Hibernian 1-0 Aberdeen: Williams the hero as Deegan’s strike wins game

Leigh Griffiths congratulates goalkeeper Ben Williams after the final whistle.
Leigh Griffiths congratulates goalkeeper Ben Williams after the final whistle.SNS Group

Gary Deegan scored his first ever goal for Hibernian as the Irishman's spectacular strike secured a win over Aberdeen which carried them into the quarter-finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup.

However, it was Easter Road goalkeeper Ben Williams who was the true hero for the hosts, producing five excellent second-half saves as well as plunging to parry away a late Scott Vernon penalty.

After a turgid first period, Hibs took control of the contest immediately after the interval, with Deegan producing a dipping swerving drive from distance to break the deadlock.

Aberdeen, roared on by a vociferous following from the north, produced a late rally, with Russell Anderson, Scott Vernon, Niall McGinn and Peter Pawlett all coming close, but Williams was in incredible form.

Even better was to follow from the big Englishman as he saved Vernon's spot-kick with six minutes to play - his fourth penalty save this season - after Jonathan Hayes had been clumsily felled by Hibs skipper James McPake.

Hibs manager Pat Fenlon made wholesale changes from the side which suffered a 1-0 defeat to Ross County in midweek.

David Wotherspoon, Alan Maybury, Paul Cairney and Ryan McGivern replaced Scott Robertson, Danny Handling, Eoin Doyle and the injured Tim Clancy.

Matthew Done, a deadline-day loan arrival from Barnsley, had to be content with a place on the bench.

Aberdeen arrived in Leith on the back of four winless Clydesdale Bank Premier League outings, but defending an unbeaten record against their hosts spanning three encounters this term.

Manager Craig Brown dropped Rory Fallon, Vernon and Josh Magennis in favour of Anderson, Rob Milsom and Jonathan Hayes.

With both sides lining up with fairly conservative 4-5-1 systems, the early stages were predictably cagey and shorn of clear opportunities.

An effort from distance from Maybury which skewed wide was the sum-total of the first-half action, although Clark Robertson flashed a similarly wayward drive over the bar.

Hibs emerged in the second half with far more attacking impetus and within minutes tested Jamie Langfield for the first- time, with Scotland international Leigh Griffiths whipping in a fine free-kick from out wide which had to be clawed from underneath the bar by the Dons goalkeeper.

The resulting Wotherspoon corner inadvertently struck Aberdeen full-back Robertson, and Hayes was forced to hook the ball off the line.

Hibs were cranking up the pressure as the contest finally sprung to life and, with 49 minutes on the clock, Deegan opened the scoring in stunning fashion, unleashing a ferocious right-footed shot from 30 yards which kissed the underside of the bar and nestled in the net.

Further efforts from Griffiths and McGivern followed as Fenlon's men peppered the visitors' goalmouth in a blistering opening 20 minutes of the second half.

Aberdeen finally found some attacking intent going into the final 20 minutes. Anderson, an unlikely source, fired in a good shot from distance which Williams had to parry over the bar.

Hibs introduced Done for his debut but it was Dons replacement Vernon who almost made a telling contribution.

The bustling striker latched on to an Anderson header across the face of goal but saw his effort from point-blank range clawed away.

Williams then made a laudable double-stop, saving a rasping Pawlett drive through a forest of legs with his feet, and managing to regain his balance swiftly enough to block Vernon's headed rebound.

And a man of the match display was crowned on 84 minutes. Hayes' jinking run into the box was cut short by McPake with an industrial shoulder-charge, prompting referee Iain Brines to point to the spot.

Vernon stepped up but, once again, there was only one winner in that duel as Williams pushed his effort on to the post.

Aberdeen's last chance came through McGinn but his shot from the edge of the box was saved by the superb Hibs custodian, ensuring Fenlon's men progressed to the last eight.