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Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Saturday, 21 March 2009

Hibernian 0-0 Aberdeen

By David Sharp

Hibs defender Ian Murray (left) battles for possession with Aberdeen's Gary McDonald
Hibs' Ian Murray battles for possession with Aberdeen's Gary McDonald

Hibernian were left to rue a host of missed chances in an engrossing stalemate at Easter Road.

Derek Riordan, Colin Nish and Steven Fletcher's profligacy in front of goal cost the home side victory.

Aberdeen rarely threatened with a Tommy Wright header and a Zander Diamond volley the closest they came to a goal.

John Rankin almost broke the deadlock with two long-range 'squigglers' before the Dons' Mark Kerr was sent-off when he appeared to head-butt Rob Jones.

The home side made a vibrant start to the game and carved out a pair of half-chances within the first six minutes.

First, Derek Riordan swept a pass across the pitch for Alan O'Brien to scamper clear, but his cross was too tame with Colin Nish and Steven Fletcher poised in the centre.

Then, a minute later, Nish turned brilliantly on a Lewis Stevenson pass, but his centre just evaded the stretching Fletcher.

Aberdeen, still suffering a hangover from their shock midweek Scottish Cup humbling, at last snapped out of their early reverie and burst to life twice in the space of three minutes.

Jamie Smith's corner picked out the run of Zander Diamond in the 11th minute, but the defender's poked shot was held at the second attempt by Hibs goalkeeper Grzegorz Szamotulski.

Two minutes later, Richard Foster's cross from deep was met by Tommy Wright's forehead, but the striker's effort flew just too high.

Both sides looked dangerous going forward and Riordan flashed a shot just wide in the 16th minute before Nish's weak effort wasted excellent interplay from Riordan and Fletcher.

After a flurry of early opportunities for both teams, the match hit a lull after 30 minutes as neither side was able to gain the stranglehold they wanted in midfield.

Gary McDonald flashed a header high and wide from another Smith corner as Aberdeen looked to make the most of their set pieces.

However, Hibs then had the ball in the net with two minutes remaining of the half, but referee Mike McCurry ruled that Nish had fouled keeper Jamie Langfield as he forced in David van Zanten's cross.

And there was still time for Langfield to block Fletcher's shot after Nish had broken free on the left in first half injury time.

Hibs looked the more likely team to break the deadlock as the second half unfolded.

Denes Rosa narrowly failed to connect with Riordan's punted pass with Langfield careering off his line to the Dons rescue.

And Fletcher went close twice, sending a diving header inches past the post before trying to be too fancy from Riordan's cross, missing the ball completely when a simple finish was required.

Rankin almost bamboozled Langfield with one of his now-notorious long-range 'squigglers', but the Dons keeper did well to flap the bouncing effort over the bar.

With five minutes to go, Aberdeen were reduced to 10 men when Kerr squared up to Rob Jones following a tussle for possession and appeared to butt his head towards the Hibs skipper.

Riordan almost grabbed a late winner following a stramash in the Dons box, but his blocked shot eventually spun into the grateful arms of Langfield.

With seconds to go, Rankin launched another outrageous squiggler that Langfield again managed to stop.

Hibernian manager Mixu Paatelainen:
"I thought we totally dominated the game.

"Our passing was a lot better and we created loads of chances, but unfortunately it was one of those days where we didn't capitalise.

"The pleasing factor again, is that we had our fourth consecutive clean sheet, for the first time in 19 years.

"The whole team deserve some credit for that.

"The boys wanted to do well, they're very ambitious and work hard in matches.

"Unfortunately, today we didn't get three points, but i thought the performance merited it, but it doesn't always go like that."

Aberdeen manager Jimmy Calderwood:
"I thought we played well, we dominated and changed the system and it gave the freedom for us to get forward.

"The only thing that wasn't there was the finishing.

"I thought we dominated, considering the circumstances of what happened midweek, we came here and we looked very confident.

"We looked a good team, but we didn't create too many chances, but under the circumstances of a difficult venue we should have done better with our final chance.

"But I was very pleased with them and their football.

Hibernian: Szamotulski, van Zanten, Hogg, Jones, Stevenson (Murray 28), Riordan, Rosa, Rankin, O'Brien, Fletcher, Nish. Subs Not Used: McNeil, Keenan, Thicot, Hanlon, Chisholm, Johansson.

Booked: Murray, Jones.

Aberdeen: Langfield, Foster, Diamond, Considine, Mulgrew, Jamie Smith, McDonald, Severin, Kerr, Aluko (Young 86), Wright (Maguire 68). Subs Not Used: Bossu, Vidal, Duff, Stewart, Paton.

Sent Off: Kerr (84).

Att: 11,754

Ref: M McCurry (Scotland).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Aberdeen's Sone Aluko and Zander Diamond 7.67 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
SPL as it happened
21 Mar 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photo gallery
21 Mar 09 |  Scottish Premier

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