JAMIE Langfield made a point of kissing the turf at the end of his testimonial win against Brighton and Hove Albion then revealed he’s ready to kiss goodbye to the club after ten years service at Aberdeen.
The veteran goalkeeper is now reduced to the role of third choice behind Danny Ward and Scott Brown at Pittodrie but showed in this match that he still has plenty to offer with a series of stunning saves.
Langfield has already been linked with a move to St Mirren in a playing and coaching capacity and on this form he would be a shrewd signing wherever he ends up.
That was the impression left from a performance where he did well to keep the Seagulls at bay as the English Championship side were every bit as much of a nuisance as the winged variety that have been tormenting the Pittodrie punters lately.
The only disappointment was that there were fewer than 4,000 Aberdeen supporters there to witness a game won by Adam Rooney’s late strike, but ultimately achieved only because of the saves the recipient of the testimonial made during the opening period.
Afterwards Langfield admitted the emotion of the occasion was intensified by its added significance when he said: “If it was to be my last game at Pittodrie it was good to go out on a high and finish with a clean sheet and win.
“It did feel as though it could have been my last game for Aberdeen at Pittodrie. You never know, if I did leave I could come back with another team but I was emotional at full-time.
“I had to earn my clean sheet with a few saves in the first half but the main thing was that my wife and kids had a great day. I still don’t feel old, I’m throwing myself about like an 18-year-old and if it is to be my last time out there I will cherish it and look back fondly on my career here.”
Only Aberdeen legends Bobby Clark and Jim Leighton have made more appearances between the sticks than the man nicknamed ‘Clangers’. That’s a reflection of a rollercoaster decade with the Dons, with the highlight being his penalty shoot-out save as the club ended a 19-year wait for a trophy.
The 2014 League Cup final triumph against Caley Thistle came at Parkhead where five years previously he was beaten nine times by Celtic in Aberdeen’s worst ever defeat. However, beating a life-threatening brain seizure has been Langfield’s greatest achievement and the 35-year-old looked to have plenty of productive years ahead of him on the evidence of this display.
First he sprawled full length to push away a Kazenga LuaLua 25-yard drive destined for the bottom left-hand corner of the net, before holding Danny Holla’s curling free-kick from the edge of the area. The most impressive of the lot came on the stroke of half-time when Langfield somehow twisted in mid air to reach another LuaLua drive that seemed certain to count.
Brighton certainly made it a good work-out for the Dons with Thursday’s gruelling trip to Kazakhstan in mind and manager Derek McInnes took the chance to give several of his squad some valuable game time.
Rooney, Barry Robson, Willo Flood, Peter Pawlett and Cammy Smith all started after being on the bench for last week’s Europa League draw against Rijeka that saw the Pittodrie club progress on a 5-2 aggregate win.
That in itself is an indication of the depth of squad the Aberdeen manager has assembled in an attempt to get to the group stages of the European competition and increase the domestic challenge to Celtic.
He was also able to give Ryan Jack, Paul Quinn, Andrew Considine, Kenny McLean, David Goodwillie and Niall McGinn a run-out in a second half where the Dons carried more of a goal threat themselves.
They finally made the breakthrough with 15 minutes left and inevitably it was Rooney, Scotland’s top scorer last season, who pounced to turn in a Smith cross from close range.
Meanwhile in Kazakhstan, third qualifying round opponents Kairat Almaty stepped up their preparations for Thursday’s tie with a 3-1 league win away to Tobol yesterday. Serbian striker Djordie Despotovic, on loan from Red Star Belgrade, scored a double with Aslan Darabayev getting the other as Vladimir Weiss’ side strengthened their place at the top of the table.
Aberdeen: Langfield (Brown 90), Logan (Considine 46), Shinnie (Quinn 46), Taylor (Jack 46), Flood (McLean 46), Rooney (Ross 85), Smith (Goodwillie 81), Robson (Storie 70), Pawlett (McGinn 70), Rose, Shankland (Wright 60). Subs not used: Culjak.
Brighton: Stockdale; Bruno (Ward 76), Rea (Dallison 76), Dunk, Bong; Rosenior (Calderon 45), Ince (Kayal 45), Holla, LuaLua (Chicksen 76); O’Grady, Hemed (Colunga 45). Subs not used: Ankergren, Starkey.