DESPITE his ten-man Aberdeen side struggling to even threaten St Mirren on Saturday, Craig Brown is optimistic they can end the season on a high.
With Celtic all but guaranteed to take top spot and the lone Champions League place, the teams in second and third will qualify for the Europa League, along with the winners of the Scottish Cup. Aberdeen exited that competition last week but Brown is confident Europe is still a possibility despite the disappointment of this 0-0 draw.
He said: “Everyone in the dressing room is enthusiastic and I’m still optimistic about a good finish to the season. We’ve got a dozen games left, and after we lost the first game of the season, harshly, to Celtic we went on an unbeaten run of 11 games.
“I think we can do the same again. There’s enough in the dressing room to do that, and we can hopefully get more wins than draws this time. There’s a real determination to finish with a flourish. We can see that we can be the better team in games and we’ve just got to translate that into victories.”
The former Scotland manager refused to comment on the second booking that saw Mark Reynolds sent off, the defender having been penalised for what referee John Beaton deemed a deliberate handball as he charged down Kenny McLean’s 73rd-minute shot.
St Mirren’s in-form striker Esmael Goncalves failed to score for the first time in four games since joining the Buddies on loan from Rio Ave but he had the best chance of the match with five minutes left. Having been played in by Paul McGowan, he tried to lift the ball over the onrushing Jamie Langfield, only for the goalkeeper to block well.
That left Saints manager Danny Lennon disappointed not to win but he was encouraged that taking only a point from Pittodrie was a letdown.
He said: “It shows you where the club has progressed from. We might still be at the bottom end of the table but, with the league so competitive, we find ourselves nine points away from second place. A couple of years ago, we were 36 or 37 points away from second.
“We also got another clean sheet, which is so important. Over the season, that has probably been our Achilles heel.”