Slowly but surely the performances on the field are coming back, and this one against Celtic at a windy Pittodrie was no different.
Continuing on the back of the performance against Hamilton midweek, Aberdeen were unfortunate not take at least a point from this one as they more than matched Celtic.
Derek McInnes made two changes to the starting line-up from Tuesday. Mikey Devlin suffered a groin strain on Friday during training so dropped out of the squad.
Ash Taylor came through a fitness test on Saturday and went into the starting team and Shay Logan was back with Dylan McGeouch dropped to the bench.
Whilst Aberdeen started the game well, Celtic went ahead in the tenth minute when Odsonne Edouard passed the ball to James Forrest.
Joe Lewis managed to block Forrest’s right footed drive, but Calum McGregor picked up the loose ball and hit it home with his right foot to put the visitors ahead.
The Dons didn’t let the early goal affect the, and in the 22nd minute we threatened when Ash Taylor fired the ball upfield with Curtis Main collecting it and fired his shot at goal, but it rose above goal.
Aberdeen got the equaliser in the 26th minute, when Ash Taylor picked up a cross from Connor McLennan and chested the ball down and smashed a half volley beyond Forster.
We weren’t finished there though, Funso Ojo fired a shot at Forster who batted the ball in front of him with Niall McGinn picking up the loose ball but he headed it into the side netting.
Not long after, Connor McLennan went down in the box, but Andrew Dallas issued a yellow card for simulation.
The Dons continued to ply on the pressure. Curtis Main raced at goal and fired a 20 yarder that Forster saved in the 58th minute.
In the 70th minute, Niall McGinn delivered a fantastic cross from deep on the left and Main went so close to putting the Dons ahead.
Celtic went ahead in the 81st minute, when Kristoffer Ajer picked up a Forrest pass. Ajer was left completely unmarked and smashed his shot beyond Joe Lewis.
It was harsh on Aberdeen.
Funso Ojo went off injured shortly after and was replaced by Sam Cosgrove.
It should have been 3-1 when Edouard missed a rebound from Lewis who was lying on the ground – he had an open goal but fired it over at close range.
The Red Army enjoyed what they saw and applauded the team after the game – a performance like that will see us through the cup replay against Kilmarnock on Wednesday.
Derek McInnes told the club website: “There are plenty of positives to take from the performance.
“I am really pleased with our approach.
“When you play a team like Celtic who are in such good form and have so many good players, for me the game starts in the head before you go onto the pitch. You need the mindset to make the game go our way.
“The conditions were difficult. But the game has still got to be played for both sets of players. We got after Celtic. I thought we were the better team.
“We spoke at half time about the mentality of the Celtic players. At no point do they ever accept not winning and every one of them will be thinking that they have to go on and win the game. That is the demand on them.
“We said to our players that they have to have the exact same mindset. Do not settle for a point.
“Up until they scored the second goal, my team didn’t look as though they were going to settle for a point. We did everything that we could to ask the question.
“There were defining moments in the game.
“In terms of how the team played and the performance from each and every one of them was exactly how my team needed to play against a good Celtic team. I felt the performance merited something from the game.
“Unfortunately, we don’t get any points for the performance.
“I thought we nullified the service into their front two a lot during the game. We made them redundant. The time that they came really active was on a counterattack. Both goals were from when we were high up the pitch. Celtic get runners quickly into support of their main striker.
“We were in a decent position when McGregor picks the ball up, but I saw Ajer running by me on the touchline, he is like a racehorse, he has the desire to get himself into the box from the opposite side. Sometimes it comes down to that little bit of a difference.
“You can’t but admire Ajer’s determination to get himself forward and the calmness of his finish.
“For us we had Niall and Andy in that forward area when we put the ball into their box. Then about 10 to 12 seconds later the ball is in our net.
“It shows you their quality, it shows you their determination but there was plenty of quality and determination in my team. It was harsh on my players. If they keep giving me that every week, we will be fine and will meet our demands.
“Celtic today were second best for long periods of the game, one or two of them would have maybe taken a point but they have come out on top. That is why they are where they are in the league.
“Funso has got about 15 stitches in his knee and his knee cap. He will miss Wednesday. He got caught with Joe when Ajer scored. It is a nasty deep cut on the bend where the knee is.
“He might make Ross County on Saturday.”
Goal scorer Ash Taylor commented: “I thought we dominated large spells today, it was a very positive performance.
“I thought that we were worthy of the three points if not one. We were good today.
“We have that belief and confidence in ourselves. We knew things would turn and it is just about putting the ball in the back of the net and that is what we were lacking.
“The performance today was spot on. It was just disappointing that we didn’t come away with anything.
“We will take all of the positives out of today, which there were many of and will look forward to Kilmarnock.
“The performance we put in today was solid. Celtic find a way to win and it is something they have done for a long time. It was just disappointing that we didn’t get anything.
“I have had a few chances this season. It is nice to get off the mark. It is pleasing on that side of things.
“For my tackle I got booked for I thought I had gotten the ball. I thought the referee overall had a decent game.
“The supporters saw a side that was determined today to get the right result. It was important that the fans saw that today.
“I did some training on Friday and trained properly on Saturday. I knew Mikey was struggling a little bit. It is disappointing for him that he has that little injury at the minute.
“Kilmarnock is a massive game. We want to get through to the next round of the cup. We will take the positives from today and go into Wednesday full of confidence.”