effect in their impressive midweek win at Motherwell, struggled to get the men of greatest influence into the game.

Connor Barron, Leighton Clarkson and Jamie McGrath are Aberdeen’s creative spark but their chances to put their stamp on the game were few and far between in the opening 45 minutes.

As a result Miovski was left feeding on scraps in the lone striker role.

He had two moments of influence in the first half, cutting the ball back for Graeme Shinnie only for the Dons captain to take a fresh air swipe at the ball before being clattered by Rocky Bushiri for the free kick which Clarkson fired into the Hibs defensive wall.

That was it as far as the Dons were concerned and it made for frustrating viewing from the stand and no doubt the technical area as too many long balls sailed through to the untested David Marshall in the Hibs goal.

Hibs, for their part, did have joy in the wide areas but their final ball was lacking.

For all their promising forays forward and set-piece chances, a tame Joe Newell effort straight in the 36th minute at Kelle Roos was the only time they came close to forcing the Aberdeen goalkeeper into action.

Second half brought incidents galore

Aberdeen’s Jack MacKenzie is sent off by referee John Beaton. Image: SNS

Mercifully, the drama picked up after the break but Aberdeen continued to make heavy weather of it all.

Hibs thought they had broken the deadlock in the 49th minute when Will Fish’s long ball over the top found Boyle who raced clear before beating Roos with a low drive only for VAR, after a three minute wait which felt like an eternity, to rule the goal out for offside.

Aberdeen fans celebrated the goal being chalked off but Hibs’ tails were up regardless and the Dons were pushed back as the Edinburgh side took control.

Roos made a fine save from Jair Tavares before Nicky Devlin’s block denied Dylan Vente from bursting the net.

Robson had seen enough and withdrew Barron with Dante Polvara taking his place.

Aberdeen finally forced Marshall to get his gloves dirty 20 minutes from time when Jamie McGrath volleyed straight at the Hibs goalkeeper.

But then Jack MacKenzie imploded in a moment of madness.

Having already been booked the wing back responded to a push from Lewis Miller by racing aftger the Hibs full back and flattening him with a two-handed shove of his own – right in front of referee John Beaton.

The official promptly sent MacKenzie off for a second bookable offence for which he can have no complaints.

Miovski to the rescue for the Dons

Bojan Miovski celebrates making it 1-0 Aberdeen during a Viaplay Cup semi-final against Hibs. Image: SNS

Thoughts of the semi-final against Rangers at the National Stadium last season immediately sprung to mind where Anthony Stewart’s red card turned the game in Rangers’ favour.

MacKenzie can at least console himself his moment of madness did not cost his side even if he will be watching the final from the stand next month.

It looked as if Hibs would go on to make their extra man count but Miovski had other ideas.

MacKenzie had departed down the tunnel a couple of minutes when Shinnie won the ball in midfield and ball broke to substitute Polvara who sent Miovski clear.

The striker, who had received next to no service whatsoever made his chance count as he raced away before coolly slotting the ball past Marshall to give the Dons the lead.

Remarkably, the North Macedonian could have had another after weaving his way through on goal again only to produce the poorest finish of his Dons career.

He was then booked after going down in the box under a challenge from Fish in a chaotic finale before leaving the field in stoppage time having run his race.

In a game of fine margins Hibs were wasteful in the final third. Aberdeen, crucially, were not.