Home News Aberdeen 0-1 Ross County: Visitors in top six after dramatic late win

Aberdeen 0-1 Ross County: Visitors in top six after dramatic late win

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Joseph Hungbo nets the decisive penalty for Ross County

Manager Malky Mackay hailed Ross County’s transformation from Scottish Premiership relegation strugglers after a dramatic late winner sealed their top-six place and consigned Aberdeen to the bottom half.

Joseph Hungbo sparked delirium for the visitors when he coolly slotted a penalty four minutes from time.

Both sides needed to win – and for Hibernian not to beat Hearts – but Aberdeen lacked quality as they failed to finish in the top half for the first time in nine seasons.

Jim Goodwin’s side remain ninth, while County climb from eighth to fifth.

“We had three points after 10 games so we didn’t think we’d be top half after the split,” said Mackay.

“At that point we were everyone’s tip for relegation. From then we’ve been consistent and gradually climbed up the table. I’m really delighted for our chairman Roy MacGregor.”

The pressure of the occasion seemed to play a major part as there was a distinct lack of quality with both sides frequently misplacing passes in an untidy contest.

Aberdeen dominated possession, but were unable to do much with it. Ross McCrorie had the best chance of the first 45 minutes when Jack Baldwin’s scrambled clearance fell to him inside the County penalty area. However, the midfielder blazed his effort over the bar with the goal gaping.

Lewis Ferguson flashed a free-kick just wide for the hosts, and David Bates had a tame header saved by Ross Laidlaw.

At the other end, County failed to test Joe Lewis – their one shot was well off target.

The news of Hearts’ turnaround at Tynecastle seemed to spur Aberdeen on after the break. They came out with far more intensity as they pressed for the all-important opening goal.

Ferguson placed a shot just wide after greatwork from Marley Watkins down the left wing, and Vicente Besuijen started to cause problems down the right.

County were second best, but did carve out a chance of their own – a cross made its way through to Jake Vokins on the edge of the box, but his volley sailed well over.

However, Aberdeen still lacked the quality and calmness required to break down the County defence – just two of their 15 shots were on target.

In a nervy encounter, no-one seemed capable of grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck, and the Pittodrie crowd grew increasingly frustrated as pass after pass went astray.

As the mood became more tense, County grew in confidence. They were denied what looked to be a clear penalty after Regan Charles-Cook was felled by Jack MacKenzie, but their disappointment soon turned to delight.

After an optimistic ball into the Aberdeen box struck Jonny Hayes’ hand from close range, referee Greg Aitken pointed to the spot.

Aberdeen were furious, but amid the frustration, Hungbo stepped up and dispatched the spot-kick down the middle.

The home side pressed for a late goal in vain, their earlier profligacy costing them dear. The full-time whistle was greeted with jubilant scenes from the County players and in the away end.

Man of the Match – Joseph Hungbo

The Watford loanee provided the game's only moment of composure, scoring the all-important goal.
The Watford loanee provided the game’s only moment of composure, scoring the all-important goal.

What did we learn?

Before kick-off Jim Goodwin spoke about how a club of Aberdeen’s stature should be in the top six, and that this was the biggest game of their season.

However, stature of club doesn’t get you up the table, performances and results do, and on this showing Aberdeen don’t deserve to be in the top six .

On the other hand, Mackay spoke of how proud his players should be with their performances this season. That sentiment will only have grown after they guaranteed a first top-six finish since 2016. The Dingwall outfit are punching well above their weight.

What they said

Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin: “The feeling is extreme disappointment. The dressing room is very flat, the same as the supporters are feeling I’d imagine.

“We can talk about the penalty – it’s a bit harsh, but today’s not the day to be talking about referees.”

Ross County manager Malky Mackay: “When a playing staff, football staff, commercial staff and the fans all pull together, good things can happen. It has today.”

What’s next?

Both clubs wait to learn their fate when the post-split fixtures are released in the coming days.

Player of the match

HungboJoseph Hungbo

Aberdeen

  1. Squad number29Player nameBarron

  2. Squad number2Player nameMcCrorie

  3. Squad number10Player nameBesuijen

  4. Squad number19Player nameFerguson

  5. Squad number17Player nameHayes

  6. Squad number7Player nameWatkins

  7. Squad number9Player nameRamírez

  8. Squad number1Player nameLewis

  9. Squad number27Player nameBates

  10. Squad number16Player nameOjo

  11. Squad number3Player nameMacKenzie

  12. Squad number5Player nameGallagher

  13. Squad number18Player nameMcLennan

Ross County

  1. Squad number23Player nameHungbo

  2. Squad number17Player nameCharles-Cook

  3. Squad number2Player nameRandall

  4. Squad number4Player nameCancola

  5. Squad number16Player nameIacovitti

  6. Squad number10Player nameSamuel

  7. Squad number15Player nameWatson

  8. Squad number5Player nameBaldwin

  9. Squad number22Player nameTillson

  10. Squad number1Player nameLaidlaw

  11. Squad number7Player nameSpittal

  12. Squad number3Player nameVokins

  13. Squad number8Player nameCallachan

  14. Squad number26Player nameWhite

  15. Squad number6Player namePaton

Line-ups

Aberdeen

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Lewis
  • 16Ojo
  • 5Gallagher
  • 27Bates
  • 17HayesBooked at 84mins
  • 2McCrorieSubstituted forMacKenzieat 66′minutes
  • 19FergusonBooked at 85mins
  • 7WatkinsSubstituted forMcLennanat 67′minutes
  • 29Barron
  • 10Besuijen
  • 9Ramírez

Substitutes

  • 3MacKenzie
  • 4Considine
  • 18McLennan
  • 20Jenks
  • 21Polvara
  • 22Ramsay
  • 25Woods
  • 28Ruth
  • 39Milne

Ross County

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Laidlaw
  • 2Randall
  • 5BaldwinBooked at 73mins
  • 16IacovittiBooked at 27mins
  • 3Vokins
  • 22Tillson
  • 8CallachanBooked at 56mins
  • 7SpittalSubstituted forHungboat 82′minutes
  • 6PatonSubstituted forCancolaat 76′minutes
  • 17Charles-CookSubstituted forWatsonat 87′minutes
  • 26WhiteSubstituted forSamuelat 76′minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Cancola
  • 10Samuel
  • 15Watson
  • 18Burroughs
  • 20Drysdale
  • 21Munro
  • 23Hungbo
  • 24Paton
  • 32Mackinnon

Referee:
Greg Aitken

Attendance:
15,162

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