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Sean Wallace: Duk and Miovski have got us all thinking ‘what if?’ Aberdeen defence had been more solid in first half of season

The 34-goal Dons duo are the best strike partnership in the Premiership, and keeping them together for next season should be the club's summer priority.

Aberdeen's Luis 'Duk' Lopes celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 against Kilmarnock with teammate Bojan Miovski. Image: SNS.
Aberdeen's Luis 'Duk' Lopes celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 against Kilmarnock with teammate Bojan Miovski. Image: SNS.

Aberdeen’s Duk and Bojan Miovski have developed into the Scottish Premiership’s top strike partnership.

The red-hot duo have smashed in 34 goals in all competitions so far this season, with 30 of those coming in top-flight action.

Premiership leaders Celtic boast the sensational Kyogo Furahashi on 28 goals, but Liel Abada on 13 is their next highest scorer.

Abada has netted just three times since the start of the year.

Second-placed Rangers’ top-scoring strikers are Antonio Colak on 17 goals in all competitions with Alfredo Morelos on 10.

No strike duo in the Premiership is delivering the combined goals, and assists, of Duk and Miovski.

Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes celebrates scoring against Kilmarnock with strike partner Bojan Miovski. Image: Shutterstock

They are on course to become the first Dons strike duo to hit a combined 40 goals for a campaign in more than 30 years.

Not since the 1992-93 season, when Duncan Shearer netted 27 times in all competitions and Scott Booth scored 19, have two Reds strikers reached the 40-goal mark between them.

In that season, Aberdeen finished second in the league title race and were beaten finalists in both cup competitions.

A prolific strike duo brings success, which is why there will always be a feeling of “what if?” surrounding this season for the Dons.

What if the defence hadn’t woefully underperformed until Barry Robson fixed that damaging problem when he was appointed interim boss in late January?

Aberdeen supporters will, hopefully, discover the answer to that question next season.

Duk’s double in the 2-0 defeat of Kilmarnock took the Cape Verde international striker’s tally to 17 in all competitions.

North Macedonian international Miovski in on the same figure.

They are just six off the 40-goal combined mark – with seven Premiership games remaining.

Robson has shown what can be achieved with a lethal strike duo – and a solid defence.

The Reds have risen from the bottom sixth up to third in the Premiership by merging a potent attack with strong backline.

It is a combination that brings success.

Aberdeen’s Bojan Miovski celebrates Duk’s second goal in the 2-0 defeat of Kilmarnock, his second assist of the afternoon. Image: SNS

The Dons have had strikers hit that magical 20-goal target individually in recent seasons.

Sam Cosgrove scored 23 in 2019-20, but the second highest scorer was Niall McGinn on seven.

The previous season, Cosgrove also hit 21 goals, with the closest players to him McGinn and Lewis Ferguson, with both on eight.

McGinn and Adam Rooney also breached 20 goals in other seasons  – but carried the scoring burden on their own.

This is arguably the first time in decades Aberdeen have possessed a centre-forward partnership where both members of the double act are prolific scorers.

They are forging a strong partnership with Miovski pitching in with assists for both Duk’s goals against Kilmarnock.

Aberdeen’s Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 with his teammate Leighton Clarkson. Image: SNS

Which is why it is so vital Aberdeen retain the duo for a tilt at success next season.

Their scoring form will inevitably bring interest from clubs keen on signing the strikers during the summer transfer window.

Miovski was on the radar of Italian giants Lazio and French outfit Stade de Reims prior to the January window.

Premier League strugglers Southampton also had Miovski watched recently.

Duk is on the radar of a number of English clubs and recently admitted he has long term ambitions to play south of the border.

Italian Serie A sides Bologna and Spezia are also reportedly monitoring Duk and Miovski.

The good news for Dons fans is both strikers are happy at Aberdeen and are both tied to long-term deals at Pittodrie.

Both are in no rush to move on and the Dons are in the driving seat with contracts.

Duk is contracted until summer 2025, with Miovski tied to Pittodrie until summer 2026.

If Aberdeen maintain their impressive form, there will likely also be European action next season – another attraction for both strikers.

Duk and Miovski are a proven goal-scoring duo.

With them leading the line next season, backed by a solid defence, the Dons’ trophy drought dating back to 2014 could end.

Unexpected resurgence under Robson

As I watched the Dons implode at Easter Road on January 28, any notion of a push for European qualification – let alone third – seemed ridiculous.

If anyone had asked me that day to rate the Dons’ chances of finishing third, I would have placed it alongside Elvis Presley riding the Loch Ness Monster down Merkland Road: impossible.

Aberdeen were a shambles that day when crashing 6-0 to Hibs to deliver a third straight humiliating defeat in little more than a week.

Inevitably, Jim Goodwin was sacked immediately after that Hibs humbling.

Jim Goodwin quickly leaves Easter Road after losing his job as Aberdeen boss in the wake on Aberdeen’s 6-0 loss to Hibs. Image: SNS

The Hibs loss came on the back of the embarrassing 1-0 Scottish Cup loss to sixth-tier Darvel, the worst result in the club’s history, and a 5-0 hammering at Hearts before it.

As I drove back to the Granite City from Easter Road, the outlook looked bleak for the Reds.

A scrap to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle appeared inevitable.

And after what I witnessed in those three games, I feared the Dons didn’t have the fight for a relegation scrap.

Fast forward 10 weeks and the situation has turned completely under the guidance of Barry Robson.

Aberdeen’s Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 against Kilmarnock in Saturday’s 2-0 Premiership win. Image: SNS

Aberdeen are now two points clear in third spot, having leapfrogged Hearts, who are now in crisis and have sacked boss Robbie Neilson.

It is a remarkable transformation, yet Robson’s audition for the job on a permanent basis continues.

He has been given the managerial role until the end of the season – at least.

On Friday night, Aberdeen travel to Ross County bidding for a sixth straight win.

Surely if this form continues and the Reds seal a third-placed finish chairman Dave Cormack, in Lord Alan Sugar style, will say: “You’re hired”.

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson during the 2-0 defeat of Kilmarnock. Image: Shutterstock

Emergence of teen star Alfie Bavidge

Teenager Alfie Bavidge deserves his opportunity to impress in the first Aberdeen first team after excelling for the club’s under-18s.

The 17-year-old has netted 33 times for the U18s this season, including five hat-tricks.

Teenage striker Alfie Bavidge comes on for Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes in Aberdeen’s 2-0 defeat of Kilmarnock. Image: Shutterstock

It was great to see the teen get game time when introduced as a substitute in the 77th minute in the 2-0 defeat of Kilmarnock.

Bavidge is fast, powerful, skillful and clearly has an eye for goal. He ticks all the boxes to have a successful career.