aberdeen v celtic

Aberdeen seeking a piece of history

December 3, 2009
By Andy Moir
(Archive)

It has been over 30 years since Aberdeen last recorded back-to-back wins over the Old Firm but that feat is within their sights again.

Mark McGhee
GettyImagesMark McGhee has a chance to impress further this weekend.

The Dons are still on a high following their 1-0 Pittodrie victory over Rangers, a result many expect will further enhance manager Mark McGhee's red revolution. Next up for Aberdeen is a trip to Parkhead to take on league leaders Celtic - a fixture they once used to really dread.

It was the season of 1979-80 when the Dons beat the Gers 1-0 at Ibrox in the league before returning to the Central Belt to repeat the trick in a League Cup quarter-final clash. And it was current Dons boss McGhee who netted the precious winner against the Celts.

Not that McGhee remembers much about those two clashes or indeed his goal and was only reminded of it by his son, Ben, by text in the wake of the win over Walter Smith's struggling Light Blues.

Some critics think that McGhee's men weren't that impressive against Rangers, the reigning SPL Champions, and it was more the fact Smith's side were so poor that the Dons came out on top.

Whatever argument you may favour, the simple fact remains that the men from the North took all three points and the result has helped to further breed confidence throughout their ranks. Aberdeen's rising stars showed they hold no fear and are savouring the prospect of attempting to take their second big scalp in succession.

Youngsters Peter Pawlett and Michael Paton have helped to breathe new life into McGhee's team and will again have a key role to play particularly as they'll be without suspended skipper Mark Kerr.

Pawlett's energy and ability to beat players could prove crucial if the Dons are going to create chances while Paton will again be expected to produce a discipline shift on the left.

McGhee hopes his young warriors will share the same mentality he had when facing the Old Firm as a Don.

"I would hope they believe they have a chance of winning against Celtic. In my day we expected to do that not just hoped for it," he said. "We are not quite there yet but if we play to our highest level we can cause them problems.

"Do I remember my goal against Celtic? No. But the fact we have a chance to break a record after beating Rangers is something more for the players to aim at."

Aberdeen visit Tony Mowbray's Hoops side still smarting from their Europa League exit, though they did beat Hapoel Tel-Aviv on Wednesday to record their first win in Group C. Goals from Georgios Samaras and Barry Robson helped see off the Israelis, but they still progress along with Hamburg after the German side won against Rapid Vienna.

Mowbray's men produced a solid show against Tel Aviv to at least end their campaign on a high. But they paid the ultimate price for a poor start to their Europa League fixtures and it was no surprise to see them bow out of their continental charge.

However, the boss reckons had luck favoured them slightly more in certain games they could progressed.

"The frustration is that we haven't really got what we deserved from the campaign," Mowbray said. "We've been very competitive, but there you go, the results are what they are and we have to get on with it. Against Tel-Aviv it was a very similar performance to what we saw throughout the campaign - disciplined, organised. We took a few more opportunities tonight, whereas in games gone by we have missed a few opportunities.''

Scott McDoanld, Celtic, Aiden McGeady, Georgios Samaras
SNSScott McDonald is hailed by Celtic team-mates Aiden McGeady and Georgios Samaras against Tel-Aviv.

Ironically the Bhoys go into their latest league test against the Dons on top of the SPL table thanks to Aberdeen's weekend win over the Govan club. They are now forced to concentrate on domestic issues and it will be interesting to see how they react to their European misery when they return to league action.

The long-term injuries to influential players Scott Brown and Shaun Maloney could also impact on their hopes of silverware success. Both Mowbray and Smith know this could prove to be the tightest league title race yet and not just between the Old Firm.

Celtic have won 27 points from 13 games this term and lead the charge by two points ahead of Rangers although they have played a game less. Hibs are third on 25 points from 13 fixtures with Dundee United in fourth two points further back but have also only played 12 matches.

So if the chasing pack can all gang up together to take on the Old Firm it could well prove to be one of the most interesting league races in many years. And Aberdeen could not only become record breakers this weekend but could also play a major role in the final destiny of the SPL League crown if they can win at Parkhead.