It was a game with several close calls and missed opportunities, but it wasn’t good for entertainment.
Although Derek McInnes was downbeat at the end of 90 quick and furious minutes – and he was – after watching his side rise in confidence as the game progressed, Micky Mellon was upbeat in the Dundee United camp.
And he praised Lawrence Shankland, his star striker, who could have scored a hat-trick on a better day.
Early on, the Scottish striker hit the Aberdeen goal crossbar, teased Andy Considine, who blocked a free-kick from seven yards, and pressured goalie Joe Lewis into a brilliant save in the closing stages from a distance.
“He had the bit between his teeth today,” Mellon said of the 25-year-old Scottish assailant. We were all disappointed that against Celtic we were below our average and we had a good chat and said we expected more from ourselves.
We were determined against Aberdeen to get to that level and put in the kind of performance we must always aim for to get back to being the power in Scotland that Dundee United should be.
Lawrence is going to continue putting in the performance. In Aberdeen, he looked much more committed. He looked refreshed and more determined.
“He’s a very real, great lad. He faces the burden of anticipation. He needs to get rid of that, but at this age, he’s still very young.
In spite of the high intensity on both sides and a strong determination to get a victory, the stoic defense ensured that it was not a classic game.
All pointed to a high-scoring game when Shankland’s shot bounced off the Dons’ crossbar in the ninth minute.
But the Dons showed within minutes that they were desperate to score an early goal. First, the header of Tommie Hoban hit the crossbar, then the goal of United keeper Benjamin Siegrist was only missed by a Ross McCrorie header.
Mark Connolly and Mark Reynolds had their hands full defending the visitors’ goal in defense of Lewis Neilson, who stepped into the starting lineup after the injury of Ryan Edwards.
As the visitors took hold of the game and found gaps here and there in the Aberdeen back line, that was to change in the second half.
Shankland should have scored the visitors’ opening goal from seven yards out five minutes after the break had he not drawn the attention of Andy Considine, who blocked the shot crucially.
His shot from a Nicky Clark cross wasn’t clean enough to make a difference when Mark Connolly stormed into the Reds penalty area ten minutes from time, while Lewis was forced into a more than respectable save.
With defeats at Celtic and Hibs, Aberdeen may have done well in terms of league ranking, but McInnes was not in the mood to rejoice.
However, when Ryan Hedges went down after a Mark Connolly penalty, he did have something to say about a first-half protest dismissed by referee Kevin Clancy.
“At halftime,” he said, “I was watching a playback, and it looked like a penalty. The reaction of the players at that point was pretty telling, too.
“If I had done that interview at halftime, I would have been very pleased, even though we didn’t score, I thought our offensive threat was clear,”If I had done that half-time interview, I would have been very pleased, even if we didn’t score, and I thought our offensive threat was clear.
We needed more of that, and I’m sad that we didn’t do that after the game.
“We needed to show experience, show composure and stay calm and do the right things, but we were guilty of bad decisions.”
“As for Hibs being overtaken and moving closer in the table to Celtic, he added: “We are grappling with ourselves.
I want us to control what we are able to control, and it feels like a lost chance today.
“It’s a point gained against other teams, but it’s a game where we feel we should take all three points.”