Frank half-time dis­cus­sion spurred Aberdeen come­back

The Herald - Sport - - FOOTBALL - GREG BARRIE AT PIT­TO­DRIE

ABERDEEN 3 ROSS COUNTY 1

FOOT­BALL can be a pe­cu­liar game at times. When Aberdeen stormed to the top of the Ladbrokes Premier­ship hav­ing started the sea­son with eight con­sec­u­tive wins, the sug­ges­tion that the Gran­ite men would then go six matches with­out pick­ing up their next vic­tory would have seemed ridicu­lous.

De­spite com­ing out of that slump to an ex­tent with a home win against Dundee United and a draw at Hamil­ton, a tricky fix­ture for any visit­ing side, there was still a large ques­tion mark hang­ing over the Dons as they were more than a bit for­tu­nate to come away from New Dou­glas Park with a point.

For 45 min­utes on Satur­day all ev­i­dence sug­gested that their prob­lems were very much still in the present rather than con­signed to the past. The de­fen­sive fragility that saw Aberdeen con­cede nu­mer­ous chances to Hamil­ton was on dis­play when Mark Reynolds made a mess of a sim­ple clear­ance and was made to pay for it as Liam Boyce fed Craig Cur­ran to put the vis­i­tors ahead.

Few in the sta­dium could have pre­dicted the dra­matic man­ner in which the game would be turned on its head as sec­ond half goals from Adam Rooney, Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn fired the hosts back into sec­ond spot and a mere four points be­hind Celtic.

Hayes has been a star per­former for Derek McInnes’ side all sea­son and the winger re­vealed that the play­ers had ex­changed some choice words at the half time in­ter­val to root out the prob­lems in their re­cent per­for­mances.

“There was a re­al­i­sa­tion at half-time,” said the 28-year-old Ir­ish winger. “The goal we lost summed up a lit­tle bit where we have been re­cently. The first half was sloppy. Not just the goal but all round.

“We had a talk at half-time and a few things hit home. It was a case of go­ing out and show­ing what we could do. It wasn’t just about the goals but the style of our game was com­pletely dif­fer­ent.

“I thought it was us back to our best, putting teams un­der pres­sure and win­ning sec­ond balls. That al­lows our more at­tack-minded play­ers to go and play.”

There was more than a sug­ges­tion from Aberdeen man­ager McInnes af­ter the match that there has been no short­age of peo­ple lin­ing up to take a pop at his side dur­ing their poor run of form. Hayes was not quite so will­ing to en­force his man­ager’s opin­ion, rather opt­ing to praise McInnes for his abil­ity to shield the play­ers from out­side crit­i­cism and keep them fo­cused on the task at hand.

“I don’t know about that,” said Hayes. “When you are do­ing well, you are al­ways there to be shot down. There are al­ways peo­ple who will treat you as a scalp or put you down in what­ever way.

“It doesn’t bother us. The man­ager shel­ters us from those opin­ions. He does that bril­liantly so it never af­fects us.”

Ross County were left to rue their in­abil­ity to pun­ish Aberdeen fur­ther dur­ing the first half and could still have sal­vaged a point from the match but for a su­perb save from Danny Ward to deny Boyce. The Stag­gies still find them­selves in the top six and re­main on track for their high­est ever fin­ish in the SPFL.

“It was frus­trat­ing be­cause we had played so well in the first half,” said de­fender An­drew Davies. “They upped the pace in the sec­ond half and we didn’t deal with it.”

ON TAR­GET: Adam Rooney cel­e­brates his goal with de­fender Graeme Shin­nie

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