Scottish League Cup 2016: John Beaton to referee Aberdeen v Celtic final

The Fifa whistler will take charge of his first major final at Hampden Park when Aberdeen and Celtic compete for the Betfred Cup at Hampden Park on November 27.

John Beaton referee (Hibs v Dundee Utd - 16th April 2016)
Return: It will be Beaton’s first game at Hampden since the Scottish Cup semi between Hibs and Dundee United in April (Picture from BBC Scotland)

JOHN Beaton has been appointed as the referee for the 2016 Scottish League Cup Final at Hampden Park later this month.

The current top two in the Scottish Premiership will face off at the national stadium for the first domestic prize of the campaign in the Betfred Cup on Sunday, November 27 (KO 15:00 GMT, live on BT Sport).

It will be Beaton’s first major cup final although he was at the helm for Livingston’s 4-0 win over Alloa in the 2015 Challenge Cup showpiece at St Johnstone’s McDiarmid Park.

Dougie Potter and Michael Banks will be his assistant referees, while Don Robertson has been named as the fourth official.

Beaton, who has 15 years of senior experience and has been a Fifa official since 2012, has already handled 19 games in all competitions this season.

He has so far brandished 91 yellow cards, sent off two players and awarded some 12 penalties – more than any other Scottish official.

His most recent outing was the 1-1 draw between Hibernian and Falkirk in the Championship, in which he booked five players and sent off Bairns midfielder Tom Taiwo against his old club early on at Easter Road.

john-beaton-aberdeen-v-rangers-25th-sept-2016
Preparation: Beaton will be alongside his cup final assistants for St Johnstone’s Premiership match with Ross County this weekend (Picture from Sky Sports)

The Lanarkshire-based whistler attracted criticism from Motherwell boss Mark McGhee and striker Scott McDonald after failing to award them a goal in their 2-0 defeat at Dundee earlier this month.

With the score goalless at Dens Park, Dundee goalkeeper David Mitchell stumbled over his goalline as he caught McDonald’s first-half cross – but neither Beaton nor assistant referee Ross Haswell signalled for a goal.

The 34-year-old has encountered both Aberdeen and Celtic twice each already in the top-flight.

He sent off Partick Thistle skipper Sean Welsh in the Dons’ 2-1 win in August, before awarding a contentious free-kick late on which led to their winning goal in their victory over Rangers a month later by the same scoreline and left Gers boss Mark Warburton raging at him on the pitch.

Meanwhile, Beaton dished out a massive 11 yellows in Celtic’s 2-1 victory at Hearts on the opening weekend and gave the hosts a dubious penalty as Jamie Walker was described as a “cheat” for taking an apparent dive.

It was a more straightforward afternoon for him when the Hoops beat Motherwell 2-0 exactly a month ago, in mid-October, but he did award Brendan Rodgers’s side a late penalty.

John Beaton explains decision (Dundee Utd v Dundee - 11th August 2015)
On the box: Beaton will take charge of his fifth match live on TV this season in all competitions (Picture from Sky Sports)

The two rivals, who have finished in the top two in each of the last three seasons, have also met twice this term – both ending in Celtic wins.

Bobby Madden was in the middle for their 4-1 victory at Parkhead in August, in which he sent off Dons defender Mark Reynolds and awarded the Hoops a late penalty.

While Steven McLean produced five yellow cards in a largely incident-free encounter at Pittodrie last month, in which Tom Rogic’s fine half-volley proved the difference for the visitors.

Beaton has been involved in plenty of controversial moments this season but has been rewarded for his efforts throughout his career with arguably his most high-profile appointment to date.

Earlier this term, he gave three penalties in 45 minutes to Dunfermline, all of which were saved by goalkeeper Cammy Bell in 10-man Dundee United’s 3-1 win at East End Park in the Championship.

And, in an eventful Premiership match between St Johnstone and Hearts, Beaton booked Saints strikers Chris Kane and Graham Cummins for diving and sent Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson to the stands for an apparent sarcastic clap towards him.

Beaton, from Motherwell, who first became a referee in 1997, has handled two League Cup semis, two Scottish Cup semis including one last season, and been an additional assistant referee for two Scottish Cup Finals.

But it will only be the third full game he will oversee at the national stadium, although he did take over in extra-time for Hibernian’s 4-3 Scottish Cup semi win over Falkirk in 2014 from the injured Iain Brines.

A Category One official since 2009, he has established himself as a regular in the Scottish Premiership since his first game – Dundee United’s 3-0 win over Dunfermline in March 2012.

Beaton, whose cousin Steven Nicholls is also a referee, hit the headlines last year when he was headbutted during a volatile derby in Saudi Arabia between Al Hilal and Al Nasr – during which he issued three red cards.

John Beaton referee (Hibernian v Rangers - 1st November 2015)
Occupation: Beaton, who once had ambitions to be a journalist, is now a full-time referee after giving up his day job as a communications officer at Strathclyde University (Picture from Sky Sports)

Beaton was an additional assistant referee as part of Willie Collum’s Scottish team of officials for two group games at Euro 2016.

He has also built up European and international refereeing experience of his own in the last few years, as one of seven Scottish officials currently on the Fifa list.

Aberdeen are aiming to lift silverware for the first time since winning the competition in 2014 while Scottish champions Celtic lifted the trophy the following year.

Derek McInnes, who suffered his first defeat as Dons boss against Celtic in 2013, will be hoping his side can emulate their two home wins over the Hoops last season but Celtic will be desperate to secure their first silverware under Rodgers.

Kevin Clancy, who refereed Ross County’s 2-1 win over Hibs in last season’s final, was in control of Aberdeen’s 2-0 semi-final victory against Morton while Craig Thomson oversaw Celtic’s 1-0 success over Rangers in the Old Firm derby.

This year’s League Cup Final has a pre-Christmas date for the first time since 1998, as part of the competition’s revamp this season.

Bobby Madden to referee first Scottish Premiership game since cancer scare

The Fifa whistler will oversee his first top-flight game since the end of August when the 10-man Dons were beaten 4-1 at Celtic Park after recovering from a battle with thyroid cancer.

Bobby Madden looks on
Back in business: Madden will be in the middle for his ninth game of the season – and only his fourth in Scotland’s top-flight (Picture from Sky Sports)

REFEREE Bobby Madden will take charge of his first Scottish Premiership game in over three months, following his scare battling a rare disease. 

The 38-year-old returned to action after two months out recovering from thyroid cancer at Glebe Park last Saturday for Livingston’s 3-0 over Brechin City in League One.

Although he didn’t wish to discuss his illness, the East Mains official said this week he was happy to be back refereeing and is “keeping very well”.

Now, Madden will oversee the televised Friday night encounter between Partick Thistle and Aberdeen at Firhill.

It will be his first top-flight match since he awarded Celtic a penalty and sent off Aberdeen defender Mark Reynolds for two bookable offences in the champions’ 4-1 win over the Dons on August 27.

Before that game at Celtic Park, he had handled qualifiers in the Champions League and Europa League, two Betfred Cup ties and two other Premiership matches.

It’s understood Madden had been diagnosed at the end of last season but postponed surgery until after Euro 2016 – where he was an additional assistant as part of Willie Collum’s team of officials.

There were a number of positive messages from well-wishers on social media, as Madden was eased back onto the pitch last weekend.

The Fifa whistler was also an additional assistant for Craig Thomson in Atletico Madrid’s last-gasp 2-1 victory over FC Rostov in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

Madden – who oversaw Celtic’s 2-0 win over Dundee United in the 2015 League Cup Final – has so far brandished 17 yellow cards, sent off two players and awarded five penalties this term.

Three of those spotkicks were controversially awarded to St Johnstone in the space of 23 minutes during their 3-0 League Cup win over Falkirk in July – after which Bairns boss Peter Houston said he would monitor the official’s penalty calls throughout the season.

Domestically, Madden was promoted to Category One in 2009 and has built up a wealth of experience and respect to become a Scottish top-flight regular since his first match in January 2011.

He first took up the whistle in 2002 and last year revealed that an advert in the East Kilbride News – spotted by his brother Jamie – inspired him to become involved in refereeing after realising he wouldn’t make the grade as a professional player.

He will encounter Alan Archibald’s Thistle side for the first time since their 1-0 defeat against Hearts at Tynecastle on March 5, in which only one player was booked.

Madden will be assisted in Glasgow’s Maryhill for the first game of the weekend by Stuart Stevenson and Gary Hilland, with Stephen Finnie on fourth official duties.

Elsewhere, Crawford Allan will take charge of Celtic’s match with Inverness on Saturday and Andrew Dallas will be in control of Rangers’ televised trip to Ross County on Sunday lunchtime.

You can see a full list of SPFL match official appointments here.

Scottish Premiership: Steven McLean to referee Aberdeen v Celtic

Fifa referee Steven McLean will take charge of the weekend’s first and stand-out fixture at Pittodrie as the top-flight’s top two go head to head for the second time this season.

Steven McLean referee
Reunited: It will be a first Celtic game of the season for McLean – and only his second of 2016 (Picture from Sky Sports)

REFEREE Steven McLean will take charge when Celtic visit Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership this weekend.

The 35-year-old Fifa official will make his first trip to Pittodrie of the season as the champions look to move further clear at the top of the table this Saturday lunchtime (KO 12:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).

In their previous meeting back in August, Bobby Madden sent off Dons defender Mark Reynolds and awarded the Hoops a penalty late on in their 4-1 win at Parkhead.

McLean will encounter Celtic for the first time since he oversaw his only other match between the sides who have finished in the top two in the last three seasons earlier this year.

He gave out four yellow cards and put in a good display in Aberdeen’s 2-1 victory over Celtic at the start of February – one of two defeats the champions suffered on their trips to the Granite City last term.

Craig Thomson had a busy time last September as the Dons won by the same scoreline, awarding a spotkick for both sides and sending off Dons winger Jonny Hayes for a strong challenge on Mikael Lustig.

Other than the aforementioned Pittodrie clash, McLean also handled three more Celtic games last season – their 6-0 home win over Dundee last September, a 2-1 success at Hamilton a year ago and 2-2 draw with Hearts at Tynecastle on December 27.

steven-mclean-referee-rangers-v-hibs-scottish-cup-final-21st-may-2016
Honour: McLean took charge of his first major showpiece at Hampden Park in May when turning out for the Scottish Cup Final (Picture from BBC Scotland)

Meanwhile, McLean will oversee his second Aberdeen game of the current season after their 3-1 win at Dundee in September – as the Dons’ Kenny McLean converted a penalty and Dundee’s Mark O’Hara was dismissed late on for a second bookable offence.

McLean handled seven Aberdeen games in 2015-16 but it will be his first match at Pittodrie since the end of February – a 1-1 draw with St Johnstone, in which he awarded the visitors a controversial late penalty.

The Glasgow-based whistler – who is a qualified fitness instructor – was in charge of the 2014 League Cup Final at Celtic Park when the Dons beat Inverness on penalties.

McLean then oversaw Hibernian’s dramatic 3-2 triumph over Rangers last season in the Scottish Cup Final, after which he and his fellow match officials were caught up in the unsavoury pitch invasion.

Before taking charge of the stand-out match of the weekend, he made the calls at Dens Park for bottom club Dundee’s 2-0 defeat by Partick Thistle on Wednesday night – booking six players in his sixth top-flight game this term.

Steven McLean points for goalkick (Hearts v St Johnstone - 2nd August 2015)
Siblings: Steven McLean is the older brother of former Ross County and Dundee United defender Brian McLean (Picture from BT Sport)

McLean – a Fifa referee since 2010 who refereed his first SPL game in November 2008 – has so far issued 67 yellow cards, sent off two players and awarded three penalties in 15 games this season in all competitions.

He will be assisted on Saturday by Douglas Ross, Andrew McWilliam and fourth official Kevin Clancy, who handled Aberdeen’s 2-0 League Cup semi-final win over Morton last weekend.

The eagerly-awaited contest – a dress rehearsal for next month’s Betfred Cup Final – will bring together challengers Aberdeen and leaders Celtic, who are four points clear having played two games fewer.

Elsewhere, Nick Walsh is to oversee Motherwell against Ross County, John Beaton will handle Rangers’ clash with Kilmarnock and Barry Cook has been appointed to St Johnstone against Partick Thistle.

You can see a full list of this weekend’s SPFL match official appointments here.

Scottish League Cup: Thomson and Clancy to referee semi-finals

Craig Thomson will handle his 13th Old Firm derby while Kevin Clancy will referee his first domestic cup semi-final in this weekend’s Betfred Cup last-four ties at Hampden Park.

craig-thomson-and-kevin-clancy
Chosen ones: Thomson (left) and Clancy have been handed the responsibility to oversee the 2016 League Cup last-four ties (Pictures from BBC Scotland and Sky Sports)

CRAIG Thomson and Kevin Clancy have been confirmed as the referees for this weekend’s Scottish League Cup semi-finals at Hampden Park.

Thomson will be in the middle for the Old Firm derby between Rangers and Celtic on Sunday (KO 14:05 BST).

Meanwhile, Clancy has been selected to officiate Premiership side Aberdeen against Championship outfit Greenock Morton on Saturday (KO 12:15 BST).

Both ties will be televised live on BT Sport.


The perennial Old Firm whistler…

Craig Thomson (Rangers v Celtic Scottish Cup semi - 17th April 2016)
For the big occasion: It will be Thomson’s 17th domestic match at Hampden and his 10th cup semi-final (Picture from Sky Sports)

It may be an unlucky number for some but Thomson will be hoping it will bring him some fortune as he prepares for his 13th Old Firm derby – no other referee has handled more than five.

His first derby came back in 2006 and he has since built up a wealth of experience in handling Scottish football’s most explosive duel in cup finals, crucial league encounters and, more recently, semi-final battles.

It will be the third season in a row the Fifa whistler, who went to Euro 2012, will manage a cup semi-final between the sides at the national stadium – after Celtic’s 2-0 League Cup win in 2015 and Rangers’ Scottish Cup win on penalties earlier this year.

David McGeachie and Alan Mulvanny will assist Thomson, with Steven McLean taking the fourth official reins.

craig-thomson-speaks-to-scott-brown-v-rangers-17th-april-2016
Longest-serving: Thomson has officiated in Scotland’s top-flight since 2002 and appointed Fifa status a year later (Picture from Sky Sports)

It was widely expected McLean or Bobby Madden might be entrusted with their first Old Firm derbies as Thomson and Willie Collum – who oversaw his third when Celtic thrashed Rangers 5-1 last month – are the only officials among the current crop to have previously refereed the fixture.

But, with a place in November’s Betfred Cup Final at stake, they have called on the vastly experienced Thomson to make the decisions for the latest meeting of Glasgow’s biggest rivals.

The former lawyer, from Renfrewshire, oversaw the League Cup final meeting between the sides in 2011 – awarding Rangers a penalty before reversing his decision and sending off Celtic’s Emilio Izaguirre in an eventual 2-1 win for the Ibrox side.

Earlier this season, he was involved in a bitter spat with pundit Chris Sutton, who called him a ‘bottler’ after opting not to send off Rangers midfielder Harry Forrester for a second bookable offence in their 2-1 win at Dundee.

Meanwhile, a week later and also in front of the BT cameras, Thomson refused to co-operate with the broadcaster’s staff before starting the second half of Celtic’s 4-2 win at St Johnstone more than a minute ahead of schedule.

They are the only occasions Thomson, who has handled three Scottish Cup and three League Cup Finals, has encountered either of the Old Firm sides this term.

The 44-year-old handled Copenhagen’s 4-0 win over Club Brugge in last month’s Champions League group match and the Netherlands’ 4-1 victory over Belarus in a World Cup qualifier earlier this month.

But he has only refereed one previous League Cup tie this season – Aberdeen’s last-gasp 1-0 victory over St Johnstone at Pittodrie in the quarter-finals.

Overall, Thomson has issued 51 yellow cards, sent off three players and awarded four penalties in 12 games across five different competitions so far this term.

REACTION:

Celtic fans have been particularly vocal on social media, expressing their disappointment that the Scottish FA have again looked towards Thomson to keep the peace in the Glasgow derby…


Another step in Clancy’s burgeoning reputation…

Kevin Clancy before the 2016 Scottish League Cup Final
Footnote: Clancy is widely regarded as a lenient and respectable referee who keeps control of games well and rarely attracts controversy (Picture from BBC Scotland)

Despite several appearances as a fourth official and additional assistant, it will only be the second time Clancy steps out as referee at the national stadium.

The Glasgow-born whistler will still have fond memories of his previous visit after overseeing his first major final in last season’s League Cup showpiece, booking only two players as Ross County beat Hibernian 2-1.

He was also in the middle for Rangers’ shock 1-0 defeat by Raith Rovers in the 2014 Challenge Cup Final at Hibs’ Easter Road.

Surprisingly, it will be the 32-year-old’s first ever domestic cup semi as referee too – in this his fifth season officiating in Scotland’s top-flight.

Former lawyer Clancy has previously been the fourth official for the 2013 and 2015 League Cup Final – as well as Ross County’s 3-1 semi-final win over Celtic last term, which was refereed by Thomson.

He was also an additional assistant referee in the 2014 Scottish Cup Final at Celtic Park and Rangers’ Scottish Cup semi win over Celtic on penalties, as well as European games such as the 2015 Uefa Super Cup.

But the Renfrewshire-based official missed out on a place in Willie Collum’s team of officials for Euro 2016 last summer, with Bobby Madden and John Beaton selected for the role.

Kevin Clancy (Dundee v Dundee Utd - 2nd January 2016)
Big games: Clancy has handled several Europa League matches as well as Dundee and Edinburgh derbies domestically (Picture from Sky Sports)

Clancy has encountered both sides once in league games this term – issuing seven yellows in Aberdeen’s goalless draw with Hearts in August and booking six players in Morton’s 2-1 victory over Dunfermline.

It will be his fifth League Cup tie of the campaign after Partick Thistle’s 1-0 win at Airdrieonians, Dundee’s 6-2 victory over Dumbarton, Alloa’s 1-0 success at Raith Rovers, and Celtic’s 5-0 win over Motherwell in the last 16 phase.

Overall, Clancy has brandished 54 yellow cards, sent off Kilmarnock’s Greg Taylor in their 1-1 draw with Rangers in August, and pointed to the penalty spot three times in 13 matches in all competitions.

Clancy first took up the whistle in 2000 and was admitted to the Scottish FA five years later before overseeing his first SPL match in 2012.

Such was his fast progression, he was even recognised by Fifa – one of seven currently from Scotland on the list – before his promotion to the top-flight had been confirmed.

Among Clancy’s other high-profile appointments was the Championship play-off semi first leg between Hamilton Accies and Falkirk in 2014 and Queen’s Park’s League One play-off second leg win over Clyde last term.

At Hampden, he will be assisted by Alastair Mather and Gordon Crawford, while Euan Anderson will be on electronic board duties as fourth official.

2014 winners Aberdeen have complained about the scheduling of the tie, with the lunchtime kick-off not giving enough time for their travelling support to make the trip from the north east.

Scottish Premiership: Fans tear into Willie Collum after Aberdeen penalty award

Controversial Euro 2016 whistler Willie Collum incurred the wrath of Kilmarnock fans after giving Aberdeen a dubious penalty for the opening goal in Saturday’s 4-0 win at Rugby Park.

Willie Collum referee (Motherwell v Celtic - 9th April 2016)
Meeting: It was Collum’s second encounter with Aberdeen this season after their goalless draw with St Johnstone on the opening weekend (Picture from Sky Sports)

Notoriously card-happy and not one to shy away from a big decision, Willie Collum is no stranger to controversy. 

And Scotland’s Euro 2016 referee found himself in the spotlight again on Saturday after a penalty award which had more than a hint of contention about it.

Kilmarnock were containing Aberdeen well until the 25th minute of their Scottish Premiership encounter at Rugby Park when Killie keeper Jamie MacDonald and Dons playmaker James Maddison came together.

On first viewing, it seemed MacDonald had been fouled by Maddison, losing the ball from his grasp before the slightest of contact sent the on-loan Norwich man to the deck.

Many home supporters expected a free-kick for their side, but were left aghast when Collum pointed to the spot and booked MacDonald to boot.

It allowed Adam Rooney to send the keeper the wrong way from 12 yards and gave the Dons the platform to a comfortable 4-0 victory in Ayrshire, with Rooney scoring later after strikes from defenders Andy Considine and Ash Taylor.

It was a tough decision for Collum to make, with the incident happening at such a fast pace, but he wouldn’t find much sympathy on social media as Scottish football followers roundly condemned the call…

What do you think? Vote in the poll below…

Religious Education teacher Collum, 37, has now brandished 42 yellow cards, sent off two players and awarded four penalties in 12 games in all competitions this season.

Scottish Premiership: Late drama as Aberdeen see off Rangers

Substitute James Maddison’s stunning free-kick gave Aberdeen a dramatic late win over rivals Rangers at Pittodrie in the first meeting of the sides since 2012.

  •  First meeting of the bitter rivals since January 2012
  •  Sub Maddison strikes stunning free-kick in 90th minute
  •  Andy Halliday penalty cancels out Jonny Hayes opener
  •  Only Aberdeen’s second win over Rangers in 14 meetings
  •  Rangers only scored seven league goals in as many games

tunnel
Return: Rangers had won on their previous three trips to Pittodrie but couldn’t do the same as the bitter rivals renewed acquaintances (Picture from Sky Sports)
JAMES Maddison’s stunning late free-kick gave Aberdeen a dramatic victory over Rangers in a pulsating first meeting between the rivals for almost five years.

After a first half lacking in goalmouth action, the returning Jonny Hayes struck 22 seconds into the second period with a composed finish for the Dons.

He turned from hero to villain for tugging back Rangers captain Lee Wallace in the box, allowing Andy Halliday to superbly convert a 79th minute penalty.

But, in the 90th minute, substitute Maddison stepped up to produce a sumptuous effort from 22 yards, which flew past Wes Foderingham into the top corner.

A third successive win in all competitions lifts Derek McInnes’s team up to second place – four points behind leaders Celtic, who came from behind to thrash Kilmarnock 6-1 on Saturday.

But Rangers boss Mark Warburton was furious with the award of the decisive free-kick – when James Tavernier was booked despite appearing to poke the ball away from Hayes – and angrily confronted referee John Beaton on the pitch after the full-time whistle.

It leaves the Gers seventh in the table with nine points from seven league games – in which they have conceded the first goal in five of them.

But despite a respectable display and his side boasting 63 per cent possession, Warburton must be concerned as their winless run in the Scottish Premiership stretches to four games.

Nevertheless, it was a fantastic spectacle for the neutral – featuring nine yellow cards – as a long-awaited first meeting since January 2012 saw one of Scottish football’s most bruising rivalries renewed.

As predicted, there was a frantic and fast tempo to the opening exchanges in front of a near full house at Pittodrie, with both sides – who reached the Betfred Cup semi-finals in midweek – taking time to settle into a rhythm.

Harry Forrester’s shot deflected behind by Anthony O’Connor before an Adam Rooney effort at the other end was blocked by Danny Wilson – illustrating both sets of defences were on top in the first period.

The first flashpoint took 10 minutes to arise when Joe Garner took offence to a foul on him by O’Connor, but referee Beaton handled the situation well, reminding them in no uncertain terms who was in charge.

A lack of control early on was emphasised by Garner’s needless sliding challenge on Hayes, which earned him a yellow card.

The ex-Preston striker made his presence felt throughout and he should have done better when heading Tavernier’s delightful cross over the crossbar on 17 minutes.

Rangers – backed by almost 2,000 fans for their first trip to the Granite City since 2011 – enjoyed 61 per cent of possession in a first half during which they were increasingly dominant.

Tavernier’s free-kick from 20 yards couldn’t a way past the Aberdeen wall before Joe Lewis was required to make an excellent save, scampering across his goalline after Garner’s wayward shot looped up off Shay Logan’s foot and was bound for the bottom corner.

Jason Holt – on his 50th Rangers appearance – rifled a half volley straight at Lewis after Garner missed his kick from Tavernier’s cutback before Barrie McKay curled off target on his right foot.

Aberdeen sat deep for long periods and struggled to carve out any kind of chances, with a Kenny McLean drive tipped over superbly by Foderingham the closest they came.

But after a first half lacking in goalscoring opportunities, the second period exploded into life as the Dons – who introduced Maddison for Peter Pawlett at the interval – drew first blood in no time at all.

A simple long ball forward by Lewis was flicked on by Rooney into the path of the onrushing Hayes, who easily escaped the Rangers defence to slot underneath Foderingham.

The Gers mustered a positive reply as Halliday’s free-kick flashed across the face of goal and drifted wide, before Wallace fired over from range but an effective end product continued to desert them.

Waghorn, fresh from a hat-trick against Queen of the South on Tuesday, then scooped over inexplicably from six yards after McKay’s cutback caught Garner by surprise.

Aberdeen largely offered a sporadic threat on the counter thereafter but remained a solid unit to thwart the Gers, who sent on Niko Kranjcar and Michael O’Halloran in place of Forrester and Waghorn.

Hayes got clear again down the left and his low effort was denied by Foderingham at the near post, after the Dons soaked up a sustained period of pressure.

But the Irish winger was at fault after bringing down the marauding Wallace, who was released in behind by substitute Kenny Miller.

It gave Rangers fan Halliday the chance to step up and send Lewis the wrong way from the spot, for his second goal in as many games.

From then on, Aberdeen pressed for a winner and, as the end of normal time approached, 19-year-old Maddison supplied it in dramatic fashion with the deadliest of free-kicks – surely a goal of the season contender.

Rangers desperately tried to respond but time was against them as they suffered their second league defeat of the season, while the Dons recorded a first win over the men from Govan since 2009.

James Maddison
Catching the eye: The on-loan Norwich midfielder scored for the second successive league game after netting in last Sunday’s 3-1 win at Dundee (Picture from Sky Sports)
Aberdeen 2 (Hayes 46′, Maddison 90′)
Rangers 1 (Halliday 79′ pen)


TEAMS:

Aberdeen XI
Four changes: Mark Reynolds, Adam Rooney, Jonny Hayes and Peter Pawlett came in for Ash Taylor, Jayden Stockley, James Maddison and Wes Burns (Picture from Sky Sports)
Substitutes:  Maddison (on for Pawlett 45′), Burns (on for McGinn 78′) and Taylor (on for Rooney 90+1).
Not used:  Alexander (GK), Storey, Storie, Stockley.
Booked:  Hayes, McLean, Shinnie, Reynolds, O’Connor

 

Rangers XI
Four changes: Lee Wallace, Wes Foderingham, Harry Forrester and Barrie McKay replaced Lee Hodson, Matt Gilks, Niko Kranjcar and Michael O’Halloran (Picture from Sky Sports)
Substitutes:  Kranjcar (on for Forrester 63′), O’Halloran (on for Waghorn 69′) and Miller (on for Garner 77′).
Not used:  Gilks (GK), Hodson, Senderos, Dodoo.
Booked:  Garner, Wilson, Kranjcar, Tavernier


MATCH OFFICIALS:

John Beaton referee
Mixed: Beaton started the game well and was on top of most things but was often too quick to issue cards and shouldn’t have awarded the decisive free-kick late on (Picture from Sky Sports)
Referee: John Beaton – 7/10
Assistant referees: Dougie Potter and Andrew McWilliam
Fourth official: Don Robertson

Attendance: 19,263


REACTION:

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes:

Derek McInnes
Second time: The former Rangers midfielder’s only previous win over the Gers as a manager came in a 4-1 success with St Johnstone in 2010 (Picture from Sky Sports)
“It was a sensational winner. The players fought hard for that. First half, I was really annoyed with how we played. Getting the [Jonny Hayes] goal gives the players that belief and confidence to go and get the win. They [Rangers] get a lifeline with the penalty kick. Wee James [Maddison], what a free-kick. We should be shouting from the rooftops with how good that is. We deserved the three points.”

Mark Warburton
Crucial decision: Warburton felt the referee handled a difficult game well before awarding the free-kick which allowed Maddison to struck a memorable winner (Picture from Sky Sports)
Rangers boss Mark Warburton:

“We dominated the ball first half completely but went in at half-time frustrated it was 0-0. We gave away a schoolboy goal and for three or four minutes we looked a bit rocky. We lost our composure then got the ball down, then played. We got our rewards via the penalty and I thought there was (only) one team in it. I said to (assistant) Davie Weir we’d be frustrated to only get a point here when we have come and delivered a really good performance. I am never happy to drop a point, never mind three. I will be careful what I say about the free-kick. Everyone saw the ball move. The fourth official on the sidelines saw the ball move and made a comment. And yet a free-kick is given.”

Rangers striker Joe Garner told the club’s official website:

“We’re obviously very disappointed. I think the first half we played very well and over the last couple of games we have played well but we need to start picking up points now. You could say that we dominated or that we were the better side but that happens in football. We just have to try to take our chances and be positive.”

Scottish Premiership Preview: Aberdeen v Rangers

After the excitement of the Old Firm, another of Scottish football’s bitter feuds is back as the two rivals hoping to compete for Celtic’s crown meet at Pittodrie for the first time in five years.

aberdeen-v-rangers-21st-sept-2016
Best of enemies: Aberdeen and Rangers have revelled in some unsavoury confrontations in the past but this season’s encounters may prove to be more friendly affairs (Pictures BBC/Sky Sports)

ONE of Scottish football’s most intense feuds resumes this weekend after being put on hold for four years.  

Regarded by many as the next best thing to the Old Firm, Aberdeen against Rangers has often been a fiery fixture, which embodied the competitive edge to the former Scottish Premier League era.

With the Dons rediscovering their form in last week’s classy come-from-behind win at Dundee, Derek McInnes’s side will be primed to take on a beleaguered Gers side who have endured a difficult start to their long-awaited Premiership return.

A tough fortnight on the pitch, which saw the Glasgow side unravel at Celtic Park before failing to find a way past Ross County, has deepened off it with the implosion of the banned Joey Barton creating an unnecessary distraction.

The outspoken Englishman’s latest outburst seemed to have proved detrimental to both his career and Rangers’ season, but the experienced midfield man – now the subject of a betting investigation – has vowed to fight back.

The fiasco could not be more welcome or ideal, during a period in which the Gers have only won one of their last four games – and, even more worryingly, look disjointed and defensively frail.

But their regular League Cup keeper Matt Gilks, a former team-mate of Barton’s at Burnley, took to the media to insist it hasn’t unsettled the squad or affected their match preparations.

After breezing past Queen of the South with their best display of the season to set up an Old Firm clash in the Betfred Cup semis, under-fire boss Mark Warburton will hope a sense of normality has been restored ahead of Sunday’s testing trip to Pittodrie – an experience former Gers captain Barry Ferguson admitted he didn’t enjoy during his playing career.

Although their last meeting produced a tepid 1-1 draw at Ibrox in January 2012, there is a certain nastiness to this particular rivalry, which is steeped in tradition as well as controversy.

This was emphasised in a typically bruising encounter in October 2011, the last time the men from Govan made the trip to the north-east, when Kyle Lafferty’s clinical finish and a Nikica Jelavic penalty helped the Gers to a 2-1 victory, putting them in firm control in the title race.

rangers-fans-leave-celtic-park-early-old-firm-derby-10th-sept-2016
On the road: Rangers fans have seen their side win only one of their three away league games so far this season – a 2-1 victory at Dundee last month (Picture from Sky Sports)

But neither have fully established themselves as pacesetters having opened the campaign in stuttering fashion, punctuated by glimpses of brilliance and moments of madness in equal measure.

Heading into the seventh round of matches, both sides are adjacent in the table with almost identical records – fourth and fifth respectively, with two wins, three draws and a defeat from six league games.

Aberdeen had a more difficult route than Rangers into the League Cup’s last four, as recently as Thursday night, with Adam Rooney’s 90th minute header the difference against a stubborn St Johnstone.

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Mixed: Although Aberdeen are unbeaten at home in seven games in all competitions this term, the Dons have won only one of their three league games at Pittodrie so far (Picture from Sky Sports)

It extended the Dons’ steady but unspectacular opening to the campaign but – like the Gers – their only domestic defeat thus far has come at Celtic Park, with Aberdeen on the end of a similar resounding loss at the end of August.

The Scottish Premiership’s marquee clash of the weekend is expected to be played in front of a sell-out Pittodrie crowd as well as the Sky cameras for what should be a Sunday lunchtime to savour (KO 13:00 BST).

And both the Dons and the Gers will be desperately hoping for the win which would provide a psychological boost to their faltering bids in challenging champions Celtic.

While, from the neutral point of view, it has all the ingredients of a classic.


POSSIBLE LINE-UPS:

Aberdeen

aberdeen-xi

Rangers

rangers-xi


TEAM NEWS:

lee-wallace-before-ko-v-alloa-23rd-april-2016
Ready to return: The 29-year-old, Rangers’ longest serving player having joined in 2011, is expected to slot back in after missing the midweek League Cup tie (Picture from Sky Sports)

Aberdeen skipper Ryan Jack will be sidelined once again as he continues to recuperate from knee surgery.

Winger Jonny Hayes missed Thursday’s League Cup tie against St Johnstone after sustaining a hamstring injury in the warm-up but the Irishman expects to be fit to face the Gers.

Rangers captain Lee Wallace should return at left-back after being rested for Tuesday’s League Cup tie against Queen of the South.

Andy Halliday, who described taking over the armband in midweek as “one of the proudest moments of my career”, is set to continue in midfield with Barton – the man he had a training ground row with last week – suspended by the club for three weeks.

Kenny Miller will be included in the squad, despite being arrested in connection with an alleged disturbance at a restaurant, but Jordan Rossiter remains unavailable with a calf strain.

Matt Gilks was in goal against the Doonhamers in midweek but is set to return to the bench, with Wes Foderingham likely to come back in.


MATCH OFFICIALS:

John Beaton referee (Hibernian v Rangers - 1st November 2015)
Top-flight: Former press officer and Euro 2016 additional assistant referee Beaton will take charge of his fourth Premiership game of the season (Picture from Sky Sports)

Referee: John Beaton
Assistants referees: Dougie Potter and Andrew McWilliam
Fourth official: Don Robertson

Fifa official Beaton, 34, has already had some eventful games and controversial moments so far this season – giving 11 yellow cards and a penalty for a dive, three penalties in 45 minutes, booking two players for diving in the same game and sending a manager to the stands for sarcastically applauding a decision.

But the Lanarkshire whistler will be hoping for a quieter afternoon in arguably his biggest match of the campaign so far – and his first between Aberdeen and Rangers.

You can read more about Beaton’s appointment here.


MEMORABLE MEETING:

Aberdeen 2 (Vernon 10′, Maguire 30′, 87′ sent off)
Rangers 3 (Miller 34′ pen, 52′, Jelavic 67′)
September 2010, SPL, Pittodrie

It was another early-season showdown at Pittodrie which produced one of the most thrilling games between these bitter rivals in recent times.

Reigning champions Rangers looked on course to suffer their first defeat of the season when Scott Vernon and Chris Maguire fired the Dons into a 2-0 lead inside half-an-hour.

But Kenny Miller, currently in his third spell with the Ibrox club, continued his excellent form at the start of the campaign by first converting a controversially awarded penalty before blasting home his second to level the scores.

Nikica Jelavic notched the winner midway through the second half and Aberdeen’s Maguire saw red late on as the Gers moved above Celtic at the top of the SPL on goal difference, with both sides winning their first six league games.

You can read more about the match here.


HEAD TO HEAD:

Despite the lack of meetings in recent years, Rangers have found life difficult in the Granite City over the last decade.

However, the Gers have won on their last three visits to Pittodrie, but have had to overcome obstacles along the way and come from behind in games.

Aberdeen haven’t beaten Rangers since a 1-0 success at home in November 2009 – surviving the dismissal of captain Mark Kerr to earn three deserved points in the SPL through Lee Miller’s early goal.

But in the subsequent seven meetings, it’s been tight every time but the Gers have won on six occasions – albeit only by a one or two-goal margin.

Indeed, other than SPL games, the sides haven’t crossed paths in a cup competition since September 2004 when Rangers won 2-0 away from home in the League Cup.


BETTING ODDS:

There have been so many keenly fought encounters between the sides in times gone by – and the bookmakers expect this one to be no different.

It’s a difficult one to call and the odds make it no easier to make up your mind if you fancy a flutter.

Aberdeen are favoured to win at 13/8 by SkyBet, sportingbet, Coral and betfair, while betway, BetBright, Marathon Bet and BoyleSports prefer Rangers to take three points at 8/5.

Perhaps the safest option is backing a draw – which is currently 12/5 with SkyBet, BoyleSports, BetVictor, Coral, Marathon Bet and 188Bet.

You can view a full list of winning odds here.


WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY:

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New battle: As was the case in the Old Firm derby, the two managers will come face-to-face in the dugout for the first time (Pictures BT/Sky Sports)

Rangers boss Mark Warburton has been criticised by many in recent weeks amid the latest turmoil to filter through Ibrox and the club’s inability to hit the ground running on their top-flight return.

Some have even called for his removal, with pundit Chris Sutton claiming Warburton is “arrogant” and has two games to save his job.

But the defiant former Brentford boss has shook off the haters and, after a shambolic display against fellow fierce rivals Celtic earlier this month, insists his players are ready for the challenge they face against the Dons.

He said: “They want to play in these type of games. It will be a 20,000 sell-out and an intimidating atmosphere and they will enjoy that. It has been five years since we have been up there. The fans are looking forward to it and so are the players.

“We are looking forward to the trip north. After what happened at Parkhead hard work is the only way of getting better.”

Opposite number Derek McInnes has questioned why his side have been given two days less to prepare for the game but insists the Dons will be at full strength and ready for Rangers.

Speaking after his team booked a League Cup semi spot against Morton, McInnes said: “We need a big effort from everyone for Sunday. It’s ridiculous that Rangers have 48 hours of extra recovery before a league game when there doesn’t need to be.

“Why our game was moved to the Thursday, I don’t get. But it is what it is – and we’ll be ready for them come Sunday.

“It will be a full house here, everyone wants to be involved in it. I think it’s a significant fixture on the calendar, Aberdeen against Rangers.

“It probably gets everyone fired up. They’re a good side, they had an impressive performance the other night.

“Rangers have got too much quality, having invested heavily in a squad that already looked good in the Championship, to consider them anything but a tough nut to crack. But we’re in good form. And tonight’s result helps.

“I don’t know about us being favourites. I can’t go and spend £2 million or £3 million and pay the wages they do. But we always feel we can win, especially at Pittodrie. Sunday is no different.”


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