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Richard Gordon: Kilmarnock test will indicate if Neil Warnock can salvage Aberdeen’s disappointing season

The Dons need to find form if they are to finish the season in the top six.

Aberdeen striker Duk and Kilmarnock's David Watson (12) in action in the 1-0 loss at Pittodrie. Image; Shutterstock
Aberdeen striker Duk and Kilmarnock's David Watson (12) in action in Killie's 1-0 win at Pittodrie. Image: Shutterstock

As the season moves towards its last couple of months, the signs are that Scottish football is heading for another dramatic conclusion, not just in the Premiership, but right across the SPFL.

Most attention is, of course, paid to the top-flight, and with the split on the horizon, none of the issues have been resolved. The one certainty is that Hearts will be in the top six, and are odds-on to finish third. I cannot see them imploding in the way they would have to, to relinquish that spot.

Kilmarnock’s form is such that they too look very likely to secure a top half placing, which would be reward for what has been an outstanding campaign to date.

St Mirren are still vulnerable, and Dundee, Hibernian and Aberdeen are all in the running, with Motherwell just about still in contention.

It seems ridiculous talking about the Dons sneaking into the top six, but that is the sad reality, and no more than they deserve for what has been a hugely disappointing season.

There is little point in trawling back over what has gone wrong, but the simple truth is given the investment over the summer, and the squad assembled, it is embarrassing for the club to be in this position.

Barry Robson paid the inevitable price; we await to see whether Neil Warnock has what it takes to rectify the situation and at least restore a little pride. This afternoon’s trip to Rugby Park will give us a further indication.

Another defeat, and an eighth league game without a victory, could prove fatal.

Aberdeen Interim manager Neil Warnock during the 2-2 draw with Hibs. Image: SNS.
Aberdeen manager Neil Warnock during the 2-2 draw with Hibs. Image: SNS.

At the bottom, Livingston’s success over St Mirren has revived their flagging hopes, and there will be a massive 90 minutes in Dingwall today when Ross County and Livi go head-to-head. If the visitors come out on top, the alarm bells will be ringing for County, and it could be a nerve-wracking climax.

As for the title race, I suggested in last Saturday’s column that Celtic looked the more likely to blink first; a few hours later, they did just that. Rangers now have a little daylight, but they face an almighty challenge this afternoon against the form team in the country.

If Hearts go to Ibrox with self-belief, they can win there just like they did at Celtic Park in December.

Down the divisions, Falkirk and Stenhousemuir appear to have Leagues One and Two sewn up, but the Championship could yet be a thriller between Dundee United and Raith Rovers, and there are still plenty play-off places up for grabs across the board.

My main focus has been on League One with Cove, and it has been as hard fought as everyone anticipated.

It really is a brutal division with five teams battling it out for two remaining slots in the top four. The next couple of months seem certain to be fraught, and it could well go down to the final afternoon of the season.

VAR problems persist

VAR was again to the fore for all the wrong reasons last weekend, with the Dons game against Hibernian at the centre of the controversy.

When watching the highlights, I was staggered no action was taken over the Nicky Devlin incident – the ball was clearly played by his arm – nor over the moment where David Marshall, albeit inadvertently, caught Bojan Miovski with his fist.

Hibs subsequently released details of a conversation with the Scottish FA during which the club contend the governing body admitted an error had been made; the ‘handball’ should have been referred to the referee for review.

That mistake can be added to a growing list.

I know that VAR is almost certainly here to stay, too much has been invested in the system to scrap it, but it has not been anything like the effective tool we all hoped for, and for me, and many others, it has had a detrimental effect on the game.

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