It was the game that was supposed to lift the blues for the reds.
It didn’t; and the heat was turned up on Derek McInnes in a freezing Pittodrie gale that failed to blow away the difficulties the Aberdeen manager is experiencing. The statistics make for uncomfortable reading – only one win in their last nine league games and five successive fixtures without a goal to show for their efforts – with McInnes set to face an improved Celtic at Parkhead on Wednesday night.
A week ago, Dave Cormack felt compelled to defend McInnes with the dreaded chairman’s vote of confidence, a move which did little to quell the rebellious mood of a large section of their supporters. Cormack’s pre-season promise of attacking football and a more aggressive approach from the team has failed to materialise in many of the fixtures during the league campaign.
So, it was unsurprising that the creativity of Niall McGinn, making his first start since the goalless draw with Dundee United on January 2, was requited while Florian Kamberi’s work permit was eventually rubber-stamped following his deadline-day signing on loan from Swiss outfit St Gallen and he started.
The Swiss striker managed a full ninety minutes, but like his new team-mates did not unduly trouble the opposition defence. The lack of goals, McInnes concede, was a concern as he insisted his newcomers would need time to bed-in. He admitted, however, there was no time for such a luxury.
“I do feel a lot of the speed has gone out of the team,” he said, “in terms of Ryan Hedges’ injury and Scott Wright moving to Rangers and we have to try and find different ways of carrying a threat. We did so much right; our two young centre midfielders, Dean Campbell and Lewis Ferguson were excellent, but the area of the pitch where we need to be doing better and that’s everybody, not just No 9s and centre forwards, is up front.
“The intention is to be better in those areas because one point does not really get the job done for us. It is a point and a clean sheet and we get minutes into the boys who need them but we are at a stage of the season where it is three points we are after to try and get momentum.
“We move on now to Celtic on Wednesday when we can try and get going and get a goal and get our confidence up.”
It was St Mirren’s Ryan Flynn who came closest with a close range effort in seven minutes, saved acrobatically by Reds’ keeper Joe Lewis as a fierce, spoiling wind swirled around Pittodrie. It was not a day for pretty football.
Sunday Welfare stuff with fitter players would be an accurate description of play, thanks principally to the conditions. Keeping the ball still to take a free kick was an achievement while a decent first touch almost merited a lap of honour. No additional explanation for the paucity of eye-catching football is necessary.
Scoring chances were rare. A late mix-up involving St Mirren goalkeeper Jak Allwick and his defenders in a packed six-yard box offered the hosts momentary hope of a breakthrough before the ball was cleared, though that was late-on and almost as good as it got for them.
For Jim Goodwin’s side, it was a more than deserved after which he rightly described the game as “horrendous” but a test of character where “you find out about people in conditions like this. The end result was probably fair,” he said, “although I thought we had the best opportunity through Ryan Flynn. I’m happy with a point as this is a difficult venue to come to.
“It was a good response after Wednesday [a 4-0 loss to Celtic]when I was very disappointed. It was a great reaction as I thought it was a very professional performance throughout the team. I thought both sets of players managed it really well and while it wasn’t a great spectacle there was no lack of commitment.”
The Buddies manager’s sights are firmly on a top six finish, an ambition which many thought unachievable following a difficult start
to the campaign. The character of their players, however, have turned such doubts on their head.