Evening Express

ANALYSIS: Ferguson adds to early promise as new Reds continue to get into stride for bigger challenges

Aberdeen's Lewis Ferguson

Aberdeen won their second pre-season friendly and another of the new signings showed his quality.

The Dons edged out Falkirk 1-0 at Arbroath’s Gayfield Park with Lewis Ferguson scoring the only goal late on.

In the Reds’ first pre-season game, Saturday’s 1-0 win over Cobh Ramblers in Cork, it was new recruit Chris Forrester who bagged the winner.

This time Lewis Ferguson stepped up and showed the quality which means even though he is only 18 he is being considered as a first-team starter by manager Derek McInnes.

The former Hamilton Accies man only played for the last 20 minutes, but in that time he showed why the Dons have signed him.

Pre-season friendlies are generally disliked by managers and players.

But they are a necessary evil to build fitness and sharpness and also introduce new blood, such as Ferguson.

The game with the Bairns was only the second friendly ahead of the Europa League second qualifying round tie with Burnley.

If the Dons do upset the Clarets in the Battle of Britain it will be the hard yards put in during friendlies such as this that will have prepared them for taking on Sean Dyche’s Premier League side.

Last night’s game also saw strikers Sam Cosgrove and Stevie May make their first starts of the season after missing out in Ireland. New signing Stephen Gleeson made his first start after being introduced from the bench against Cobh.

There was a healthy Dons support of 700 in the crowd of 922 in attendance at a sunny Gayfield with the game giving many of the Red Army their first chance to see centre-back Michael Devlin as well as new signings Gleeson, Forrester and Ferguson.

Aberdeen started in a 4-4-2 formation with Gleeson and skipper Graeme Shinnie operating in central midfield roles.

Niall McGinn and Gary Mackay-Steven were on the flanks with May and Cosgrove in tandem up front.

It was Bairns keeper Leo Fasan who was forced into the first save of note on eight minutes as he fielded Mackay-Steven’s low drive from 25 yards.

The opening quarter was played at a good tempo with the midfield axis of Shinnie and Gleeson seeing plenty of the ball and trying to get the Dons moving forward.

Mackay-Steven and McGinn were also frequently involved with both looking sharp on the flanks.

Joe Lewis was called into action for the first time just before the half hour.

A nice break from Falkirk freed Daniel Turner in space on the left. The striker cut inside, but his effort from the edge of the box was well saved by the diving Lewis.

On 35 minutes Cosgrove made a promising burst down the wing. The tall attacker eventually set up McGinn, but the Northern Irishman dragged his shot wide.

But the intent was there from Aberdeen, with Cosgrove showing he had more strings to his bow than simply being a target man.

The 21-year-old attacker showed promise in the Reds’ post-split fixtures at the end of last season and in this friendly there were glimpses of his potential.

Aberdeen reappeared for the second half with new boy Forrester in place of May.

This meant a change in shape with Cosgrove now the loan striker with McGinn, Mackay-Steven and Forrester in supporting roles.

Forrester was eager to get on the ball in midfield and try to fashion chances in a similar style to Kenny McLean, but the Irishman found his space restricted at times by a resolute Falkirk midfield.

On 65 minutes Lewis was required to make a good stop after a rare lapse from the Dons defence.

Thomas Robson broke into the area on the right and got beyond Shay Logan, but the English goalie made a smothering save.

With 13 minutes remaining Devlin was withdrawn and replaced by Mark Reynolds.

This was another composed and assured display from the former Hamilton man.

It was his second start after rupturing his cruciate ligament on the final day of the 2016-17 season.

Although it is only early in his career at Pittodrie the partnership being formed between Devlin and Scotland cap Scott McKenna at the heart of Aberdeen’s defence looks to be a promising one.

The Dons got their winner on 88 minutes with new boy Ferguson bagging his first goal in a red shirt.

It came after Scott Wright linked with Andy Considine on the left and FERGUSON knocked in the defender’s touch from close range at the near post.

Dons fans will hope it’s the first of many from him.

Aberdeen: Joe Lewis, Shay Logan, Michael Devlin (Mark Reynolds 77), Scott McKenna, Andy Considine; Niall McGinn (Lewis Ferguson 71), Stephen Gleeson (Frank Ross 71), Graeme Shinnie, ​Gary Mackay-Steven (Scott Wright 77); Sam Cosgrove (Adam Rooney 83), Stevie May (Chris Forrester 46).

Falkirk: Leo Fasan (David Mitchell 46), Jordan McGhee, Patrick Brough (Trialist 46), Scott Harrison, Tom Dallison (Aaron Muirhead 46), Paul Paton, Thomas Robson, Ruben Sammut (Trialist 46), Daniel Turner (Joe McKee 62), Deimantas Petravicius (Kevin O’Hara 62), Dimitris Froxylias (Lewis Kidd 46).