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Aberdeen held by St Johnstone in frustrating draw in Perth

VAR the big discussion point as the Dons drop two points at McDiarmid Park

Aberdeen's Nicky Devlin and St Johnstone's Graham Carey in action. Image: SNS
Aberdeen's Nicky Devlin and St Johnstone's Graham Carey in action. Image: SNS

VAR took centre stage as Aberdeen were held to a 1-1 draw by St Johnstone in Perth.

Two huge reviews, one in each box, left the Dons staring at a 1-0 deficit to handing them a lead in the space of 10 minutes at McDiarmid Park.

But Bojan Miovski’s penalty was not enough for Barry Robson’s side as a mistake from Kelle Roos allowed David Keltjens to net an equaliser for the home side.

The sense of frustration from both sides was palpable.

Recent meetings hinted at what was to come

Graeme Shinnie and St Johnstone’s Luke Robinson compete for the ball. Image: SNS

With two wins and two clean sheets from his two matches in 2024 it was no surprise to see Robson stick with the same personnel and formation for the third game running.

Aberdeen have found a degree of consistency, winning five of their last seven matches in all competitions.

Conversely the Dons faced a Saints side looking to bounce back from their shock Scottish Cup defeat by Airdie at the weekend.

The revival under Craig Levein has tailed off with the home side having failed to win any of their last four matches.

The Perth side also went into this game having scored just once in their last five games so the stage was not set for a classic.

Given the last seven matches between these sides at McDiarmid Park have produced the meagre total of six goals it should perhaps come as no surprise.

That statistic should have prepared the spectators for what unfolded. In the first half in particular it was grim stuff.

It started promisingly enough for the visitors but their threat quickly petered out.

A first half to forget in Perth

Aberdeen’s first half display made for grim viewing for Dons boss Barry Robson. Image: SNS

A well worked free kick released Jamie McGrath in space in the box but he failed to pick out a team-mate as his low cross was cleared.

Dante Polvara created the first chance of the game when he cut in from right and fired in a powerful left-foot shot which Dimitar Mitov did well to keep out.

St Johnstone struggled to get a foothold in the game at all in the opening exchanges and Dan Phillips fired a low drive wide from 25 yards.

Polvara was Aberdeen’s main threat but goalscoring chances at either end were minimal.

Graham Carey was Saint’s best attacking outlet but Kelle Roos was not tested at all.

Forward play into the box was a rarity. When the sides did reach their opponents’ penalty area the cutting edge was nowhere to be seen.

Honestly, the sound of the half-time whistle came as a relief to all concerned.

VAR takes centre stage in the second half

Mercifully we were treated to much more entertainment after the break.

Saints thought they had taken the lead three minutes into the second half when Carey beat Roos with a fine volley from the edge of the box.

But referee John Beaton was asked to review a potential foul and upon checking he deemed Liam Gordon had fouled Jamie McGrath in the build-up to Carey’s goal so a free kick was awarded.

Roos then made a fine save to deny Diallang Jaiyesimi as the home side pushed for an opener.

The Dons responded with a surging run from captain Graeme Shinnie but his drive into the box was not matched by his effort as he fired tamely at Mitov.

Referee John Beaton points to the spot awarding Aberdeen a penalty. Image: SNS

The VAR influence continued as the Dons were awarded a penalty just after the hour mark.

A Connor Barron corner eventually went out of play for a goal kick before an announcement was made of a check for a potential handball.

However, footage seemed to show a foul by Gordon on Slobodan Rubezic.

Whatever it was, Beaton pointed to the spot after reviewing the incident and Bojan Miovski stepped up to score his 17th goal of the season.

Bojan Miovski scores a penalty to make it 1-0 against St Johnstone. Image: SNS

The lead lasted until the 78th minute as Saints drew level.

It is one goalkeeper Roos will not enjoy reviewing as he came for a cross only to miss it completely and David Keltjens was on hand to head into the empty net.

Aberdeen found a sense of urgency in the closing stages as they committed men forward in search of a winner and substitute Ester Sokler had the best chance in stoppage time but he headed straight at Mitov.

Saints almost won it themselves but substitute Max Kucheriavyi saw his strike come back off the post.


St Johnstone (3-5-2) – Mitov 5, McGowan 5, Gordon 5, Keltjens (Olufunwa 90) 5, Considine 6, Sprangler (Kucheriavyi 73) 5, Phillips 5, Smith 6, Robinson 5, Carey 6, Jaiyesimi (Kimpioka 85) 5. Subs not used – Richards, Gallacher, May, Olufunwa, Turner-Cooke, Franczak.

Aberdeen (4-2-3-1) – Roos 6, Devlin 5, Rubezic (MacDonald 90) 6, Gartenmann 6, Mackenzie (Jensen 74) 6, Barron (Sokler 63) 5, Shinnie 6, Polvara (Hayes 63) 6, Clarkson 5, McGrath 5, Miovski. Subs not used – Doohan, Duk, Gueye, Morris, Duncan.

Referee – John Beaton

Attendance – 3,472.

Man of the match – Graham Carey.