Aberdeen 1-1 St Johnstone: Saints well worth a point at Pittodrie
Ryan Hedges scored in his third consecutive SPFL game at Pittodrie today. Photo by Scott Baxter/GettyImages

Aberdeen and St Johnstone shared the SPFL points at Pittodrie with a 1-1 draw.

Story of the match

Despite a weak start to the season, the Perth side will perhaps feel aggrieved at having to settle for a point, after equalising just before the break and having much the better of the second half. 

Hedges on the mark again

Aberdeen had the best chance of the first half-hour when a Greg Leigh cross was met by Sam Cosgrove, whose header crashed off the post. The Dons took the lead on 28 minutes after a poor defensive header and a lucky deflection from Leigh’s ball left Ryan Hedges clear in the box to finish between the legs of Zander Clark

The Dons failed to press home their advantage, and Saints equalised on 43 minutes through Michael O’Halloran. Good work down the left and poor marking on the edge of the box left O’Halloran free to beat Joe Lewis low into the corner. The Aberdeen keeper will feel he should have saved the shot, which left the sides level at the break.

The second half produced a depressingly familiar pattern for the home supporters, with plenty of possession never looking like it would be converted into a goal. Instead, it was the visitors who looked sharper and far happier on the ball when they broke. 

After a series of half-chances throughout the second period, St Johnstone were initially awarded a penalty after Andrew Considine was adjudged to have fouled Matty Kennedy. However, a consultation with his assistant led referee Steven McLean to annul his decision. The Dons came close at the death when Lewis Ferguson’s deflected free-kick was well saved by Clark, but a defeat would have been rough justice for the visiting side.

A poor afternoon for Aberdeen was compounded by injuries to Craig Bryson and Funso Ojo, who were both forced off early. Saints, meanwhile, will be glad of an away point but may feel they could have taken all three. 

Takeaways from the match

Same old problems for Aberdeen

Aberdeen supporters experienced some unwelcome deja vu this afternoon. Today’s performance would have slotted nicely into their horrific home run at the start of this calendar year when Stenhousemuir, Kilmarnock, Hamilton and St Mirren all left Pittodrie with a draw or better. Furthermore, they will be diagnosing the exact same problems. Creativity, flair, chances and even urgency were all sorely lacking.

Another ‘lesser’ side came to Pittodrie to stifle, and very comfortably did just that. Saints visibly grew in confidence throughout the game, looking dangerous on the break and frankly far better on the ball. While Bryson has at least looked nippy in patches, he has yet to appear anything like the playmaker Aberdeen sorely need. Not only did the Dons struggle to score today, but they were also unable to create shooting opportunities. Unless they find a way to break sides down at home, Aberdeen will struggle to win back a top-three finish. Catching Rangers, meanwhile, appears utterly out of the question.

Plenty of positives for Saints

The return of Stevie May was something of a red herring today. While May was largely anonymous, Saints impressed in other areas. While the Perth side has a strong recent record in the north-east, they came into this game joint bottom and without an SPFL win. They left Pittodrie today with a well-deserved point, and surely a significant boost to their confidence. Defensively sound throughout, Aberdeen were restricted to somewhat aimless possession football, while St Johnstone broke confidently and with ease. Scott Tanser, in particular, was a constant thorn in the home side’s defence, constantly marauding on the left flank and providing the equaliser for O’Halloran.

With two home games to come - albeit against Rangers and the increasingly impressive Motherwell - Tommy Wright will surely be more confident of moving up the table. While Saints will not trouble the European places this season, strong performances like this make top six a realistic possibility.