WHILE this draw was not a massive blow to Motherwell, who remain in second place, another game without a win, another match without a goal leaves Aberdeen skirting with the increasingly real notion of a bottom six finish.
The top half of the table remains within striking distance for Craig Brown’s men but, as this encounter showed, that doesn’t necessarily mean much to the Pittodrie men. They had little problem getting themselves into decent positions against Motherwell, it’s hitting the target that remains problematic.
“It’s the story of our season,” said Aberdeen manager Craig Brown, after watching his men fail to score for the ninth time in 16 home matches in the league this season.
“I can count off the top of my head six 0-0s this season of which in all but one we were the better team.
“We know the problem. If you know the problem then the remedy is there for you but, as we are past the transfer deadline, then it might have to wait until next season for us to remedy the situation. If we had somebody else who could score goals, it would put us in a really good position, but we are missing chance after chance.
“It is really disappointing. You can see the team is playing well and defending well. Motherwell are the second best team in the country and we played well against them.”
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall said he had not read a newspaper column from his player Tom Hateley’s father Mark, stating that Rangers could do worse than close in on several of his out-of-contract stars, but while the column claimed the Ibrox club should be looking at as many as six of the current Fir Park side, yesterday they did little to provoke such interest.
Playing dumb with regard to the article, he was more up front about his team’s display, acknowledging that they had been second best and confessing he had been worried his men might succumb to the pressure and concede a last gasp goal. Describing the game as “pretty rank”, he said both sides had upped their game in the second half but that Aberdeen had still out-performed his team.
Nicky Law was put through late on and could have stolen all three points but Jamie Langfield was quick off his line. It was a rare attack from Motherwell as Aberdeen controlled the game. That domination, though, is rendered irrelevant if there isn’t anyone banging in the goals.
“That’s the frustrating thing,” said Scott Vernon, whose first half header was halted at point-blank range by Darren Randolph. “We feel we are doing enough to win games but we just can’t get a goal. The lads are in the dressing room and it feels like a defeat.”
Vernon, along with Joe Shaughnessy and top scorer Niall McGinn, was responsible for the majority of the wasted opportunities as the final ball evaded runners, efforts went high or wide and, on occasion, they were simply denied by Randolph, who was by far the busier of the two keepers.
Having lost Clark Roberston to injury just before half-time, Brown sent on Josh Magennis in the second half and he immediately tested the Motherwell keeper but, despite all the pressure, there was no worthwhile end product.
Motherwell’s hopes of a top six finish were barely bruised by the outcome but, for Aberdeen, this could be a brutal blow as they look to be running out of time and games as the split looms large on the horizon.
“Our top six chances are still alive,” stated a defiant Brown. “You can get points when you sometimes least expect them, as Ross County proved.”
The Dingwall side all but secured their place in the higher echelons for the league run-in, thanks to their win against Celtic yesterday and Brown is hoping his team can emulate that feat when they travel to Glasgow next weekend.
“I’m not going down there thinking we will come away with nothing, I’m going there thinking positively. We have three games and, if we get nine points from them, then we would be well in the top six. While there is a mathematical chance, we will be fighting and I think there’s more than a mathematical chance at the moment. The team is playing well enough, if we could just buy a goal from somewhere.”
The point is, though, that they can’t and, with vacancies in the upper half of the table decreasing week by week, things look forlorn.
“Yes, it looks as though there are four certainties and maybe also
St Johnstone, so there might only be one place left. But, if we win three games and I would never say we couldn’t win three games, we have only lost one of our last five.”
But they have also only won one since New Year and scored just five goals. There is, still a chance but as they have proved time and again this season, this Aberdeen side are not very adept at taking their chances.