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Jonny Hayes issues ‘naive’ defending warning to Aberdeen as 2022 league clean sheet drought continues

Aberdeen's Jonny Hayes applauds the large travelling support after the 2-2 draw at Dundee.
Aberdeen's Jonny Hayes applauds the large travelling support after the 2-2 draw at Dundee.

Jonny Hayes warned Aberdeen must cut out naive defending to end their damaging clean sheet drought.

The Reds have yet to register a shut-out in the Premiership this year.

It will be 140 days since Aberdeen’s last league clean sheet when they host Dundee at Pittodrie on Saturday.

That last Premiership shut-out was on December 11.

Of the 158 teams spread across the 10 national divisions in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Dons are the only club without a league clean sheet this year.

Aberdeen’s leaky rearguard have registered just five shut-outs in 43 games in all competitions.

Wideman Hayes accepts Aberdeen’s defence must fix the leaks to kill off the threat of being dragged into a relegation play-off battle.

Nicky Devlin (2) of Livingston scores to make it 1-0 against Aberdeen.

He said: “It’s there in black and white – one clean sheet in 18 games just isn’t good enough.

“Especially when you look at the nature of the goals we’re conceding, it’s not like teams are just cutting through us.

“We’ve conceded silly set-piece goals and naïve goals.

“It should be easy to rectify those kind of mistakes, but so far we haven’t done that.

“Where we are in the league, some of the results we have had, it can’t get much worse to be honest.

“It has to get better and everyone associated with the club expects better – staff, fans and the board.

“It comes down to the 11 players selected on a Saturday and the subs involved to start improving those results.

“It’s our job to pick ourselves up after a disappointing result last week.

“This is a massive game against Dundee.”

Jason Holt scores to make it 2-0 Livingston against Aberdeen.

Frustration at costly refereeing calls

Aberdeen have failed to finish in the Premiership top six for the first time since 2013 and the threat of the relegation play-off still lingers.

St Johnstone occupy that play-off spot and are five points behind the Dons with four games remaining.

While accepting Aberdeen’s defensive frailties, Hayes, 34, also believes Aberdeen have suffered from poor refereeing calls.

Aberdeen were left frustrated by a decision by referee Grant Irvine in the 2-1 loss to Livingston at the weekend.

Keeper Max Stryjek (32) of Livingston clashes with Aberdeen’s Vicente Besuijen (10) at Pittodrie.

Irvine controversially failed to award a penalty or send off Livi keeper Max Stryjek for striking Vicente Besuijen in the face.

Livingston went on to score and go 1-0 up a minute later.

The SFA subsequently issued Stryjek with a notice of complaint after reviewing the incident.

Livingston accepted the offer of a two-match ban for the keeper.

Although he believes poor refereeing decisions have been damaging, Hayes will not use them as an excuse for the Dons’ lowly league position.

He said: “There have been numerous which have gone against us over the season.

“Particularly in recent weeks, some of the decisions just haven’t been good enough.

Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes and Funso Ojo , who played at right-back, in the 2-1 loss to Livingston.

“It’s frustrating.

“Of course they matter, but I’m not going to sit here and say we are where we are because of referees.

“It is not that at all. We have just not been good enough.

“But in games – off the top of my head, three or four games – big decisions have gone against us that have probably cost us three points in each of them.

“If you look at where we are in the league, what a difference those points would have made. So it is massive.

“But on the other hand, it’s in the past and we can’t change it as frustrating as it is.

“We have to look forward to Saturday and I expect better decisions.”

Confidence low after recent losses – but Hayes looking up the table, not down

Aberdeen have registered just one victory in 14 matches and have suffered back-to-back defeats at Pittodrie – against Livingston and Ross County.

Facing the Premiership’s bottom side Dundee at home is a must-win for the Dons.

Hayes insists the mood in the squad is upbeat, although confidence has been hit.

He said: “The atmosphere is fine. There’s no issues on that front.

“But I’d be lying if I said the lads aren’t lacking a bit of confidence.

‘That’s part and parcel of where we are in the league.”

Aberdeen Manager Jim Goodwin during the 2-1 loss to Livingston at Pittodre.

The threat of being dragged into a relegation play-off battle is very real.

It will continue until Aberdeen return to winning ways.

Hayes is aware of the danger, but prefers to focus on catching the teams above the Dons to secure a highest-possible seventh-placed finish.

Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes (l) and Andy Considine during the 1-0 loss to Ross County.

He said: “For me, personally, I always try and look forward.

“We want to do our best to try and catch the teams above us in the league.

“It’s all very tight at the bottom of the league and we obviously need to be aware of where we are in the table.

“But, for me, it’s about trying to get a win against Dundee, then pushing on in the league over the final few games.”

Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes races down the left wing in the 1-0 loss to Ross County.

Match Dundee’s fight for survival

Rock bottom of the Premiership, Dundee are fighting for their top flight survival.

The Dens Park side are managed by former Dons boss Mark McGhee.

Gothenburg Great McGhee has yet to taste victory after 10 games in charge.

McGhee did, however, lead Dundee to a 2-2 home draw with Aberdeen earlier this month.

Hayes insists Aberdeen must put their ‘stamp on the match’ to secure three points and move closer to eradicating the play-off threat.

He said: “We need to be aware that we are facing a tough game as Dundee are fighting for their lives.

“It’s up to us to match them in every department.

“That’s the least anyone should expect from us.

“From there, it’s up to us to put our own stamp on the match.

“The next four games are all against teams scrapping, desperate for points.

“We have to do our best to make sure we come out on top of those.”

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