Adam Rooney: Aberdeen have also benefited from refs this term

Adam Rooney, with 18 already, is on course to beat the club's record of 22 league goals in a season. Picture: PA
Adam Rooney, with 18 already, is on course to beat the club's record of 22 league goals in a season. Picture: PA
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Adam Rooney admits it would be hypocritical of him to join in the widespread condemnation of Willie Collum as the Aberdeen striker has benefited from poor refereeing decisions himself this season.

Collum has been no stranger to controversy recently and his latest mistake was to award Caley Thistle a penalty at a crucial stage of the Dons’ 3-1 defeat at Inverness on Monday.

It certainly seemed to everyone but the official that there had been no contact between Ash Taylor and Ross Draper but Greg Tansey converted the resulting spot-kick to edge the home side in front.

Aberdeen went on to suffer their first league defeat in 13 matches, putting a serious dent in their chances of winning a first title in 31 years.

They travel to Firhill tonight looking for the win that will move them level on points at the top with Celtic, who play the first of two games in hand at home to Inverness tomorrow.

It’s a return to a venue that amply illustrates why Rooney feels it would be churlish of him to blame Collum for Aberdeen’s failings in the Highlands. On the Irishman’s last visit to Maryhill in August it was Stephen Finnie incurring Partick Thistle’s wrath when the referee failed to spot Rooney controlling the ball with a hand before scoring the first in a 2-0 win.

That’s one reason why the striker said: “You have to make sure you get yourself into a position in a match where decisions don’t matter. You’ve got to take things into your own hands.

“Decisions went against us on Monday but that happens over a season and we’ve probably had ones in our favour this year.

“The last time we went to Partick I got a lucky one with a handball so they equal themselves out. Sometimes they go for you, sometimes they go against – that’s football.

“It’s frustrating at the time when it goes the other way, but you can’t dwell on it and just have to get on with things. Referees have a difficult job. They are under pressure to make decisions.

“We have looked at our own performance as well. We had time to get back into the game but didn’t do that, so we have to learn from that.

“Now we are going to Thistle focused on our own performance and not thinking about anything else.”

Tonight’s match will mark Rooney’s 100th appearance for Aberdeen since Derek McInnes rescued the player from a nightmare spell at Oldham just over two years ago.

He has scored 56 goals in that time and already one more in the league this season than the 18 that made him the Premiership’s leading marksman last season.

With 12 games to go Rooney looks set to beat the Dons record of 22 league goals set by Duncan Shearer in 1993 and Frank McDougall the last time they won the title in 1985.

Even that might not be good enough for a place in Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland squad for the European Championships but defences should be wary of Rooney’s additional motivation. He added:“I have been around the fringes lately and am scoring goals for Aberdeen at the minute. All I can do is keep that up and see what happens when the manager announces his squad.

“Different managers have different opinions, but when I have joined up with them it has been great as the manager and Roy Keane have been very complimentary about how I’m getting on here at Aberdeen.

“They have just said to keep doing what I’m doing and they’ll keep an eye on me.

“It’s a big competition and they have plenty of people to think about, so all I can do is focus on my own game and score goals here.”

Jonny Hayes has been a main supply route for Rooney but his fellow Irishman is out for a month with a hamstring strain. On the plus side captain Ryan Jack returns from injury and could feature tonight.

Partick must do without the services of right-back Mustapha Dumbuya, who remains sidelined with an ankle injury.

Thistle have only lost one of their last ten Premiership games but sit just one point and one place above Kilmarnock and the relegation play-off spot. However, they have also played three games fewer than the teams immediately around them.

“We’re on a decent run,” said centre-back Freddy Frans ahead of the Dons’ visit. “You know you have three games in hand and if you win those you are even top six. But, still, mentally you don’t want dragged into the battle because you see the league table and we are in tenth position.”