First impressions can be deceptive, which is probably just as well for Ashton Taylor given the defender’s inauspicious debut appearance for Aberdeen after a summer move from Tranmere Rovers. That came in the opening league game of the season against Dundee United at Pittodrie and could hardly have gone worse for the player or his new team. It ended in a 3-0 defeat, their biggest losing margin of any home match since this afternoon’s opponents, Celtic, won by the same scoreline in February 2011.
Taylor’s contribution was an embarrassing assist for United’s opening goal with a slack passback that allowed Ryan Dow to steal in and score. However, if the Dons supporters headed home wondering whether Derek McInnes had made a rare mistake in signing the former Wales under-21 international, Taylor’s self confidence never wavered for a minute. That’s hardly surprising after making over 200 appearances for the Prenton Park club by the age of 23 and the evidence has been stacking up that that belief was certainly not misplaced.
Since then, he has become established as a more than able deputy for Russell Anderson after the club captain required knee surgery following damage sustained against St Johnstone in mid August.
Aberdeen have won seven and drawn one of the nine games played since defeat at Celtic Park in September, the last three yielding clean sheets and the centre back is determined to extend that record against the defending champions.
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He is convinced that they have the quality individually and collectively to make that happen but even after such a disappointing debut self belief has never been a problem.
“That didn’t unsettle me. It happens sometimes in football,” Taylor stressed. “I would have preferred it if it hadn’t been my debut but it happens and it didn’t faze me. Of course, it wasn’t the way I wanted to start my playing career here but I have faith in my own ability. I do what I do and, while it didn’t pay off that day, I just get on with it as that’s the type of character I am. Defending well comes down to the performance of the team as a whole though and that’s been going well recently.
“Everyone communicating, getting together and working hard for each other is important. We’ve shown that by coming through our last three games with clean sheets. That togetherness is the kind of thing that can see us through against a team like Celtic. You see teams pick up points against Celtic, or beat them, so I don’t see why we can’t get a result against them.”
That sort of conviction is something the majority of Taylor’s team mates should share after their results against Celtic prior to the central defender arriving. They were the only side to defeat what was then Neil Lennon’s team in the Premiership last season and joined exalted company in Barcelona and AC Milan as the only ones to defeat them twice.
Taylor added: “The lads got a taste of it last year and, like all professionals, once you’ve had that you want to win medals and trophies for the team. We don’t fear anybody because there’s bags of quality in our team and we feel like we can match anyone.
“There’s nothing wrong with our performances so far, I just think we haven’t had that complete performance yet. In certain games we missed a few chances or we’ve conceded goals but, once we get that balance right, I think it will be a good day.”
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