Dons turn up the heat

Cos­grove helps Aberdeen fin­ish Dubai train­ing camp on high

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAMIE DURENT

Greg Ste­wart could be a tar­get for Aberdeen as man­ager Derek McInnes looks to add to his strik­ing op­tions in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow.

Ste­wart has been re­called from a loan spell at Kil­marnock by par­ent club Birm­ing­ham, who are look­ing to sell the 28-year-old af­ter his im­pres­sive early-sea­son form.

Re­ports yes­ter­day in­di­cated he was on the Dons radar and when asked af­ter the friendly with Dibba Al-Hisn in Dubai yes­ter­day, McInnes was coy on any po­ten­tial in­ter­est.

He said: “We’re look­ing at var­i­ous op­tions but we’re look­ing for a bit more fire­power and a left-back. We’ll see how things play out. We’re hope­ful of get­ting a few things done and who that is, re­mains to be seen.”

Blues man­ager Garry Monk said the de­ci­sion to re­call Ste­wart, who hit eight goals in 16 games for Kil­lie, was made by the club and he is not part of his plans at St An­drews.

McInnes is plan­ning on winger Gary Mackay-Steven re­main­ing with the Dons for the re­main­der of the sea­son, af­ter New York City ap­proached the club dur­ing the week for per­mis­sion to speak to the Scot­land in­ter­na­tional.

He added: “I’ve not heard any­thing and I haven’t spo­ken to Gary about it. I’m go­ing with him for the rest of the sea­son, as ex­pected, un­less an of­fer comes in or he in­di­cates any­thing dif­fer­ent. He looked sharp when he came on – it’s been a good five or six weeks since he’s played, so it was good to get him back out there.”

Aberdeen rounded off their train­ing camp in the UAE with a 2-0 win over part-time Dibba, with Sam Cos­grove get­ting both goals. Shay Lo­gan, Ste­vie May and Tom­mie Hoban sat out the game but should re­turn against Sten­house­muir in the Scot­tish Cup on Satur­day.

McInnes said: “Shay could have played but we de­cided, with the work­load we put into him, that he can put his work in dur­ing the week.”

Be it on home soil or half-way across the world, Sam Cos­grove can still score goals.

His brace in the Dubai twi­light yes­ter­day, al­beit against part-time Emi­rati op­po­si­tion, typ­i­fied the trans­for­ma­tion in Cos­grove’s game over the last month.

Both of his goals were clin­i­cal striker’s fin­ishes and he came close to grab­bing a hat-trick, as Aberdeen rounded off their train­ing camp in the Mid­dle East with a com­fort­able 2-0 win over Dibba Al-Hisn.

Aberdeen named close to a start­ing back four as they can ex­pect for next week’s game against Sten­house­muir.

Graeme Shin­nie dropped to left-back and Do­minic Ball was in at right-back, with Shay Lo­gan sit­ting out the game along with Ste­vie May, Tom­mie Hoban and Mikey Devlin. Stephen Glee­son and teenager Dean Camp­bell started in the mid­dle of the park.

Shin­nie and Wright both threat­ened in­side the open­ing min­utes for the Dons against the se­cond-tier side, while Camp­bell, who shone in train­ing this week, hit the post with a shot from 25 yards.

Cen­tre-back Scott McKenna headed Shin­nie’s free-kick straight at goal­keeper Salem Rashed as Aberdeen looked to as­sert their dom­i­nance early.

The game might have been a friendly but Cos­grove cer­tainly treated it with no less in­ten­sity, get­ting in­volved in an early con­fronta­tion with left-back Sul­tan Saif and then clat­ter­ing through Ab­dul­hameed Al-Nemri in an ef­fort to win the ball in the mid­dle of the park.

When he has the bit be­tween his teeth like he does just now, it is best just to let him play his nat­u­ral game.

There was a chance for Dons striker James Wil­son to build on his goal against Liv­ingston and re­cap­ture his scor­ing touch, but the clos­est he came in the first half was a glanc­ing header from a Shin­nie cross, which sailed wide.

While Dibba of­fered lit­tle at­tack­ing threat in the open­ing 45, they were well or­gan­ised and matched the Dons for phys­i­cal­ity.

Con­nor McLen­nan was de­ter­mined in his ef­forts to beat his man down the right flank but was sin­gled out for some rough treat­ment, with two play­ers booked for scyth­ing him down.

The worry for Dons boss Derek McInnes – and what drew his ire last year – was the overtly phys­i­cal na­ture of the op­po­si­tion and the risk of his play­ers get­ting in­jured.

With three play­ers com­ing back into the fold af­ter pro­longed pe­ri­ods out and two sit­ting out the game as a pre­cau­tion, now was not the time for fur­ther knocks.

Cos­grove re­sumed his role as man of the mo­ment six min­utes be­fore half-time, fin­ish­ing well af­ter Wil­son slid him through. It was just re­ward for the trav­el­ling side, who had dom­i­nated the open­ing 45 min­utes.

McKenna en­joyed a run­ning bat­tle with the lone Brazil­ian front­man Vini­cius Lopes, who seemed to take ob­jec­tion to the Scot­land in­ter­na­tional’s ag­gres­sive chal­leng­ing for the ball.

Lopes, a wily tar­get man who has played in South Korea and Kuwait, did not waste any lit­tle op­por­tu­nity to leave a mark on his coun­ter­part.

The con­fi­dence was

flow­ing for Cos­grove and he did bril­liantly with his se­cond, tak­ing a re­verse pass from winger Gary Mack­aySteven, a half-time sub­sti­tute, and ri­fling be­yond Rashed at his near post.

At the mo­ment lit­tle seems to faze the for­mer Wi­gan and Carlisle man and long may that con­tinue.

He was de­nied a hat-trick by the ref­eree, firstly for foul­ing a de­fender while head­ing in a Shin­nie cor­ner and then be­ing bla­tantly cleaned out as he chal­lenged for a loose ball.

Mark Reynolds and Gary Mackay-Steven both re­turned to ac­tion in the se­cond half, with the lat­ter not fea­tur­ing since the Bet­fred Cup fi­nal de­feat to Celtic and Reynolds last tak­ing to the pitch in the aban­doned pre-sea­son friendly with Cove.

Mackay-Steven looked to have lost lit­tle of his in­ge­nu­ity, as he reg­u­larly looked to slalom past Saif down the right.

The Dons saw out the clos­ing 20 min­utes with lit­tle alarm and with their front­man pro­long­ing his hot streak in front of goal, the trip back to Aberdeen to­day will be a happy one. DIBBA AL-HISN (4-2-3-1) – Salem Rashed 6; Al-Kaebi 5, Al-Saroumi 5 (Al-Wah­dani 32), El Sayed 6 (Saoud Rashed 67), Saif 5 (Al-Hamoudi 73), Al-Nemri 5 (Ab­dul­rah­man 46), Al-Man­souri 6, Al-Nuami 6 (Malal­lah 30, Al-Dha­houri 76)), Ab­dul­hameed 5, Ahmed 5 (Obaid 46), Lopes 6 (H Rashed 46). Subs not used – none. ABERDEEN (4-4-2) – Lewis 6 (Cerny 64); Ball 6 (Vir­ta­nen 84), McKenna 7, Con­si­dine 6 (For­rester 76), Shin­nie 6, Wright 6 (McGinn 64), Glee­son 6 (Fer­gu­son 64), Camp­bell 6 (Reynolds 46), McLen­nan 7 (Mackay-Steven 46), Cos­grove 8, Wil­son 7 (E Ross 84). Subs not used – none. Man of the match – Sam Cos­grove.

THIS IS GET­TING FA­MIL­IAR: Sam Cos­grove, left, cel­e­brates scor­ing the first of his two goals against Dibba along­side Dons winger Gary Mackay-Steven

RICH VEIN OF FORM: Sam Cos­grove puts the first of his two goals past the keeper to put Aberdeen up 1-0

Re­turn­ing: Gary Mackay-Steven in ac­tion

Chal­lenged: Scott Wright is taken down

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.