OFFERED a 3-3 draw beforehand, few Aberdeen fans would have taken it. At the end of this thrilling clash, they were greeting it as wildly as any of the previous eight wins in succession. That they couldn’t make it nine in a row will be a source of regret, but this was a point gained in the end, one that keeps them two ahead of Celtic at the top of the table.
Scorers: Aberdeen - Goodwillie 7; Hayes 87 pen; Jack 90; Dundee - Irvine 38; Stewart 40; Harkins 48
Although his side left it so late they had to score twice in the dying minutes to earn anything at all from the game, Derek McInnes felt there was only going to be one winner had there been any longer left. “Another five minutes, we win the game,” he said later. “I could not be more proud of my players. They kept going. It was real perseverance, real determination. It could be a very important point for us.”
The home team began brightly but contrived to trail by half-time having taken the lead through David Goodwillie. Goals from Gary Irvine and Greg Stewart changed the complexion of the contest and when Gary Harkins volleyed home to make it 3-1 just after half-time, Dundee’s 1,200 fans were pinching themselves at the prospect of a first win at Pittodrie in over a decade.
But Lawrence Shankland made a swift impact in the 87th minute by winning a penalty, converted by Johnny Hayes. The young substitute then got a touch to Shay Logan’s cross, directing the ball into Ryan Jack’s path. He thrashed the ball into the net and a Pittodrie that had been pregnant with expectation before kick-off exploded with relief.
These are good times to be alive for Aberdeen fans. The crowd of nearly 17,000 reflected this. These good vibes intensified as their team took command early on with a goal that underlined their attacking verve and suggested Dundee were in for a very long afternoon, Goodwillie netting at the far post after good work from Adam Rooney.
Jack controlled deep midfield and from him were sprung a series of Aberdeen attacks. Their inability to take chances, while frustrating for the home support, did not appear to threaten the three points. But even teams riding as high as Aberdeen sometimes have reason to rue missed opportunities.
The most glaring of these was spurned by Rooney, who blazed over at the far post after Goodwillie had sprung Dundee’s offside trap and laid the ball off for Hayes. The game seemed set to hinge on this moment. It was hard to see Dundee coming back from two down. But somehow, they clawed their way back.
Irvine continued his unlikely goal spree with a third strike in three weeks having gone three years without a goal for Dundee. Stewart found Harkins on the edge of the box and his pass found Irvine, whose emphatic finish was perhaps indicative of the full-back’s new found confidence at the other end of the park – it was also the first goal Aberdeen had conceded in the league since 9 November, versus Celtic.
“One-nil and you still don’t sing” taunted the visiting fans when Dundee trailed. The gallows humour was replaced by delirium in the 40th minute after a well-worked goal from Greg Stewart, following a neat one-two with Luka Tankulic. “Top of the league, you’re having a laugh!” was now the taunt.
This was not the way it was supposed to be. But the fact there were still 45 minutes to go offered succour for the home fans. Which made the sight of Harkins volleying home from 12 yards, via a deflection off Ash Taylor, just three minutes after the re-start even more dismaying for them. When Rooney bashed a shot off the post shortly afterwards, a feeling of resignation began to descend.
Aberdeen also started to flap. Passes were misplaced. The injured Taylor was replaced by Willo Flood. Hayes dropped back to left-back in an attempt to guard against Dundee breaks. One, by Stewart, had left him one-on-one with Logan but Brown held the eventual shot. But as expected, the pressure was mostly mounted in the Dundee box. The home fans were stirred by Hayes’ penalty strike after a foul on Shankland by Kostadin Gadzhalov, before Jack’s equaliser saw them applauding their heroes from the park, despite the end of a long winning streak.
Aberdeen: Brown, Logan, Taylor (Flood 63), Reynolds, Considine, McGinn, Pawlett (Smith 63), Jack, Hayes, Goodwillie, Rooney, (Shankland 82). Subs not used: Langfield, Robson, Shaughnessy, Masson.
Dundee: Bain, McGinn, Gadzhalov (Konrad 88), Davidson, Irvine, Thomson (Dyer 90), McAlister, Harris, Harkins, Stewart, Tankulic (Ferry 74). Subs not used: Roberts, Black, Schenk, Carreiro.
Referee: A Muir. Attendance: 16,796.
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