The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)

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“I was disappoint­ed to be dropped the other night but the gaffer spoke to me and said that I hadn’t been dropped, it was just that he was keeping me for Saturday.

“I want to kick on and play as many games as possible.

“It has been a frustratin­g season for me but, when you look at the quality in that dressing room, you realise it’s a squad game.”

McNamara was pleased with Graham’s contributi­on, saying: “I thought Brian was excellent, especially in the first half.

“He won every header and got us into the game. That allowed Stuart (Armstrong) and Gaz (Mackay-Steven) to get forward and they (Aberdeen) struggled with their pace.”

The Tannadice gaffer thought 1-1 was an equitable outcome.

“We had a good start but over the 90 minutes, I thought it was a fair result,” he said.

“In the first 20-25 minutes I thought we had chances to add a second and third goal which didn’t come. The longer the half went on, the more Aberdeen came into it and I thought they were better than us in the second half.

“When you’ve got a goal of a cushion, you always seem to get deeper and deeper, and we paid the price for that.”

The United boss felt his side could certainly have had one of the spotkicks, when Armstrong went down under the challenge of Mark Reynolds.

“It doesn’t really matter what I think as the referee makes the decisions but it’s one we’ll look at later,” he said.

“We felt there was contact and that Stuart was pushed.”

With his side still five points behind Aberdeen in the race to finish second, McNamara feels United can still challenge.

He said: “Anything’s possible. We have to keep looking after our own performanc­es and results, and wish for the best.”

Aberdeen boss McInnes was disappoint­ed not to have taken more from the match, despite his side coming from behind for the third time in the space of a week.

He said: “In three league games over the past week, we’ve come from behind in all three. Regardless of how well we’ve done in cups, the league is important.

“If we don’t finish second, it won’t be the biggest disappoint­ment.

“There are some good teams round about us, but we’re confident we can keep doing what we’ve been doing and hopefully we can come out on top.”

Although disappoint­ed with his side’s slow start, McInnes was pleased with the way his side bounced back, and highlighte­d the contributi­on of former United captain Barry Robson in the result.

“We didn’t start the game as well as we normally do but we were relentless in the quest to get the equaliser and dominant from there on in,” he said.

“If we were a wee bit more clinical, we could have converted that domination into another goal.”

Of Robson, he added: “Barry was pivotal. He epitomised everything we’ve been this season.

“He took full responsibi­lity, he was aggressive and showed quality at times. His whole demeanour and body language showed he wasn’t going to let us lose the game.

“He was in good company with his team-mates, but he was very important to us today and he has been all season.” HEARTS MANAGER Gary Locke dedicated their 2-0 victory over Hibernian to the fans after their third Edinburgh derby win of the season prevented them being relegated by their rivals.

Victory for Hibs would have confirmed Hearts’ Scottish Premiershi­p fate but goals from Dale Carrick and Billy King at either end of the Tynecastle clash gave administra­tion-hit Hearts the bragging rights.

Locke admitted he had a sleepless night after St Mirren’s draw at Inverness on Saturday set up a potential nightmare scenario of Hibs fans celebratin­g Hearts’relegation atTynecast­le.

Locke added: “I’ve had hundreds of sleepless nights, to be fair. I’m sick of spending money on Nivea face cream to try to get rid of the wrinkles.

“As I said during the week, it wasn’t Hibs that were going to relegate us, it was the fact the 15 points (deduction) had killed us and we hadn’t won enough games.

“But obviously it wouldn’t have been nice for Hibs to come here and beat us. It would have been a hard one to take.”

Hibs struggled to test Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald despite putting Hearts under more pressure as the game progressed after Carrick fired home in the sixth minute following Ryan Stevenson’s knockdown.

They were denied a legitimate equaliser in the 82nd minute when Jordon Forster was flagged offside as he headed home Lewis Stevenson’s cross, despite being two yards on.

Their misery was compounded in the closing minutes when Alan Maybury was shown a second yellow card for bringing down King, who scored an injury-time clincher after being played through by Stevenson.

When asked about a difficult day in the dugout, Hibs manager Terry Butcher said: “It’s made difficult by a decision that’s horrendous. The way things are going at the moment, it’s par for the course.

“It’s so disappoint­ing when a great goal gets chalked off when it’s not even close to being offside. We had momentum at that stage, attacking our fans in the second half we felt we could get a goal and go on and win the game.

“I had a few words with the linesman (Alasdair Ross) when we went up the tunnel but I don’t care to repeat them.”

Butcher admitted, however, his side had lacked a cutting edge.

“We passed it quite well, the system worked really well, but we didn’t test the keeper enough,” he said.

“Jamie MacDonald has not had the most difficult of afternoons.”

The Englishman admitted concern over his team’s form after one win in 13 games, which has seen them become embroiled in the battle to avoid a relegation play-off.

Hibs are now only six points above secondbott­om St Mirren.

 ?? Picture: SNS Group. ?? Billy King skips round Hibs keeper Ben Williams to score Hearts second goal.
Picture: SNS Group. Billy King skips round Hibs keeper Ben Williams to score Hearts second goal.

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