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Aberdeen FC: McInnes defiant in face of dissenters

Aberdeen's Lewis Ferguson walks off dejected after coming close to scoring during the Scottish Cup 5th round tie between Aberdeen and Kilmarnock
Aberdeen's Lewis Ferguson walks off dejected after coming close to scoring during the Scottish Cup 5th round tie between Aberdeen and Kilmarnock

It is 450 minutes of football – five games – since Aberdeen last scored.

The only consolation after another blank is that they live to fight another day.

Rugby Park beckons on Wednesday, February 19 but for now the Scottish Cup can wait.

With a trip to Hamilton looming tomorrow followed by the visit of Premiership champions Celtic to Pittodrie on Sunday, the clock is now ticking for manager Derek McInnes to end this miserable run as patience among the support is wearing thin.

For the second time in recent weeks – and for the first time at home – the cries for the manager to go could be heard.

They were quickly shouted down by those who remain behind the Dons boss but McInnes knows he has to show he can turn this alarming run around before the number of dissenters become the dominant voices.

The Dons boss said: “I understand it. If you don’t score in five games you deserve stick.

“My players need to take more responsibility but I’m in charge of the team. We set-up to be positive and score goals. Key decisions could help us but I totally understand it. I’ve been under pressure as a manager since I took over at St Johnstone. I listen to key guys in the game who say we’re not far away but it’s difficult to defend when you don’t score.

“We have set a standard and I still believe we will finish third in the league and have a cup run. That’s what we are working towards. I can’t criticise the effort. We’ve tried a front two and various ways to carry a threat but sometimes it comes down to quality and determination.

“This is the toughest period but football is like that.

“Sometimes it is easy, you play rotten and win the game, and sometimes you need to work harder and believe in what you are doing.What we are doing Monday to Friday is right and we need to believe in that.

“Right now it is challenging and we have to work our way through it.”

The opening 20 minutes followed a familiar pattern for the Dons at Pittodrie so far this year with Aberdeen in control, dominant but not able to turn their pressure into anything which would test the visiting goalkeeper.

A Niall McGinn free kick that went just wide of Laurentiu Branescu’s post was the closest the home side came to a breakthrough, despite several balls into the box which were either defended or directed off target.

It suited Kilmarnock, who threatened first with an angled Eamonn Brophy drive which went wide, and the visitors were quite content to soak up all Aberdeen could throw at them.

Unfortunately, at the moment that’s not an awful lot as far as Derek McInnes’s side is concerned.

Despite making five changes to his side from the midweek home defeat by St Johnstone, the pattern was the same as it has been with Aberdeen dominating possession but having no end product.

The fact both goalkeepers made it to the interval without having a save to make said it all.

Within minutes of the restart the Dons changed that statistic as a surging run down the left from Lewis Ferguson took him into the box.

But Branescu saved his close-range effort, turning the ball away for a corner.

Curtis Main was sent on to try to help make a breakthrough.

But it was Killie who threatened next with Brophy firing in a 20-yard shot which Joe Lewis gathered at the second attempt. Due to the swirling wind around Pittodrie the efforts of the home side were ultimately in vain.

McInnes, however, was frustrated Niko Hamalainen’s foul on Kennedy in the first half was deemed a free kick rather than a penalty award.

He said: “We should get a penalty again. That’s three penalties we’ve been denied in the last five games.

“If it was Rangers and Celtic the whole world would know about it.

“Once again Kennedy is brought down and it’s a penalty we haven’t been given.

“We should have had a penalty against Motherwell and St Mirren. It’s not good enough.”

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