Scott Vernon is hoping to get his stuttering Aberdeen career back on track after stepping off the bench to score a late winner against previously unbeaten league leaders Inverness.
Aberdeen 1-0 Iverness CT
Scorer: Aberdeen - Vernon (81)
Referee: C Thomson
The 29-year-old striker struck a superb goal on the spin just three minutes after replacing youngster Cammy Smith, to move the Dons to within three points of joint pacesetters Inverness and Celtic. Vernon, who scored 28 goals in his first two seasons at Pittodrie, has endured something of a barren spell of late, netting only six last term and seemingly falling out of favour under Derek McInnes this term.
His substitute appearance on Saturday was only his third this season and his goal was his first since March. The Mancunian is hoping his winner can spark an upturn in his personal circumstances. “It’s been frustrating,” Vernon added. “You keep plugging away. I’m not one to get down. I try to stay positive, I keep chipping away in training and working my hardest. I feel that, if you sulk about, you don’t get anywhere and don’t help yourself. I’ve not played as much as much as I would have liked at the start of this season but each minute on the pitch is a chance to change that. Helping the team to three points will help with that and, in the future when I get more chances, I can hopefully continue to do that.”
Now seemingly the fourth-choice striker at Pittodrie behind Niall McGinn, Calvin Zola and Josh Magennis, the former Colchester man reaffirmed his commitment to the Dons. He said: “I’ve never thought that I want to leave the club but you do wonder if the writing is on the wall when you’re not getting games and not getting on. The manager picks the team, so you have to respect that.”
After losing for the first time this season, Inverness defender Josh Meekings vowed that his side will bounce back quickly. Terry Butcher’s side travel to Dundee on League Cup duty tomorrow, and Meekings, 21, sees that as the ideal opportunity to get back on track.
He said: “It’s obviously disappointing, but we can take a lot of positives from it, as we put up a really good fight. It wasn’t a game that I thought either side should have won, and a draw would have been a fair result. Teams are going to start coming after us because we’ve been doing quite well so we’ve got to keep going and concentrate on ourselves. We’ve got a chance to go and redeem ourselves in midweek.”
The visitors could have taken the lead two minutes before Vernon bagged what proved to be the winner but Gary Warren saw his header hacked off the line by Smith. Meekings said: “It was a good chance for Gary, but they’ve made a good clearance. It was a chance that could have won the game so it’s a bit disappointing from that point of view.”
Asked if he could foresee a battle with Aberdeen to finish best of the rest behind Celtic, Meekings added: “We’re not looking at anyone else in the league. We’ve set ourselves targets and will just take each game as it comes.”