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Aberdeen 0 St Mirren 0: Brown's tough rut to crack

Aberdeen's post-winter break blues continue.

Esmael Goncalves keeps his eye on the ball under a challenge from Mark Reynolds             Photograph: SNS
Esmael Goncalves keeps his eye on the ball under a challenge from Mark Reynolds Photograph: SNS

Despite showing diligence and energy throughout, they will take little solace from a sixth consecutive match without a win. This time it was stoic St Mirren who proved tough to break down at Pittodrie, with the visitors' solitary point gained taking them 15 clear of bottom club Dundee.

It was not a game for the faint-hearted, with six yellow cards and a rather unfair red handed out by referee John Beaton. Aberdeen's Mark Reynolds was the man dismissed after he put his body in front of a ferocious Kenny McLean strike on the edge of the Aberdeen penalty area to earn a second yellow.

A draw was a fair result, though, in a game that took time to evolve and in which there was a paucity of scoring opportunities, particularly in the first half. It told a story not only of tight defences, but of poorly-placed crosses and the ball failing to fall for those players positioned well near goal. The pock-marked playing surface, in fairness, made it difficult to be precise.

Regardless, the home side's manager Craig Brown is still hanging on to the hope of playing European football next season.

"The result was down to the old failing of being unable to find the net," he said. "That's happened too often at home this season and we are acutely aware of that. We had three forward players plus two attacking midfielders, all committed to attack, but it is not happening in front of goal for us.

"It would be unfair to be highly critical of Aberdeen in view of the effort of the players and of the commitment of the players. I am still optimistic for a good finish to the season.

"We have a dozen games left and after we lost the opening game of the season to Celtic we went 11 games unbeaten. I think we can do the same again."

Most of St Mirren's attacks centred-on feeding Esmael Goncalves, their recent recruit from the Portuguese club Rio Ave, whose physical presence meant that neither Russell Anderson nor Reynolds, his central defensive partner, could allow themselves a moment of relaxation.

Indeed, the latter earned his first yellow card after clinging to the striker like a leech as he eased past him en route to the penalty area.

Top scorer Niall McGinn's contribution impressed at the other end of the pitch for the hosts. The frontman, though, seemed to be left with more than his share to do and was too often forced to take on the role of provider in his efforts to breach a well-organised visitors' defence.

It took until the 50th minute before the crowd was roused when a Jonny Hayes strike from 25 yards allowed Craig Samson, the Paisley goalkeeper, to show his worth with a stunning stop. Less than a minute later, his Aberdeen counterpart, Jamie Langfield, was called upon to touch a Gary Teale strike over the bar.

Langfield's save from Kenny McLean's thunderous half-volley 10 minutes later was even more eye-catching and he was forced to intervene again five minutes from the end as St Mirren caught Aberdeen on the counter, only for Goncalves to fail to find a way past the shotstopper.

Moments later, Samson produced another fine stop from Hayes. The fact that both goalkeepers had played such a prominent role was a fitting summation of the game. Josh Magennis's stoppage-time pass back to Langfield, however, almost proved the match's biggest talking point, the keeper missing his kick and watching in horror, then relief, as the ball trickling a foot past his post.

"This was a valued point for us," said Danny Lennon, the St Mirren manager, "but we were disappointed in terms of the chances we had that we didn't pick up all three. Two years ago we were 36 points off second and third place and before the game we were nine points off second place. So that's progression, as is the fact that we had another clean sheet."

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