Ten-man Aberdeen dropped to fourth in the Scottish Premiership after suffering a 2-1 loss to Ross County at Pittodrie at a windy Pittodrie on Saturday, with Dean Campbell sent off with just over half an hour on the clock.
After the antics of our Scottish Cup replay midweek in our win against, it looked as this had an effect on the squad, let alone the squally winds.
Curtis Main and Sam Cosgrove started up front, with Shay Logan back in the starting line-up on the right of a four-man defence.
Dean Campbell was with Lewis Ferguson in central midfield.
Matty Kennedy and Dylan McGeouch were dropped to the bench. Craig Bryson is out injured again with a groin strain.
It was Ross County that had the first chance at goal with Don Cowie putting a low range effort by the left post.
Shortly after, Niall McGinn put a free kick over goal from 25 yards.
Dean Campbell received the first of his yellows for blocking Josh Mullin, Sam Cosgrove put a shot across goal from 16 yards out.
Ross County’s Callum Morris was given a yellow for taking down Sam Cosgrove as he pushed forward with the ball.
The opening goal game from Aberdeen, in a nice routine between McGinn and Campbell, Dean put the ball in from the left and Liam Fontaine failed to deal with the delivery, Cosgrove nodded down the shot to Main who fired the ball in from close range.
It all went wrong in the 32nd minute when Dean was given a second yellow and sent off for not being far enough back at a County free-kick. Curtis Main had to fill for Campbell in the middle of the park by dropping back.
The Dons had another chance when Cosgrove was stopped by Laidlaw at the edge of the box, Main picked up the ball but fired it over at the second attempt.
County equalised just before half-time, with Billy McKay heading Richard Foster’s cross beyond Joe Lewis.
Into the second half, and County should have taken the lead, after Scott McKenna played a back pass with Billy McKay picking up and luckily Joe Lewis was on hand and also denied Erwin with the follow-up.
Niall McGinn had an attempt shortly after, picking up the ball from Lewis Ferguson and fired just beyond the far top corner from the Laidlaw rebound.
With ten minutes left, Joe saved Mullin’s shot from the edge of the box.
The sucker punch for ten-man Aberdeen came in the 89th minute, with Billy McKay on target again, firing a low shot from the left into the far corner of the net.
A disappointing end to a disappointing game, as Motherwell leapfrog us in the league.
Derek McInnes told the club website: “When you go so long with 10 men, you have got to make sure you have enough resilience to see it out.
“It would have been a brilliant point given the circumstances.
“I know it is not a brilliant point in the context of the fixture and the game, we went out to win it.
“Since Ross County played their last match last Saturday, we have played 90 minutes against the champions, down to Kilmarnock and played extra time. We travelled back up; we didn’t get to our beds until the back of 3am.
“We have had two full on games since they last played. I knew that fatigue could be an issue. The last thing we needed was going down to 10 men. It makes the task even more difficult.
“At the start of the game, we spoke about getting a good start to the game and getting the first goal. We are delighted that Curtis managed to continue his good form and get a goal. We knew we needed something to hang onto in the second half, to give us oxygen and keep battling away.
“When you go down to 10 men, everything becomes more difficult.
“It is a learning curve for Dean.
“I do think there is a bit of inconsistency there. It is a yellow card the first one, when he stops promising attack. Once he has been yellow carded, he should be keeping his nose clean and staying out of bother.
“What Dean has done you see it every week. We had it done to us at Kilmarnock the other night. We tried to take a quick free-kick and the boy walks across the ball and blocks it. The referee doesn’t do anything with it, he defused the situation and got on with it. Maybe another referee looks at that differently giving the circumstances.
“He has had one foul and that incident, and he has been sent off. I think it was very harsh on him.
“Once he has been yellow carded, wherever your 18 or 36 coming to the end of your career, you know you have got to keep your nose clean and out of the nose of the referee.
“We went 4-1-3-1. We still tried to get that three behind. By playing a bit narrower you are going to allow them a bit more joy down the sides. I thought we could maybe have done better to have stopped the first cross.
“It seemed to happen in slow motion. We should have been tucked round a bit more so to not allow Mckay a free header. You would think with the experience we have got at the back that we would be able to defend cross balls. The first goal is disappointing.
“We spoke at half time about picking and choosing our moments to win the game. Maybe a set play or counter attacks but to make sure we got a point by being resilient and denying them opportunities. Other than a brilliant save from Joe, I thought that we had been that. I thought we had been pretty resilient given the tired minds and legs.
“No matter what the game is, the second goal it is a straight pass from a bent run from Mckay. The space shouldn’t be there to run into. We can’t push up with no pressure on the ball, with that space behind Ash and Scott. The space shouldn’t be there, we should defend a bit deeper in that circumstance and allow them to play in front of us. As we did for most of the game.
“When we couldn’t put enough pressure on the ball, we kept enough depth to our defending.
In that instance we didn’t.
“It is a good run from Mckay, it is not a brilliant one. It is a brilliant finish on the angle with his left foot. He has done that throughout his career. I felt that he looked sharp and bright in that late stage while we looked a bit jaded and not thinking straight.
“The two goals we lost we are disappointed with. It would have been a brilliant point and that’s why it is a sore one. I thought the players put everything into it. They were clearly shattered out there. I am disappointed we haven’t been able to get something for our rewards on what was a difficult afternoon.
“It was game we set out to win and wanted to win. We knew going into the game that he energy and the physical side of it was going to be a part of it.
“We tried to freshen the team up in a few areas. We always knew that we would bring the subs on earlier.
“It is tough with 10 men to maintain those levels.
“We won’t let it derail us. There has been an upturn in fortunes in the last few games. The performance levels have been good. We will need to manage training this week and see who is fit and available.
“We need to be ready for St Mirren and we will be ready for it because it is such an important game. Hopefully Ojo and Bryson will be back.
“We will be fresher and more equipped to deal with the game.
“Bryson has tweaked his groin a bit and there is a bit of swelling on his ankle from the astro turf.
“We are hoping it will settle down, he will be back training”