Aberdeen 0 - 0 Inverness CT

(Lost 4 - 2 on pens.)
League Cup - FINAL
Sunday, March 16th, 2014, 3:00 PM at Celtic Park, Glasgow
Attendance: 51,143
Referee: Steven McLean
Aberdeen Inverness CT

Goalscorers
None. None.

Team Managers
Derek McInnes John Hughes

Starting Eleven
Jamie Langfield
Shaleum Logan
Russell Anderson
Mark Reynolds
Andrew Considine
Barry Robson
Ryan Jack
Willo Flood
Jonny Hayes
Niall McGinn
Adam Rooney
Dean Brill
Josh Meekings
David Raven
Daniel Devine
Graeme Shinnie
Greg Tansey
Ross Draper
James Vincent
Marley Watkins
Richie Foran
Billy Mckay

Bench
Nicky Weaver
Scott Vernon
Cammy Smith
Nicky Low
Alan Tate
Ryan Esson
Carl Tremarco
Nick Ross
Aaron Doran
Ryan Christie

Substitutions
Cammy Smith -> Jonny Hayes (5)
Nicky Low -> Cammy Smith (69)
Scott Vernon -> Andrew Considine (107)
Aaron Doran for James Vincent (63)
Nick Ross for Marley Watkins (80)
Ryan Christie for Richie Foran (100)

Bookings
None. Richie Foran (26)
Graeme Shinnie (111)
Ross Draper (116)

Red Cards
None. None.
Appearances & Goals To Date
Dean Brill (GK) 35 apps -
Josh Meekings 97 apps -
David Raven 66 apps1 goal
Daniel Devine 21 apps -
Marley Watkins 23 apps1 goal
Graeme Shinnie 134 apps4 goals
Ross Draper 71 apps6 goals
Greg Tansey 49 apps6 goals
James Vincent 19 apps1 goal
Richie Foran 195 apps44 goals
Billy Mckay 104 apps50 goals
Ryan Christie (sub) 6 apps -
Aaron Doran (sub) 107 apps13 goals
Nick Ross (sub) 137 apps11 goals

Starting Lineup
Youngest Player:Daniel Devine (21 years 195 days)
Oldest Player:Greg Tansey (2015 years 230 days)
Average Player Age:25 years 136 days
Domestic Players:6 (54.55 % of starting eleven)

Matchday Squad
Youngest Player:Daniel Devine (21 years 195 days)
Oldest Player:Graeme Shinnie (2015 years 230 days)
Average Player Age:26 years 107 days
Domestic Players:9 (56.25 % of matchday squad)

First Team Debuts

Milestones

Inverness Pay the Penalty:

Firm favourites Aberdeen lifted the Scottish League Cup, but as Stewart Milne said on national radio, it took 19 years, extra time and f***ing penalties to enable the Dons to claim the prize.

As cup finals often are, this was certainly not a classic, devoid of much goalmouth action and with defences on top it took penalties to separate the sides, as Milne pointed out.

Inverness hit-man Billy McKay and Greg Tansey were the sinners as firstly Billy dollied his penalty goalwards, Langfield guessing correctly and then Tansey flashed his spot kick over the bar. That was virtually game over for Inverness as the Dons tucked all four of their spot kicks away effortlessly, despite Nick Ross and Aaron Doran hitting the net for Inverness, ironically Adam Rooney, once idolised by Inverness fans put the final nail in our coffin and Aberdeen it was that won their first trophy in 19 years.

The stage was set for Inverness Caledonian Thistle's big day. Caley Jags Together, the Trust, the ticket staff, the team, Scot Rail, Parkhead, Harley's Bar, The Innes Bar Bus and many more had all worked so hard to make this happen. What could possibly go wrong?

It was trepidation that occupied the Inverness supporters heads as they set off for Glasgow to witness our first attempt at winning a major trophy, no doubt instilled in the brain after a couple of recent maulings, one of them at the very stadium we were about to visit.

Liquid refreshments were to be imbibed to whet the appetite, Harley's Bar being our choice, and an excellent one at that, the boss ferrying us to Parkhead ready for our big day. Prior to kick off, a colourful display from the Dons fans told us that it was 1903 that they united to form the current side. Our mere twenty years in existence was about the same length of time that Aberdeen have been trophyless. That would change for one of these teams.

As suggested, there were a couple of notable absentees from the starting line-ups. Peter Pawlett missed out completely, despite Aberdeen suggesting that he would be fine and Aaron Doran, as expected was still suffering from his overstretch against Hibernian on Wednesday night and had to settle for a place on the bench.

The Dons had three ex-Inverness players in their starting line up, but that would change after just five minutes when Jonny Hayes left the field in tears. He launched himself at Josh Meekings and landed awkwardly on his shoulder. He tried to play on after receiving treatment but his day was ended when he had to leave the arena to be replaced by Cammy Smith. It was a sad day for Hayes, but it was all of his own making, no need for such a rash challenge so early in the game.

I'll leave it there, but AJS will tell you about his day and how the game panned out.............

Living the Dream

I woke up Sunday morning knowing today was like no other. A sense of anticipation, excitement and probably anxiousness flooded my mind. It was a step into the unknown as for the first time ever my home town team, Inverness Caledonian Thistle were in a major final. We were living a dream by just being there. So many times we had come so close yet fallen short but this year it was different. We were there, we had our chance to lift major silverware on what would be our 20th anniversary as a football club. It would all be so perfect. All my superstitions had gone the right way and I had put together a playlist of motivational tunes for the journey down. I was buzzing for this game and I was going to be lucky enough to share the moment with my family and best friends.

On arrival at Parkhead the atmosphere was something to savour. Everybody was so positive about it. Some had a burning desire to win, some were looking to enjoy the occasion for what it was and some were probably just relieved to be there. I'd heard of people who had come from as far as Canada, New Zealand and Qatar. Whatever the story or approach to the game there was a passion that would transmit to those players

When I saw the teams I really fancied our chances, especially upon reading Pawlett had pulled up injured over the weekend. The dropping of Doran indicated we were looking to go out and frustrate Aberdeen, it was a tactic that had worked when we won at Pittodrie earlier in the season and it was understandable that we were going with that approach once again.

The roar of the crowd was electrifying as the players walked out onto that pitch. Richie Foran came across to the crowd raising his arms up trying to get that extra shout that the players needed, it was well received.

The match was barely in when it had its first major incident. Our former hero Jonny Hayes had his game ended seconds in when he came out worse for wear in a 50-50 challenge with Josh Meekings and appeared to suffer an injury to his shoulder. Jonny always gets a mixed reaction from ICT fans but I have to admit I did feel a bit gutted for the lad. To miss out on a final in that fashion must have been devastating for him.

It was very clear early on was that space and fluent play was going to be a rarity. Both sides had good defences and were proving tough to crack. There was a friction to the game. Nerves were playing a part as well as the way we had set out to combat Aberdeen's attackers. It was the Dons who had the first real chance of the game. Cammy Smith had come on to replace Hayes and he was on the receiving end of a wonderful cross from Niall McGinn but his header was high and wide.

Aberdeen were seeing more of the ball and looking more likely to break the deadlock and they came frightfully close through skipper Russell Anderson. From a free kick Mark Reynolds back post header resulted in a pin ball effect around the area and Anderson tried his luck with a volley, it clipped the inside of the post before being hooked clear on the line by Foran. Adam Rooney was next to come close, stabbing the ball over from the resultant corner.

ICT's only real moment of note came when Marley Watkins got in behind Andrew Considine and his cut back seemed destined to find Billy McKay at the back post only for it to be deflected past for a corner.

The first half was proving to be a non spectacle with neither side really finding a clear cut opening. Adam Rooney, another former ICT hero had a penalty appeal waved away when he went into a challenge with Meekings just inside the box, but with Meekings clearly taking the ball first, it was a non starter.

Half Time 0-0

Having been on the back foot for most of the 1st half, ICT began the 2nd half in a more dominant mood. Watkins and Billy were seeing more of the ball up top and the likes of Graeme Shinnie were beginning to move further forward and try to get in behind Aberdeen's back four.

Jamie Langfield came close to a blunder in the Aberdeen goal when he spilt a cross from Raven and Richie Foran was closing in on an effort at goal but Anderson beat him to the challenge and punted the ball clear. Marley Watkins found himself in space to try a shot soon after and ICT's attacking prowess was well summed up on the day when he lined up the shot only to lost his footing and strike fresh air, the ball clipping his standing leg first. Doh!

Greg Tansey tested Langfield's gloves with a well executed free kick which curled towards the top corner, but the keeper saw it early and held it comfortably.

The game was beginning to get cagey again, no one was giving an inch. Ryan Jack was fed the ball by Robson and he steadied himself before having a dig from distance, it stung Brills gloves and he was quick on hand to punch it clear before Adam Rooney could get his head on the rebound.

Shooting from distance was proving to be Aberdeen's main outlet, Barry Robson tried his luck from about 25 yards, his shot took a slight deflection off Devine but Brill did well to get down low and parry it away.

ICT's best chance of the game fell to Richie Foran with about 3 minutes to go. Shinnie's corner was met by Foran's head but it flew over. Foran was livid at the referees decision not to award a penalty and having seen it back on replay he had a shout as Considine had both hands on him.

With normal time drawing to a close Niall McGinn had the chance of the game, Tansey misjudged his back pass and McGinn was bearing down on goal and was about to get a sure winner before Meekings made a terrific last ditch challenge to deflect the effort over. Despite Meekings' touch, the referee awarded a goal kick, much to the relief of the ICT crowd.

Full Time 0-0

Extra time kicked off but the trend of play was no different. Both teams struggled to find space and struggled to create openings and there was an essence of unease in the air as penalties loomed larger on the horizon. Niall McGinn tried the speculative effort from about 25 yards out but it curled wide. It was clear that legs were beginning to tire. Aaron Doran tried a similar effort for ICT from distance and while it was creeping wide it forced a save from Langfield. The rest of extra team seems a merciful blur now and with that it was down to penalties.

After Extra Time 0-0

After the epic display at Easter Road I really fancied our chances in the shoot out while also bearing in mind that Aberdeen have some of the best penalty takers in the league, two of whom were once heroes in our colours. With Billy first up I knew this would be 50-50. His penalties are either perfect or easy saves. Unfortunately it was the latter, and at a time when perfect was needed. Langfield guessed right and made an easy save. Barry Robson stepped up and made no mistake, smacking it in the bottom corner and putting Brill the wrong way. With ICT already up against it I fancied Tansey to at least get us level and keep our chances going. He found the top corner against Hearts but unfortunately he overcooked it this time and the ball was lost in the stands and our chances were all but gone. Nicky Low was next up for the Dons and his spot kick was a carbon copy of Robsons. Nick Ross fizzed one down the middle to keep our chances alive, while Scott Vernon was next to send poor Deano the wrong way. Aaron Doran found the bottom corner for ICT but after that it was down to the next penalty and it just had to be Adam Rooney didn't it. In all his ICT days he only missed 3 penalties, 2 of which he converted the rebounds and the other he made up for by scoring another penalty in the same game.

I knew he'd score, he was always so composed from the spot when with us and he wasn't going to make any mistake here. He took a few steps back, ran up and smashed it down the middle, sending a see of red into raptures and left the Lisbon Lions stand in a wall of silence and feeling blue. The ICT boys were applauded for the efforts and rightly so. The character and quality shown in the road to the final was nothing short of amazing and something that we can all look back on with pride. Penalties are a cruel way to decide any game, especially a final, they're a lottery and nothing more. It was devastating to see us come so close yet lose the way we did but that is the reality of it and I left there knowing that now we have made a final we can do it again...our time will come, of that I have no doubt, as our bus got closer in on Inverness my playlist tripped onto arguably the most perfect song to sum up what I was thinking as the day drew to a close...Don't stop believing.

Cheers AJS, great day out apart from the score...........

The Innes bus was in sombre mood, the music on the way home matching the feelings of the supporters on board as Neil Young wailed his way through an unplugged album three times. It was either that or Boxcar Willy droning on about freight trains and dying dogs, and don't mention the Out Now 96 CD (where did it come from) as very few of our pre-recorded CD's functioned on the player. Sod's law, not even the new ICT song could be played, maybe it just wasn't Toby, or not to be.

Match report written by tm4tj/AJS



Programme cover / Team sheet