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St Johnstone 1-1 Aberdeen: Barry Robson still believes Aberdeen can catch Hearts in third


St Johnstone's David Keltjens scores to make it 1-1 during a cinch Premiership match between St Johnstone and Aberdeen at McDiarmid Park
David Kjeltens scored on his St Johnstone debut to earn a draw

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson says he still believes his team can finish third in the Scottish Premiership despite a draw at St Johnstone leaving them 16 points adrift of Hearts.

Bojan Miovski’s second-half penalty – awarded after an on-field review by referee John Beaton found Liam Gordon had kicked Slobodan Rubezic – put Aberdeen in front at McDiarmid Park but they could not hold on for victory.

Instead, St Johnstone got their reward for persevering when Graham Carey’s cross found debutant David Keltjens, who beat stranded Aberdeen goalkeeper Kelle Roos to the ball and nodded into an empty net.

That made up for Carey’s brilliant volley being disallowed at 0-0, after a trip to the screen by Beaton found another foul by Saints captain Gordon, this time on Jamie McGrath.

The draw nudges Aberdeen above Dundee and into seventh but they are still well behind third-place Hearts, who they face on Saturday at Tynecastle, albeit with three games in hand.

“We’ve got to believe that, and I believe that [Aberdeen can catch Hearts],” Robson told BBC Scotland. “We need to go and try our best to do that. We’ve still got a few games in hand on them.

“We want to go on a run and perform well. We did it last year. It’s going to be a big ask. But we believe and we’ve got to fight for every point.

“There tonight we had to make sure we got over the line to pick up the three points. That’s a learning curve. But we just have to go and win games and get it right in both boxes.”

Craig Levein’s St Johnstone stay in 10th place, eight points clear of bottom club Livingston having played the same number of matches.

Player of the match – Graham Carey (St Johnstone)

St Johnstone's Graham Carey (R) celebrates scoring with teammates (L-R) Matt Smith, Diallang Jaiyesimi and Daniel Phillips but it's ruled out by VAR for a foul in the build up during a cinch Premiership match between St Johnstone and Aberdeen at McDiarmid Park
Daniel Phillips was good again for St Johnstone, but Carey is their creator in chief. He provided the equaliser and had a goal ruled out, creating three chances overall

Saints respond to cup loss, Aberdeen lack identity – analysis

St Johnstone needed a reaction from Saturday’s shock cup exit at Airdrieonians, and manager Levein did get it eventually. The first half was poor from both sides, a non-event.

However, after the break it was Saints who created the better chances. The foul by Gordon that ended in Carey’s goal being chalked off seemed soft, and then to concede a penalty in the same fashion was frustrating.

But the hosts bounced back well, with Diallang Jaiyesimi missing two opportunities, and Max Kucheraviyi hitting the frame of the goal. They are still winless in five and have only managed 14 goals in 21 games, but it was a solid home performance.

Aberdeen have now played half of their league games and it is unclear what their identity or style of play is. Manager Barry Robson has played a back five for most of the season, but it did not bring solidity or results and drew criticism about an overly direct style.

A switch to a back four since the turn of the year has allowed a more possession-based approach, but Aberdeen move the ball too slowly and play with no natural wide players.

At McDiarmid it meant they were narrow, slow and predictable, until the end of the match when things became stretched, and Miovski and substitute Ester Sokler had headed chances.

When Miovksi stroked in his 17th goal of the season from the spot, Aberdeen reverted to the back five to try to see things out with half an hour to play, but still looked vulnerable and conceded.

Saturday’s meeting with Hearts is now huge for the Aberdeen manager. Lose and hopes of third spot will fade away, and there is little time to come up with solutions to the team’s problems.

What they said

St Johnstone manager Craig Levein: “The most pleasing thing for the match tonight was we redeemed ourselves [from Saturday]. Much more unity and togetherness. We have a goal chopped off and a penalty against us. I thought we deserved at least a point.

“The boys are saying the penalty was a penalty. They’ve been great in every single bar match bar Saturday and for 20 minutes against Kilmarnock. They’ve been really enthusiastic.”

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson: “We never penetrated or passed it through them enough. Second half the game became a bit basketball. It does [feel like a missed opportunity].”

What’s next?

St Johnstone host Motherwell on Saturday (15:00 GMT) while Aberdeen face Hearts at Tynecastle at the same time.

Line-ups

St Johnstone

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 1Mitov
  • 5McGowan
  • 6GordonBooked at 90mins
  • 4Considine
  • 33KeltjensBooked at 90minsSubstituted forOlufunwaat 90+9′minutes
  • 34Phillips
  • 23SpranglerSubstituted forKucheryavyiat 73′minutes
  • 19Robinson
  • 22SmithBooked at 61mins
  • 11CareyBooked at 90mins
  • 13JaiyesimiSubstituted forMbunga Kimpiokaat 85′minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Gallacher
  • 7May
  • 15Kucheryavyi
  • 17Olufunwa
  • 27Turner-Cooke
  • 29Mbunga Kimpioka
  • 31Richards
  • 46Franczak

Aberdeen

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 24Roos
  • 2Devlin
  • 33RubezicBooked at 85minsSubstituted forMacDonaldat 90′minutes
  • 6Gartenmann
  • 3MacKenzieSubstituted forJensenat 74′minutes
  • 8BarronSubstituted forHayesat 63′minutes
  • 4Shinnie
  • 21PolvaraSubstituted forSoklerat 62′minutes
  • 10Clarkson
  • 7McGrath
  • 9Miovski

Substitutes

  • 5Jensen
  • 11Henriques de Barros Lopes
  • 14Guèye
  • 17Hayes
  • 19Sokler
  • 20Morris
  • 23Duncan
  • 27MacDonald
  • 31Doohan

Referee:
John Beaton

Attendance:
3,472

Live Text

Player of the match

ConsidineAndy Considine

St Johnstone

  1. Squad number4Player nameConsidine

  2. Squad number11Player nameCarey

  3. Squad number15Player nameKucheryavyi

  4. Squad number19Player nameRobinson

  5. Squad number34Player namePhillips

  6. Squad number1Player nameMitov

  7. Squad number33Player nameKeltjens

  8. Squad number17Player nameOlufunwa

  9. Squad number22Player nameSmith

  10. Squad number29Player nameMbunga Kimpioka

  11. Squad number5Player nameMcGowan

  12. Squad number23Player nameSprangler

  13. Squad number6Player nameGordon

  14. Squad number13Player nameJaiyesimi

Aberdeen

  1. Squad number3Player nameMacKenzie

  2. Squad number9Player nameMiovski

  3. Squad number8Player nameBarron

  4. Squad number4Player nameShinnie

  5. Squad number7Player nameMcGrath

  6. Squad number10Player nameClarkson

  7. Squad number6Player nameGartenmann

  8. Squad number2Player nameDevlin

  9. Squad number33Player nameRubezic

  10. Squad number24Player nameRoos

  11. Squad number21Player namePolvara

  12. Squad number5Player nameJensen

  13. Squad number27Player nameMacDonald

  14. Squad number17Player nameHayes

  15. Squad number19Player nameSokler





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