Aberdeen 1 - 0 Dundee: Graeme Shinnie adds to away side's woes

Aberdeen hit Dundee for seven goals without reply at the same stage of last season and although all they could muster was Graeme Shinnie's first half winner, in the bigger picture nothing much has changed.

Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie scores the winner. Picture: SNS/Craig Foy

Derek McInnes’ side are still chasing a second place finish as this result leaves them just two points adrift of Rangers with an game in hand, while Neil McCann’s men are desperately scrambling to avoid relegation.

If the result at Ibrox aided Aberdeen’s cause then at least Dundee could derive some consolation from those at Dingwall and Tynecastle, as well as a much improved performance from the previous week’s thumping from St Johnstone.

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Of course events at the end of that Tayside derby at Dens Park will rumble on until at least March 29 when McCann and Saints substitute goalkeeper Zander Clark face an “excessive conduct” charge brought by the SFA following a post-match confrontation.

On the eve of this game Tommy Wright refuted his Dundee counterpart’s claims that the St Johnstone manager made the formal complaint about him and that McCann should reflect on that.

Well, he has and isn’t backing down as McCann said:”Tommy Wright reported me to the referee and while he said he didn’t report me to the SFA, as far as I’m concerned by going to the referee he is reporting me to the SFA because the referee is an employee of the SFA.

“So I don’t know what he’s going on about. That’s all I’m prepared to say about it, we will just wait and see what the outcome is.”

It’s not hard to guess what the outcome will be in terms of avoiding relegation, whether automatic or via a play-off, will be if their results don’t improve on the park and the nature of this latest setback neatly sums up the way things have been going this season.

Dundee actually started quite brightly after looking a little bit brittle defensively in the opening exchanges and really should have gone in front after 29 minutes when A-Jay Leitch Smith raced clear of a square home defence.

Perhaps he had too long to consider the best way to beat Freddie Woodman because he made a real hash of exploiting the opening, allowing the on-loan Newcastle United goalkeeper to block easily.

What happened next had an air of inevitability about it as Elliot Parish ran out into traffic when attempting to gather Ryan Christie’s cross, clattered in to Niall McGinn, dropped the ball and Shinnie guided the loose ball home.

“The story of our season” was McCann’s philosophical reaction afterwards. “We had a golden opportunity to take the lead but I didn’t think it would sit for AJ at all, it was bumping around.

“Whether it was a good save or a poor finish from him, I couldn’t say until I see it again. But we should be taking the lead than shortly afterwards, we give away a calamitous goal.

We’ve got a habit of passing up real chances and then giving away poor goals and it was another example of that today.”

After that they defended doggedly but never hinted at finding a way back into the game with Woodman a virtual spectator throughout a second half where Aberdeen had almost total control of the ball without ever really convincing that they could exploit that any further.

In mitigation the conditions were appalling as a fierce bitterly cold win whipped across a pitch that was almost as bare as the Sahara Desert, making entertaining football nigh on impossible.

Niall McGinn did go close to increasing Aberdeen’s lead just after the break, Parish was spared another nightmare when Christie hit him with a shot after the goalkeeper had spilled an innocuous Chidi Nwakali shot and Stevie May had a goal disallowed near the end.

Shinnie’s goal was actually only their second from open play in the last six matches but it was enough to make it a satisfying few days for a team being tipped to lose to Kilmarnock in last Tuesday’s Scottish Cup replay and bow to Rangers in the race for second place.

Not that Derek McInnes was in the mood to get too carried away as he all he said was: “It was a good end to the week but we just look after ourselves. We want to go into the split and the semi-final in good form.

“It’s going to be exciting and we need to meet it all head on. We have plenty to look forward to and I am really pleased with the players.

“Hopefully the boys will come back from the international break in good nick and we can attack the back end of the season but it was an important win off the back of the cup win.”

All Dundee have to look forward to before the split is the daunting prospect of games at home to Hearts and trips to Glasgow to face Celtic and Rangers.