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Rooney denies impressive County as Aberdeen's cup fails to overflow

CELTIC can set in stone their third successive title at Firhill tonight but Aberdeen's quest to add European qualification to their League Cup is no such foregone conclusion.

Aberdeen scorer Adam Rooney, left, shakes hands with team-mate Barry Robson at full-time. Picture: SNS
Aberdeen scorer Adam Rooney, left, shakes hands with team-mate Barry Robson at full-time. Picture: SNS

This pulsating spectacle in Dingwall could have thrown up any number of outcomes, but arguably Aberdeen rode their luck with a salvaged point after a powerful and impressive home display.

It was hard to separate the Europa League and relegation play-off candidates in a game that had a little bit of everything. County led through Melvin De Leeuw and passed up a clutch of good opportunities to extend their lead before Adam Rooney clawed Aberdeen back.

It was also an occasion rich in controversy, with a disallowed Yoan Arquin strike for County and Aberdeen's equaliser through Adam Rooney arriving immediately after County were denied an obvious corner kick.

"I thought we were excellent tonight, from start to finish," said Derek Adams, the County manager. "We passed the ball very well and caused Aberdeen a lot of problems."

Asked about referee Brian Colvin's controversial calls, Adams was a touch guarded.

"You've seen it yourselves and television was here tonight," he said. "We lose a goal when we should have had a corner. They then go up the park and score. Graham Carey is away to score when Considine cynically takes him out of the game. It is a good foul from Aberdeen's point of view.

"I didn't think we deserved to draw the game. But I can't complain because we played to a high standard tonight. There were a lot of very good players on display for us."

With Union Street awash with red earlier in the week as 80,000 celebrated that League Cup success at Celtic Park, County were out to rain on the parade at a ground where Aberdeen have never won.

The visitors initially attacked with purpose, with Mark Brown blocking an attempt from Rooney then producing a fine reaction from Robson's fierce header. The County goalkeeper then turned Rooney's powerful low strike for a corner.

County must have thought they had taken the lead after 21 minutes. De Leeuw's head-flick had Arquin muscling free of Alan Tate before slotting crisply under Jamie Langfield's body but a linesman's flag, presumably for a nudge on Tate, denied the hosts the lead.

It looked like a real let-off for Aberdeen, who seemed rattled by County's strong and mobile Arquin and the craft of De Leeuw, whose moment was about to come. Andrew Considine was booked for a body check on full-back Erik Cikos. From Carey's free-kick, De Leeuw rose to score with a subtle flick of the head.

Aberdeen reaction was initially stirring as the second half opened. Robson almost lifted Brown's crossbar off the posts in the 50th minute after a thunderous left foot shot from 30 yards.

County were creaking and clinging on for a while, with Cammy Smith's looping header hitting the base of the County post from Logan's cross. Moments, later, Graham Carey screamed in vain for a penalty in the Aberdeen box after a Considine challenge. County, again, worked their way back into the game and De Leeuw had clear sight of goal after 70 minutes, but was denied by Langfield. Filip Kiss was fed into space by substitute Jordan Slew for a low bullet at goal that Langfield brilliantly tipped around the post. Incredibly, no corner was given.

It was to prove a costly one for County, Aberdeen grabbing the equalising goal with 14 minutes remaining. Brown again did brilliantly to deny Ryan Jack at close range before Considine's follow-up struck the post. The defender forced the ball across to Rooney to slam home at close range.

There was derision as referee Brian Colvin again somehow missed another blatant County corner after a Brittain strike clearly deflected off a red shirt. Considine then took a straight red for shoving down Carey, sent clear by Brittain, just outside the Aberdeen box.

Derek McInnes was less convinced than Adams that Aberdeen, who edged a point above Motherwell in the chase for second place, deserved to lose.

"Both teams possibly had a case for saying they could have won the game," he said. "I felt we let our standards drop for a 20-minute period in the first half. There are eight games to go and we'll finish where we deserve to finish."

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