McLean’s penalty gives Dons win against Ross County

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A second half penalty from Kenny McLean earned Aberdeen a 2-1 win against Ross County at Pittodrie.

With talk that this could be manager Derek McInnes’ last game in charge of the Dons before Rangers try to lure him to Ibrox this is a match that will be fondly remembered for being an exciting and open game, but also because it was another Reds victory.

McInnes made three changes from the team well beaten by Celtic on Wednesday night. Andrew Considine, Adam Rooney and Gary Mackay-Steven dropped to the bench with Ryan Christie, Scott Wright and Greg Stewart returning to the team.

After a cagey opening period the Staggies took the lead on nine minutes and it was an uncharacteristic mistake from goalie Joe Lewis.

Michael Gardyne hit a speculative shot from 30 yards straight at Lewis but he didn’t catch it, the ball appeared to brush off him and into the net.

But the Dons were only behind for three minutes thanks to the returning Christie.

He played a one-two with Stevie May and from just inside the area smashed a left foot shot into the top left corner of the net.

At that point the Reds were threatening to get ahead. Soon after the equaliser McLean’s angled drive from the edge of the area whistled just wide and then captain Graeme Shinnie’s cross from wide on the left dropped on to the roof of the net when it could easily have landed in the far corner.

But there was a scare at the other end on 20 minutes. Sean Kelly’s cross found Craig Curran after a slip from Scott McKenna but Lewis made a save to deny the striker.

The keeper was in action again to deny Gardyne on 27 minutes when he turned and shot from 15 after receiving a cross from Jason Naismith.

Three minutes later it was only a brilliant sliding clearance from Kelly that stopped May converting Shinnie’s low left wing cross at the back post.

Soon after McCarey saved McLean’s swerving strike from 30 yards and just before the break Wright’s cross from the left was flicked on by May at the front post and Christie side-footed just wide at from six yards at the back post but at the break it remained 1-1.

However just six minutes after the resumption Aberdeen were ahead. Jamie Lindsay felled Shinnie as he rushed onto Stewart’s pass.

McLean, who it was announced prior to the Celtic game that he would be leaving at the end of the season, stepped up and drilled the ball low into the bottom left corner with his left foot.

Shortly after the hour Christie nearly scored his second and Aberdeen’s third when his 25 yard strike came back off the bar with McCarey beaten.

Clear-cut chances were at a premium as the game wore on but sub Rooney could have put the game to bed 78 minutes but he missed the ball with goal gaping after good play from fellow sub Nicky Maynard to set him up.

But Aberdeen saw it out and got back to winning ways.

Aberdeen: Joe Lewis, Shay Logan, Kari Arnason, Scott McKenna, Graeme Shinnie; Anthony O’Connor, Kenny McLean; Greg Stewart (Adam Rooney 72), Ryan Christie, Scott Wright (Gary Mackay-Steven 72), Stevie May  (Nicky Maynard 58).

Subs not used: Danny Rogers, Mark Reynolds, Andrew Considine, Greg Tansey.

Ross County: Aaron McCarey, Marcus Fraser, Jason Naismith, Sean Kelly, Kenny van der Weg (Christopher Routis 80); Ross Draper, Jamie Lindsay; Michael Gardyne, Jim O’Brien (Alex Schalk 76), Davis Keillor-Dunn (Ryan Dow 66), Craig Curran.

Subs not used: Ross Munro, Tim Chow, Thomas Mikkelsen, Billy Mckay.