Tay­lor itch­ing to get back in the sad­dle af­ter first league fall

The Herald - Sport - - LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP - GRAEME MACPHER­SON AT CALE­DO­NIAN STA­DIUM

UN­BEATEN runs are like good rep­u­ta­tions: dif­fi­cult to main­tain and then so easily ru­ined. Aberdeen know as much to their cost. Af­ter eight suc­ces­sive vic­to­ries, it seemed as if Derek McInnes’ side could do no wrong. And then, in the space of four days, they en­dured the first bumps in the road.

A League Cup de­feat to Hiber­nian of­fered the first signs of fal­li­bil­ity and it was soon fol­lowed by another loss on Satur­day away to In­ver­ness Cale­do­nian This­tle, a first blem­ish on a hitherto im­pec­ca­ble league record. It spoke vol­umes for the stan­dards that McInnes has set at Pit­to­drie in re­cent times that he la­belled his team’s first-half per­for­mance as among the worst of his ten­ure.

The re­crim­i­na­tions and self-flag­el­la­tion will likely go on for a while yet fol­low­ing the 2-1 de­feat – Ryan Christie was ter­rific for the home side, scor­ing one and set­ting up the other – but it is what Aberdeen do next that is of greater con­se­quence.

The pic­ture is far from bleak. Nine games in and they re­tain a four-point ad­van­tage over Celtic. Hearts and Hamil­ton Ac­cies are a fur­ther four points back. Their league po­si­tion is the envy of ev­ery other side and one bad re­sult can’t undo that. It is how they per­form from here that will de­ter­mine whether the events of the past week were merely an un­for­tu­nate blip or the first signs of a team un­rav­el­ling.

They re­turn home to Pit­to­drie on Satur­day when the ever-dan­ger­ous St John­stone are in town. Af­ter the in­ter­na­tional break there is a Fri­day night fix­ture in Ding­wall, a home game against Mother­well and then a po­ten­tially-seis­mic trip to Celtic Park on Hal­loween.

The Aberdeen pic­ture should crys­tallise some­what af­ter that run of games and, if Satur­day’s post-match ver­dict is any­thing to go by, a steely de­ter­mi­na­tion ex­ists among the group not to let their strong start to the cam­paign sim­ply fiz­zle out.

“I to­tally agree with the man­ager’s as­sess­ment and hope­fully it doesn’t hap­pen again,” said Ash Tay­lor, whose header brought Aberdeen back into the game af­ter they had fallen be­hind through goals from Miles Storey and then a stun­ning ef­fort from Christie, who was later sent off. “We are hurt­ing be­cause as play­ers we know that wasn’t good enough and we don’t like putting in that sort of per­for­mance.

“I don’t know where these last two per­for­mances have come from. Maybe there was a bit of lack of de­sire to win the first ball and then the sec­ond ball. But it’s a shock to us be­cause we are used to win­ning and putting in good per­for­mances.

“We ex­pect the best from ev­ery player and from our­selves and we de­mand the best from one another. It just goes to show the type of squad we are that af­ter los­ing one game we are so dis­ap­pointed. Our lead has shrunk by one point but we’ve got to put things right start­ing on Mon­day.

“Now we’ve got to get back to hard work and get back to­gether as a group. We are strong enough and it’s maybe a case of de­mand­ing a bit more from our­selves.”

The mood was rather brighter in the In­ver­ness camp. This was a fifth match in suc­ces­sion with­out a de­feat, with John Hughes’ side grad­u­ally start­ing to pick up mo­men­tum af­ter a tough start to the sea­son.

Christie’s per­for­mance, in the first half es­pe­cially, made him the star turn de­spite his late red card, although oth­ers like Ross Draper and Storey, who scored the third goal of his loan spell, also de­serve spe­cial men­tion. That Hughes could only name five sub­sti­tutes high­lighted the depth of his in­jury list, although he hoped sev­eral of the walk­ing wounded would be back for what is shap­ing up to be a com­pelling derby with in-form Ross County on Satur­day.

“Ev­ery­one is play­ing for each other,” re­vealed Storey, the striker on loan from Swin­don Town. “Maybe at the start of the sea­son we were play­ing well but not get­ting the points.

“Hope­fully the points are start­ing to come now and we can keep go­ing. I am en­joy­ing go­ing into ev­ery Satur­day know­ing I am go­ing to be in­volved, ei­ther in the start­ing team or from the bench.

“It’s nice to look for­ward to the week­ends and I think that’s com­ing out in my play.”

There was praise, too, for Christie whose first-half dis­play fur­ther demon­strated what had prompted Celtic to sign him in the sum­mer. On this ev­i­dence, they may be re­call­ing him from his loan spell sooner rather than later.

“It’s bril­liant hav­ing Ryan there,” added Storey. “He even sets up half the goals I score in train­ing. He gets be­tween de­fend­ers and mid­field­ers and can thread lit­tle balls through.

“That’s why he got his move to a club like Celtic. He’ll be a loss when he goes. He’s a fans’ favourite here and it will be hard to re­place that kind of tech­ni­cal player who can find those lit­tle gaps.”

DONS’ DIS­MAY: Shay Lo­gan looks on as Ryan Christie cel­e­brates scor­ing In­ver­ness’s sec­ond goal on Satur­day

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