An end-to-end first half had Derek McInnes’ side in front through a Lewis Ferguson penalty, courtesy of some fantastic work by Bristol City loanee Marley Watkins. Whilst Hibs did have their own goalscoring chances, the visitors remained organised to shut them out and secure an impressive three points.
Both sides were in good form ahead of this clash so something had to give. Hibs had won four of their opening five games prior to this whilst Aberdeen have bounced back from the COVID-19 protocol breach, winning three on the bounce in all competitions.
The first minute provided the first chance for Hibs after an error from Joe Lewis. The Dons skipper made a hash of a routine collection, the Hibees scrambling to get something away on goal but Lewis eventually collected.
He made amends for that effort 10 minutes later, doing well to palm Josh Doig’s powerful effort over the bar. Jack Ross’ team were certainly having the better of the opening stages, Martin Boyle next to test Lewis after a brilliant Drey Wright cross, the keeper doing well to deny.
Whilst the home team did have three very good chances inside 20 minutes, Aberdeen had one of their own. They broke on the Hibees and in-form Ryan Hedges found space in the box, Ofir Marciano using his feet to stop the Welshman’s shot heading into the net.
Christian Doidge was next to be presented with a big opening in the Aberdeen box, finding himself in acres of space, before firing an effort high into the empty stand. It was a game of more than a few chances, Watkins forcing Marciano into a great reflex save after the half-hour mark.
It was to be the Bristol City loanee who won Aberdeen a penalty through his own perseverance, forcing Boyle to clip him inside the area. Ferguson made sure his effort didn’t go unrewarded, smashing his penalty into the bottom corner.
With so many chances in the first half, it was only a matter of time before someone put one in the net. Aberdeen had been the better side on the whole during the opening 45 so Hibs needed a reaction during the second half.
New Hibees signing Jamie Murphy was introduced eight minutes into the half as Ross looked for attacking impetus. Hibees winger Wright’s drive into the Aberdeen box was left with no takers after the hour mark, the ball flashing across goal as a tap-in opportunity presented itself.
Hibs were trying things to get an leveler but Aberdeen were standing tall, looking dangerous on the break too.
In the end, the Dons managed to get things over the line as Hibs suffered defeat for the first time this campaign. An impressive away trip for Aberdeen, here are three things we learned.
McCrorie and Watkins are smart Dons additions
Both McCrorie and Watkins were very influential for McInnes at Easter Road. His Rangers loanee strolled things in midfield, providing defensive assurance and good attacking drive.
Watkins meanwhile hassled and harried the Hibs backline all day, support from Hedges and Dons academy product Wright helping his cause. They’ve been impressive since arriving in the north-east, but McInnes is bound to be even happier with two of his new recruits.
Gogic a big miss
Alex Gogic was missing for Hibs as he self-isolates following inconclusive COVID-19 test results. Usually Ross’ enforcer, he was sorely missed against Aberdeen as Ferguson and McCrorie had strong performances.
It allowed Aberdeen to win many of the battles in the engine room, which resulted in them overpowering Hibs’ midfield plenty of times in and out of possession.
3-5-2 clicks for McInnes
This was the most effectively McInnes has managed to get Aberdeen playing the 3-5-2 system this season. Their defence was resolute enough to stop Hibs from scoring, the midfield winning most battles.
Up top, their hosts were given no time on the ball, Watkins in particular running himself into the ground during what was a tireless performance. It’ll be hugely satisfyingly for McInnes to see this system work so well as it appears to get the best from his men.