Aberdeen 0 - 1 Inverness CT: Dons wave farewell to their top six hopes
IT’S that time of year where it takes the most fervent of supporters to find real meaning in certain SPL fixtures.
This was one such game. OK, your most optimistic Aberdeen fan could have claimed his team still had top six ambitions going into this. One glance at the efforts of the Dons players would tell it all. This was a lost cause.
Even when Inverness were reduced to ten men with the sending off of Josh Meekings, they could do nothing to cancel out Gregory Tade’s tenth minute strike and, almost without a whimper, their top six ambitions ended. The only thing left to inspire Dons players now is to try to win a place in the Cup semi-final squad against Hibs.
“If I passed you all a list of players and asked you to write down your starting 11 there would be a lot of different selections,” admitted Dons boss Craig Brown at the post-match press conference. “No-one middle to front is guaranteed a place and some need to make more of their opportunities.
“I think it’s harsh to say this was our worst performance of the season. We dominated possession for most of the game but just couldn’t find that touch in front of goal. It’s now down to the players to keep fighting. We won’t be in the top six but we want to finish best of the rest.”
Devoid of ideas and a real cutting edge, so much of Aberdeen’s first half possession went to waste. By contrast, Inverness were clinical every time they ventured out of their own half.
Aberdeen were first to test Inverness as midfielder Gavin Rae drove a low 15-yard effort wide of Jonny Tuffey’s goal on seven minutes.
Three minutes later, Dons were behind to a goal that keeper Jason Brown will quickly want to erase from his memory. Tade was allowed too much room to flick down to Billy McKay and with Brown off his line McKay swept past him. With the goal at his mercy, McKay elected for a cutback to allow Tade to tap home his ninth of the season. Aberdeen did try to make amends and youngster Mitchel Megginson believed he had a genuine penalty appeal turned down after claims that Roman Golobart had handled his cross. It wasn’t going Aberdeen’s way and Scott Vernon’s tamely struck 20-yard effort went straight at Tuffey to sum up their opening period.
Yet, it could have been far worse for Aberdeen as McKay robbed Andrew Considine of the ball on the edge of the box before screwing a low drive across goal.
Kari Arnason was then the hero for the hosts as he stood firm to block a Richie Foran effort on the line. That was to be Arnason’s last involvement in the game as he was replaced at the break by Peter Pawlett.
Pawlett was heavily involved in Dons attempts at a second half fightback – a task which should have been decidedly easier as Meekings saw red for a second yellow card. Meekings, pictured, was booked twice inside four minutes – for fouls on Ryan Jack and Pawlett – to leave the visitors clinging on with ten men for the final half hour.
Aberdeen initially made good use of the extra space and Pawlett was inspirational. His vision and dribbling skills were causing Inverness a lot of problems and his defence-splitting pass set up Ryan Jack for what should have been the leveller. But Jack could only shoot straight at Tuffey and the chance was lost.
At the back, Dons were still intent on pressing the self-destruct button and McArdle’s careless header sent in Tade. Luckily for McArdle Tade mis-kicked the ball and it skidded wide from 15 yards.
Tuffey then produced another great stop for the Dons as he parried a Mohamed Chalali strike and they ran out of ideas as their top six dream died.
For Inverness the future looks decidedly brighter.
“That was one of the most satisfying performances of my managerial career,” said Caley boss Terry Butcher. “Every single player played his part and we deserved to win.
“Tade may even need a hand getting on the team bus. He’s struggling to put one foot in front of the other right now. He did all his running out there and has nothing left in him.”
MAN OF THE MATCH Gregory Tade (ICT)
An easy goal but he grafted hard to lead the line and used all his experience to kill the game.
TALKING POINT Should Aberdeen let kids in for free until the summer?
Referee: S Finnie. Attendance: 8,939
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east