CELTIC can set in stone their third successive title at Firhill tonight. Aberdeen’s quest to add European qualification to League Cup silverware is no such foregone conclusion.
ROSS COUNTY - De Leeuw 35′
ABERDEEN - Rooney 77′
A pulsating spectacle in Dingwall could have thrown up any number of outcomes, but the Dons arguably rode lucky with a salvaged point after a powerfully impressive home display.
It was hard to separate the
Europa League and relegation play-off candidates in a game, under the television lights, that had a little bit of everything.
County led through Melvin De Leeuw and passed up a clutch of good opportunities to strengthen the lead before Adam Rooney clawed Aberdeen back.
It was also an occasion rich in controversy, with Aberdeen’s equaliser arriving immediately after County were denied an obvious corner kick.
With Union Street awash with red on Sunday as 80,000 celebrated that cup triumph wildly, County were out to rain on the parade at a ground where Aberdeen have never won.
Aberdeen initially attacked with Mark Brown blocking an attempt by Adam Rooney. Fingered for blame for two spills in the Fir Park defeat, Brown produced a fine reaction save as Barry Robson met Shaleum Logan’s cross with a fierce header. And the County goalkeeper earned his crust again soon after, turning Rooney’s powerful low strike for a corner after Robson’s good work.
The Dingwall team settled and must have thought they had taken the lead after 21 minutes. From Brown’s kick forward, De Leeuw’s head-flick had Yoann Arquin muscling free of Alan Tate before slotting crisply under Jamie Langfield’s body. But a linesman’s flag, presumably for a nudge on Tate, denied the hosts the lead.
It looked like a real let-off for the Dons, who looked rattled by County’s French striker Arquin and De Leeuw, whose moment was about to come.
Andrew Considine was booked for a cynical body check on County full-back Erik Cikos.
From Graham Carey’s free kick, whipped in with venom, De Leeuw rose to score with a subtle flick of the head eight yards out that left Langfield for dead.
Arquin might have doubled the lead after slick passing at pace by Michael Tidser and De Leeuw.
Aberdeen’s Tate was hauled off at the break after his torrid first half and, turning towards the away support, the Aberdeen reaction was initially stirring.
Robson almost lifted Brown’s crossbar off the posts five minutes into the second period with a thunderous left foot shot hit from 30 yards.
County were creaking and clinging on for a while, with Cammy Smith’s looping header hitting the base of the County post from Logan’s cross.
Moments, later, Graham Carey screamed in vain for a penalty in the Dons’ box after a Considine challenge.
County, again, worked their way back into the game and De Leeuw had clear sight of goal after 70 minutes, but was denied by Langfield.
Filip Kiss was fed into space by substitute Jordan Slew for a low bullet at goal that Langfield brilliantly tipped around the post. Incredibly, no corner was given.
It was to prove a costly one for County. Instead, Aberdeen went forward and grabbed the equalising goal with 14 minutes remaining. Brown again did
brilliantly to deny Ryan Jack at close range before Considine’s follow-up struck the post. The defender forced the ball across to Rooney to slam home at close range.
There was derision as referee Brian Colvin somehow missed another blatant County corner after a Brittain strike clearly
deflected off a red shirt.
Considine took a straight red to add to the drama for shoving down Carey, sent clear by Richard Brittain, just outside the
It looked perfect for dead-ball expert Brittain, but the free kick smacked off Willo Flood’s face for a corner.
Ross County: Brown Cikos, Boyd, Songo’o, Oikonomou, Brittain, Kiss, Tidser, Carey; De Leeuw (Slew 73), Arquin (Saunders 83). Subs: McCarthy, Gordon, Quinn, Glen, McLean.
Aberdeen: Langfield, Logan, Tate (Shaughnessy 46), Reynolds, Considine, Flood, Jack; Robson, McGinn, Smith (Vernon 73); Rooney. Subs: Weaver, Robertson, Low, Zola, McManus.