LEWIS FERGUSON says Aberdeen can’t be excused for their late lapse in the first leg of their Europa League qualifier against RoPs Rovaniemi, despite dominating the game and restricting their opponents to just one other on-target strike.

The powerful Dons midfielder, a commanding presence in protecting his defenders, at least up until that fateful finale, believes Aberdeen’s aim to successfully navigate their way into the second round of the qualifiers is still on course.

The loss of a stoppage-time goal scored by Tommi Jantti’s after large sections of the Dons fans had exited Pittodrie believing strikes from Niall McGinn and Sam Cosgrove had secured a degree of comfort for the return leg in Finland on Thursday, leaves the tie finely balanced and asks questions of Derek McInnes’ side.

“We created enough chances to show that when we go over there it will pretty much be the same,” Ferguson said. “It’ll be the same type of intensity that we showed on Thursday night. That intensity was outstanding for this stage of the season. We were so sharp and quick. It was free-flowing football. I think if we go and do that next week, we’ll be comfortable.

“I thought we matched them for fitness levels. They’re halfway through their season but we worked really hard in pre-season so we more than matched them. The gaffer said at the start to trust our fitness. That’s what the sports scientist is there for, to put all of that work in us, to get us ready.

“We should be talking about how good the performance was, but we’re going to be talking about the last 10 or 15 seconds when we give away a really disappointing goal. It’s slack on our part. I think we should just clear the ball and get it out of danger but their best player [Lucas Lingman] picks the ball up and plays the pass. Players in Europe can do that. They can find runs and cut through you with passes like that. It’s just so disappointing because I thought the football we played was outstanding.

“We should have been walking off to the crowd cheering us. We should have been a bit more clinical.”

There were scoring opportunities galore for the Reds, but an inspired performance by Antonio Reguero, RoPS’s former Kilmarnock, Ross County and Inverness goalkeeper, frustrated the hosts, who appear to have unearthed a star in flying winger Jon Gallagher, Irish-born but on loan from Atlanta United. Packed with energy and endeavour, Gallagher’s pace will worry Premiership defenders.

“He’s been really good,” Ferguson said of the 23-year-old attacker. “Coming from America it was going to be difficult for him but he’s fitted straight in with the lads.

“He’s really quick and powerful and strong for such a wee guy. He’s really good and you’ve seen that he’s quick, he’s fiery and he’s somebody who can carry the ball. I think he’s going to be a real good player for us. Against Rovaniemi, his performance was outstanding. I thought he could have had a goal but he got man of the match.

“It can take a bit of time for boys coming from different countries to get used to the intensity of the game, but Gall’s fitted right in and he’s got that energy about his game.”

Ferguson is keen to be operating in midfield with Craig Bryson, signed after leaving Derby County, but not quite 100 per cent fit for competitive football. He sees the former Kilmarnock player as a potential mentor.

He said: “Bryson has played at the highest level for the last eight years so he’s a really good addition to the squad. He’s from where I am down in Glasgow and I spoke to him as soon as he came in. He’s somebody you can go to and get advice from and I’m really looking forward to playing alongside him.”