Aberdeen 0 - 0 Ross County: No thrills in a Northern stalemate
OLD habits die hard in Aberdeen. It’s just before half past two and news from 30 miles north of Pittodrie filters through that Rangers are losing 2-1 in their Third Division opener at Peterhead.
A large roar erupts and the full repertoire of songs kick off as, for several minutes, Aberdeen fans taunt The Rangers FC.
They may literally be leagues apart, but the old rivalries are still prevalent in the Granite City.
The fact that there were enough fans inside the ground, half an hour before Aberdeen’s clash with Ross County, to make a roar was even more telling.
This wasn’t quite Sell-Out Saturday but it was a pretty good attempt at bringing the fans back to Scottish football. Season ticket sales at Aberdeen are up by more than 1,000 on last term and all four stands were heavily populated in an impressive crowd of 14,010.
Both sets of fans were up for this before kick-off and the players looked pumped up as they ran up the tunnel.
Sadly, however, their infectious enthusiasm didn’t quite translate into a thrilling match. Frustrating? Incredibly. Thrilling? Not one bit.
Still there was enough for both sides to go home happy with. Aberdeen’s exciting new-look team did everything but score and Ross County have now gone an amazing 36 games without defeat.
“That’s now a full calendar year since we lost a game and for any club that’s an incredible record,” said Ross County manager Derek Adams. “We’ve had a very hard start to the SPL but have coped well. We’ve played against a side who were in the Champions League last week and an Aberdeen side who have the money to buy players like Gary Naysmith, Niall McGinn and Johnny Hayes.
“We’re not in the same league as them when it comes to the ability to sign players, but my side showed they can compete at this level.
“Now it’s on to the small matter of a game against Celtic. They are off to sunny climes to prepare for the game while we will be stuck up in Dingwall!”
Chances were very much at a premium with only one real shot on goal from either side in the first half an hour. Stephen Hughes was first to have a go for Dons, inside three minutes, as he ghosted in from the right flank to make space for a shot.
His strike didn’t quite match the build-up, though, and it trickled into the side net.
If Hughes should have done better with that attempt, Martin Scott was even more guilty of wastefulness at the other end.
The former Hibs star found himself completely in the clear on 12 minutes, but as he looked up to see the whites of Jamie Langfield’s eyes his sclaffed effort went wide from 15 yards.
Former Celtic star McGinn had one real effort before he was carried off on a stretcher in the second half. It came just before half time as he dribbled his way to the edge of the County penalty box only to hit the side net.
In the second half, Aberdeen upped the pace and former Scotland stars Naysmith and Gavin Rae
combined, the latter sending a downward header wide.
Hayes was also beginning to find his feet and he saw a deflected effort go wide from 20 yards on 66 minutes.
Ross County then almost snatched it as Richard Brittain and Colin McMenamin combined, the former striking a low effort against the legs of Langfield.
Scott Vernon missed one final chance for Dons as he allowed a Ryan Fraser cross to crash off his legs and go harmlessly into the hands of Michael Fraser.
“My players are distraught in the dressing room,” said Aberdeen manager Craig Brown afterwards. “They felt they should have taken their chances and won that. Gavin Rae has been saying: ‘How did I miss that header?’
“If he and Scott Vernon had taken their opportunities I would have been sitting here feeling very good about the team.
“As it is, I feel there are very many positives that we can take from that. There was a very good crowd there today and I hope we can give them a lot to shout about this season.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: West