Dons roar into final

Peter Pawlett scored Aberdeen's second goal

Peter Pawlett scored Aberdeen's second goal

First published in National Sport News © by

Aberdeen's rejuvenation under Derek McInnes continued apace as a 4-0 victory over St Johnstone sent them into the League Cup final.

Jonny Hayes netted a double either side of strikes from Peter Pawlett and Adam Rooney to send the Dons into their first major final for 14 years, when they lost 4-0 to Rangers in the Scottish Cup final.

Aberdeen have suffered shock defeats against the likes of Queen's Park and East Fife in recent seasons, but McInnes has helped transform a poor cup reputation in his first full season as manager just as he looks certain to lead the Dons into the top six for the first time in five years.

Hayes opened the scoring in the third minute, although they had to withstand some concerted pressure before doubling their lead.

Aberdeen, roared on by more than three-quarters of the 16,761 capacity crowd at Tynecastle, threatened even before the opener when Steve Banks scooped over Rooney's shot following a Barry Robson cross.

The 41-year-old goalkeeper, who was continuing to deputise for the suspended and injured Alan Mannus, contributed to his side's early blow when he sliced a goal-kick 40 yards out on Aberdeen's right flank.

Rooney latched on to it and raced down the line before delivering a square ball that Hayes guided just past the outstretched hand of the keeper.

St Johnstone's response was as quick as Aberdeen's start. Stevie May was at the heart of some attacking moves, Nigel Hasselbaink was causing problems for right-back Shaleum Logan, who signed on loan from Brentford on Thursday, and Saints bombarded the Dons with a series of corners and free-kicks into the box.

But the Aberdeen defence stood firm, with captain Russell Anderson dominant in central defence.

St Johnstone eventually broke through when Lee Croft burst on to the ball after May had initially played through Gary McDonald, but Jamie Langfield got down brilliantly to push wide his powerful strike.

Aberdeen were struggling to relieve the pressure, but they broke away in the 32nd minute when Hayes won the ball from Croft and sprinted up the line.

The Irishman initially only had Niall McGinn for support and his crossfield ball was cut out. But Pawlett ran on to the clearance and burst into the box before squeezing the ball inside Banks' near post.

St Johnstone continued to press, but Aberdeen looked more assured, although Tommy Wright's men almost pulled one back six minutes into the second half.

Frazer Wright looped a header off the top of the bar from Croft's corner and McDonald's unconvincing follow-up was diverted wide.

Former Scotland striker Chris Iwelumo came on for his St Johnstone debut, but Aberdeen soon went further ahead in the 62nd minute following another counter-attack.

Pawlett dispossessed Dave Mackay 10 yards inside his own half and threaded a ball between the St Johnstone central defence for Rooney to chase.

The Irishman kept his composure and fired home from 18 yards to score his second goal in two games since his move from Oldham.

Aberdeen were now firmly in command and Andrew Considine headed off the bar before Hayes completed the rout in the 79th minute when he ran at the Saints defence and fired a left-footed shot into the bottom corner from 16 yards.

The Dons will now bid to extend their run in the William Hill Scottish Cup when they travel to Celtic Park next Saturday before playing the winners of Sunday's clash between Hearts and Inverness in this competition's final on March 16.

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