Very little it seems. Sheerin liked a goal as a player. From free kicks, from the penalty spot, from open play. He was someone who tended to make things happen. He found it harder to do this from the bench. Even when he did shake up the ‘forward’ line there was only so much messrs Fraser Hornby, Callum Hendry and Matty Kennedy could achieve in four minutes plus added time.
In saying that, both Hendry and Hornby will wish a header opportunity right at the end fell to one of them rather than midfielder Ross McCrorie, who got under his effort and watched the ball rise high over the bar from just outside the six-yard box.
Hendry, Hornby and Kennedy arrived in a late, triple substitution to try and save the day with Florian Kamberi, Jonny Hayes and Dean Campbell withdrawn. Connor McLennan, who like Hayes sought to offer support for Kamberi from the flanks, had already departed the scene several minutes earlier to make room for Niall McGinn.
Dundee United held out for their first win over Aberdeen since May 2015. Adrian Sporle scored the decisive goal on the hour mark when he turned in a Lawrence Shankland cutback after good work on the flank from Jeando Fuchs.
One might have expected it to have been the other way round with Sporle feeding Shankland. But the left wingback has proved a surprisingly productive source of goals of late. This was the third successive game in which he has scored. How Aberdeen must envy having someone with such a knack for grabbing goals. Their struggles in this department have led to them to all but surrender third place to Hibs.
A heat map showed Kamberi’s first-half touches all coming nearer Dens Park than the Dundee United penalty area. That said it all. Pitches in Spring are often bobbly and this accounted for some of the poor control on display. An initially stiff breeze also proved problematic.
There was even a slight contretemps between home manager Micky Mellon and Marc McNulty, with the striker observing that pressing when Aberdeen had the ball near their own area was pointless. “Stick with the f*cking plan!” an unimpressed Mellon bawled.
The game plan seemed simple: score a goal because Aberdeen sure as hell won’t. And so it proved. That’s now one goal in ten matches for the Pittodrie side. The gods of Gothenburg must weep.
Mellon believed the margin of victory should have been greater after two penalty claims from United. The second of these, when Ash Taylor flattened Fuchs with a stiff shoulder barge, seemed a particularly strong appeal.
An earlier incident when the ball struck Campbell’s hand just before the hour mark also got Mellon exercised. Aberdeen were similarly frustrated at being denied a penalty although given the current crisis situation in front of goal it’s far from guaranteed they would have profited from it. To add insult to injury Lewis Ferguson was booked for simulation when it looked as though Callum Butcher had shoved him over.