Aberdeen were unlucky not to win at Hampden, as Dundee United’s efficiency in front of goal saw them through to the 2015 League Cup final.
Both teams started nervously, with neither side creating many chances. There were several periods of head-tennis, with the occasion and perhaps the state of the pitch meaning slick passing was hard to come by.
There were only really two notable chances, as Stuart Armstrong’s deflected shot beat Aberdeen’s Scott Brown but crashed off the bar, and David Goodwillie found himself with a golden chance to put Aberdeen ahead just a couple of minutes before half time – a chance he then spurned.
Both teams showed a noticeable increase in desire in the second half, but it was Aberdeen who started quickest. A header from the debutant Denervon Daniels looped over Radoslaw Cierzniak and just inside the far post, putting Aberdeen ahead. Daniels had a good debut, often being the last line of defence and throwing himself passionately into challenges all game.
Unfortunately for the Dons, going behind only seemed to fire United up. They never allowed heads to drop, and came right back into the game. And it wasn’t long before they equalised. Brown – so often so solid for Aberdeen this season – came out for a corner he couldn’t get to, and it was a simple header from Callum Morris that levelled the game.
At this stage it was a really open game, though you would still say Aberdeen had the better chances. Both teams had efforts cleared off the line, but arguably the turning point came when Adam Rooney had a goal disallowed. Everybody in red was confused as to why it wasn’t allowed to stand, and replays since have provided no clearer picture.
As the game approached its end, play began to get a bit nervy again. But Dundee United, re-energised by the introduction of Ryan Dow, who in the end clinched the game through Nader Cifcti’s header. If Brown was at fault for United’s first, he may as well have his name on the scoresheet for the second, as he could only parry a tame header into his own net when it really should have been a comfortable save.
It felt like Aberdeen were in control for most of the game, and it was their supporters who made more noise. But it was the fans clad in orange who went home celebrating, and looking forward to a final against Celtic at the end of March.