Feb 112013

The game was so drab that not even a proper match reporter would trouble themselves to dissect it minute by minute.  I’m only here to give you the general gist, says Voice reporter Andrew Watson, and the most I can say is that only refereeing decisions conspired to make this game even remotely as noteworthy as the goalless draw against Hibs the other week.

I can’t help but feel that the pitch, badly cut up from the Scotland game on Wednesday, was little excuse for the poor fare served up to fans.

The state of the pitch equally hampered the efforts of a high-flying St Mirren side, not just the Dons, and passes, both on the deck and in the air, were so off-target it beggared belief.

Just about the only player that merits mention, for the right reasons, is Buddies’ captain Jim Goodwin.

When Aberdeen were applying one of their few genuine periods of pressure, an incoming ball was swatted away by his diving header. A stunning sight to see. Talk about putting your body on the line. Even shoplifters wouldn’t evade his capture.

Immediately he was on his feet, castigating his defenders, urging and leading with an all-or-nothing attitude that no doubt inspired his teammates.

Unfortunately, Osbourne, the only Don showing a scintilla of that passion, was booked for his troubles. The fans were up in arms when he was shown yellow for an excellent tackle. He was deservedly declared man of the match.

It was hard to sympathise with Reynolds’ reckless shirt-pulling, for which the team would later pay a heavy price.

After the interval, Magennis replaced Robertson to spruce things up in 67 minutes. Hughes left the pitch at the 71 minute mark, with Vernon coming on. Reynolds was dismissed a minute later for deliberate handball.

Pawlett was then taken off for the equally youthful Smith, 75 minutes into the game. One questions the wisdom of replacing a relatively inexperienced youngster with another after losing an experienced player through a red card.

I kind of feel for Brown. Maybe he thought fresh young legs would inject the necessary urgency to nick a late goal. I sometimes wonder if he’s suffering as McGhee did, in that perfectly capable players just aren’t playing for him?

the team were last to just about every ball, shoved off it when in possession and outfought in the air

Anyway, it seemed that only refereeing decisions were uniting the fans behind the team. I don’t know if this is fans’ short-sightedness in ignoring poor form, or a level of loyalty unacknowledged by the press – quick to point out fair-weather support and poor Pittodrie attendances.

Referee John Beaton was pedantic in his pursuit of soft fouls and continuously stopped the flow of play. The best referees, as they say, strike a balance between letting play flow and maintaining discipline, but, hand on heart, he made bizarre decisions that angered both sets of fans throughout the 90 minutes

That is beside the point, though.  If the referee’s performance highlighted anything, it would be Aberdeen’s complete inadequacy against a very physical St Mirren side.

Although he did a bit to protect McGinn, the team were last to just about every ball, shoved off it when in possession and outfought in the air. They weren’t imposing in the box, and that’s why they didn’t score. Our players weren’t tall enough!

Would Goodwin’s last gasp dive to put the ball out for a corner earlier really have prevented a genuine goal scoring opportunity? At least he took no chances, unlike our favourite goalkeeper.

Credit to Jamie Langfield, though. He saved blushes late on with superb save, even enjoying a little bit of defensive luck when a teammate cleared the rebound. He then proceeded to try his damnedest to undo this, fluffing a pass back and nearly letting it roll over the line. Typical Dons!

He then got sarcastic cheers for actually making a connection, minutes later. Typical Red Army!

They were booed off the pitch, and quite right too.

Final score:  0-0.

Dec 162012

It is difficult to show more empathy towards  injury-stricken Dons when the fare on offer is as drab as this! Andrew Watson reports from Pittodrie.

The way things were going initially, it looked like this was heading towards a rather unremarkable 0-0 draw.

As it was though, we were served up controversy and bookings aplenty just on the edge of half-time as a Killie man came one on one with Langfield before being taken down.

Although he was the last man, a red card for Langfield seemed a bit harsh as the felled man was not exactly in the best of positions to score.

The weight of expectation fell on the shoulders of substitute keeper Brown, who came on for Fallon after 45 minutes to face the resultant penalty kick.

0-1 (Kelly) after 45 minutes.

Ignoring the fact they were a man and a goal down, it seemed a curious decision to take Fallon off the pitch.  Now, I must admit that I’ve given the Kiwi a hard time of late, but maybe his resurgence since scoring at Fir Park merited a longer stay on the pitch?

The only fault I could find with him is something I’ve observed throughout his stay at Pittodrie.  This is his propensity not to go for headers and try and win high balls that come towards him.  Why put a ‘big man’ at the top of the pitch if he doesn’t pose an aerial threat?

Back on for the second half, and the Dons were dominating possession.  Plenty of passing in and around the Killie box, but nothing incisive.

Magennis did manage to bundle it over the line, but was cautioned for his clash with the Killie keeper.  Masson then came on for Considine after 70 minutes.

It wasn’t the Dons’ day as the same Ulsterman rocketed a high ball towards goal.  We hoped for a miracle earlier, and that Brown would save the penalty.  Maybe the ball would burst the roof of the net?  Not a chance, the ball smacked right off the crossbar!

However, if every dog has its day, eventually, then the terrier-like efforts of Shaughnessy were applauded when he was replaced after 80 minutes.

He was the only good thing about this game, from an Aberdeen point of view.  He’s in the mould of Ryan Jack, but surprisingly silky and a bit taller.  That can only be a good thing, as a defender!  Youth replaced youth as McManus came on for Shaughnessy.

Six minutes later, the Rugby Park men then got away on the break and cut the ball back across the mouth of the Dons goal.  The ball was expertly dispatched.

0-2 (Kelly) after 86 minutes.

To be honest, the angle available to the scorer favoured Brown more than anyone else.  Would Langfield have got a touch to it?  Who knows, and truth be told, who cares?

Well, some of the Main Stand faithful did.  They remained adamant the delivery into the box was received from an offside position.

Perhaps they were right.  I noticed a tendency of our back four to try and spring the offside trap upon wayward attackers prior to this point in the game.

No joke, I spent many moments earlier thinking ‘what if the next time, they put their hands up for offside, and neither the referee nor linesman agree?’

Anyway, it came to fruition and I have no reason to be smug.  Why would I be when it’s at the expense of my own football team?

Another rather annoying tendency also became apparent.

Perhaps after realising that plenty of possession in and around the penalty area without forward motion was pointless, they changed tack  and began lumping the ball forward in hope of that elusive long ball that would unlock Killie’s back four.

Unfortunately these balls were lacking in accuracy, and very disappointing to watch.

It’s therefore I admit, in a rather shamefaced manner, that I couldn’t wait for the game to end.  When they announced four extra minutes I could have cried.

Final score:  0-2.

As I have previously expressed, I worry what will happen to the Dons when Fraser leaves.  They’ll really have to rethink tactics to salvage this season.  When you lose a player with so much creativity, coupled with the frustrating inconsistency of fellow wingers like Hayes, attacking plans go out the window.

I remain convinced any victory gained in Fraser’s absence will come out of dogged endeavour rather than the skill and incision he brought to the fore.

Dear Santa, a Scottish Cup – against all odds – for Aberdeen, please?

Dec 032012

I know I should perhaps show more empathy towards my injury-stricken Dons, but I felt at times they were hopeless if not gutless, reports Andrew Watson, from snowy Pittodrie.

The laughs came thick and fast, and often they were at the expense of my own team. What can I say? I wasn’t brought up on a diet of Scottish Cup and League Cup victories, let alone title wins and raids on European football’s superpowers.

You could say I revel in mediocrity, if not utter shambles. Sometimes I actually find it funny.

Although the teams I can just about remember from the mid to late 90s were awful, they were full of hatchet men and gap-toothed tough guys who gave their all. Remember firebrand ginger Kiriakov spitting at the opposition, mad Deano and ‘old head’ Leighton? Only the likes of Jess and the late Zerouali ever provided a more cultured side to our game.

I fear that perhaps it’s gone too far the other way, now – passing the ball around on the edge of the box, pretending to be Arsenal, and a lot of smart footwork with little end product. Hardly anyone has the audacity to shoot from distance anymore, not even from just outside the box.

I was therefore more than pleased to rise to my feet early on in anticipation of lightning striking via a Hayes shot from far out. He’s good at his footwork, too. The ‘keeper was lucky!

As said, sometimes comedy was the only respite from an otherwise drab game, a damp squib, or rather a frozen one, until referee Willie Collum drew burning anger from fans. To those familiar with Collum’s reputation at Pittodrie, this didn’t take very long at all. His tendency to award soft fouls – often in favour of the opposition – and be card-happy is well known to most there.

You’ll understand why, then, a member of the honourable Lanarkshire press sitting beside me could barely contain himself. He looked on in wonder as a man spreading mirth and all-round festive cheer declared, ‘ET phone home’, but I couldn’t possibly comment on a match official’s personal appearance.

Tom Hateley, son of Rangers’ legend Mark, was getting a torrid time from the home support, too. Once again, de-tractors in red were ploughing (ha!) his downfall, but it had little do with his supposed lineage to a certain Germanic emperor of days gone by, forename Attila. This time it was donkey noises.

More than once he struck a crap corner, barely lifting them off the ground, let alone into the box.

Ironically, it was Jamie ‘Clangers’ Langfield who set the example of how his teammates should have been playing

The recurringly-disappointing Fallon, a far cry from the man who scored that volley against Hibs in the same competition last year, even fell on his arse mid-tackle. I laughed out of exasperation because this was typical of the fare being played out before me. Too often, players got in each other’s way, both at the back or in attack, and clashed.

Ironically, it was Jamie ‘Clangers’ Langfield who set the example of how his teammates should have been playing. He was head and shoulders above the rest, pulling off last-ditch miraculous saves. If he kept Aberdeen in the game at Easter Road last week, he certainly did the same here.

Half-time, and it was a goalless stalemate.

The only remarkable thing about the second half was the Motherwell goal. Pulling in from the wing, the Steelman cracked a 20-yard bolt towards the top right-hand corner. Unfortunately, the effort was beyond even the heroics of Langfield.

0-1 (Murphy) after 80 minutes.

Dead in the water; out of both cups. Well, we’re not going to win the League, are we?

Now here’s where it gets interesting.

Cue palpable relief ten minutes later when Aberdeen did something rather alien to themselves – the unexpected.  In two instances. Father-figure Anderson, defensive stalwart, was replaced by Cammy Smith after 88 minutes. Maybe the impetus for…..

…with barely a minute on the clock, Considine crossed the ball into Motherwell’s box with Niall McGinn rising to the occasion.

1-1 after 90 minutes!

Game over, thankfully. I couldn’t have been done with extra time. A replay it is, then.

It was an encounter similar, at least in outcome, to the 3-3 draw secured against the Fir Park side earlier in the season, when Magennis scored at the death.

How will this struggling team cope with a midweek game away from home, especially if injuries leave us with another makeshift side?  Hopefully progress delayed will be time made in re-instating some currently crocked players.

Final score:  1-1.

Nov 282012

Daylight robbery in Leith by the Dons this past weekend? They really pushed their luck, apparently. As much as they did against Butcher’s Highlanders? I doubt it. Aberdeen quite rightly didn’t secure any points this time. Match report by Voice’s man in the Pittodrie stand, Andrew Watson.

The Dons began the match with promise that surely must translate into securing pole position in the SPL? Not so. After an initial period of dominance, ex-Jag Hayes in particular running amok, it wasn’t to be.

Hayes’s prominence in the initial stages was a tad surprising, given his former teammates might have found his trickery predictable.

Maybe a sign of how far he’s come on? Perhaps, but his efforts and those of fellow Irishmen Magennis and McGinn weren’t enough to secure even a draw at home for the dismal Dons.

Without putting too fine a point on it, the period leading up to the Inverness goal was absolutely dreadful.

The Dons couldn’t pass and couldn’t shoot. Shoot? Fluffing the ball completely off-target would better describe it.

One Aberdeen player who shone in this period was the Kiwi Fallon, back in the first team after a respite. His determination was that of someone desperate to figure in Brown’s plans again – crunching tackles and chasing lost causes.

However, not being a marksman of the quality of McGinn, his lack of guile and opportunism really showed as Caley’s dopey keeper tempted fate in the extreme when, with the ball at his feet for an excruciating length of time, Fallon hardly mustered a jog to reach it.

It was about this time that Masson appeared to be chopped down in the centre of the park, with the referee urging play to continue. It was from there that Thistle surged forward to nick a very important goal. Masson had just replaced Clark on the half-hour mark.

0-1 (McKay ) after 36 minutes. Criminal!

At this point a rather perplexing contradiction materialised. Although they’d hardly come off the starting blocks until now, the team seemed suddenly shaken into shape. On the other hand, this was where I began to wonder why Fallon hadn’t been taken off. Only the most ardent of fans could defend his willingness to be on the wrong end of a tackle.

Anyway, with more than just the standard minute left until half-time, Aberdeen had ample opportunity to score. And they did, when Hayes’ sheer perseverance in the box pushed a dangerous ball across goal for Magennis to pounce and sidefoot it into the back of the net.

1-1 at half time. Phew!

You’re not famous anymore,’ the raucous men of Caledonian heartily sang. True, though you never have been and we’re back in the game!

In the build-up to the second half, yet another indecipherable tannoy message said something about the fourth official.  Or was it the referee? Something about the police looking for an errant linesman who’d parked his car in the wrong place, and that they were waiting for him at the tunnel?

Actually the referee had to come off after sustaining a calf injury and was replaced by an angry-looking, bald man.

Hurrah! All his decisions were going against the Dons, anyway. This guy had to be better!

The Dons’ management took the opportunity to augment the rather ropey-looking back three. Whether or not this made any difference wasn’t immediately obvious.

The Dons resumed with a barrage of attacks. Finally, Magennis caught a hapless Caley man on the turn and was left with only the ‘keeper to beat but, with the Caley no 1 closing him down fast, I didn’t think he’d be able to finish it.

Given the expert manner in which the ball was despatched into the bottom corner, however, I thought it was in fact McGinn who had scored. It was only later my dad, who’d been listening to the radio commentary, told me otherwise. Magennis’ movement, speed and delivery were uncanny.

2-1 after 50 minutes. Get in!

Unfortunately, Aberdeen then lurched into another period of shocking play. Defenders weren’t shutting down probing attackers, the midfield wasn’t dictating the flow. If I had to blame anyone it’d have to be Considine.

2-2 (Warren ) at the 58 minute mark.

…then I blamed Anderson.

2-3 (A second for McKay)

McManus on for Hayes, come 87 minutes. Caley then secured victory – and table-topping status – through Butcher orchestrating his troops carefully, and repeating this with the away crowd in a post-match singsong.

Final score:  2-3