Livingston 0-0 Aberdeen: New striker is now a matter of urgency - Alan Pattullo's verdict
With the home side now unbeaten in 13 games, this was unlucky only for the visitors, whose limitations in attack following the departure of Sam Cosgrove are plain to see. The striker missed this game because he was in the Midlands tying up a £2m move to Birmingham City.
He was one of the lucky ones. Brutal more or less covers it. The positive for Derek McInnes is that his side are a point closer to Celtic – as are Livi. But the Aberdeen manager has fewer than 48 hours to land a replacement for Cosgrove on loan.
One of the most memorable moments was when the Tannoy announcer introduced Livingston substitute Jay Emmanuel- Thomas – or JET as he is known – by remarking: “better start the engines up”. In truth, the game never took off. Looking down at his watch, Martindale admitted afterwards that it would be forgotten by around 5.30pm. Sadly, the teams meet again as soon as Tuesday.
With this fixture having twice been thwarted by the weather, it was a case of wishing they had called it a draw after the original postponement last month and moved on. Playing Connor McLennan up front was the equivalent of a cry for help from McInnes. Despite lauding Rangers-bound Scott Wright’s performance against St Johnstone in midweek, the manager benched him on this occasion.
Wright – whose continued deployment after signing a pre-contract is dividing Aberdeen fans - did replace McLennan with ten minutes left. There was little time for him to bring some badly needed invention to the proceedings although another substitute, Bruce Anderson, should have put Aberdeen ahead in injury time. He headed wide from a good position shortly after replacing Matty Kennedy. The home side had an even later opportunity to win, but Joe Lewis got down well to save Scott Pittman’s effort from the edge of the box.
McLennan has same number of goals to his name as Cosgrove this season – three. But he is clearly not a natural goalscorer, as was proved when he failed to gather a cross from Jonny Hayes.
Aberdeen were marginally the better side over the 90 minutes. The lack of a proper centre forward – Curtis Main was injured – was again underlined when Hayes found himself in the central position after a good cross from Kennedy. He got his feet mixed up and ended up miskicking wide.
McLennan went closer with a header from Hayes’ cross which bounced down off the bar and then up into grateful ‘keeper Max Stryjek’s arms. Aberdeen claimed the ball had gone over the line but far-side linesman Gary Hilland was having none of it. Likewise, Livingston players wanted a goal after another close call at the other end when Lewis scrambled an effort from Pittman away.
Otherwise, this was typical of the top-flight just now: over-coached and horribly physical. Oh for some instinctive skill. Efe Ambrose of all people came closest to delivering this with an overhead kick that cleared the bar early on. Hayes, one of those to whom you look for such moments, delivered a measured pass to McCrorie just before the hour mark. His effort was well saved by Stryjek.
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