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ABERDEEN 4 : 1QUEEN OF THE SOUTH 18th February 2003
S2 - 65 - 1
S3 - 85
S1 - 55
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Queens Scottish Cup campaign ended comparatively quietly at Aberdeen tonight in front of a disappointingly low crowd. The home side looked a much more assured outfit than in the first game at Palmerston and went about the business of booking their place at Dundee on Saturday with no little professionalism. The Queens team showed no surprises and saw exactly the same starting eleven given the nod as against St Johnston last weekend with the subs bench remaining unchanged also. Aberdeen made only one change to the side which despatched Dundee United on Sunday, with Derek Young replacing the cup-tied Leigh Hinds. Jamie McAllister, now free from suspension, had to make do with a seat on the bench.

Queens were the first to show in an attacking sense with Brian McLaughlin going on a run into the Aberdeen penalty area after just four minutes but he hit his shot well wide of the target. A couple of minutes later, a dangerous cross from the left side was headed over his own crossbar by Jim Thomson with Scott scrambling back to his line in case it dropped in. However, the opening period generally was a bit dull with both sides felling their way into the game. Needless to say then, when Aberdeen finally did something worthy of note it ended up giving them the lead. Fifteen minutes had passed when a dangerous right sided cross from man of the match Stephen Payne was headed behind for a corner by Renicks. The corner was only half cleared and dropped to Derek Young standing about six yards out and he hammered the ball past Scott for the opener.

Queens were quick to bounce back though and might very well have equalised three minutes later. O'Connor beat Deloumeaux in the middle of the park and headed for goal before laying a ball off to John O'Neill on the right side of the penalty area. He struck early and forced a good save out of Preece but saw the ball return to his feet from the goalkeeper. This time he fired the ball low across goal and it was deflected wide for a corner via McGuire and Preece before O'Connor could get to the loose ball. O'Neill himself got a decent header in from the corner but again Preece was well positioned and could catch the ball comfortably enough. Within a few minutes though the Dons doubled their advantage. Again the damage came from Payne down the right side putting in an excellent low cross which was reached well beyond the far post by Laurent D'Jaffo and turned in from an almost impossible angle.

Aberdeen had their tails up now and the French striker should probably have scored a third a minute later when he found himself clean through on goal but this time Colin Scott did well to save low to his left side and Jim Thomson mopped up the rebound. The third goal was delayed only a minute or so though and arrived courtesy of another left sided corner kick. This time it was met by the flying head of Scotland international Russell Anderson and powered into the net.

Queens tried to respond and on 27 minutes Sean O'Connor pounced on a short back pass, beating Preece to the ball out wide before laying the ball back to Renicks but the full back's ball into the penalty area found only a defensive boot and was cleared. In the 33rd minute, Derek Young had an effort on the turn from 25 yards out which just cleared the crossbar but three minutes later Bowey released McLaughlin clear beyond the home defence but Payne tracked back tremendously well and was able to get a block in on the little winger's shot from just inside the area. Back bounced Aberdeen again though and two minutes later Anderson again met a left sided corner with a header only to see Colin Scott make a save of this one. Three minutes before the break a well struck 25 yard effort from Renicks bounced awkwardly in front of Preece and he did well to turn it away for a corner. From the resulting kick a poor punch from the 'keeper dropped to Aitken just outside the six yard box but the defender could only swivel and scoop the ball over the top.

Queens were again first to show in the second period with a 25 yard shot from Paton which was easily enough dealt with by Preece again. However, a minute later came the game's major talking point and probably the most important aspect of it from a Queens point of view. Sean O'Connor went to challenge Deloumeaux on the edge of the Aberdeen box as the defender tried to clear the ball and fell awkwardly in the tackle. It was immediately clear that Sean had a problem as he lay prone on the turf and the ball was knocked out of play. Fully six minutes of treatment elapsed on the field before he left on a stretcher to be taken to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. The early diagnosis is of a medial knee ligament injury to the same knee he injured against Morton back in August. However, the better news is that it doesn't appear to be a cruciate injury and Sean himself was quick to stress after the event that the injury was self inflicted in the fall and no blame should be attached to Deloumeaux. Derek Lyle duly came on to replace O'Connor before the game continued.

Sean receives treatment

On the hour mark, a dangerous corner from the right side was flicked on at the near post and then turned back in towards goal by Paton beyond the far post and D'Jaffo popped up to clear the ball away from his own line. A couple of minutes later Derek Anderson blocked a seemingly goal-bound effort from Ross O'Donoghue. In the 64th minute, we made a second substitution introducing Peter Weatherson in place of John O'Neill. Six minutes later Derek Anderson picked up the game's only booking for a late tackle on the halfway line and within seconds Aberdeen made their first switch with Kevin Rutkiewicz replacing Deloumeaux. With quarter of an hour remaining they made a double change, bringing on Fabiano for Tosh and giving Jamie McAllister a run in place of Phil McGuire.

In the 78th minute, Bowey made a good break from midfield before feeding Weatherson to shoot low from the edge of the box but Preece saved comfortably. Two minutes later Colin Scott produced a tremendous save to deny D'Jaffo a second from a couple of yards out following a short corner from the right. With six minutes remaining, Joe McAlpine replaced Eric Paton with McLaughlin switching to the right side to accommodate him. Two minutes later and Joe laid the ball off for Lyle to strike from almost thirty yards but to far out to seriously worry the goalkeeper.

As the game moved into injury time Queens suddenly produced a goal. McLaughlin fed a great pass through to Weatherson in the penalty area who turned Rutkiewicz and was duly hauled down by the young defender. Referee Garry Mitchell had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot and, with John O'Neill already off the park, Peter Weatherson hammered the ball down the middle to score his eighth goal of the season.

If we thought that was the end of the scoring though we had another thing coming as with the clock ticking into the 94th minute Chris Clark slid a great low cross in from the left side and D'Jaffo appeared again to slide his second and Aberdeen's 4th goal past Scott. The big Frenchman might even have had a hat trick as Scott produced a great diving save to deny him again from 20 yards out within a minute. A succession of corners followed but, with 96 minutes played, referee Mitchell called a halt on the game.

On reflection there can be few complaints about the result, if perhaps the margin. Aberdeen did what they had to do and put the game away early though it was disappointing to lose two more goals from corners in the process. We played some reasonable stuff against a decent SPL defence but failed to really threaten goals all that much. The late D'Jaffo goal probably gives the scoreline a slant that it didn't really deserve though. It's back to the grind of ensuring League survival on Saturday (weather allowing) as we travel to St Mirren in a rearranged match, not the cup tie at Dundee we might have had.

Ewan Lithgow

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