How the St Mirren and Aberdeen players fared - Jamie McGrath narrative, Connor Ronan influence, Dons' collective failing
There was plenty of intrigue and narrative in Jim Goodwin’s team selection for St Mirren’s clash with Aberdeen on Tuesday night.
After being left out for the previous two matches due to speculation surrounding his future, Jamie McGrath was restored to the starting line-up with a left-sided role in a 4-2-3-1 system in the 1-0 win over the Dons.
The midfielder was a key transfer target for Aberdeen who were keen to snap the player up on a pre-contract agreement. However, that was withdrawn with McGrath considering options in England.
Goodwin revealed after the win over Dundee United earlier this month that he was not selected because the 25-year-old “did not feel that his head was in the right place”.
McGrath played a key role with Goodwin describing his performance as “magnificent”, showing “the fans he cares and is committed to doing his best”. The midfielder put in a power of work on the wing, combating the forward runs of Calvin Ramsay and supporting the attack.
However, it was another Irishman who ultimately stole the show for the Buddies. Connor Ronan scored his fourth of the season – and third against Aberdeen – with a brilliant second-half strike to beat Joe Lewis.
The on loan star showed his versatility and industrious side, playing in a deeper midfield role alongside Alan Power.
How did the rest of the St Mirren team fare?
It was all about the collective for the Buddies. Goodwin talked afterwards about giving up the ball with the visitors enjoying 68 per cent possession. Yet, they could do very little with it. Much of that was down to St Mirren’s work out of possession. They got players behind the ball, left little to no gaps between the lines and pressured the ball intelligently. Eamonn Brophy, Greg Kiltie, McGrath and Jay Henderson worked hard to defend from the front, supported by Ronan and Power. The defence gave Aberdeen nothing. Joe Shaughnessy had Christian Ramirez in his back pocket and Charles Dunne didn't put a foot long, likewise Marcus Fraser. Stephen Glass switched his wide men throughout the game but none could get the better of Scott Tanser who was another who looked to support the team going forward.
And what about the Dons?
The collective was mentioned with regards to St Mirren's strong performance. Well, for Aberdeen, it was a collective failing. No player could conclude they performed well. From the very start of the match the visitors looked uncomfortable and far from assured. Dean Campbell played a number of wayward passes, while David Bates and Ross McCrorie were guilty of slack play with and without the ball. Throughout the season Calvin Ramsay has been a strong attacking outlet for Aberdeen. Yet, despite getting in good positions, he never got the better of McGrath or Tanser. The midfield three had their moments but never took full control of the game despite the club's possession dominance. As for the front three. Passive and non-threatening. Ramirez link-up play was sloppy and was guilty of giving away possession too often. Ryan Hedges was off the boil and Funso Ojo is not the answer out wide in an attacking position. As for the subs? They didn’t improve matters.
St Mirren: Alnwick 6; Fraser 7, Shaughnessy 8, Dunne 7, Tanser 8; Henderson 6, Power 7, McGrath 7, Ronan 8 (Erhahon 5); Kiltie 6, Brophy 6 (Grieve 6).
Aberdeen: Lewis 6; Ramsay 5 (Kennedy N/A), McCrorie 5, Bates 4, Campbell 5; Hedges 5 (JET 4), Brown 5, Ferguson 5, Jenks 5 (McLennan 5), Ojo 4; Ramirez 4.
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