Aberdeen’s performance against Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday was a huge step in the right direction for Barry Robson.
But the Dons boss must be so frustrated at the manner of the goals his side conceded in their 2-1 defeat in their opening game of the Conference League.
The Dons are back home with plenty of plaudits but no points for their spirited display against the Bundesliga side.
It was good to see the team look much more like the side we saw under Barry in the second half of last season in terms of their resilience and willingness to get on the ball and ask questions of the opposition.
But there’s no getting away from the frustrating and disappointing goals they gave away.
The penalty Jack MacKenzie conceded and the defending at the corner for Robin Koch’s winning header were so poor.
I think Jack was caught ball watching before getting himself in a tangle with Frankfurt winger Dina Ebimbe for the home side’s opener.
The failure to pick up centre-half Koch for the corner for the winner was equally poor from Aberdeen in what was otherwise an excellent showing.
The pleasing thing for Barry will be the fact those two goals they gave away can be avoided in the future.
Defensive lapses should not eclipse a fine Dons display
As sore as it was to take we should not let those two moments overshadow what was a really encouraging showing from the Dons.
Aberdeen fans were fearing the worst due to the poor start to the season and I can understand that.
Let’s be honest, there are no poor German teams in European competition, and the challenge of facing the team which won the Europa League just 18 months ago on their own turf was a daunting one for the Dons.
But the biggest compliment I can pay Barry’s players is that they responded so well to conceding those two goals.
Dante Polvara picked the perfect time to open his account for the club by finishing off an outstanding breakaway for the equaliser and Aberdeen deserved to be on level terms at the break.
The goal the Dons scored was what we’ve come to expect of a Barry Robson team. The move was slick and the finish composed.
That’s the type of transition and quickly moving the ball from defence to attack Barry has been asking for from his side.
The response to Koch’s goal was equally strong with the Dons pushing the Germans back in the final 10 minutes.
Had Ester Sokler taken his chance we could have been talking about a fantastic point on the road for Aberdeen but it wasn’t to be.
Dons have shown they belong on European stage
Overall I think a narrow home win was the right result but from an Aberdeen point of view the positives far outweighed the negatives.
Thursday’s game was Aberdeen’s toughest match of the group and while they didn’t get a result they showed they can compete at this level.
Eintracht Frankfurt are one of the favourites to win the tournament and Aberdeen rose to the occasion at a daunting venue to give them an almighty scare.
The manager and players should take a lot of encouragement from the performance.
Europe is great but Scotland is where Aberdeen’s focus needs to be now
European nights are fantastic but the bigger picture for the Dons is their domestic form.
As encouraging as Thursday’s display in Germany was it is vital Aberdeen pick up their first league win on Sunday when Ross County visit Pittodrie.
It’s a big double-header against Malky Mackay’s side and two wins in the league and Wednesday’s Viaplay Cup quarter-final in Dingwall can spark the club’s season into life.
Europe is great financially and the trips are fun for the fans but the league and cups remain Aberdeen’s bread and butter. Doing well in them is what makes Europe possible.
I said last week there was no cause for panic given the slow start domestically but having performed so well on Thursday there is no excuse for not following it up on Sunday.
The team managed to get the supporters back on their side with a battling display against Eintracht Frankfurt and there is no better way than to really lift everyone at the club by coming back home and picking up three points on Sunday.
Ross County have had a decent start and will have looked at how poor the Dons were after the Hacken when they were beaten at home by Hibs.
They’ll be thinking they can do what Hibs did and it’s up to Aberdeen to show that is not going to happen by starting the game well and taking control at Pittodrie.
Duk in need of a confidence boost
I’m hoping we’ll see the real Duk fans know and love spark into life soon.
He scored 18 goals last season and had a real purple patch during the season but has yet to hit form this term.
The sharpness doesn’t look to be quite there yet and perhaps his confidence has taken a dent because he hasn’t scored yet.
Here’s hoping that’s all it is and it’s just a case of him needing a goal to get up and running again.