Aberdeen's Lewis Ferguson ignores fans abuse as Scott Brown goes off injured - but St Johnstone have a big fitness concern too in stalemate

Caretaker manager Barry Robson got what he asked for – eventually. He got fight and he got some character. He got, above all, balls, as represented by Lewis Ferguson.

The midfielder stepped up to score a hugely pressurised penalty with 20 minutes left to cancel out Callum Hendry’s early opener.

Things had been getting very serious indeed for Aberdeen. Skipper Scott Brown limped off just after the hour mark having just been moved to centre-back to permit a more attacking formation.

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He was replaced in defence by Ferguson, who stepped back from midfield. Ferguson was enduring some booing from his own fans in the Merkland Family Stand each time he touched the ball after his reaction to fans’ abuse at Fir Park on Saturday. But he rose above it to score a priceless penalty to ensure Aberdeen did not suffer an unthinkable fourth successive defeat at the start of the post-Stephen Glass era. The loss of a goal after just six minutes had made this threat a very real one.

Lewis Ferguson equalises for Aberdeen against St Johnstone.Lewis Ferguson equalises for Aberdeen against St Johnstone.
Lewis Ferguson equalises for Aberdeen against St Johnstone.

Robson restored young full backs Jack MacKenzie and Calvin Ramsay to the starting XI, a move that might have been expected from the Under-18s coach.

He also gave Connor Barron his first start in midfield. The 19-year-old was excellent.

Winger Vicente Besuijen added some spark when he replaced centre-half Declan Gallagher at half-time.

Robson did what he could. But these under-performing Aberdeen players clearly require something – or someone – else to pick them up. Sir Alex Ferguson is due back in town shortly. Perhaps he can be persuaded. He will be a guest at next weekend’s home game against Dundee United for the unveiling of his statue. While this point was welcome, Aberdeen, who remain winless this year, are far from out of the woods.

Callum Hendry put the Saints ahead at Pittodrie.Callum Hendry put the Saints ahead at Pittodrie.
Callum Hendry put the Saints ahead at Pittodrie.

St Johnstone applied some balm to their own relegation concerns but remain bottom, if only by a point from Dundee. They suffered a significant blow losing Zander Clark shortly before half-time. The big ‘keeper, who has been linked with a move to Aberdeen this summer, limped off and was replaced by Elliott Parish.

He had already ensured Aberdeen were not going in at the break at least on level terms. He saved a header from Ferguson after a brilliant cross from Ramsay and then tipped a Brown drive on to the bar. He then got his fingers to a Jonny Hayes effort on the turn before getting down low to parry a deflected Ferguson effort past his near post. It wasn’t bad for around 40 minutes’ work.

At the other end the returning Joe Lewis might have been under-worked but he was also under-protected after he blocked a shot from Glenn Middleton. The winger had cut in from the right and driven a shot in from just inside the box. The Aberdeen defenders stood around like statues and although Ali Crawford failed to capitalise on the rebound, Hendry was allowed the time to dig the ball out of his feet and add to Aberdeen’s problems. The old adage of the earlier the better when it comes to conceding a goal applied here. That said, Aberdeen made very hard work of their comeback.

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They had 84 minutes to at least draw level and when they did, it was from the penalty spot at a time when St Johnstone were looking as comfortable as they had been all match.

St Johnstone's Zander Clark goes off injured against Aberdeen.St Johnstone's Zander Clark goes off injured against Aberdeen.
St Johnstone's Zander Clark goes off injured against Aberdeen.

Ramsay was bundled over by Callum Booth. Ferguson swept the ball home from the spot and rushed to retrieve it again from the back of the net with little fuss and little joy.

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