Frank half-time discussion spurred Aberdeen comeback
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