How Aberdeen's draw at Rangers suggests Dave Cormack's confident defence of Stephen Glass was not without foundation

Two players returning from injury and only two defenders on the team-line with Scott Brown at centre-half. A wretched run of one win in 12. Yet Aberdeen still stung the league champions on their own ground.

Aberdeen's Funso Ojo (left) and manager Stephen Glass at full time during a Cinch Premiership match between Rangers and Aberdeen at Ibrox stadium, on October 26, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Aberdeen's Funso Ojo (left) and manager Stephen Glass at full time during a Cinch Premiership match between Rangers and Aberdeen at Ibrox stadium, on October 26, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Ten days ago the Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack was defending his manager Stephen Glass on national radio. Four points and two games later the mood has changed, with the visitors coming eight minutes from a rare cinch Premiership win at Ibrox.

The contentious penalty decision from John Beaton split opinion and threatens to overshadow a dogged Dons display which promised so much early on from Glass. Has Cormack’s confidence been rewarded, already?

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Statistics

Aberdeen's Dean Campbell (left) tussles with Rangers' James Tavernier during a Cinch Premiership match between Rangers and Aberdeen at Ibrox, on October 26, 2021. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
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The chairman rhymed off a list of statistics in defence of his manager, and performances, yet Glass has produced the two results of his side’s season without the figures to back it.

They ceded more than 60 per cent possession to Rangers before being levelled by the penalty and likewise saw less of the ball in beating Hibs, meaning they’ve simply been more clinical with it.

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And clinical they were in the opening exchanges at Ibrox, Christian Ramirez in particular pressing high, for a patch-work team with just two recognised defenders and forced into an urgent reshaping for a trip to the reigning champions.

Injuries

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The treatment table had already been busy, but defeating Hibs came at the cost of Declan Gallagher and this year’s break-out star Calvin Ramsey – adding to defensive absences of Andy Considine and Jack MacKenzie.

So much so that Scott Brown’s central midfield presence was sacrificed to support a central defence that was not beaten from open play.

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Glass was also forced to play two central midfielders at wing-back, tasking young Dean Campbell to face up James Tavernier regularly – but Rangers’ open play creativity was limited and Tavernier’s driving runs seldom, until the final quarter hour of the game.

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Campbell and Funso Ojo’s ’s natural positioning also encouraged both narrower to support Dylan McGeoch, returning from rather than succumbing to injury, and break play up in the middle as Aberdeen dug in and for the result.

Turning point

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“The players are 100 percent behind the manager,” Cormack insisted during his resolute defence of Glass, digging out results in the face of such adversity suggests his bullish interview might not have been without foundation.

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