Saturday 31st March
A 4-1 defeat to Aberdeen in the Granite City today for Saints brought an end to six consecutive seasons of top six finishes. Saints enjoyed their fair share of possession in the opening half an hour of the match as neither side could create anything of significance to trouble either keeper. Then on 35 minutes the hosts took the lead as they hit Saints, who were temporarily down to 10 men with Denny Johnstone off receiving treatment for a bleeding nose, on the counter. Gary Mackay-Steven released Ryan Christie who rounded Alan Mannus and Joe Shaughnessy before slotting home.
Former Saints player Stevie May made it 2-0 for The Dons on 42 minutes. Greg Stewart then netted Aberdeen’s third 6 minutes into the second half.
Saints pulled a goal back with just over 20 minutes remaining as Matty Willock’s header took a deflection off Stevie May to take it past the helpless Joe Lewis. It was the midfielder’s first goal for the club after joining on loan from Manchester United in January.
However, Aberdeen wrapped up the 3 points with 8 minutes remaining as Stewart netted his second of the afternoon with a composed finish.
Saints made the trip up the A90 today to take on Derek McInnes’ Aberdeen. Tommy Wright made three changes to the side that defeated Hamilton Accies 1-0 on Wednesday evening as Chris Millar, David Wotherspoon and Denny Johnstone came in for Blair Alston, George Williams and Steven MacLean. There was also a place on the bench for Richard Foster who had been on the side-lines since tearing his hamstring against Celtic back in February. Dons manager Derek McInnes also made three changes to the team that defeated Dundee 1-0 in their last game. Out went Freddie Woodman, Niall McGinn and Chidiebere Nwakali to be replaced by Joe Lewis, Gary Mackay-Steven and Greg Stewart.
Saints got the match underway and they earned themselves a corner after 2 minutes however, Liam Craig’s delivery into the box was cleared by the home defence.
On 9 minutes Aberdeen threatened as Gary Mackay-Steven and Greg Stewart combined and the later had a shot which was blocked by Steven Anderson.
Then 3 minutes later Saints were awarded a free kick after David Wotherspoon had been fouled. It was taken by Craig whose effort went inches over.
Aberdeen created a decent chance to break the deadlock on 16 minutes as Stevie May broke down the right before cutting the ball back to Ryan Christie who was on the edge of the box and he tried to curl his effort past Alan Mannus but it went wide of the target.
The match then became a very even affair with neither side creating anything of significance. Then with 10 minutes of the first half remaining Aberdeen took the lead as they hit Saints on the break. Saints had been awarded a free kick after Denny Johnstone had been fouled and the striker had to leave the pitch to get treated for bleeding nose. With Saints temporarily down to ten men play continued and from the free kick The Dons broke away with Mackay-Steven passing to Christie and he broke at pace before rounding Mannus and Joe Shaughnessy and slotted the ball into the net.
It was almost 2-0 a minute later as Mackay-Steven setup May who had a shot at goal which was saved by Mannus. The match had a sudden burst of life as on 37 minutes the Dons threatened again as May’s header from a Graeme Shinnie cross crashed off the crossbar and Christie was denied with the follow-up by a marvellous reaction save by Mannus.
Aberdeen then doubled their advantage on 42 minutes as Christie slipped the ball to May and he coolly slotted the ball past Mannus.
Before the second half could get underway Saints made a double change as Matty Willock and Blair Alston came on for Chris Millar and Murray Davidson.
However, 6 minutes into the second half Aberdeen got a third as Andrew Considine’s cross from the left was met by the head of Shay Logan and was heading towards the far corner of the net before Greg Stewart made sure by adding a final touch to knock the ball home from close range.
Saints were then forced into a change on 54 minutes as Richard Foster came on for the injured Blair Alston, the midfielder picked up a knee injury as he challenged for the ball on the by-line.
On 63 minutes Mannus made another brilliant save as he tipped Logan’s header over for a corner. The Saints keeper was called into action again a couple of minutes later this time saving a Considine effort.
Saints pulled a goal back with just over 20 minutes to play when Chris Kane took a quick corner to Liam Craig and the midfielder whipped the ball into the box to Willock whose header took a deflection off May before landing in the net. It was Matty’s first goal for the club after joining in January on loan from Manchester United.
Saints continued to press as they tried to make the closing stages of the match interesting however, Stewart put the game beyond any doubt when he got his second and Aberdeen’s fourth of the afternoon on 82 minutes. The midfielder fired a composed left-foot finish past Mannus into the far bottom corner after being setup by May.
Then late on Considine almost got a fifth for Aberdeen however, his effort was cleared off the line by Liam Craig.
Aberdeen: Lewis, Logan, Considine, O’Connor, McKenna (Reynolds 66), Shinnie, McLean, Christie, Mackay-Steven (Ball 77), Stewart, May (Rooney 86)
Unused Substitutes: Woodman (GK), Árnason, Wright, Maynard
Scorers: Christie (35), May (42), Stewart (51, 82)
Saints: Mannus, Tanser, Shaughnessy, Anderson, Millar (Willock 45), Davidson (Alston 45) (Foster 54), Wotherspoon, Kerr, Johnstone, Kane, Craig
Unused Substitutes: Hurst (GK), MacLean, McClean, Gordon
Booked: Davidson, Anderson
Scorer: Willock (68)
Referee: Bobby Madden
Match Report by Daryl Scott
Picture: Matty Willock celebrates scoring his first goal for the club
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