Apr 302017

By Red Fin Hall.

On a very chilly afternoon, Derek McInnes decided he would experiment with the team, knowing that a victory would all but secure the second top spot in the league.
He decided to play both Ryan Christie and Niall McGinn and opted for a back three of Ash Taylor ,Andy Considine and Shay Logan.

This also gave the opportunity for Kenny McLean to be pushed a bit further forward.

Almost from the kick off the defence was called into action when a slack pass by the sometimes shaky Taylor fell to Danny Swanson. The net result was the first corner of the game for the visitors.

Seven minutes in, a cross from probable future captain Graeme Shinnie fell into the path of forward Adam Rooney who deftly turned the ball goalwards, and only a timely intervention from keeper Alan Mannus prevented the Dons’ striker from scoring his twentieth goal of the season.

Referee, Alan Muir, set the tone of the game soon after by booking both Logan and Jonny Hayes, both of which possibly just merited a talking to.

Soon after this, he totally ignored the clash between Chris Millar and Christie, when the former deliberately and cynically pushed the Aberdeen player into the visitor’s dugout. Why the fourth official didn’t bring this matter to the attention of the man in charge is beyond me. Before he limped off injured, Millar again avoided punishment when he again showed the style of play that St Johnstone participate in, when he body checked Jonny Hayes.

This tactic had the desired effect though, as the Dons failed to adapt and found it hard at times, despite trying, to get back to their crisp, passing play that has seen them see off various pretenders this season.

The first half continued in the same vein, with too much midfield head tennis being played. Much to the dismay of the fans. Just before half time, the first real chance of the game fell to Aberdeen, when a pleasing early cross into the box by Hayes, found McLean running in behind the defenders. But the on form midfielder should have done so much better with his diving, unchallenged header, and the half ended goalless.

Half time: 0-0

Just into the second half, the home side should have took the lead when that man McLean again found himself with the chance to score. It came when a long free kick was received by Logan who passed the ball to the aforementioned midfielder. But, as was the character of his efforts today, it went over the bar for a goal kick to the team from Perth.

Next to break forward was the soon to be departing Ryan Jack, who played a fine ball to Rooney, who fired in a dangerous cross into the area, only to see Steven Anderson turn it past his own post for a corner.

The game was desperately in need of a change of direction

From the resulting corner kick by McLean, Mannus had to be sharp to deny Christie, and then the ball ended up at the feet of Taylor – another player that looks to be departing in the summer.

His shot was unsurprisingly way off target.

Not long after that, the ever willing McLean saw another of his efforts, this time from further out, go high, wide, and not at all handsome.

The visitors then had their first chances of the game when first of all their captain, Steven Anderson, headed inches wide from a free kick, and then the ever dangerous Swanson’s long range attempt went, thankfully, wide of the target.

With 60 minutes gone, a fine piece of play from Christie resulted in a good ball laid into the path of Jack. His shot was not the one to get the opener though.

The game was desperately in need of a change of direction, and when Jayden Stockley and future MK Dons player, Peter Pawlett, replaced Rooney and Christie the fans were hoping that they could do as they have done so often this season and grab the vital winning goals.

But this was not to be. Their fresh legs didn’t change the way of the pretty poor fare on display at all.

The opening goal came under pretty controversial circumstances with only ten minutes left to play. Joe Lewis parried a shot from Swanson. The ball fell to Jack who was only a couple of feet  away from the keeper on the left side of the goals in a crowded area. The captain should have just turned it out for a corner, instead he hesitated on the ball and touched it back to Lewis.

With the referee at close hand viewing the incident, he rightly awarded an indirect free kick, despite the player’s protestations, and later claiming he was nudged in the back causing his foot to move the ball, from where I sit, directly behind the goal, it saddens me to say, that this was one of the few decisions that wannabe-Willie-Collum referee Muir got correct.

Rarely does anybody score from an indirect free kick in such close quarters to the net, but the writing was on the wall when The Dons lined up as if they were defending a free kick from further out. Instead of crowding out the goal mouth as most teams do, the set up a small defensive wall, with Lewis crazily positioning himself just behind the wall, with one man on the back post.

Liam Craig noticed this calamitous set up, and squared the ball to Swanson, who tucked it away from a relatively tight angle into the gaping space at the back post.


Aberdeen had to then chase the game – a situation that would never have developed had they been more positive in their finishing, and three minutes later, the inevitable happened. Goal scorer Swanson passed the ball to young Craig Thomson, and he fired a perfect angled and executed shot past Lewis to increase their lead.


Another poor decision occurred over on the South Stand side when Stockley and a couple of St Johnstone players were involved in a nothing situation which very nearly got out of hand. They were all lying on the ground after a period of play, nothing really, but when they stood up goalscorer Craig got right into Stockley’s face in a very threatening manner. The tall Aberdeen forward held his hands up and backed away.

Craig didn’t give up trying to make something out of nothing, and when the Perth lad threw himself to the ground causing Stockley to fall over him as he walked away from the farcical episode, other players got involved. Instead of sending Craig off for simulation, referee Muir showed only a yellow card, then mysteriously issued the same to Stockley who had already calmly walked away from the melee.

The end couldn’t come quick enough for what was left of the poor 10,606 crowd, and when the final whistle went, we all bemoaned the fact that two home games in a row we have lost a game in a five or six minute second half spell to a lower placed team playing in blue.

It looks like our post  split season poor form continues. This time with only nine points separating us from the plucky newcomers, the last four matches are vitally important.

Final Score: 0-2

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Dec 112016

The second of three consecutive league matches at Pittodrie, saw St Johnstone make the short trip up from Perth. The Dons were hoping to continue the good showing from last Tuesday, but St Johnstone, a top six club, are a tougher nut to crack. By Red Fin Hall.

With Ryan Jack back from his one game, red card suspension, the manager made the strange decision to give him a start whilst leaving the ever present Shay Logan on the bench.

Jack slotted into right back, a position he played when he first came into the team. Peter Pawlett retained his place.

Referee Kevin Clancy got the game under way in front of a relatively small crowd at Pittodrie. 3 home games in the space of three weeks, especially at this time of year, and considering the economic climate, it can only be expected.

St Johnstone aren’t a great team, and probably would not survive anywhere else other than in Scotland, but their manager, Tommy Wright, sets them up, not to play football as a beautiful game, but to only make things difficult for their opponents. This they do well, hence their continuous top six position.

Within the first two minutes the home side were awarded their first free kick, which, when taken, went off the defensive wall and out of play.

In the 7th minute a cross, if that’s what it was, from Jonny Hayes went wide. Thus was a portend of things to come as the Dons, under challenges from the visitors, kept, through a series of mis-kicks and careless calls, losing possession.

The men from Perth were awarded their first free kick in 10 minutes, the resultant clearance from Graeme Shinnie fell to Hayes, who immediately lost possession. This was going to be a long afternoon.

The midfield battle was definitely going St Johnston’s way, as they closed Aberdeen down , but the men in red seemed content to back off.

The next Aberdeen player to appear uncomfortable was Jack, when he was dispossessed on the half way line. He won the ball back, but had to play it safe, and passed it all the way back to Joe Lewis in goal.

With 29 minutes in the clock, St Johnstone’s Murray Davidson had a touch go just wide. His team were having another spell of dominance.
One minute later, the Dons had some nice interplay, but Pawlett’s shot only resulted in a corner. From the corner Andrew Considine’s strong header went over.

On receiving a long pass, ex Don Ricky Foster set off on a run, but typical of the game, he ran the ball out for an Aberdeen goal kick.

Pawlett looked back to his old tricky self

Despite not being able to make any headway against the well drilled opposition, the Dons at least, on occasion, tried to play football.

Some nice play between Shinnie and Hayes, the latter not having one of his better games, ended up with Hayes hitting the ball a too long, which fortuitously found Nial McGinn. His pass to Shinnie was turned out for a thrown in. Recipient of the throw, McLean, wasted it by tapping it out for a goal kick.

Pawlett looked back to his old tricky self, when his shot from just outside the D went wide.

St Johnstone were dragging the Dons to playing the way they wanted too, and Aberdeen didn’t have enough savvy to stop them doing this. James Maddison, despite trying to utilise his obvious skills, was too easily knocked off his stride. Sometimes winning a foul, others by just bring you lightweight.

Neither side looked like they could find a way to put the ball into their opponents’ net; St Johnstone seemingly happy to accept a point, and AFC not having enough guile to find a way through.

The referee blew for half time as the home team made a rare foray into the goal mouth, but Pawlett’s shot troubled no-one.

Half time 0-0

Two second half a subs for Aberdeen saw Jayden Stockley and Shay Logan replace Pawlett and McGinn. The team then played a 4-4-2 formation to try and win the match.
But with Hayes not up to his usual high standard, and McGinn having yet another off form game before he went off, the end result was always going to be a goal less draw.

Despite Aberdeen stepping up the pace around the hour mark, and winning several set pieces, they all followed the pattern of most of the set pieces this season.

Joe Lewis had to be really sharp and pull off a fabulous save from a Steve MacLean shot, tipping it over the bar. Barring a great strike in the 87th minute from a David Wotherspoon free kick, which came off the inside of the near post, the ball stayed out, and the final six minutes, including three minutes stoppage time, petered out.

The fans went home feeling that a draw was maybe just about right, but the home fans were disappointed that the players didn’t manage to get a lot closer to The Rangers in second place.

Final score. 0-0

Next game Tuesday 13th Dec. Home to Motherwell.

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Sep 232016

By Red Fin Hall.

donsfansfinhallSince Aberdeen won the League Cup in 2014, their success in cup competitions has been non existent.

Tonight’s quarter final game against the team that they have had scant success of late, had the fans hoping that after their slow start to the season, they would follow up their away victory against Dundee with another emphatic victory.

A fine sunny day made conditions ideal for football. Aberdeen had planned lining up with two changes; with Stockley and Burns starting, and McGinn and Rooney on the bench, both of whom have been looking a bit tired in previous games.

But Hayes injured himself during the warm up giving McGinn a start.

Craig Thomson refereed this game, a game that was always going to be a close run thing.

Throughout the game Aberdeen tried their best to break down the resolute St Johnstone defence without giving keeper Zander Clark any saves to make. Saying that Joe Lewis in the home defence had nothing to do either. The first shot came from Shinnie after a Stockley cross, but it went well wide.

A crowd of around 9,000 saw four first half bookings, two each side, as both teams fairly evenly matched each other. Loan signing Maddison continued his flair playing as seen in the game against Dundee at the weekend, despite not getting enough of the ball.

Cup games under floodlights are the stuff that little boys, and girls, remember into their grown up years. This one however will not be one of them.

The tousy first half ended leaving the fans feeling a tad nervous, with the game having a no scoring draw written all over it despite a great ball in from Maddison to McGinn on the right wing, who crossed it to Burns who was running in. His shot went just past the post.

The visitors made their first substitution only three minutes into the second half, and they started off by going forward towards the Aberdeen goal, to no avail. The home team then set off on the attack, but that too petered out when a very poor Stockley ball fell woefully short of Logan and was easily tidied up the Perth men.

Meanwhile the signing section kept up their vocal encouragement to the accompaniment of their solo drummer.

In the 68th minute Wotherspoon had the ball in the back of the net, but, much to the relief of The Dons fans, he was clearly offside.

Aberdeen then made a double substitution, replacing Burns and Stockley with Pawlett and Rooney. The latter ‘s running in the opposition half made their defence work harder.

Five minutes from the end, St Johnstone were awarded a free kick 30 yards out. The same player who had the ball in the net, Wotherspoon, took the kick, which went over the wall and was heading for the net were it not for a remarkable save from Aberdeen’s number one, who deflected it onto the crossbar. The ball bounced back into play, and Ash Taylor cleared.

On the 90 minute mark, Shinnie made a run down the left, all but ignoring the three defenders covering him, he crossed the ball into the box in front of the home fans in the Richard Donald Stand to find the head of Rooney who directed the ball into the net.


The resultant jubilation was tinged with a fair dose of relief. The visitors pressed hard in the couple of minutes added on, but the men in red fought even harder to hold onto their lead.

St Johnstone, up until that point were seemingly content with a draw, and were totally deflated when the final whistle blew denying them extra time.

Aberdeen now go on to play Morton in the semi final,who incidentally, were the first professional club that manager Derek McKinnes played for.

Two footnotes from the game.

Before the game Willie Miller was pulling into the club car park to do his Radio Scotland duties. The lady on duty, trying to be helpful, asked him,

“Have you been here before? Do you know where you are going?”

After the whistle had gone and the teams were in their respective dressing rooms, some of the away team took exception to the loud, celebratory music emitting from the home dressing room, ( the door was open), and went and shut the door. Some home players took exception to that, and a minor altercation took place.

The next match is Sunday 25th with The Rangers being the visitors.

Oct 042015

When Aberdeen clawed one back it looked to be an exciting game ahead, but they went on to lose heavily to St Johnstone, reports Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

merkalndpic2It was notable that ex-Don Joe Shaughnessy didn’t receive a frosty reception when his name was called out for the starting eleven. Maybe he enjoyed a level of anonymity only finally unveiled when he scored that second goal, mind.

The first came only after five minutes. To be fair, it was a good diving effort by keeper Danny Ward.

He dived full body, the goal seemingly passing between his two outstretched hands.

0-1 (Brian Easton).

The aforementioned shocker delivered by ex-Red Shaughnessy came only five minutes later. It was from close range and unceremonious, amidst a busy penalty box.


Thankfully Aberdeen quickly got one back, and all didn’t seem so lost anymore. Saints’ keeper fumbled the ball for a corner. Big man Ashton Taylor leapt for a powerful header 12 minutes in.


After this both teams came close to scoring, and just over fifteen minutes later the Perth men capitalised on yet another chance.

1-3 (Liam Craig) after 30 minutes.

It’s around about this time that the game began to get a little bit bad tempered.

Aberdeen captain Ryan Jack was seen in a spat with a couple of Saints’ players, who were doggedly setting about play when the ball had already gone out for a throw in. Then there was a free kick.

The Pittodrie side just couldn’t cut it. The opposition, if defending in their box, were the first to every ball; out of any danger.

There’d been a lot of action, so this necessitated an extra minute’s play at the end of the first half.

During the interval it was telling the Red Army were in no singing mood, and the expected response of Peter Pawlett Baby to Human League’s Don’t You Want Me Baby never came.  Instead, they were immersed in the walking football half time entertainment.

They also had little truck for Danny Cool, adapted from Boney M’s Daddy Cool. Apparently this is a tribute to the cool head of Danny Ward. Maybe lack of reciprocation was to do with the fact he was having a stinker.

And it was to get worse, too.

The Dons defence had barely kicked off for the second half when ex-Dandy Steven MacLean was allowed to sneak a weak header which only just bobbed over the line.

1-4 two minutes into the second half.

Aberdeen made their first change 49 minutes into the game, with Pawlett replaced by David Goodwillie.

Probably the most satisfaction the Pittodrie faithful had was when the McDiarmid Park men blootered the ball for a rugby conversion.

That was short lived when MacLean nicked his second of the game. The crowd had already given up a goal prior, but this was now desolation.

1-5 after 51 minutes.

The away support were in raptures, even cheering every successive pass their team made.

To rub salt into the wounds Aberdeen then missed a sitter.

Aberdeen made their final change 67 minutes into the game, with Barry Robson replacing Kenny McLean; and Jonny Hayes replaced by Scott Wright.

These changes made little difference and Aberdeen would’ve had the fans going absolutely ballistic at them for their lack of urgency, had one of the Saints’ not had to be taken off.

There were further derisive cheers from the home crowd when St Johnstone’s Simon Lappin was booked.

Goal number six almost arrived when Ward spilled the ball, but he was saved embarrassment.

It was actually surprising the lack of response there was when ex-Aberdeen MacLean came off to be substituted. Perhaps they were now beyond caring. Aberdeen had one last close chance, and that was it. Finished.

The only other incidents of note were Graeme Shinnie gesturing to the linesman about a perceived infringement, and a very frustrated Robson booting the ball off the roof of the Main Stand at the final whistle.

Final score:  1-5.

May 252015

Saints super sub Chris Kane was the difference between the two sides in the final Pittodrie fixture of the season, opines Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

merklandandrewFine weather promised to make the pairing a fair and even contest.

However, Derek McInnes’ generosity in awarding starts for departing Nicky Low and Joe Shaugnessy conspired to make his gentlemanly gesture look disrespectful to the visitors.

A hard working and stubborn St Johnstone side gave as good as they got, but had retiring Dons captain Russell Anderson been the only nominal addition to the starting eleven things could’ve panned out much differently.

However, this second string Reds team went close a few times, usually with winger Jonny Hayes being the common denominator in any given attack.

One can’t help but ponder, though, what could’ve been.

What if they had the attacking defensive play of Shaleum Logan? What if they had the as of late midfield command and dead ball specialty of Barry Robson?

What about the man who needs no justification, Adam Rooney?

None of these three were even on the bench.

Moving on, two minutes into the second half, Lawrence Shankland came on for Low.

56 minutes in, defender Mark Reynolds came off the pitch replaced by young gun Scott Wright. The latter was a pleasure to watch and wasn’t afraid to take anyone on.

0-1 (Kane) after 70 minutes. The substitute helped instigate the attack, scoring instantly.

Ten minutes later, Frank Ross replaced Cammy Smith.

It was gutting to see off Anderson in such a way, in a match they really should’ve been able to turn out positively, especially given that it was a home game.

I dare say Low served his purpose last season, but I am genuinely sad to see Shaughnessy move on, who I’ve always considered a solid player with an authoritative stature ideal for the Scottish game.

Final score:  0-1.

Jan 022015

merkalndpic2League Cup holders Aberdeen faced Scottish Cup holders St Johnstone, reports Voice’s Andrew Watson.

The Dons got off to a flying start 6 minutes into the game, with Niall McGinn chipping the ball to find David Goodwillie.  He chested it before setting himself up for a spectacular overhead kick.

1-0 Aberdeen!

Peter Pawlett also struck the net soon after, but was denied a goal after officials deemed that Goodwillie had handled the ball in the lead up.

What followed was somewhat frustrating to watch. The home side, despite their dominance in the opposition’s box, couldn’t capitalise on their attacking play.

The visitors, however well they pinned back the Reds in their own half from time to time, lacked the incision to take that momentum into dangerous areas.

Goodwillie and Pawlett were then substituted on the 76 minute mark, replaced by Lawrence Shankland and Cammy Smith.  Aberdeen then made their third and final change after 80 minutes. This was to take off McGinn and bring on Jeffrey Monakana.

It looked to be another tense one nil victory on the horizon, but Adam Rooney took McGinn’s role of provider unto himself to deliver a ball to the feet of Smith.

2-0 Aberdeen two minutes into the three minutes of injury time!

It’s refreshing to see Aberdeen spurn their recent identity as one of a team that grinds out results, often making the football less pleasing to watch. Goodwillie’s goal was also overdue, given his stature and potential.

Final score:  2-0.

May 122014

merkalndpic2All Aberdeen needed to secure second place and a good crack at the Europe League was a draw, but this was snatched from them in the dying seconds of the game, reports Andrew Watson.

It was a wet affair, and some players losing their footing on the pitch was testament to that.
Motherwell fans were rowdy throughout, and let fly silver streamers onto the pitch at kickoff.

The Reds had a large chunk of the possession and the most chances on goal, but never quite had the precision to finish the job.

Things really only changed when the Steelmen brought on James McFadden after 76 minutes.

That said, Peter Pawlett had a clear cut chance chalked off for offside. However, seconds from the death, Motherwell whipped in a free kick that eluded Jamie Langfield.

Upon closer inspection, it looked as if he were barged off the ball. Russell Anderson made a vital clearance off the line, but this came to no avail on account of the rebound.

The ball then somehow crossed the line. Dejection.

0-1 (Craig Reid).

They feasibly had one last chance at attack to level the game, but time, and what little of it, was of the essence. As the ball approached the final third, the game was over.

Aberdeen still has a Europa League place, but it’s been a somewhat frustrating end to the season, especially since they missed out on that Scottish Cup Final spot.

Having beat champions Celtic on the way there, it was considered a formality that they’d at least make an appearance on May 17.

Saying that, although missing out on second place is gutting, it’s a fair few years since they last finished in the top three; let alone the top six!

Final score:  0-1.

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Apr 282014

merkalndpic2A practically full strength Aberdeen side struggled make an impact in a rather torrid game, notes Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

It was a misty day with not too bad a wind blowing. Dons fans in the South Stand unfurled a banner simply stating ‘Derek McInnes Manager of the Year’.

It didn’t take long to break the deadlock.

Clark Robertson made a poor pass back trying to find Mark Reynolds and the Saints jumped at the opportunity.

0-1 St Johnstone (Stevie May) on the 8 minute mark.

It was twenty three minutes later before Aberdeen suitably responded. A similar mistake was made in the McDiarmid Park men’s box and Adam Rooney leapt to beat the keeper, coolly knocking the ball into the net.


Barry Robson came on for Clark Robertson come 57 minutes. Peter Pawlett then came off for Cammy Smith eleven minutes later.

Aberdeen made their final substitution four minutes from fulltime, with Calvin Zola replacing Niall McGinn.

Keeper Jamie Langfield almost threw the game away after he misjudged a pass back.

The only positives this weekend in the Reds race for Europe was the 5-1 demolition of Motherwell by the hands of a rampant Dundee United at Tannadice.

Final score:  1-1.

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Oct 312011

Another narrow 2-1 defeat against the Old Firm for Aberdeen in a physical battle of a game which lacked entertaining football but was never short on controversy and incident. The Dons conceded a penalty, had an appeal of their own turned down and had a man dismissed in a tough-tackling match which also saw potentially serious injuries for both teams. Philip Sim reports from Pittodrie.

Injury to striker Scott Vernon prior to the match left Rory Fallon deployed up front alone, Chris Clark taking his place in a five-man midfield. The suspended Ryan Jack was replaced at right-back by Rory McArdle looking suitably out of his depth in an unfamiliar position.

Overloading the midfield meant much of the action took place there, which played into Aberdeen’s hands in the first half – while free-flowing football and chances were at a premium in the opening period, David Gonzalez in the home goal barely touched the ball, while his side carved out several good opportunities.

Clark in particular had his best game since returning to Pittodrie, buzzing about and chasing every ball kicked in the middle of the park. There was some pressure on Clark to step up after Rob Milsom, who had started brightly, had to be withdrawn with a badly gashed ankle courtesy of a horrific tackle by Steven Naismith.

The Scotland striker managed to badly injure himself in the act, but somehow escaped even a yellow card for the worst tackle of a game which was far from pretty at its best.

The second half was a mirror of the first. While the midfield war of attrition raged on as previous, this time it was Rangers who were making opportunities and it was hardly a surprise when they broke the deadlock. After that, Aberdeen always seemed to be swimming upstream, and despite some excellent play from Andy Considine in particular, the game seemed lost.

Blame is going to be difficult to dole out from this defeat, but beyond the odd simple incidence of poor play several arbitrary factors came into play.

Heavy rain through the first half saw many of the players slipping and sliding around on the slick Pittodrie turf, epitomised by Ricky Foster on his backside as Rangers burst through the score the opening goal.

At the other end of the park the sun rather than the rain was the enemy for visiting keeper Allan McGregor, who allowed Ricky Foster’s shot to apparently pass straight through him. The Scotland keeper had the sun in his eyes, but still should have comfortably dealt with Foster’s effort, which while well struck was heading right down his throat.

Another factor neither team could plan for was the referee – although Aberdeen might have had an idea what they were in for the minute Willie Collum’s name was called out over the tannoy.

Collum has always been greeted with derision by the Aberdeen support, often for good reason – and he will have earned no new fans in this match.

His first action was to book Kari Arnason for his very first tackle of the match, effectively putting the shackles on the combative midfielder for the rest of the match. The challenge might have been worthy of a booking, but Collum didn’t seem to maintain this opinion when it came to several identical tackles from visiting players.

Arnason has quickly become a fan’s favourite at Pittodrie with his no-nonsense attitude and occasional thunderbolt from distance – one of which sent McGregor scrambling in the first half – but he was visibly constrained by the early caution, pulling out of challenges he would usually relish.

The Main Stand linesman also had an absolute shocker, but provided one of the comedy highlights of the match – after the hapless official finally awarded a decision in Aberdeen’s favour in the final minutes, the fans behind him celebrated like a goal had been scored.

After two narrow defeats to the Old Firm, Aberdeen can approach their next run of games with some confidence, starting with the visit to managerless St Johnstone next week. One worry will be the loss of several key players – Rob Milsom and Scott Vernon are now questionable through injury, and Rory Fallon will miss two matches after receiving a rather soft red card in the final minutes. This gives Craig Brown something of a selection headache in a key area of the pitch – and one that has been far from the Dons’ strongest this term.

Oct 012011

A Scott Vernon hat-trick sent Aberdeen on the way to doubling their SPL goal tally for the season, and in truth the Dons could and should have scored more as they finally clicked in the final third. Vernon’s main challenger for the man of the match award was Pars goalkeeper Paul Gallacher, who pulled off a string of fantastic saves to keep the score down. In addition to his saves the home side hit the woodwork four times and Rory Fallon missed an open goal. Philip Sim reports from Pittodrie.

At long last, Aberdeen looked hungry for goals and showed a more ruthless up front. Many pundits have claimed Vernon and Rory Fallon are too similar to play together, but they showed in this game that they can operate effectively as a partnership.

Fallon is a traditional target man, winning flicks and holding the ball up, whilst Vernon, freed of this responsiblity, is allowed to play in his preferred role facing the goal.
After his first goal he was also playing with real confidence, and looked a completely different player to the isolated and frustrated Vernon of a few weeks ago.

The whole team seemed buoyed by the goals,  Rob Milsom and Fraser Fyvie in particular each having their best game of the season.

Milsom was everywhere, buzzing about making passes and penetrating runs, and he was denied the goal his performance deserved by another fine Gallacher save.

The foundation for the win was in the midfield – Kari Arnason and Isaac Osbourne ran Dunfermline ragged, winning every ball in the air and on the deck, giving Milsom and Fyvie more freedom to push forward and create. Dunfermline actually started the game with a five-man midfield, but were so beleaguered from the outset that holding midfielder Andy Dowie was substituted in the first half.

On the rare occasion that the ball made it past the midfield, Andy Considine and Youl Mawene dealt with the threat easily. Considine has really come into his own this season, perhaps thanks to having the composed, experienced head of Mawene next to him.

Mawene and Considine for the most part managed the defence on their own, allowing full-backs Ryan Jack and Ricky Foster to go forward almost constantly on the overlap. Their pace and drive added much-needed width to the side, in support of the central midfielders, Milsom and Fyvie, deployed on the wings.

Foster had an excellent game. Hopefully this performance – combined with the defeats against East Fife and Motherwell – will have convinced Craig Brown that he needs to use his captain at the left full-back position rather than further up the field. Foster is so quick he can be an attacking player even while covering the defence at full-back, and he plays by far his best football from there.

In fact, the same could go for the entire line-up. At last, players were deployed roughly in their proper positions, and it showed. The Dons looked far more comfortable than they have in any game this season, and it seems like after weeks of chopping and changing, Brown has found his best eleven.

One swallow does might make a summer, but this could be the turning point Aberdeen’s season has been waiting for. A free-scoring, morale-boosting win – the only downside is that it has come right before an international break, leaving the team with no chance to build momentum.

By contrast, Dunfermline enjoyed a good start to the season, but reality is starting to set in for the Fifers. Jim McIntyre has built a solid team of experienced pros, with very little reliance on youth or unknown quantities, which should be able compete in a fairly even SPL. As it stands, there are only two points between the sides in the bottom six, and only seven between fourth place and last.

As it is Aberdeen sit ninth, but will take a massive confidence boost from this win and are only one win away from the top six. At times this season they haven’t got the results their performances have merited, but against Dunfermline everything finally came together. The Red Army will be wondering if their side can’t play on a Friday night every week.