The young Dons returned to action after a two-week absence for the visit of Falkirk in the Reserve Cup. Last time out Paul Sheerin’s side produced a terrific performance to beat Celtic at Cappielow in the opening match of the competition and top the group of four which contains Ross County.
The manager was able to call upon the services of Stephen Gleeson and Chris Forrester from the first team which meant The Dons lined up with Craddock in goal, a back four of Virtanen, McGregor, Roscoe, MacKenzie, a three in midfield of Gleeson, Brown and Campbell with Seb Ross and Chris Forrester supporting Bruce Anderson on the wings.
Cove Rangers’ Balmoral Stadium hosted once again, and The Dons got proceedings underway in sunny conditions. In the fifth minute Falkirk produced the first effort on goal as Aiden Laverty curled a shot from distance that was on target, but Craddock held comfortably. The visitors had started brightly and a free kick from the left moments later was headed clear by an Aberdeen defender.
Bruce Anderson was leading the attack for Aberdeen and as usual was getting into the right spaces early on. He collected a through ball from Mackenzie on nine minutes and hit the effort low that forced former Dons ‘keeper Mutch into a save. The Dons had begun to grow into the match and a lovely long ball by Forrester was touched on by Virtanen on the right to Brown. He ran towards goal and cut back to Seb Ross, who just couldn’t get a clean contact on the strike.
At the other end Laverty turned well on the edge of the box, but also couldn’t get a clean contact and his scuffed effort was easy for Craddock. On 18 minutes came the first real chance for Falkirk. Once again it was Laverty creating the chances and jinked into the box, which forced Craddock to go down low and block twice. The midfielder then went down under the challenge of the keeper, but the referee gave a free kick the other way. An excellent bit of goalkeeping as it looked a certain goal.
On 22 minutes and possibly against the run of play The Dons took the lead. A lovely long ball from McGregor at the back sent Anderson away and with the goal at his mercy he calmly slotted home to give the hosts the lead.
Just before the half hour mark it was 2-0. Firstly, Dean Campbell did brilliantly to force his way through a Falkirk defender on the left and was able to play a good ball to Morgan Brown. With Virtanen supporting on the overlap he slipped it through and the ball was immediately cut back to Brown. He then tried an audacious lob into the far corner that looped into the top corner. A wonderful team goal as a bit of real quality from the former Leicester City man.
The Dons went hunting for a third and nearly got it on 35 minutes. A Falkirk free kick was blocked well by the wall and Seb Ross booted clear. Forrester turned his marker on the half way line and sent Anderson away once again. He raced towards goal and hit a low effort inches wide of the post. Credit to Forrester, who was linking up well with the striker. Three minutes later Anderson’s snapshot from inside the box once again went just wide.
A strike on the stroke of half time saw Mutch was forced to beat away another Anderson effort and The Dons went into the break with a commanding lead.
Half time: Aberdeen 2 Falkirk 0
It only took The Dons six minutes of action in the second half to finish the game off as a contest. Bruce Anderson did well in the final third and went one on one with a defender. Unselfishly he slipped in Seb Ross who composed himself to fire low past Mutch to make it three.
In the 57th minute Seb was replaced by his younger brother Ethan in a straight swap. A minute later The Dons defence were tested for the first time in the second half and Roscoe defended well to block for a corner. Back came Falkirk and Virtanen had to slice a cross that was flashed across goal away.
The game had become stretched and Chris Forrester was next to have a go. He produced a lovely bit of skill to get within six yards of goal. On the angle he forced Mutch into an impressive stop that hit the post and Falkirk cleared.
Bruce Anderson doubled his tally and made it 4-0 to The Dons on 69 minutes. The impressive Virtanen once again got down the right-hand side and timed his cross perfectly, which was met by the head of Anderson and the striker bulleted home to make it four.
The Dons made a double change shortly after as goalscorers Anderson and Brown were replaced by Dangana and Antoniazzi.
Dangana was immediately involved in the action and he took a through ball down to fire at Mutch, but once again the stopper was up to the task to deny from close range. On 75 minutes Ethan Ross burst down the left, but his final touch was just too heavy and Mutch scrambled to block.
With just under 10 minutes remaining, Paul Sheerin brought Power and Harrington on for Virtanen and McGregor. Miko had been excellent in the right back position and was able to contribute a couple of assists in his performance.
It could have and probably should have been five as the clock hit the 85th minute. Ethan Ross made an excellent run down the right and rounded the keeper. He had run just wide of goal and opted unselfishly to cut back to a teammate instead of shooting. The ball then fell to Dangana as Falkirk retreated and his shot was blocked.
Falkirk to their credit were still passing the ball about nicely on the artificial pitch and Owen-Evans low effort forced Craddock into a good stop. It proved to be the final act as the referee brought proceedings to a close shortly after.
All in all, a professional performance from the young lads with four well taken goals. That win ensured another three points in the Reserve Cup and The Dons are well positioned for passage into the next round with one group fixture against Ross County left.
Full time: Aberdeen 4-0 Falkirk