Hearts 0 v Aberdeen 0: Match report

smael Goncalves.

Aberdeen failed to leap back to the top of the Premiership table as their 100% start to the league campaign ended with a 0-0 draw against Hearts at Murrayfield.

Only the heroics of keeper Joe Lewis prevented the Reds suffering defeat as he produced a host of magnificent saves to deny the Jambos.

Prior to the trip to the home of Scottish rugby, the Dons had been the only Scottish top flight side yet to drop a point.

However, that winning streak ended with an enthralling stalemate in front of a near 7,000-strong travelling Red Army.

Aberdeen had also been gunning for a club record eighth straight league away wins, but were fortunate to secure a draw.

Derek McInnes’ Reds are level on 13 points with defending champions Celtic, who top the Premiership table on goal difference.

A huge travelling Red Army had made the most of this unique game at the 67,000 capacity Murrayfield.

Their numbers are normally only associated with cup finals or semis.

The match saw the return to the Hearts dugout of director of football Craig Levein, who was recently confirmed as manager.

For the first time, the much-anticipated strike partnership of summer signing Stevie May and prolific striker Adam Rooney started together.

Rooney had been ruled out with a thigh for most of the Premiership campaign to date but came off the bench to net the winner in the 4-3 defeat of Partick.

McInnes partnered Rooney up front with May, a £400,000 signing from Preston North End, in an attack minded 3-5-2 formation.

McInnes made two changes to the side that edged a pulsating clash 4-3 at Partick Thistle before the international break to go top of the table.

On-loan Rotherham defender Dominic Ball was thrown into the starting line-up for his Dons debut.

The 24-year-old completed a loan switch from Rotherham just minutes before the transfer deadline shut at midnight last Thursday.

Rooney also came in for his first Premiership start of the season.

Aberdeen created the first chance in the second minute, when May lofted a cross to the back post towards Rooney.

Under pressure from Christophe Berra, striker Rooney headed wide and went to ground with calls for a penalty that were waved away by referee Craig Thomson.

Moments later Ryan Christie shot at goal on the run but keeper Jon McLaughlin blocked.

In the 22nd minute Christie burst down the right wing and was twice fouled by Rafal Grzelak without the referee intervening.

As he cut inside, Don Cowie then brought down Christie on the edge of the penalty box.

From the free-kick Christie attempted a low shot from an acute angle only for the effort to ricochet off the defensive wall.

Ball latched onto the rebound but flashed his 15-yard shot wide.

Hearts came close on the half hour mark when Shaleum Logan fouled Jamie Walker a few yards outside the penalty area.

Walker curled a 22-yard free kick beyond the defensive wall and keeper Lewis got down to superbly save, diving to his right.

A moment later, Lewis again came to the rescue as Esmael Goncalves broke in on goal and unleashed a low 20-yard drive.

Lewis got down quickly and pushed it wide with a superb one-handed block.

As the game opened up Christie flashed a low left footed drive along the face of goal and inches wide.

Yet again Lewis produced a fantastic save to deny Hearts when Walker was found completely unmarked inside the box.

Walker looked up and struck a curling 15-yard effort towards the top corner, but Lewis produced a magnificent save to tip it on to the bar.

Only the heroics of the Englishman were keeping the Dons level.

At the other end, in the 43rd minute Hearts keeper McLaughlin blocked a Logan strike at the near post.

In the 47th minute it was new signing Ball who came to the Dons’ rescue when heading a Berra shot off the line.

Yet again Lewis produced a vital block in the 55th minute when he saved a Ross Callachan effort from close range.

It was all Hearts in the opening exchanges of the second half.

On the half hour mark Kenny McLean fired in a shot from 25 yards, but it was easily saved by McLaughlin.

The woodwork denied Hearts in the 63rd minute when Goncalves rattled the bar with a long range shot, which Lewis may have got a fingertip to.

Soon after, Scott Wright fired in a snap shot from the edge of the box but McLaughlin got down quickly to smother.

In a nervy finale for Aberdeen, the Jambos continued to look the more likely to score.

In injury time Lewis again saved from Cowie to secure the draw.

 

 

ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan, Shinnie, Considine, O’Connor, McLean, Rooney, Wright, Ball, Christie, May.

SUBS: Mackay-Steven (for Wright 69), Maynard (for Rooney 69), Reynolds (for Ball 80).

SUBS NOT USED: Rogers,  Stewart,  Arnason, Tansey.

 

HEARTS: McLaughlin, Souttar, Hughes, Berra, Walker, Djoum, Cowie, Randall, Callachan, Grzelak, Goncalves.

SUBS:  Lafferty (for Goncalves 65), Milnkovic (for Walker 77).

SUBS NOT USED: Hamilton, Smith-Brown, Stockton, Baur, Cochrane.

 

REFEREE: Craig Thomson

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