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Aberdeen slump to defeat as St Johnstone secure second away win of the season

Perth Saints score twice for the first time since Craig Levein's first game in charge as the Dons suffer another worrying defeat.

Aberdeen's Richard Jensen looks dejected as St Johnstone's Nicky Clark celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 at Pittodrie. Image: SNS
Aberdeen's Richard Jensen looks dejected as St Johnstone's Nicky Clark celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 at Pittodrie. Image: SNS

Aberdeen manager Neil Warnock is going to need every ounce of the experience he has gained in his decades in the game as the Dons sink deeper into the mire.

Warnock’s wait for a first league victory continues following a 2-0 defeat by St Johnstone at Pittodrie.

In what feels like a death by a thousand cuts the Dons find themselves slowly but surely dropping deeper into the mire with each passing game.

Make no mistake, these are worrying times for Aberdeen.

While their rivals in the bottom half of the table are scrapping away and picking up points the Dons are heading in the wrong direction.

The fans are fearing the worst and chairman Dave Cormack was back in the Granite City to hear the chants of ‘sack the board’ ring out for the second game running.

Back three returned for visit of Saints

Warnock made four changes and a tactical switch from the side beaten 2-0 by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Saturday.

The back four was ditched as the three-man defence utilised under former boss Barry Robson was restored.

That meant a recall from Angus MacDonald with Jonny Hayes and Jack Milne also selected as wing backs with Jack MacKenzie and Nicky Devlin on the bench.

Dante Polvara and Duk were also among the substitutes as Leighton Clarkson returned to the starting line-up against the Perth Saints.

The contrast between the two teams was fascinating with both sides’ battling qualities being questioned following the weekend.

Saints arrived at Pittodrie having scored four away goals in the league all season. They faced an Aberdeen team which has been shipping goals for fun in recent matches.

Before a ball had been kicked it was clear where this game would be decided.

Saints hit Dons with a sucker punch before half-time

Richard Jensen’s handball led to the penalty for St Johnstone’s opener. Image: SNS

Following a minute’s applause in memory of former Dons captain Harry Melrose it was the home side who created the first chance in the 15th minute as Hayes played the ball through to Bojan Miovski but he dragged his shot wide.

From there Saints broke upfield and former Don Nicky Clark tried to chest Matt Smith’s cross goalwards but his unconventional effort was held by Kelle Roos in the Aberdeen goal.

Smith then tried his luck with a long-range first-time effort but his shot went well wide.

There was a fragility and a nervousness to both sides and a miscommunication between MacDonald and Roos in dealing with a free kick into the box summed up the nervousness in the air.

The Dons goalkeeper raced from his line to clear the delivery only to be beaten to the ball by his own team-mate who headed it out for a corner.

Chances were at a premium but Jamie McGrath came close to breaking the deadlock with a 30-yard free kick in the 33rd minute but Saints goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov tipped his swirling effort over the crossbar.

Aberdeen found some momentum thereafter and put the Saints under pressure but it was the visitors who stunned Pittodrie into silence by taking the lead a minute before the break.

The goal came from the penalty spot, awarded after Richard Jensen had handled a Ryan McGowan header from a Smith cross, and Clark made no mistake as he sent Roos the wrong way to give Saints the lead at the interval.

Warnock changes in vain as Saints secure victory

St Johnstone’s Daivd Keltjens  and Aberdeen’s Jamie McGrath in action. Image: SNS

MacKenzie replaced Jensen for the for the second half as Warnock switched to a back four and the Dons substitute found himself in a two against one situation as a ball came into the box.

MacKenzie got a touch to the ball which fell to Smith but the Saints midfielder opted for power and failed to hit the target.

Aberdeen then had their best chance of the game as Roos’ goal kick somehow was allowed to run all the way through to Clarkson who found himself one-on-one with Mitov but the Saints goalkeeper saved the midfielder’s shot.

Hayes then fired wide in what was his final involvement as he and Jamie McGrath made way for Duk and Junior Hoilett for the final half hour.

As the minutes ticked by Aberdeen’s need for a goal grew and Clarkson had another chance when he sped away from the Saints defence but his shot failed to hit the target.

The visitors for their part, were content to sit deep and leave the attacking efforts to their forward trio Clark, Benjamin Kimpioka and Diallang Jaiyesimi on the counter.

However, the tactic almost backfired as Mitov spilled a delivery, sparking an almighty goalmouth scramble which ended with Liam Gordon deflecting Miovski’s shot over the crossbar.

Mitov redeemed himself, however, when he saved a Stefan Gartenmann header as the Dons pushed for an equaliser.

His save proved crucial as the visitors secured victory 13 minutes from time as Kimpioka outpaced the Dons defence before firing past Roos.


Aberdeen (3-5-2) – Roos 5, Gartenmann 5, MacDonald 5, Jensen 4 (MacKenzie 46 (McGarry 81), Milne 5, Barron 5, Clarkson 5 (Phillips 72), Shinnie 6, Hayes 5 (Duk 61), McGrath 5 (Hoilett 61), Miovski 5. Subs not used – Doohan, Devlin, McGarry, Sokler, Polvara.

St Johnstone (4-4-2) – Mitov 6, Keltjens 6 (Gallacher 80), McGowan 7, Gordon 7, Robinson 6, M. Smith 7 (C. Smith 90), Phillips 6, Sprangler 7, Jaiyesimi 7 (Carey 86), Clark 6 (Kucheriavyi 80), Kimpioka 6 (May 86). Subs not used – Richards, Considine, K. Smith, Franczak.

Referee – Don Robertson

Attendance – 14,226.

Man of the match – Diallang Jaiyesimi.