Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, last night cited the stirring ten-man victory in Dingwall as proof that sleights on Aberdeen’s character are ridiculous, writes Alasdair Fraser.
With the second-top SPFL Premiership team overcoming a Mark Reynolds red card and the consequent loss of the opening goal to Ross County to win 3-2, McInnes was in defiant mood.
Celtic play their game in hand at Hamilton Academical tomorrow, knowing their title lead is again trimmed to just three points.
It was Ronny Deila, the Celtic manager himself, who recently suggested the Dons did not talk or behave like league title challengers. Yesterday, without question, they did. “People will no doubt question us again in the future, but I know I have a brilliant set of boys to work with and I know what they’re capable of,” McInnes said.
“We have gone nine games undefeated in the league and have had a lot of good wins in those games. It is the same three points when you win, but today it feels a bit more than that.
“From Scott Brown right throughout the team, we were excellent. There are 16 games to go and there will always be an opponent there to stop you, so we had to show our intent from the start. It pleased me to see the intent was there, although it wasn’t perfect because our defending gave them encouragement at times.
“Adventure and attacking intent characterised the display, even with the one-man advantage. Our third goal probably says everything about our performance because it was our left-back, high up the pitch, crossing for our right-back, to score,” McInnes said.
Jim McIntyre, the Ross County manager, was enraged by the failure of referee Crawford Allan to award a first-half penalty at 0-0. But he was also clear that his side had been architects of their own troubles by failing to take a handful of decent chances.
“Aberdeen started the better team without a doubt and they put us under pressure straight away,” McIntyre admitted.
“They were in the ascendency but we defended well and created some great opportunities. But we didn’t take them and that was the difference in the game. Aberdeen were ruthless and we weren’t.
“We had the penalty claim and it was a penalty. The referee explained it at half-time. He thought the advantage was a good advantage for us, but Alex had a shot from a narrower angle than a penalty.
“He should have given the penalty. But even when we had a one-on-one today we chose to pass it.”