Much clever and fast football characterised the meeting of Aberdeen and Celtic at Pittodrie, where each side scored once. Throughout there was scarcely a dull moment, and the huge crowd (21,527 paid for admission) was delighted with the display of both teams and especially with the great improvement shown by Aberdeen. If the result - a draw - was tribute to the work of the Celtic defence, it scarcely did justice to Aberdeen, who set the pace and were on the aggressive for three-fourths of the time. As it was, Celtic came very near to winning. It was only five minutes from the end when Aberdeen drew level, but had they failed they would have been most unfortunate losers.
In the first half Celtic had the advantage of a strong wind, and Aberdeen were at a further disadvantage of having to face a glaring sun. Despite this, the home team played with great spirit, so that in the earlier stages even the experienced defenders such as Celtic possess were hard put to it to stave off disaster. Some delightful moves initiated by the half-backs and developed by the forwards aroused tremendous enthusiasm. Thomson, at inside right, especially showed great cleverness, his dribbling and opening out play repeatedly earning the plaudits of the big crowd. Such a pace did Aberdeen set against the wind that many questioned if they could sustain their effort, but they proved equal to the task, and in the end, although showing signs of wear, actually finished fresher than visitors. In the opening stages Shaw had frequently the assistance of his backs. Miller came near opening the scoring with a shot, that flashed just wide of the goal. Apart from high ball from McLean, the Aberdeen custodian was not seriously tested, but his vis-a-vis had to deal with efforts by Thomson, Rankine, and Yule. When the Celtic forwards did get moving they shifted themselves smartly. McInally flashed a great shot at Anderson from 23 yards range for the keeper to bring off a magnificent save at full length. Twenty-eight minutes had gone when McInally gained possession just outside the penalty area, and scored with a brilliant shot. If shaken by the reverse, Aberdeen were not dismayed, and Thomson and Rankine both had good tries, which Shaw dealt with. A wonderful one-handed save by Shaw averted the equaliser when he shot out his fist to deflect a terrific drive by Miller, the ball spinning up into the air before going over the cross-bar. From the corner-kick Rankine headed against the cross-bar. Towards the interval Aberdeen strove even harder for the equaliser, and the Celtic goal for a time enjoyed a charmed immunity. At half-time Celtic retained their lead, but Aberdeen were distinctly unfortunate in failing to draw level.
An Exciting Finish.
As they finished the first half, so Aberdeen began in the second period. With the wind in their favour, they soon made acquaintance with Shaw, who was kept busy. He fisted away from two successive corners, and later his goal had another narrow escape when the ball went for a bye with the keeper out at the corner flag, whither he had gone in an unsuccessful effort to intercept Middleton. The excitement was not confined to one end of the field, at the other Anderson saved brilliantly from McInally, who had actually got right past the defence. In a period of persistent pressure by Aberdeen, shots by Miller and Thomson were charged down, and Rankine just missed with an unexpected shot. There was always danger in the Celtic attacks, and on one occasion, following a grounder by McAtee, there was a prolonged scrimmage above Anderson, who lay on the ground with the ball in his possession, a period of great tension being relieved when the referee awarded Aberdeen a free kick. It seemed as if Aberdeen's persistent pressure must go unrewarded until, with five minutes left for play, they drew level. Middleton crossed, and the ball, skidding off Miller's boot, went to Rankine, who gave Shaw no chance to save. An indescribable scene of enthusiasm followed the success, and from then until the finish every kick was enthusiastically applauded.
On an Aberdeen side that acquitted themselves with much credit, the outstanding players were Anderson, Hutton, Milne, and MacLachlan in defence. The most prominent forward on the field was the distinction earned by Thomson, whose brainy work at inside right was largely responsible for the opening out of the forward play and maintaining the home attack. Rankine, too, revealed much cleverness in opening out the play. On a Celtic side whose defence was played to a standstill, the most conspicuous were Shaw, Dodds, and Cringan in defence, and Gallacher, McInally, and McLean were the best of the forwards.
Source: Aberdeen Weekly Journal 12th September 1921