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Aberdeen 1 - 1 St. Johnstone

HT Score: Aberdeen 1 - 0 St. Johnstone

Scottish Premiership
Aberdeen scorers: Church 35.
St. Johnstone scorers: L Craig 88(P).

27/02/2016 | KO: 15:00

Controversial Late Pen Denies Dons

A very frustrating afternoon at Pittodrie as Aberdeen were held by St Johnstone after a late penalty. The first half was fairly even until Aberdeen changed formation and they were rewarded with a goal through Simon Church. The Welshman scored from close range after Mannus had saved a Taylor header from a corner. Simon deserved his goal today and he is going to be a key player over the next couple of games with Adam Rooney sidelines for six weeks.

Aberdeen then dominated possession in the second half without really creating a lot of chances, although Mannus did made a couple of good saves from Church. The Dons did appear in control of the game with Shinnie and McLean in fine form in the middle of the park but in the final few minutes when the Dons failed to clear their lines they were punished. Ryan Jack challenged Liam Craig inside the area and although the Dons skipper, who filled in at right back today, got a touch on the ball referee Steven McLean also decided he caught the Saints player and awarded a penalty. Craig sent Brown the wrong way to claim a point for the Perth side.

REDTV | matchday centre | highlights, the goals, full match replay, plus most match reaction from Tony Docherty, Mark Reynolds and Simon Church | please click here

match report

The Dons were forced to make changes for this match - Adam Rooney and Craig Storie missed the match through injury which forced a re-shuffle with Jonny Hayes already side-lined and Shay Logan missing through suspension.

Scott Brown retained his place in between the sticks with Considine at left back and Reynolds and Taylor continuing their partnership in the middle of the defence. Ryan Jack returned to the side on his 24th birthday and slotted in at right back. Flood returned in midfield alongside Shinnie at the base of the midfield. In front of them there was a pretty fluid front four with McLean in the most advanced position. His support would come from Pawlett, McGinn and Church.

In the first minute of the match Church found space inside the box and picked out McLean twelve yards from goal. Kenny guided the ball towards goal with his left foot but it was too central to force Mannus too much trouble and it was an opportunity missed.

St Johnstone's Scott Brown was booked for a foul on Kenny McLean before the ten minute mark and he would have had no complaints. The Dons enjoyed good possession in the visitors half for most of the opening period but the ever alert Steven MacLean posed a threat up top for Saints and forced a couple of smart saves from Brown.

Wotherspoon followed his teammate Brown into the referee's book for a foul on the halfway line and although he had plenty to say in the aftermath, he probably shouldn't have been complaining either.

Shortly after the 20 minute mark the visitors enjoyed a good spell as frustration began to creep in around the ground. Fisher got the better of his man and found Cummins in the box between Taylor and Reynolds, it looked as if the striker jumped too early and as a result his header went over the bar.

In the 29th minute the Perth side created another good opportunity when Swanson cut inside in the area and hit a volley towards goal, thankfully for The Dons it floated just high and wide of the goal.

At this stage in the match The Dons changed the system as they went to a back three with Shinnie and Logan playing as wing-backs. McLean also dropped to a deeper position with Church going up front.

The change in formation seemed to make a difference as Aberdeen took control of the game.

In a more advanced position Jack managed to get a cross into the box for Church to head towards goal. The initial header was drifting wide into the path of a red shirt but Lappin was on hand to knock the ball behind under pressure. Very good defending.

The Dons didn't have to wait too much longer to make the breakthrough as Taylor got up well to win a corner and power the ball towards goal. Mannus did well to keep the header out with a very good save but could do nothing to prevent Church rifling the rebound into the back of the net from a yard out.

The goal brought confidence to The Dons and McGinn was soon showing some of his best form as he ran riot on a couple of occasions with some superb pieces of wing play. Niall brought some real pieces of quality to an Aberdeen display that lacked nothing in terms of work rate and aggression.

Just minutes before the break there was a flashpoint as the Dons skipper clashed with Swanson in a rare case when that aggression, which was always there from both teams, threatened to spill over. The pair escaped with a yellow card each as Aberdeen took a 1-0 lead into the break.

The Dons started the half on the front foot and forced Mannus into action when Reynolds knocked the ball towards goal from a corner. It ended up being a fairly easy save for the keeper as the header evaded all of Reynolds' teammates in the area when it could really have done with another touch.

In the 54th minute Shinnie won a foul just outside the area which gave McGinn an opportunity to deliver. His cross was met by Taylor but the touch had just too much on it for Considine to connect at the back post. It was a real chance.

The Dons were once again enjoying good possession in the visitors half and after some nice touches from McGinn and McLean the ball made its way to Jack on the right touchline. The skipper drifted inside and found space on the edge of the area, unfortunately he got far too much on his strike and it ended up in the stand. It was a great move which probably deserved better.

After a log spell out Jack had produced a solid performance and combined with Shinnie on the left side the system provided great balance for The Dons.

For a ten minute period McGinn, Pawlett and Shinnie all took turns to get the better of the young right back and with 25 minutes of the match remaining Fisher eventually picked up a yellow card after a series of fouls.
Shinnie was unfortunate on a couple of occasions not to find a better reward after his relentless work ethic got him into good areas in the St Johnstone half. Some last ditch defending and a lack of luck in the box let the Saints off the hook when Graeme deserved better.

Half chances fell the way of Church, Pawlett and McGinn but the match drifted towards the 80 minute mark without too much incident as The Dons looked to be in control. Shinnie was the first Aberdeen player to pick up a yellow card for a robust challenge on Fisher. It was a rash challenge and a deserved yellow card.

Just as St Johnstone were threatening to come back into the match The Dons made their first change as Wright replaced Pawlett with six minutes of normal time remaining. Pawlett had worked hard but very little happened for him in the final third.

Just seconds after coming on Scott Wright beat a couple of players and won a free-kick for Aberdeen in a good area. Nothing materialised from the free-kick and St Johnstone soon found themselves up the other end of the pitch.

With five minutes of the match remaining there was controversy as the away side won a penalty. After The Dons failed to clear their lines the ball broke to Craig inside the box and he ran at Jack. The Dons skipper went to ground to make a block and Craig went down under the challenge. Steven McLean did not hesitate to point to the spot despite Jack appearing to get the ball.

It was a decision that could have gone either way and unfortunately for Aberdeen it went the wrong way yet again. Craig stepped up to send Brown the wrong way and levelled the score with two minutes of normal time remaining.

The board went up to show three minutes of added time and after being so comfortable for so long The Dons now had added time to try and claim all three points. After winning a couple of corners the home crowd responded as they tried to roar the reds on to victory. Unfortunately it wasn't to be as

The Dons finished the weekend where they started it six points off top spot.

Aberdeen Teamsheet
Brown, Considine, Taylor, Reynolds, Jack, Shinnie, Flood, McGinn, Pawlett (Wright 84), McLean, Church.

Unused Subs: Smith, Robson, Rose, McKenna, Ross, Collin.

Bookings:  Jack (41),  Shinnie (80).
St. Johnstone Teamsheet
01.Alan Mannus, 03.Thomas Scobbie, 06.Steven Anderson, 14.Joseph Shaughnessy, 22.Darnell Fisher, 04.Simon Lappin, 10.David Wotherspoon, 16.Daniel Swanson (27.Craig Thomson 41), 20.Scott Brown (26.Liam Craig 45), 09.Steven MacLean (25.Christopher Kane 74), 18.Graham Cummins. Unused Subs: 05.James Michael Doyle, 11.John Sutton, 12.Alexander Clark, 66.Plamen Krachunov.

Bookings:  10.David Wotherspoon (17: foul) 16.Daniel Swanson (41: off the ball foul) 70' tactical 20.Scott Brown (7: foul) 45' tactical 25.Christopher Kane (90+3: dissent) 74' tactical
Attendance: 12,563
Venue: Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Referee: Steven McLean