With almost a full quad available, Mark McGhee sent out a 4-4-2 formation with McCormack on the bench. The ground saw over eight and a half thousand fans in their seats for the kick off and the atmosphere was electric as referee Thomson got the game underway.
The first half was a disappointment. The early portion was disjointed and very few chances appeared at either end. We relied on long balls launched in the direction of Porter but aimless punts up the part featured heavily. There seemed to be a tension about our play and neither team gained pass marks for their efforts.
A first half free kick
The second half was completely different. Darren Smith replaced Marc Fitzpatrick for the restart and he was instrumental in turning the game into a contest. His energetic running down the right wing and his determination to defend when needed helped t raise the tempo. We bombarded the Dons' penalty area and had a series of corners. On the hour Hughes crossed deep and Porter knocked it back to Smith . His first effort was blocked but he got a second chance and toe poked it into the corner.
The roof almost came off the East Stand and Darren ran to the fans in celebration. He was booked for removing his shirt. McGhee determined to go for the winner and sent on McCormack for McGarry. Calderwood retaliated by introducing Aluko. The second substitution paid off when his fine volley from the right side of the box beat Smith. All square after sixty seven minutes.
Graham Smith seemed to have saved the match with ten minutes remaining when he clawed the ball from his top left corner following a Nicolson header. There seems to be some debate whether the ball had crossed the line but the officials reckoned it was a fine save - and so did the home support!
The winner was a peach. Clarkson was in possession on the right wing when Hughes made a fast run from midfield. The striker fed him the ball and Hughes charged into the box. He could have taken a shot but elected to square to Porter who side-footed home from six yards. Sublime!
The team lingered long after the full time whistle as did the happy fans. We're almost there.