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Extent of Aberdeen summer squad overhaul needed is hammered home by 1-0 loss at St Johnstone

St Johnstone's Dan Cleary tries to catch Aberdeen's Vicente Besuijen
St Johnstone's Dan Cleary tries to catch Aberdeen's Vicente Besuijen

The extent of the Aberdeen squad rebuild required in the summer was brutally underlined by a 1-0 loss in Perth.

Aberdeen’s woeful away record continued with another loss on the road as Callum Hendry netted a first-half, first-time winner for St Johnstone.

In 24 matches on the road this season in all competitions, the Reds have won just three times.

That’s a lot of travelling, expense and time from the Red Army for minimal return.

They witnessed another dire performance in Perth.

Aberdeen went into this game against a St Johnstone side battling relegation without a striker with regular top-flight experience due to the absence of Christian Ramirez and Marley Watkins.

Ruth makes first Aberdeen start

The onus fell on rookie centre-forward Michael Ruth to lead the attack in his first Aberdeen start.

It was a big ask for Ruth to come in from the cold against three centre-backs.

The 20-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and is set to exit Pittodrie.

Ruth had previously only racked up four substitute appearances for Aberdeen for a total of 18 minutes of action.

Aberdeen’s Michael Ruth in action against St Johnstone in Perth.

Having spent the first half of the campaign on loan at League One Falkirk, where he scored four goals in 13 appearances, Ruth returned to Pittodrie in January.

The striker ran himself into the ground in the attempt to deliver a goal at St Johnstone.

Ultimately he couldn’t find a breakthrough and was denied any quality service.

That lack of quality service to strikers has been an ongoing problem all season and will need to be addressed in the summer window.

Aberdeen had 70% of possession (75% in the first half) and registered more than double the amount of passes of St Johnstone.

The Dons had 543 passes, 463 of them successful.

Saints had just 228, with 150 successful.

However, Aberdeen did little with the possession.

It has been a recurring theme throughout the campaign.

Ramirez in the USA, JET released, Watkins injured

Ruth was the only available striker because Christian Ramirez has jetted back to the United States.

Boss Jim Goodwin sanctioned the early start to the United States international’s summer holiday because he was fatigued.

The contract for Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was also terminated in mid April.

Marley Watkins, who led the line in the 1-1 draw at Hibs, was ruled out with a thigh injury.

Aberdeen’s attack, which had struggled to deliver goals and creativity at the best of times in a dismal season, was down to the bare bones.

Ruth’s introduction was one of three changes to the starting line-up which drew at Easter Road.

Ross McCrorie was ruled out due to concussion protocol, while Jonny Hayes dropped to the bench.

Also coming in were on-loan Celtic left-back/winger Adam Montgomery and Funso Ojo.

Aberdeen created the first opportunity in the eighth minute when Lewis Ferguson met a Connor Barron corner but headed into the side netting from 10 years.

St Johnstone went ahead in the 17th minute through a sweeping move which culminated with Glenn Middleton cutting a pass into the box from the right byline.

His pass found Hendry, who swept a low right-footed strike beyond keeper Lewis from six yards.

St Johnstone’s Callum Hendry (centre) celebrates his goal to make it 1-0 against Aberdeen.

Aberdeen’s defensive problems continue. They have secured just six clean sheets in 46 games in all competitions this season.

The Dons didn’t threaten again until the 33rd minute and again it was through the dead-ball combination of Barron and Ferguson.

In an almost carbon copy to their earlier opportunity, Barron delivered a corner to Ferguson at the back post.

Ferguson headed straight at keeper Zander Clark from six yards.

Then, in the 45th minute, Barron sent a 25-yard low drive inches wide of goal.

It was the last action of a first half where Aberdeen were too pedestrian and indecisive in possession – and lacked any creative spark.

Half-time: St Johnstone 1 Aberdeen 0

In the 51st minute, Barron delivered a 40-yard cross-field pass from the right  to the onrushing Vicente Besuijen on the left.

Keeper Clark had to race out of his box to beat the Dutch winger to the ball.

St Johnstone’s Murray Davidson pressures Aberdeen’s Jack Mackenzie in Perth.

St Johnstone nearly doubled their advantage in the 58th minute when marauding full-back Shaun Rooney connected with a Melker Hallberg corner six yards out.

His downwards effort bounced on the pitch and flew just over the bar with keeper Lewis struggling to cover it.

In the 61st minute, Hendry was allowed the space to shoot and curled an effort just wide from the edge of the penalty area.

First team debut for teen Harvey

A positive for Aberdeen on a dismal evening was the first team debut of 17-year-old striker Liam Harvey.

The talented teen came on for Jonny Hayes who had also been introduced off the bench.

Hayes was forced off through injury.

Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes goes off injured against St Johnstone.

Full-time: St Johnstone 1 Aberdeen 0

ABERDEEN (4-2-3-1): Lewis 6; MacKenzie 6, Bates 6, Gallagher 6, Ojo 5, Ferguson 6, Barron 7, Montgomery 5 (McLennan 65), Polvara 5 (Hayes 55) (Harvey 74), Besuijen 6, Ruth 5 (Kennedy 65).

Subs: Woods, Considine, McGeouch, Milne, Lobban.

ST JOHNSTONE (3-4-1-2): Clark 6; McCart 6, Gordon 6, Cleary 6, Brown 6, Davidson 6, Hallberg 6 (McPherson 85), Rooney 6, Crawford 6, Hendry 6 (Bair 85), Middleton 7.

Subs: Parish, Mahon, Bair, Craig, Butterfield, Sang, Cifcti, Gilmour.

Man of the match: Connor Barron (Aberdeen)

Referee: David Munro

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