PLUS: Mcinnes’ warn­ing to play­ers af­ter Lo­gan video

Evening Express (City Final) - - Front Page - BY SEAN WAL­LACE CHIEF FOOT­BALL WRITER

WITH a Bet­fred Cup fi­nal slot al­ready in the bank Aberdeen’s fo­cus is now on re­vi­tal­is­ing a stut­ter­ing Premier­ship cam­paign. If a shot in the arm was needed for league ac­tion, they don’t come much bet­ter than beat­ing Rangers in a semi at Ham­p­den. The im­por­tance of that land­mark win on con­fi­dence, be­lief and mo­men­tum can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated. Dons boss Derek Mcinnes will be hop­ing that se­cur­ing a fi­nal slot against Celtic on De­cem­ber 2 can be the cat­a­lyst for an as­cent back up the ta­ble. Lan­guish­ing in the bot­tom six the Reds have so far strug­gled to recre­ate the con­sis­tency that se­cured run­ners-up spot for the last four sea­sons. A Hal­loween win closed the gap on top-six sides Hearts, Hibs, Rangers, Kil­marnock and Liv­ingston who all dropped points. Now Aberdeen have four Premier­ship games be­fore they bid to em­u­late the 2014 League Cup-win­ning suc­cess in the fi­nal. Ul­ti­mately the tar­get will be to be firmly en­sconced in the top six be­fore that Ham­p­den show­down. There was clearly a feel­good bounce from the semi win as the Reds played with free­dom and cre­ativ­ity. It should have been a higher score­line. At Ham­p­den, the Reds’ at­tack­ing play­ers had to dig deep and put in a tough shift de­fen­sively. This was an op­por­tu­nity for those at­tack­ing stars who did so well de­fen­sively at the na­tional sta­dium to show that flair up front. They grabbed it as Hamil­ton’s de­fence were ripped apart at will in what be­came a Hal­loween hor­ror night for Hamil­ton. Aberdeen took just eight min­utes to open the scor­ing with a move straight from the train­ing ground. Winger Niall Mcginn rolled a cor­ner kick from the left to Graeme SHIN­NIE who was lurk­ing com­pletely un­marked out­side the penalty area. The club cap­tain col­lected the pass then fired a low drive beyond keeper Gary Woods into the far cor­ner. For the se­cond game in suc­ces­sion a cor­ner from Mcginn yielded a goal as he had set up Lewis Fer­gu­son’s Ham­p­den semi win­ner. The wood­work de­nied Ac­cies quickly restor­ing par­ity mo­ments later when Aaron Mcgowan’s an­gled shot beat keeper Joe Lewis only to crack off the post. A touch of class from on-loan Manch­ester United striker James WIL­SON dou­bled the Reds’ ad­van­tage in the 23rd minute. On loan for the sea­son the Old Traf­ford star un­leashed a stun­ning 25-yard dip­ping drive from the right flank that left keeper Woods with no chance. Wil­son has played at the high­est level with Manch­ester United and the ex­e­cu­tion of that goal un­der­lined his un­doubted qual­ity. In the 40th minute it was nearly 3-0 when Scott Wright danced past a chal­lenge be­fore fir­ing inches over from 18 yards. Early in the se­cond half Wright burst past Mcgowan on the left but his 15-yard shot was saved by Woods. An in­evitable third came on the hour mark with a 30-yard strike from cen­tre-back Mikey DEVLIN against his for­mer club. The de­fender picked up the ball on the right and un­leashed a sweetly-hit shot that Woods got his hands to but couldn’t keep out. Mo­ments later it was an­other de­fender, Shay Lo­gan, who threat­ened from long range when he un­leashed a su­perb 35-yard drive only to be de­nied a stun­ning goal by a div­ing save from Woods. In a rare at­tack from Hamil­ton Scott Mc­mann hit the side net­ting but it was too lit­tle too late. It got even worse in in­jury-time for Ac­cies when Dougie Im­rie was sent off for a se­cond yel­low fol­low­ing a foul on Shin­nie.

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