Reasons for optimism have been thin on the ground in the north-east this summer after the club finished in the bottom six last term, and those hardy souls who journeyed to Staffordshire yesterday will have seen little to convince them that good things are about to happen in the upcoming season.
Aberdeen looked lightweight and at times lacking in confidence as Tamworth, clearly buoyed by having such an illustrious name visiting, raised their game and made life difficult for the Pittodrie side, who were unable to build on a well-taken early goal from Josh Magennis.
There were positives, namely the first-half display of summer recruit Magennis, who looks like he could emerge as a decent replacement for Lee Miller in attack, while substitute Chris Maguire looked lively in the second half, having returned from his loan spell at Kilmarnock.
There is also the prospect of new faces to invigorate the squad, with Mark McGhee hopeful of having Robbie Williams and Lee Hendrie tied up by tomorrow, while the manager also hasn’t fully given up on stealing Paul Hartley from under Hearts’ nose. But with this squad, on yesterday’s evidence, it’s hard to make a strong case for Aberdeen returning to the top six this term.
As well as Magennis, McGhee fielded summer signings Mark Howard and Rory McArdle, while Yoann Folly again turned out as a trialist. “He’s been a player I’ve liked the look of since the first time I saw him,” McGhee said afterwards of the French midfielder, who has spent the bulk of his career in England.
Howard took his place in goal in the absence of Jamie Langfield, who faces two weeks out after spilling boiling water on his foot while making coffee on the team bus en route to the Midlands on Friday.
There was a familiar face in the Tamworth side in the shape of former Hibs goalkeeper David Grof, who was also playing as a trialist, and the young Hungarian found himself picking the ball out of the net after less than two minutes. Fraser Fyvie delivered from the right and Magennis, the teenage Irish striker signed from Cardiff City, took a touch before swivelling to plant a low shot past Grof from around 10 yards out.
The goal provided some early cheer for Aberdeen fans in the wake of defeats at Fraserburgh and Dunfermline over the past week or so, but it did little to galvanise their team, or, for that matter, subdue Tamworth, who spent the bulk of the first half hour or so on the front foot, generally making life uncomfortable for McGhee’s men.
But after a lethargic opening when little seemed to be happening for the SPL side, they stumbled across a degree of fluency which brought a couple of decent opportunities for Magennis.
The first saw the impressive young striker nod just past from a Darren Mackie cross after 29 minutes and then a couple of minutes later the same player was denied by a fine save from Grof after running on to a measured Mackie cut-back.
McGhee made five changes at the interval, one of those seeing teenage Aston Villa striker Jim Collins introduced as a trialist.
Aberdeen almost increased their lead five minutes after the break when Fyvie ran clear and saw his low 18-yard strike beaten away by Grof. However, it didn’t come as the greatest surprise when the lively hosts drew level three minutes later as Kyle Perry powered home a header from Jay Smith’s corner.
Aberdeen finished the match strongly with Maguire drilling an angled effort just past, Mitchell Megginson being denied after running clean through on goal and the useful-looking Collins going close twice in the closing quarter of an hour.