It's Betfred Cup action for St Mirren tomorrow as we make the trip up the A90 to face Aberdeen in the last 16 of the competition.
HOW DID BOTH SIDES GET HERE?
The Buddies qualified from the Betfred Cup group stages for the first time since they began back in 2016 after Alan Stubbs' side finished second in Group H on nine points.
The campaign began with a trip to Rugby Park in mid-July to face Kilmarnock. Saints put in a good showing against Steve Clarke’s outfit but couldn’t find the breakthrough goal that would have given all three points. The game went to penalties with Paul McGinn, Hayden Coulson and Danny Mullen netting for The Buddies to earn a well-deserved bonus point.
Saints avoided a shock defeat at home to Lowland League side Spartans a few days later. The Edinburgh side scored either side of half-time to stun the home side. Captain Stephen McGinn, on as a substitute, pulled a goal back for Saints around the hour mark, with fellow substitute, Danny Mullen, scoring from the penalty spot with 15 minutes remaining to take the match to penalties. The Buddies scored all five from the spot to gain another bonus point.
A trip to Hampden was next for Alan Stubbs’ side to face Gus MacPherson’s Queen’s Park side. For the third game running Saints were taken to penalties following a 0-0 draw. A 5-4 win in the shoot-out gave St Mirren their third bonus point.
The Buddies closed the group strongly and emphatically to secure their place in the last 16. Six goals were put past visitors Dumbarton at the Simple Digital Arena with Hayden Coulson, Cammy Smith (two), Ross Stewart, Stephen McGinn and Jim Kellermann on the scoresheet. The margin of victory was enough to see Saints qualify as one of the best runners up.
This will be Aberdeen's first match in the Betfred Cup this season after missing out on the groups due to European participation.
Saints got the Ladbrokes Premiership season off to a winning start with Danny Mullen’s double giving The Buddies a 2-1 win over Dundee at the Simple Digital Arena on the opening day.
The Buddies then made a trip to Ibrox last Sunday to face Steven Gerrard’s Rangers. The Light Blues ran out 2-0 winners courtesy of goals from Alfredo Morelos and Connor Goldson.
Aberdeen’s season began with a Europa League tie against English Premier League cracks Burnley. The Dons impressed over the two legs, taking Burnley to extra time only to ultimately be edged out 4-2 on aggregate.
Their Premiership season began with a visit from Rangers. The Dons found themselves 1-0 down at half-time after James Tavernier's 30th minute penalty. With the game deep in stoppage time, Aberdeen levelled through teenager Bruce Anderson to take a point.
Gary Mackay-Steven’s second half penalty gave Aberdeen all the points last week when they took on Dundee at Dens Park.
PAST CUP MEETINGS
Saints last visited Pittodrie in January of this year when we were drawn with Derek McInnes’ Aberdeen in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup. The Dons ran out comfortably winners.
Adam Rooney opening the scoring from the penalty spot after just eight minutes before Ryan Christie doubled their advantage 12 minutes later. The Buddies pulled a goal back through Gavin Reilly, but Christie netted before half-time to restore The Dons’ two-goal cushion. Less than two minutes after the break, Gary Mackay-Steven scored a screamer to give Aberdeen a 4-1 win.
However, St Mirren’s last visit to Aberdeen in this competition was a memorable for those of a Black and White persuasion.
Saints looked to be heading through to the 2012/13 League Cup semi-finals with Sam Parkin and Kenny McLean scoring either side of a Scott Vernon goal having the visitors ahead. But in time added on, the Dons equalised through Josh Magennis. Neither side could grab a winner in extra-time and the game went to penalties.
As he has been so often for Saints, Craig Samson was the hero as he saved a then 16 year-old Cammy Smith’s penalty to send Saints on their way in a competition we would ultimately win that season.
Danny Rogers is unavailable for Saints tomorrow as he can’t play against his parent club. New signing Alfie Jones could be given a debut, while Adam Eckersley, Gary MacKenzie and Jordan Kirkpatrick all remain sidelined. It was also announced that Jim Kellermann has joined English side AFC Fylde on a season-long loan.
Aberdeen have had to deal with the loss of important players such as Adam Rooney, Anthony O’Connor, Greg Stewart and Ryan Christie. But McInnes has managed to bring in the likes of Lewis Ferguson, Chris Forrester and Dominic Ball, while James Wilson has joined The Dons on loan from Manchester United.