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Match Preview | Aberdeen v St Johnstone
Competition: cinch Scottish Premiership
Match: Aberdeen v St Johnstone
Kick Off: 15:00
TV Coverage: Please click here for information on how to watch our game with St Johnstone.
The manager sat down with the media, via Zoom, to preview Saturday’s game with St Johnstone at Pittodrie. To watch in full on RedTV, please click here.
“We are looking forward to the game, it is another chance to play at home. A chance to show that we have learnt our lessons from over the last couple of weeks where we have had a lot of the ball but not put it to good use. We have not made enough chances and not defended well enough when we have had to.
“I am sure the boys have learnt the lessons. We are reinforcing the message. We are not teaching them anything or pointing out anything they don’t know. Players know when they have missed chances and know when they have not defended well enough.
“They know that we believe in them and they know that we have a good group of players that is going to do something this year. That is what we focus on. We are not particularly interested in the outside noise. Our supporters know what we are trying to do. Everyone in here knows what we are trying to do. We know there is talk about how many games we have won in the last half dozen but that is talking about a league campaign where we have only played five games.
“It is probably harder now to ignore outside noise than it used to be. It used to be a case where if you didn’t pick up a newspaper then you didn’t hear it. The boys are all on social media and that is the biggest place where they get that information and outside opinions coming at them. To me the biggest importance is that they are upbeat in here, we know they are working towards a goal at the weekend and we know we have got a great group of players that are desperate to play. We have got competition in the team and are looking forward to playing against St Johnstone on Saturday who we know will be trying to get a win as well. We know it will be difficult but we know we have a great group of players here.
“Training is very competitive, it is an environment that everyone needs to keep getting better and if they don’t then they will not play. It is not making snap decisions. We have got a really good group of players, a good number of them and it is important that the ones that are going to play know that you are trusting them and backing them and what you will see is an Aberdeen team that is determined to win a game on Saturday.
“There are no fresh injury worries. The positive side is Austin Samuels will have an opportunity to play on Saturday. We will see how he recovers off of today and tomorrow’s training and we will make a decision. In terms of the negative news there is less of it than there has been. Ryan Hedges will be back on the training pitch next week which will help us ahead of the following game.
“Andy Considine is off of crutches which is good. It is a long term picture for Andy. We respect his space because it is a big injury. We give him the time and the space to get back and fit while keeping him around the group. He is doing his coaching badges and when we have done any video meetings, I have deliberately involved him in it because his input is still enormous to the young and experienced players at this club. It is great that we can have him apart of that and it is great for everyone at the club that he is still apart of influencing the players.
Strongest Starting XI
“A lot of new players have come in and we have had players injured. I don’t think we have ever had everyone fit and available. What I do have the luxury of is every time I pick a team, there are a group of players that I believe that we as a staff have prepared to go and win a game. I have been delighted with the group. You are always looking for something, how can you make things better?
“When you are winning games you still want to be better, in the last couple of weeks we have not done what we should have done. We are looking forward to the time where we have everybody fit, the competition level during the week is great that we can pick what we think is 100% our best starting XI. I don’t think that any manager in the country picks what is their best XI, fully fit and fully ready to go.
“Having to walk past the fans on Saturday meant that we felt exactly what the supporters were feeling. The players know it anyway. When you play for a club like Aberdeen you know what the demands are. To have to walk through it after a game, you have to accept it and you expect it as well. The one way you can tackle that is to put things right on the Saturday. That is the aim. There is a demand at this club and everybody likes being part of it and it is part of the attraction of being here.
“I want both the performance and the result. The players want both. It is not a case of settling of being middle of the road. We want to be as good as we can be here. On Saturday that means performing and winning. If it comes down to it and we don’t’ perform well but win, then of course we will take it. The aim every week is to perform and win.
“You can’t doubt the impact Europe has had on the start to the league season and you can’t underestimate it. St Johnstone say it and it is being seen as a reason, if I say it or suggest it then it is an excuse. We work at a club where we concern ourselves with ourselves. It has been slightly detrimental to the league and to the cup campaign. We don’t look for excuses. It is brilliant to be involved in Europe and the aim is to be involved again next year so we have the same issues and we are better to overcome them. There is no doubt that teams are not involved in Europe have an easier ride, that is a fact.
“Last year when we came in Jack was brilliant. He was unfortunate that he was cup tied through his time at Forfar, he suffered through that a little bit as well. He has had a couple of little bits of pieces where he hasn’t played, and that has always been for a reason, he has been fantastic from the minute we came in the door and he is continuing to get better. It is easy to look to pure experience and put it in your team, especially when you are not winning the games you should be. As a staff we have shown a trust and a backing to the younger ones who have warranted their place in the team. We are delighted with him and I am delighted that he is happy with the coaching staff and we are helping him as that is a huge part of our job.
“I think it will be the same proposition from St Johnstone as it was last season. Callum is a top manager and great guy who I know personally. They gave Rangers a game last week and were unfortunate that they lost a goal right after they had scored or it might have been a different outcome. He is able to squeeze the most out of what he has got continually and I think he is such a good manager. I think you will see a similar St Johnstone team, despite the fact they lost two of their best players.
Backing of The Fans
“The players have got belief in what we are trying to do. They know if they have to wait to win a game then they are ready for it and they are also ready for the fact that if it is not going the way it should be and it is on the line it might be a little bit quieter than we would like it to be. It is up to us to make sure that it is not. If we start the game the way that we should then the fans will be on our side. It is up to the players to give the fans something to cheer and something to believe in, which I think they do. They can see what we are trying to do as a team and as a club. The fans backing has been brilliant. There is a demand and the players know it when you don’t meet that demand. You don’t want to feel that every week. You want to feel the performance levels that in the main has been pretty good and we need to replicate that.
“Calvin has been linked with a lot of big clubs but he also plays for one. Calvin knows where he is, he knows what is good for him. He is such a level headed boy that I don’t feel the need to talk to him about outside noise. Anything that any of our players achieve is through what they put out in a red jersey week to week. Young players at this club know what happens if you play well, they know the links that come but I am not surprised because he is a top player already and he is going to be something pretty special.”
Did You Know?
Our game with St Johnstone will be our first 3pm kick off on a Saturday at Pittodrie since our 0-0 draw with Hamilton back on 6th March. We have played nine home games since then in the league, cup and Europe.
The latest edition of Red Matchday will be available to purchase before kick off around the ground and from the club shop. You can also purchase a copy online by clicking here. This week’s edition includes interviews with new signings Matty Longstaff and David Bates. As well as columns from the manager and club captain Joe Lewis, there is an extensive history section at the back of the programme with many new features and articles.
5 Goals v St Johnstone
Look back at five memorable goals The Dons have scored against the Perth side over the years at Pittodrie.
Match Page - Formation
Match Page - Text Commentary
report | Dons hit by late sucker punch
ABERDEEN 0 ST JOHNSTONE 1
Saturday September 18th 2021
Ref: Bobby Madden
A flat afternoon that looked destined for stalemate pretty much from the off was stolen by the Saints with a late winner as the Dons drew a blank in front of goal.
Stephen Glass made three changes to the side defeated at Motherwell last Saturday, Austin Samuels returning after injury, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas recalled to the starting XI and David Bates getting a full Aberdeen debut. Declan Gallagher and Matty Longstaff dropped to the bench, Marley Watkins missing out altogether with injury. Tom Ritchie replaced the injured Gary Woods as substitute goalkeeper. Niall McGinn returned amongst the subs in place of Connor McLennan.
St. Johnstone, still without a win in the league this term, made four changes from the team that lost 2-1 at home to Rangers last Saturday. In came Efe Ambrose, Callum Booth, Murray Davidson and Glenn Middleton, replacing Hayden Muller, Liam Craig, Ali Crawford and Reece Devine, who all dropped to the bench.
The Dons were a whisker away from a third minute opener, Lewis Ferguson flighting the ball in from the left, both Christian Ramirez and Emmanuel-Thomas close to getting a decisive touch as the ball drifted behind.
O’Halloran was in the book on eight minutes, catching Ross McCrorie with a stray elbow as the two chased a ball over the top. The defender required lengthy treatment to a mouth wound before continuing.
The sides were effectively cancelling each other out in a mundane opening quarter of the game. Ojo was the next needing treatment on 23 minutes, Davidson’s studs catching him on the knee as the two stretched into a challenge.
Width looked to be the answer for the Dons and on 27 minutes, Samuels received the ball down the left before slinging in a dangerous looking cross that unfortunately found no takers in the middle.
The home side won a first corner on the left after 29 minutes. Calvin Ramsay produced a fine delivery to the back post where Ramirez was left all alone, but he got his angles all wrong and put the header well wide of goal. Emmanuel-Thomas was yellow carded for a foul just inside the Aberdeen half a couple of minutes later. Jason Brown followed him into the book on 35 minutes after slicing through Ramirez.
Samuels had the first shot in anger on 36 minutes, coming inside before firing off a shot from 25 yards. It took a deflection off Davidson and looped up safely into Clark’s arms.
Saints responded and on 41 minutes, Booth wrapped his right foot around the ball from the right corner of the Aberdeen box. Fortunately, it curled just wide of the far post.
Diagonal balls from Brown out to Samuels were starting to cause the visitors trouble and that helped win a free-kick on 44 minutes, but the cross into the box wouldn’t quite fall for Bates.
HALF-TIME: ABERDEEN 0 ST JOHNSTONE 0
Samuels was the threat at the start of the second half, collecting a pass from Emmanuel-Thomas and firing in a low shot that Clark saved comfortably at his near post on 53 minutes.
Moments later, a Mackenzie cross flashed through the six yard box without anyone on the end of it, though it wouldn’t have counted with the offside flag going up. The Dons were knocking on the door now and a looping header from Emmanuel-Thomas was clutched under the bar by Clark on 55. Davidson was carded after going through the back of Ferguson a minute later.
Jonny Hayes replaced Samuels on the hour, the visitors withdrawing O’Halloran for Crawford. Following a half cleared free-kick, Middleton took a swing from the edge of the year. He didn’t catch it cleanly but Joe Lewis still had to scramble to push it around the post after 65 minutes. Saints were much more in the game now, Middleton all alone to nudge the ball into the back of the net moments later, but thankfully, up went the linesman’s flag.
McGinn became Aberdeen’s second switch, replacing Emmanuel-Thomas on 66 minutes. The Dons threatened two minutes later, a dangerous cross in from McCrorie headed wide at the back post by Ferguson. Former Don Stevie May then replaced Middleton on 69 minutes.
Wotherspoon had a glorious opportunity with 20 minutes to go, albeit from distance. He was given all the time in the world to get off a shot from 25 yards but he pulled his effort wide of the goal. Aberdeen responded, Hayes floating a ball into the box, Brown defending well to get a crucial touch on the ball just ahead of Ramirez.
Teddy Jenks very nearly came on for Funso Ojo on 73 minutes, only for Bates to signal to the bench and call a halt to the move before limping off with injury, to be replaced by Gallagher. Saints made their final change on 81 minutes, Kane making way for Vertainen.
A hopeful ball forward from Booth fell kindly for May on 84 minutes. Bringing it forward, he cut inside Ramsay and Gallagher before firing off a low, bobbling shot that snuck just inside the post from the edge of the box to put the Saints ahead.
Aberdeen were back on the attack, winning an 87th minute corner, Ramsay’s delivery headed over the bar by Gallagher. Davidson took a whack in the process and hobbled off to leave the Saints down to ten men.
Another Aberdeen corner two minutes into added time was cleared, McGinn working the ball back in, McCart heading over his own bar, somehow winning a free-kick for his team in the process.
Mackenzie tried to manufacture an opening with a fierce cross from the left, Hayes leaping to get on the end of it, but he was underneath his header that flashed over the bar, the last act of a desperately disappointing afternoon.
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Ramsay, Bates (Gallagher 73), McCrorie, MacKenzie, Ojo, Brown, Ferguson, Samuels (Hayes 60), Emmanuel-Thomas (McGinn 66), Ramirez.
Subs not used: Ritchie, Longstaff, Campbell, Jenks.
ST JOHNSTONE: Clark, Brown, Ambrose, McCart, Rooney, Wotherspoon, Davidson, Booth, Middleton (May 69), O’Halloran (Crawford 60), Kane (Vertainen 81).
Subs not used: Parish, Muller, Craig, Devine.
GOAL: May (84)
BOOKED: O’Halloran, Brown, Davidson