Aberdeen 3 Viking 2
Aberdeen youngster Marcus Campanile scored a last-minute winner to help the Dons to a 3-2 victory against Viking FK in an entertaining Energy Cities Community Cup encounter at Pittodrie last night.
The Dons, who won the inaugural contest 2-0 in Stavanger last year, took the lead six minutes before the break through defender Michael Hector but Trond Olsen restored parity almost immediately.
The Norwegians went in front after 52 minutes courtesy of an excellent finish by Benjamin Sulimani but young Dons midfielder Craig Storie equalised six minutes later. The Dons, who had not scored at home in three successive matches, won the trophy for the second time thanks to Campanile’s late strike.
Given Aberdeen’s recent struggles in cup competitions, it was perhaps no surprise that a good-sized crowd turned up to see the Dons have a rare chance to win some silverware on their own patch, although the added incentive of free entry on a sunny September evening may also have played its part in helping persuade a few more punters through the Pittodrie turnstiles.
Andrew Considine made his first start for the Dons since breaking his leg against Dundee in December last year with Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes opting to blend youth with experience for the friendly match.
Craig Murray, Jamie Masson and Storie gave the Dons supporters a glimpse of the future alongside the familiar faces of Scott Vernon, Jamie Langfield and Mark Reynolds, who captained the side in place of the absent Russell Anderson.
A minute’s silence was held prior to kick-off in memory of the four people who died in a helicopter crash in the North Sea last month.
The Norwegian side, currently fourth in the Tippeligaen, were missing three African players who were denied visas to come to Scotland for the match.
However, Kjell Jonevret’s side made a bright start to the match with Vidar Nisja feeding Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, who fired over from the edge of the area.
The visitors continued to look lively in the open-ing stages with Benjamin Sulimani sending Nisja through on goal but the forward was denied by a fine Langfield save.
The Dons had a goal disallowed when Peter Pawlett crossed for the unmarked Reynolds to head home before the omnipresent Nisja was denied by the post at the other end.
Nicky Low, partnering Storie in the centre of the Dons midfield, attempted to lob the Viking goalkeeper Arild Ostbo from 45 yards but his audacious effort sailed harmlessly over the crossbar. The hosts broke the deadlock in the 39th minute when the Viking defence failed to deal with a Gregg Wylde corner and, after a Considine shot had been cleared off the line, the ball fell kindly to Hector, who rifled the ball into the top corner from 12 yards out.
But the advantage lasted only four minutes when Olsen was played in on goal by Bodvarsson and clinically fired the ball beyond Langfield.
The Dons had an early appeal for a penalty waved away by referee Mat Northcroft when Pawlett fell to the ground in a collision with Ragnvald Soma.
However, it was Viking who netted a superb second after 52 minutes when a cleverly disguised pass released Sulimani, who neatly chipped the ball over Aberdeen’s substitute goalkeeper Danny Rogers.
The Dons levelled the scores six minutes later when Storie robbed Andre Danielsen of possession and advanced on goal unopposed before coolly slotting the ball past Ostbo.
A raft of substitutions from both sides meant the second period didn’t have quite the same ebb and flow to it as the first half.
McInnes introduced forward Lawrence Shankland, a summer acquisition from Queen’s Park, and Declan McManus, who took a short break from his loan spell at Alloa Athletic to turn out for his parent club.
But it was another substitute, Jonny Hayes, who almost netted the third with a venomous strike from distance that flew past the post.
McManus drew a smart stop from Viking substitute goalkeeper Christoffer Midboe Lunde before Considine, who had strolled through the match, was replaced by Scott Rumsby.
In the dying embers of the match, Campanile, who had only been on the pitch for five minutes, showed great awareness to latch on to a Wylde cross.
He then cut inside and dispatched a low left-footed shot into the net.