February 9, 2013
Ten men survive
Ten-man Aberdeen survived the dismissal of Mark Reynolds for two bookable offences to earn a share of the points from a goalless draw with St Mirren.
They had keeper Jamie Langfield to thank, however, for the fine save he made from St Mirren's in-form striker Esmael Goncalves in the dying stages, with the game teetering towards the Saints.
The Dons went into the game without a win in their last five games but made just one change to the side defeated by Hibs in the Scottish Cup last Sunday, with Peter Pawlett starting in place of the benched Rob Milson.
Saints brought in Kenny McLean, David Barron and on-loan Newcastle left-back Paul Dummett, and dropped former Celtic pair Graham Carey and David van Zanten to the bench. John McGinn missed out completely.
A win for the away side would have seen them move from second bottom in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League to within a point of their sixth-placed hosts.
It took almost 18 minutes for either goalkeeper to be seriously tested, with Aberdeen winger Johnny Hayes drawing a comfortable save from Craig Samson.
At the other end, Steven Thompson's knockdown allowed Gary Teale the chance to shoot from 20 yards, but the former Scotland winger sliced his effort well wide of Langfield's post.
The game had failed to spark into life on a pitch that had clearly suffered for hosting Scotland's international victory over Estonia in midweek, but there was the glimmer of an opportunity when the Dons' Reynolds hauled back Goncalves, earning the game's first booking.
Teale lined up the free-kick, 22 yards out and to the left of centre, but blasted his shot straight at the wall.
Moments later Reynolds was joined in the book by St Mirren's McLean, but the Dons' set-piece also came to nothing.
St Mirren's biggest threat throughout the first half had been the runs of Dummett from left-back and, just before half-time, he put in a low cross which required the intervention of Reynolds and Joe Shaughnessy to turn it behind for a corner.
Aberdeen had invited Paul Lawrie to parade the Ryder Cup at half-time, and his lap of honour round Pittodrie was the highlight of the day so far.
And the glimpse of a trophy may have refocused the Aberdeen players, as they spent the first five minutes of the second period camped in the St Mirren half, albeit with only a 20-yard Hayes effort stinging the palms of Samson.
When St Mirren did eventually get the ball clear, Langfield had to be on his toes to palm Teale's powerful angled drive over the bar. And ten minutes into the second half, the goalkeeper was called upon to mop up Paul McGowan's weak header from a left-wing cross.
The Dons fans were convinced they should have had a penalty when Pawlett appeared to be pulled back by St Mirren skipper Jim Goodwin, but there looked to be very little in it, and referee John Beaton was unmoved by their appeals.
St Mirren were finding their way into the game, though, and on the hour mark McLean saw a thunderous drive blocked by Langfield, before Pawlett blocked his follow-up effort.
Isaac Osbourne became the third man to go into the book when he caught Conor Newton with a trailing leg after 64 minutes.
And then came the substitutes, first Josh Magennis and then Scott Vernon, with Clark Robertson and Stephen Hughes the men replaced.
But after 73 minutes, all hell broke loose. Reynolds lifted an arm as he charged to block a McLean shot, with Beaton ruling it had been a deliberate handball.
The Dons man received a second yellow card, and the Saints had a free-kick just a yard or so outside the area, but ultimately McLean's shot was wasted.
The third Aberdeen sub, with no naturally defensive players left on the bench, saw Cammy Smith come on for Pawlett.
St Mirren's bookings also began to mount up, as Newton and Goodwin were both cautioned, but they had the best chance of the match as the game entered a frantic final five minutes.
McGowan worked the ball across the face of goal to the unmarked Goncalves, but Langfield was alert to the danger and spread himself to block as the striker tried to lift the ball over him.
|1 Jamie Langfield||1 Craig Samson|
|4 Russell Anderson||14 Marc McAusland|
|22 Mark Reynolds||23 David Barron|
|23 Joe Shaughnessy||3 Paul Dummett|
|3 Clark Robertson||6 Jim Goodwin|
|5 Gavin Rae||21 Gary Teale|
|18 Stephen Hughes||10 Paul McGowan|
|16 Isaac Osbourne||17 Kenny Mclean|
|11 Jonathan Hayes||24 Conor Newton|
|10 Niall McGinn||9 Steven Thompson|
|15 Peter Pawlett||77 Esmael Goncalves|
|20 Dan Twardzik||Grant Adam 16|
|13 Nicky Lowrie||Lee Mair 5|
|8 Robert Milsom||David van Zanten 2|
|14 Rory Fallon||Carey 11|
|9 Scott Vernon||Sam Parkin 19|
|21 Josh Magennis||Lewis Guy 27|
|38 Cameron Smith||Dougie Imrie 7|
|Josh Magennis for Clark Robertson (67)||Carey for Kenny Mclean (90)|
|Scott Vernon for Stephen Hughes (71)|
|Cameron Smith for Peter Pawlett (75)|
|Mark Reynolds (31)||Kenny Mclean (34)|
|Isaac Osbourne (64)||Conor Newton (81)|
|Jim Goodwin (83)|
|Mark Reynolds (73)|
|· Squads: Aberdeen | St Mirren|