Aberdeen’s new signings impressed but could not prevent the frustration of a winless run extending to five games.
The Reds created chances but had to wait until Christian Ramirez netted late on to salvage a 1-1 draw against Ross County to retain their unbeaten start to the Premiership campaign.
Aberdeen are very much a work in progress and three of the four new signings added this week featured against the Staggies and showed early signs they can bring added dimensions and depth to the squad.
However Aberdeen must defeat teams like Ross County at home if they are to launch a concerted push at the top end of the Premiership table.
Aberdeen have been highly pro-active in the transfer window over the last week with the capture of Matty Longstaff (Newcastle) and Austin Samuels (Wolves) on season long loan deals from the English top flight.
Also secured on permanent deals are free agent Marley Watkins and Scotland international defender David Bates (Hamburg).
The capture of Bates on a three-year deal was confirmed just hours before kick-off
However the 24-year-old had to watch the action from the stands as Aberdeen awaited international clearance.
The need for reinforcements was underlined by a chastening lesson from Qarabag on Thursday when outplayed in a 3-1 Europa Conference League play-of defeat.
Positives starts from loan signings
Manager Stephen Glass handed starting debuts to Longstaff and Samuels with Watkins coming off the bench midway through the second half.
Longstaff and Samuels both produced enough on their debuts to indicate they can be key players for Aberdeen for the rest of their season long loan.
The hope will be that they can produce similar impacts on loan as James Maddison and Danny Ward during their spells at Pittodrie.
🔴 Straight into the action for our new Dons.
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) August 29, 2021
Very early days yet but Samuels showed plenty of pace, skill and attacking intent to potentially make that an attractive option.
A threat down the left of a three pronged attack Samuels was unfortunate not to net a debut goal and gave right-back Connor Randall a tough shift until he was substituted mid way through the second half.
Rapid, skillful and direct Samuels had three shots at goal, one on target.
Impressive pass completion rate
Likewise England U-20 international Longstaff was highly involved in the left of the midfield but could perhaps have been more pro-active in attack and further forward.
Composed in possession Longstaff rarely wasted a pass and the abilty to stretch the play with cross-field passes will add an extra dimension to the Dons.
On a number of occasions he delivered perfectly judged cross field passes from the left to the onrushing right-back Calvin Ramsay, who was again impressive.
Longstaff had 52 touches, 46 passes with a 93.5% pass completion rate and one shot on target. Impressive stats considering it was his first game time of the season and the Newcastle midfielder only had only had two training sessions with the Dons.
In October 2019 Longstaff made a sensational Premier League debut for Newcastle when scoring the winner in a 1-0 home defeat of Manchester United.
Hopes loan star will go ‘Supersonic’
Such was his immediate impact Oasis legend Liam Gallagher, a Manchester City fan, paid tribute to the midfielder during a live concert soon after that win.
Longstaff’s Scottish top flight debut was not as ‘Supersonic’ as his one for the Magpies but there were plenty of indicators it will be a positive move for the midfielder and Aberdeen.
The Dons came up against not a ‘Wonderwall’ but a brick wall in the form of the Ross County defence. Despite creating a host of chances it looked like the break-through would not come until that late goal from Ramirez.
Whether Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass’ ‘Masterplan’ is to play Lewis Ferguson and Longstaff alongside one another in midfield will be very much dictated by the remaining days of the transfer window which shuts at midnight on Tuesday.
Nervous wait until window closes
Aberdeen have already rebuffed an offer of under £2m from Premier League Watford for Ferguson early in May and the 22-year-old subsequently handed in a transfer request.
Uncertainty over Ferguson’s Pittodrie future has not diminished his performance levels or commitment to the Dons – and he will now deservedly meet up with Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
However in Don Corleone fashion from the Oscar winning film The Godfather a team could yet come in with an ‘offer you can’t refuse’ for Ferguson.
The return of Marley Watkins
During a loan spell at Aberdeen last season Watkins showed his qualities until a serious injury in November forced him to return to his parent club.
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) August 29, 2021
Back having signed a two year deal it was more of the same from Watkins. Four new signings – and now two weeks to gel further due to the international break.