Ryan Hedges scored the winner on his return from injury as Aberdeen secured a 2-1 victory over Livingston, new manager Stephen Glass’ first as Pittodrie manager.
The Welsh international’s first match since February was rewarded with a winning goal four minutes after entering play in the second half. Callum Hendry opened the scoring for Aberdeen after half-time while Jay Emmanuel-Thomas pulled one back for the home team but it wasn’t enough. The Pittodrie club are three points behind Hibs in third with two games to go. Livingston are sixth on goal difference.
Both teams had chances in a fairly open first half. Lewis Ferguson made Livingston goalkeeper Max Stryjek work with a curling effort while Tommie Hoban and Niall McGinn both watched efforts sail over the bar. The home side were troubling Aberdeen too, Gary Woods forced into a good save from Craig Sibbald early doors.
Matej Poplatnik was handed the best chance of the first half seven minutes from the interval, Connor McLennan’s loose pass putting him through one-on-one with Woods but the Livingston forward fired wide.
Compared to other matches in the league, this one looked to have carried less significance, but it was very important. Livingston needed a positive result to ensure their grip on fifth place while Aberdeen were after three points to keep their third place push realistic. St Johnstone’s lead against Hibs may have given the away side in West Lothian hope.
Perhaps the players knew what could be achieved as Hendry was again the man to score for Aberdeen seven minutes into the second half. McLennan’s close-range effort was somehow denied by Stryjek but the St Johnstone loanee pounced for his third goal since joining on loan in February.
Aberdeen received a big boost as Hedges returned for his first appearance since February on the 70th minute mark. No less than four minutes later he scored the winner, a lovely side-foot finish beating Stryjek. A torn pectoral muscle injury was thought to have ruled him out for the season but his return could be key for Aberdeen.
Emmanuel-Thomas scored in some style a few minutes later to make the end of the game nervy for Aberdeen, Jaze Kabia’s cross blasted high into the net on the volley, a late penalty appeal waved away as the home team chased a leveler.
St Johnstone won 1-0 in Leith, which is bad news for Livingston, but a huge boost for Aberdeen ahead of meeting Hibs at Pittodrie in their next match. Here are three things we learned.
While not scoring every week, since his debut on February 2, Hendry has scored three goals. Only four other Aberdeen players scoring in the same timeframe. That might not say much about Glass’ attacking options – three of his strikers on-loan – but it does show Hendry has made a decent impact since arriving from St Johnstone.
Emmanuel-Thomas took a while to get going at Livingston but he now has three goals in as many games, taking his tally for the season to nine goals and three assists. It was confirmed last week that he has offers abroad but the West Lothian club would no doubt like to keep JET.
All to play for
Aberdeen will play European football next season but they will want to deny Hibs a first third place finish in three years. Results on matchday 35 mean the north-east club live to fight another day, the match with Hibs at Pittodrie now even bigger than anticipated.
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