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Aberdeen boss Neil Warnock brands Dons defending as Sunday league level

Interim manager stunned at the cheap goals conceded in his side's 2-2 draw with Hibernian

Aberdeen manager Neil Warnock during a cinch Premiership match between Aberdeen and Hibernian at Pittodrie Stadium, on February 17, 2024, in Aberdeen, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Aberdeen interim manager Neil Warnock. Image: SNS

Aberdeen interim manager Neil Warnock branded his side’s defending against Hibernian in their 2-2 draw as Sunday league level.

Warnock, who watched his side come from 3-0 down to earn a point against Motherwell in midweek, saw his side concede another early goal at Pittodrie before scoring two goals to take a 2-1 lead.

However, poor defending gifted the visitors another goal to leave the interim boss still searching for his first league win in three attempts.

Warnock said: “The word frustration comes into it. We had 26 attempts on goal and then concede two Sunday league goals.

“It’s two points dropped.

“I can’t fault the effort but I don’t know how you can report on those goals we conceded.

“You can talk all day but the players have to take responsibility. For the second goal Nicky Devlin has to put it out with any part of his body. There’s no threat then all of a sudden it’s a goal.

“We played well but the only thing missing was a clean sheet to win the game. They can’t believe the goals they’ve scored.

“They’re elementary mistakes. You put so much into the game and go behind and have to come from behind again.

“For me the art of defending is a clean sheet and putting your body on the line.”

Warnock bemoans penalty decision

Warnock was also aggrieved his side was not awarded a penalty after Hibs goalkeeper David Marshall caught Dons striker Bojan Miovski in the face as the two contested a high ball.

The interim boss intends on raising the issue with the SFA next week.

He said: “I look forward to talking them to next week. Miovski has got to the ball first and anywhere else on the pitch it’s a foul and a yellow card.

“I don’t understand referees and VAR. That’s definitely a foul and it should have been a penalty.

“I’d like to have a chat with somebody. The referees in Scotland are far better than in England. I don’t know if I’ve had the good four or not.

“But if he’d booked someone in the first four minutes he would have saved himself a lot of bother. Graeme Shinnie was booked for a challenge and I’ve no problem with that.

“But then someone takes Killian Phillips from behind when he’s already been booked and nothing happens. It’s bewildering.”



Warnock made two changes from the side which drew 3-3 with Motherwell in midweek.

Richard Jensen, who fell ill on the day of the game, returned to partner Stefan Gartenmann in central defence.

Duk, who came off the bench to score twice as the Dons rallied from 3-0 down to earn a point, was given a starting berth.

Shayden Morris missed out while Dante Polvara dropped to the bench.

Dons concede early goal – again

Hibernian’s Martin Boyle celebrates after making it 1-0 at Pittodrie. Image: SNS

Aberdeen shipped three goals in the opening 26 minutes to the Steelmen in midweek and they continued that generous mood as they gifted the visitors the lead in the 12th minute at Pittodrie.

Kelle Roos’ poor kick out went straight to Hibs captain Joe Newell. The midfielder played the ball forward to Myziane Maolida, who held the ball up before releasing Martin Boyle who rounded Roos to score.

The Dons capitulated against the Steelmen. Here, they struck by within a couple of minutes.

Nicky Devlin celebrates his equaliser for Aberdeen. Image: SNS

The defending from the visitors was equally poor as Gartenmann’s hooked ball over the defence was volleyed goalwards by Bojan Miovski.

David Marshall got a hand to the Dons striker’s shot but the ball broke perfectly for Nicky Devlin to slide home the equaliser.

Marshall kept Dons at bay before the break

 Aberdeen’s Graeme Shinnie and Hibernian’s Joe Newell compete for the ball. Image: SNS

Aberdeen’s tails were up and Marshall was called into action again to keep out a Jack MacKenzie effort as the Dons pushed for a second.

Aberdeen kept the pressure on and Marshall came to the rescue again for Hibs as he blocked a Miovski effort after the striker had been sent clear on goal by Duk.

Hibs were a threat too, however, and the visitors wanted a penalty for a handball from Devlin from Jordan Obita’s cross but their appeals were dismissed following a VAR check.

The pace was relentless and back came the Dons with a Leighton Clarkson effort from a Miovski cutback which struck the crossbar but somehow the sides reached the break on level terms.

Aberdeen strike early after the break – but Hibs hit back

Jamie McGrath celebrates putting Aberdeen in front. Image: SNS

Aberdeen’s perseverance finally paid off six minutes into the second half.

Duk worked his way into the box before cutting the ball back to Clarkson. The midfielder’s shot was blocked by Will Fish but broke to Jamie McGrath who took a touch before firing through a crowded penalty area to put his side ahead.

Aberdeen wanted a third but that man Marshall was determined to keep his side in the game and he made another fine save to turn away a curling Duk effort which was destined for the top corner.

The Hibs goalkeeper’s save proved pivotal as his side drew level with their next attack.

Devlin misjudged a ball forward and tried to see it out for a corner but Newell kept it in before picking out substitute Emiliano Marcondes who fired past Roos to make it 2-2.

Hibernian’s Emiliano Marcondes scores to make it 2-2. Image: SNS

Marshall had one more save in him when he denied Miovski before limping off with a thigh strain and in the first of the 10 additional minutes added MacKenzie blazed over for the Dons as they searched for a winner.

The left back then picked out Miovski at the back post as the clock ticked down but the striker fired straight at substitute goalkeeper Jojo Wollacott.

Aberdeen (4-2-3-1) – Roos 5, Devlin 6, Gartenmann 7, Jensen 6, MacKenzie 7, Barron 6, Shinnie 6, McGrath 7, Clarkson (Phillips 79) 6, Duk (Hoilett 79) 6, Miovski 7. Subs not used – Doohan, Hayes, Sokler, Polvara, Duncan, MacDonald, Milne.

Hibernian (4-3-3) – Marshall (Wollacott 82) 7, Miller 6, Fish 6, Triantis 7, Obita 6, Newell 7, Levitt (Amos 75) 6, Moriah-Welsh (Marcondes 57) 5, Youan (Tavares 57) 5, Maolida 7, Boyle (Le Fondre 83) 6. Subs not used – Hanlon, Vente, Stevenson, Bushiri.

Referee – David Munro 6

Attendance – 18,329

Man of the match – Jack MacKenzie.