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Aberdeen 3 Dundee 3: Davidson Focuses On Positives


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Source: The Courier

Dundee defender Iain Davidson maintains his team should focus on the positives from their trip to Pittodrie after Aberdeen’s stunning late comeback cost them maximum points.

With the Dons flying high in the Premiership, the 200th meeting of the two clubs on Saturday had plenty of potential to be a cracker – and the occasion certainly did not fail to deliver. Fans were treated to six goals, plenty of incidents and a frenetic final five minutes or so as the points were shared, and Davidson admitted the Dark Blues probably would have settled for that beforehand. Having said that though, the midfielder turned centre half confessed to being gutted at the final whistle as the Dons somehow snatched a draw in the dying stages.

“It was obviously a sore one in the end,†he said. “We had three points in our grasp and we’ve let it go, so obviously it’s disappointing. We’re all disappointed because to come to Pittodrie against a team who are absolutely flying, score three goals and walk away with three points would have been a great performance from us. We maybe did get a wee bit deeper when they got it back to 3-2, although we just felt there wasn’t enough pressure on the ball.

“Andrew Considine and Mark Reynolds are playing balls in five yards inside their half, so sometimes it’s the natural thing to do to get deeper. Could we have done more to stop the balls coming in? Possibly. But we’ve got to give Aberdeen credit, they are where they are for a reason.

“Fair play to them, they’ve shown great character to get a point out of it.â€

Davidson felt the turning point came in the 87th minute when, with Dundee leading 3-1, defender Kostadin Gadzhalov’s reckless challenge on Dons sub Lawrence Shankland earned the hosts a penalty which Jonny Hayes converted. That gave Aberdeen the momentum to go on and grab a stoppage time equaliser, and Davidson reckons it gave the Dons a sniff they shouldn’t have had.

“I thought we were defending well and once they got the penalty it gave them a massive lift,†he continued.

“Although they hit the post at the start of the second half, I don’t think they had many clear cut chances. They were throwing loads of balls into the box, the gaffer said to us during the week that that’s something Aberdeen do, and we worked on that. We were dealing with it, but the penalty is the thing that gave them a massive lifeline. Obviously they got another chance and they took it, so fair play to them.

“It was a stonewaller.

“I’m right behind it and obviously Kosta is new to us and his English isn’t great to be honest but I was screaming ‘Man on’ to him. I could see it happening to be honest, and Shankland has obviously nipped in in front of him. So it was a stonewalller, there’s no denying that. It gave them a lift and to be fair to them they kept going until the end, but we’ll take the positives out of it – a point and scoring three goals.â€

Aberdeen named the same team for the fourth consecutive game as they went for nine league wins in a row, while Dundee made two changes from last time out with David Clarkson and Paul McGowan dropping out to make way for Luka Tankulic and Gary Harkins.

Despite their well-documented injury problems, the visitors would still have gone into the fixture with confidence after their 4-1 win over Motherwell – and due to the fact they were the last team to score against and beat Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup back in November. But the Dons are not short of confidence themselves after their recent run and showed signs of their intent in the second minute when Adam Rooney’s dangerous ball into the area was unlucky not to find any takers. A minute later, Harkins’ poor clearance only got as far as Mark Reynolds and his snap shot was snatched from under the crossbar by Dundee keeper Scott Bain. That should have served as a warning to the visitors, but they found themselves behind with seven minutes on the clock.

Gary Irvine was caught in possession by Niall McGinn, Rooney played another inviting ball across the six yard box and this time the unmarked David Goodwillie was in the right place at the right time to coolly slot home at the back post. Dundee could perhaps have levelled seven minutes later when Greg Stewart – fresh from signing a new deal at Dens Park – forced Dons keeper Scott Brown into a diving save low down to his left.

However, Aberdeen should have been two goals to the good in the 21st minute when Rooney missed an absolute sitter.

Goodwillie’s lay off found Peter Pawlett just inside the area, his shot was parried by Bain and somehow Rooney managed to screw the loose ball over the bar from a few feet out when it looked easier to score.

Hayes had a shot off target in 25 minutes as the Dons continued to press, and then Davidson gifted the home side a chance to double their lead when he handled at the edge of the penalty area.

Davidson was booked, but luckily for him McGinn’s resulting free-kick was deflected off target. There had been little for the travelling supporters to shout about in the first half up to that point, but they were given plenty to cheer in the 38th minute as they saw an equaliser. Harkins couldn’t find space to create an opening at the edge of the area but he laid off the onrushing Irvine who broke through the Dons back line and blasted home.

Aberdeen had gone almost eight-and-a-half games without conceding, but remarkably they found themselves 2-1 down just seconds later. It was another brilliantly worked goal from Dundee’s point of view, with Tankulic’s back heel setting up Stewart. The Dundee striker still had plenty of work to do, but he excellently dispatched the ball beyond Brown with the outside of his foot to give the Dark Blues the advantage at half-time.

One might have expected Aberdeen to come out all guns blazing in the second half and they did just that.

Within seconds of the restart, Pawlett got in behind the Dundee defence and his cut back was met by Rooney who could only watch in anguish as his shot cannoned off Bain’s left hand post. Incredibly though, the home fans were stunned just two minutes later as Dundee scored a third.

The Dons failed to clear their lines properly and the ball fell to Harkins who struck a superb angled volley which took a slight deflection en route past Brown to make it 3-1.  Aberdeen had enjoyed most of the possession and looked by far the more threatening, but that mattered little as Dundee were demonstrating how to take their chances when they came along. A quick counter attack just before the hour mark carved open the Dons again, although Stewart’s tame effort trickled into the hands of Brown to prevent Dundee from going 4-1 up.

The home side clearly needed to change something, and they made a double substitution in 62 minutes with Ash Taylor and Pawlett leaving the field to be replaced by Willo Flood and Cammy Smith. It failed to provide the spark the Dons needed initially and the fact the game went a bit flat for a period merely suited Dundee down to a tee. Flood saw an effort from the edge of the box fail to trouble Bain with 10 minutes left, and it maybe summed up Aberdeen’s day in the 85th minute when Goodwillie beat Bain to the ball but could only crack his effort off the post from a tight angle.

But the frantic conclusion everyone anticipated came when Gadzhalov clipped Shankland in the box and referee Alan Muir pointed to the spot. Bain guessed the right way but Hayes’ penalty was good enough to squeeze past the keeper’s outstretched hands to make it 3-2. And the Dons completed their stunning comeback a minute into injury time to send the home fans into raptures.

Shay Logan’s cross into the crowded Dundee penalty area was flicked on by Shankland and Ryan Jack was on hand to nod the ball home. While both managers probably felt it was a case of two points dropped on reflection, Dons boss Derek McInnes would have been happier in terms of the title race.

“That could be a very important point for us,†he admitted. “I couldn’t be more proud of the players for the way they kept going and I thought if we’d had another five minutes we would have won. Their never-say-die attitude is really refreshing for me – I’m not surprised by it but it’s nice to see all the same.

“Credit to Dundee, their first two goals were really good from their point of view, but we never know when we are beaten.â€

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