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ST JOHNSTONE V ABERDEEN | PREVIEW
The Dons are travelling down the A90 for the second time in five days to take on St Johnstone in Perth. Aberdeen were victorious at Dundee last Friday and will be keen to ensure another battling performance against the Saints on Wednesday night. Tommy Wright’s men are coming into the game off the back of a win at Hamilton Accies and sit in seventh place in the League, only two points off fifth place Motherwell. When the sides met in September Adam Rooney was the star of the show as he bagged a hat-trick in a 3-0 win. In all, Adam has scored nine times against St Johnstone in 19 games.
WHAT THE MANAGER SAID
“When you go away from home it’s important to impose yourselves on the game and make the most of the opportunities, but also make sure you have that resilience about you when the opposition get some moments in the game. Tomorrow night will be no different and St Johnstone are off the back of a positive result at the weekend and I’m sure looking at this as a game they can win.
“The sequence of games we’ve got now, starting tomorrow at McDiarmid Park with St Johnstone then Hibs and Celtic being tough games. It’s games where we’ve got to be somewhere close to our best to pick points up and none more so than tomorrow night. Although we had a good victory here against St Johnstone earlier in the season it’s always hard fought, especially away from home. We’ll have a strong backing again and hopefully we can reward them with three points and a good performance.”
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WHAT ANDREW SAID
“After last week it is now back to business as usual. The amount of games that you get at this time of year, it is good to put that behind us and focus on the football. That is our main priority. If you can get a good run going at this time of year you can accumulate a lot of points and put yourself in good shape for when you come back for the second half of the season.
“It will be a very tough game on Wednesday. Every time we have played St Johnstone over the past four or five years, it has always been a very physical and energetic game and I would not expect anything different tomorrow. We have been on the wrong end of some bad results as well.
“We did have a good win earlier in the season against them but that will count for nothing. It is always tougher playing them down there.
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Aberdeen boast the better record between the two sides, winning 53 of the 131 matches, with 41 draws and 37 defeats. The win in September brought the goal tally for The Dons against Saints to 180 and have conceded 142.
REPRESENTING BOTH TEAMS
Paddy Buckley was an Aberdeen signing from St Johnstone in 1952. Viewed by some as being too small for a centre-forward, Aberdeen manager Dave Halliday saw enough to suggest that Buckley could be a real asset at Pittodrie. Buckley went on to become the top scorer when Aberdeen won the league in 1955 and was also a full Scotland international.
In the current crop of players there are four to have played for both sides. The Dons signed former Cup-winning hero, Stevie May in the summer, while Saints hold two former AFC youth academy graduates, Richard Foster and Joe Shaughnessy, in their ranks as well as Steven MacLean, who played an important part in keeping the Dons away from the relegation zone in the second half of 2010. The current Dons management team were in charge at McDiarmid Park between 2007 and 2011.
In recent years Aberdeen and St Johnstone have had some very close battles. The February 2016 fixture saw The Dons travel to McDiarmid Park, still buoyant after their win against Celtic the midweek previously. Adam Rooney had the visitors ahead after five minutes then Peter Pawlett made it 2-0 in the 20th minute. Saints would score through David Wotherspoon, but The Dons would take control once again, with Niall McGinn and Rooney putting them 4-1 up. The game should have been more comfortable, but Saints would score twice more to set up a tense finale. A certain Scott McKenna made his debut at the age of 19 that day despite being a late call up only ten minutes before kick-off.
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Solid Performance from the Dons in Perth
Aberdeen made two changes to the side that defeated Dundee at Dens Park the previous Friday. Andrew Considine dropped to the bench while Frank Ross missed out after picking up a knock in training in the buildup. In their place came Kari Arnason and former Saint, Stevie May.
The Dons kicked off with Shinnie at left back. The opening spell was quite scrappy, not uncommon for these games, as both teams tried to suss each other out. Aberdeen did have some good possession though.
On 4 minutes, good play by McKenna as he surged over half way and was fouled, referee Alan Muir played a good advantage, May found Rooney who knocked it out to Logan. He played it inside to McLean who tries a long pass towards Shinnie who had made a good run into the box but it just the pass had just too much on it and it went out for a goal kick.
On 7 minutes, St Johnstone created the first real chance of the evening. May was robbed of the ball in midfield by Davidson who played it wide to Stefan Scougall and his forward pass was a decent one – eventually Murray Davidson got a shot away which was half blocked and the rebound hit the Saints man and bounced off him and just past the post. A luckily escape for the Dons.
The visitors won their first corner on 12 minutes when good play by Greg Stewart got the ball to Shinnie but his attempted turn and shot was blocked behind. From the corner, McLean nearly got a head on it but it was just too high.
O’Halloran picked up the first yellow card of the game two minutes later as he halted a good attacking run from Logan. The free kick was curled in to the back post, a Saints head got there first but the referee blew for a foul anyway.
Saints tried another effort from long range on 19 minutes but the effort from Scougall went wide of the post. The former Sheffield United midfielder scored his first goal for his new side on Saturday and he was looking lively.
Seconds later, the Dons were in front.
It was the first real bit of quality in the game. Adam Rooney finishing off a really good move down the left with a powerful drive low into the corner from Greg Stewart’s neat ball into the box. This was Adam’s fifth goal of the season, a really well worked one.
The home side were forced into a change shortly after when Cummins came on to replace the injured Davidson. Ryan Christie nearly added a second with a fine solo run into the box but his shot was deflected wide for a corner.
The Dons piled the pressure on Saints as they tried to double their lead and only some desperate defending stopped firstly Greg Stewart then Ryan Christie from doing so. Stevie May was then played through by a sublime ball from Christie and his powerful shot rattled the crossbar before Saints were able to clear.
Half an hour in and Aberdeen were looking good and were in control.
A brilliant interchange between May and Rooney set the Dons away again on 31 minutes but Adam’s pass into McLean was just a bit too heavy and Saints were able to clear. However the Dons did get a deserved second goal a few minutes later. A corner was played in by May, flicked on at the near post by O’Connor and headed in by Kari Arnason who rose highest at the back post. The Icelandic defender showed good strength to get to the ball ahead of the defenders, as well as real determination.
A well-deserved scoreline at this point.
Saints tried to respond, with Wotherspoon rifling a shot behind from outside the box.
Graeme Shinnie then picked up a booking for a foul on Scougall inside the centre circle. His 10th of the season. From the free kick, Shaughnessy headed narrowly wide as he got down low but couldn’t get it on target. Five minutes before the break, Joe Lewis was forced into a good save from McLean after a St Johnstone corner from Scougall found the ex Dons striker inside the area. He turned well and tried to slam a shot into the back of the net but Lewis touched the ball wide.
St Johnstone enjoyed their best spell of the game at the end of the first half.
A foul on McLean by Wotherspoon was given by the referee but no yellow card for what looked like a similar foul Graeme Shinnie was booked for. A short time later, McLean, who was also fortunate not to be booked for throwing the ball away, fired a shot at Clark which was on target and then up at the other end Joe Lewis made another fine save from a powerful O’Halloran drive.
Diving to his left the keeper had to show strong wrists.
HT: St Johnstone 0-2 Aberdeen
Aberdeen started the second half similar to the first as they looked to put the game beyond the hosts.
A few minutes in good play by Shay down the right, his initial cross was cut-out but Rooney picked up the scraps and laid it back to Logan who played a ball in for Greg Stewart but he makes a mess of the shot and fires well wide of the post.
Aberdeen continued to look the far hungrier side and really should have made the game safe on 52 minutes. Rooney latched onto a wayward Anderson back pass before rifling a shot over from about 12 yards. He really should have scored.
Both teams then went through a spell of giving the ball away before Aberdeen then worked the ball into some good areas a couple of times but the final ball wasn’t quite there.
On the hour mark though it was game over.
A curling free kick from Ryan Christie deflected off a Saints player and flew beyond Zander Clark into the far corner of the net. It was a massive deflection which gave the keeper no chance as he was completely wrong footed.
Straight after the goal, Derek McInnes made a change with Andrew Considine coming on for Stevie May.
Ryan Christie, who was really looking in the mood this evening, almost immediately got a second goal for himself when he cut inside and hit a rasping drive but it flew just wide of Clark’s right hand post.
The game descended into a bit of a lull but on 71 minutes, tempers flared again when a high tackle by Joe Shaughnessy on Ryan Christie went unpunished mid-way inside the Saints half. After that Aberdeen calmed things down and were able to preserve some energy for Saturday.
Greg Stewart, who had another very fine game, was then replaced by Gary Mackay-Steven. On 76 minutes, the Dons made another change with Nicky Maynard replacing the opening goalscorer Adam Rooney who got a standing ovation from the 1,045 strong Red Army on the occasion of his 450th senior appearance.
Graeme Shinnie, now back in midfield, picked up a loose ball and drove towards goal on 80 minutes but his long drive went narrowly over the target.
Another surging run forward from the captain on 85 minutes but this time his ball in defected wide for a corner. Two minutes later the ball fell to Gary Mackay-Steven on the edge of the box, his turn and shot was a decent effort but the ball went wide and didn’t trouble Clark in the end.
It was nearly 4-0 three minutes from time, an Arnason shot deflected just wide. There was time for one more effort from the home side before the end of the game but they fired high and wide which summed up their evening
This was as convincing a win as we’ve seen from Derek McInnes’ side this season and sets them up perfectly for Saturday’s home clash with Hibernian as they look to make it three wins in a row.