15 August 2021

Aberdeen knocked out of Premier Sports Cup by Raith after second-half collapse

15 August 2021

A much-changed Aberdeen side crashed out of the Premier Sports Cup after a second-half collapse against Raith Rovers.

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas gave the Dons an early lead and they utterly dominated possession in the first half.

But on-loan Stoke striker Ethon Varian netted just after the restart and Raith took the initiative before Dario Zanatta struck in the 71st minute to earn a 2-1 second-round victory.

Aberdeen’s response was too little, too late and there was further misery for Stephen Glass as he saw Jonny Hayes and Ryan Hedges go off injured in the latter stages.

Dons boss Glass made seven changes following the Europa Conference League victory over Breidablik with the likes of Hedges, Scott Brown and Christian Ramirez dropping to the bench ahead of Thursday’s trip to Azerbaijan to face Qarabag.

The selection appeared to be going to plan when Aberdeen opened the scoring in the 13th minute through some brilliant one-touch football. Jack Gurr swung in a cross which Niall McGinn touched into the path of Emmanuel-Thomas to sweep home with the outside of his boot from 20 yards for his first Aberdeen goal.

The Dons remained in control without further testing the home goalkeeper but there were warning signs in the first half as the home side twice created chances following throw-ins.

With the score goalless Ross Matthews forced a near-post stop from Joe Lewis before Declan Gallagher blocked Blaise Riley-Snow’s follow-up.

Zanatta also came close late in the half when he turned Ross McCrorie and fired into the side net.

The second half was a complete transformation. Raith were given a way back in when Zanatta got in behind Gurr and was brought down inches outside the box.

Reghan Tumilty swung in the free-kick and Varian got in ahead of Gurr to knock home at the near post with 48 minutes gone.

The home side were lifted and kept on the pressure. Zanatta delivered dangerous balls from the right and Riley-Snow shot over from 20 yards.

Glass made a triple substitution with Brown, Hedges and Lewis Ferguson coming on but his team fell behind seconds later. Riley-Snow’s shot was parried by Lewis and Zanatta nipped in and finished as Gurr waited for the ball to fall.

Gurr was taken off and his replacement, Calvin Ramsay, added some penetration to Aberdeen’s play but Christophe Berra made a good clearance from his dangerous low cross before diverting a Hayes effort moments later.

Hayes suffered an ankle injury in the process of shooting and left the playing area on a stretcher and Aberdeen played out the final moments with 10 men after Hedges went off as well.

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