Willie Miller column: Celtic draw should give the Aberdeen so much belief ahead of Scottish Cup clash – Evening Express

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The result and performance against Celtic on Sunday will give Aberdeen belief and confidence they can win the Scottish Cup semi-final.

The Dons’ 3-3 draw at Pittodrie was encouraging ahead of this Sunday’s last-four showdown at Hampden.

Some of the defeats the Dons have had against the Hoops in recent times, in games like the 2017 Scottish Cup final and 2018 League Cup final, maybe sapped belief and confidence in games since.

At times, it’s felt like Aberdeen will never get over the hurdle of beating Celtic to land honours.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case now and the experiences and close shaves the Reds have had should help them.

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I think back to my playing days and we played Rangers in three successive League Cup finals (1987, 1988 and 1989) and we lost the first two, but then managed to win the third game and having that disappointments helped us.

You don’t want that feeling to be repeated and that will be the case for Aberdeen.

The 1989 League Cup success over Rangers was forged in two Hampden defeats to the Gers.

When you put that together with Aberdeen’s good form and confidence gives them a real chance of winning the semi-final.

It’s a one-off game this weekend, dropped points can be made up in the league.

But you only get one chance in cup football and the Reds will need to be at their best to get through to the final against Hearts or Hibs.

The Dons need to show the same attitude and belief and if they are a little bit better defensively then they’ve got a good chance.

It seems like they will have the same attitude into the Scottish Cup tie which is a good place to do.

There will be disappointment the Dons didn’t win on Sunday having led twice and scoring three times.

Looking at the goals Aberdeen conceded, they were all preventable from a defensive perspective.

For the first two there was a failure to get close enough to Callum McGregor and Leigh Griffiths.

Yes they were well-worked goals and well finished, but both McGregor and Griffiths were inside the area and weren’t closed down quickly enough.

You can’t afford to give quality players those opportunities because they punish you and I’m sure Derek McInnes will be disappointed with that.

For the Celtic penalty, Tommie Hoban needed to get to the ball first but didn’t and you can question not stopping the delivery from the wide area.

So there will be some disappointment there. In the second half, I thought Aberdeen may have looked to shut up shop when they were leading, but it wasn’t like that it was a very open encounter.

The positive is having lost a lead the Dons didn’t allow their heads to drop and kept going and got an equaliser.

That’s a good trait to have and Celtic have done that against plenty of teams, including the Reds, in recent years so they should take confidence from that.

The Hoops looked fragile defensively throughout and that vulnerability meant Aberdeen were always in the game and always looked capable of creating chances.

© Shutterstock Feed
The Hoops looked fragile at the back.

Celtic were also fortunate to keep McGregor on the pitch for the duration.

Having been booked early on the midfielder committed a number of fouls after that, including bringing down Connor McLennan for Aberdeen’s second penalty.

That challenge was a deliberate attempt to take McLennan out of the game and he was very fortunate to not receive a second yellow card.

I’m not sure why Willie Collum decided the challenge wasn’t a bookable offence which would have led to McGregor being sent off.

The Dons have played well against the Glasgow side before, but there’s sometimes there’s been a feeling that Celtic had what it takes to win the crunch games.

But it didn’t feel like that on Sunday and Aberdeen will be encouraged ahead of the Scottish Cup semi-final and it will increase confidence about how winnable the game is.

Sam Cosgrove’s performance was a big reminder of what Aberdeen have been missing up front

Seeing Sam Cosgrove return after injury in Aberdeen’s draw with Celtic was a major boost.

The striker has been a talisman for the Dons in the last two seasons.

With the results the Reds have been getting and the way they’ve been playing there hasn’t been too much made of his absence.

But there’s no doubt the Englishman has been missed having been out since July with a knee injury.

Cosgrove’s a physical striker who upsets defenders, but on top of that he is very reliable in front of goal.

Ryan Edmondson is a similar type of player to Cosgrove and has looked good when he’s played.

But Cosgrove is a more rounded player than the Leeds United loan player and it’s perfect timing that he’s back and has had some game time prior to the Scottish Cup semi-final on Sunday.

The Celtic defence won’t relish facing him and he has a proven track record, even coming off the bench on Sunday Cosgrove made an impact and looked very sharp.

© Stephen Dobson/ProSports/Shutterstock
Sam Cosgrove in action against Celtic.

Another player who made an impact was Scott Wright. He might have been disappointed not to start given his performances this season.

I could understand the reasons for Derek McInnes’ selection, but when Wright came on he made things happen and was key to Aberdeen getting a point.

ANALYSIS: Scott Wright’s superb 37 minutes for Aberdeen against Celtic in numbers

He’s put himself firmly in contention to start at Hampden this weekend and if not a similar impact off the bench could make all the difference as the Dons look to reach the final.

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