Few went into this game thinking that we’d come out of it pretty well – and those with little faith were left to eat their words, after the Dons bounced back against The Rangers in our midweek fixture at Pittodrie.
There were three changes to the starting eleven from the team that faced St Mirren at the weekend. Dean Campbell, Niall McGinn and Ryan Hedges dropped out. Shay Logan, James Wilson and Ash Taylor replaced them in the starting team.
The first opportunity of the night came for the visitors. Alfredo Morelos picking up Greg Leigh’s misjudged clearance which forced Joe Lewis into a save.
The opener wasn’t far away, with the Dons failing to get on top of away side. And the opening goal came after Joe Aribo picked out James Tavernier on the right, who crossed the ball to an unmarked Scott Arfield to put the ball beyond Joe Lewis.
We continued to struggle through the first half, not really testing Rangers and it was only a matter of time that we went two behind. Ryan Kent picked up the ball off Zak Vyner in midfield, passed it over to Morelos whose shot towards Lewis was spilled and Ryan Jack tapped it in.
All was not lost though. Jon Gallagher came to the rescue to after he picked up from an exchange of passes between Cosgrove and Wilson. He slipped round Allan McGregor and put his shot into goal to make it 2-1.
That goal put a bounce into the Aberdeen team that was desperately needed and three minutes into the second half, the leveller for the Dons came from Andrew Considine who picked up a loose ball from Sam Cosgrove, who shot the ball across goal for Andy to hit the ball into the top corner of the net.
Sam Cosgrove nearly made in three for the Dons in the 71st minute, after he picked up Lewis Ferguson’s corner at the back post but he failed to hit the shot into goal.
Joe Lewis made a brilliant effort to keep out a late free-kick on the edge of the Dons box – deflecting Tavernier’s effort.
The Dons continued to keep the pressure from Rangers at bay to take the draw an maintain our third place in the Scottish Premiership.
Derek McInnes said: “I am delighted with the performance of the team after that opening half an hour.
“We got absolutely murdered in that first half. Rangers were playing the game the way they wanted it to be played.
“I think from there on in we played the game the way we needed it to be played. But that first half hour, we spoke about last time not showing enough passion, not showing enough aggression, not being ready to go and do battle – but we were probably guilty of being too excitable, too rushed in possession, giving the ball away time and time again and we never really settled.
“I think the players were guilty of being too pumped up for the game if there is such a thing.
“As a consequence of that we were guilty of giving the ball away for both goals and Rangers have the quality to punish you for that. At that stage it felt like it would be a long 90 minutes because we had never really done anything of note and Rangers were absolutely bossing the game and showing how good they are.
“I have seen this Rangers team against us and other opponents, and when you go down 2-0 against them, it has gone to three, four and five.
“So, the nature of the way the game played out, it was a brilliant comeback from us and a brilliant response from my players.
“The only thing we did differently in terms of changing things about, we put Ferguson down one to get us a foot on the ball and make a few passes. It was the only thing that we changed tactically but what we did get as a consequence of that was Gallagher effervescent in that number ten role, we were putting people under pressure and were snapping about Rangers with Ferguson putting his foot on the ball. Our first goal was a case in point with Ferguson and Wilson combining and Gallagher gets his goal. It was a real shot in the arm and from then on in we played the game the way we wanted to.
“We spoke at half time about maintaining that type of performance – fire and ice. Fire against the ball and making sure we rattled them but with the ball showed a bit more composure and showed that we are good players instead of being rushed and kicking the ball away as we were in the first half hour.
“The equaliser was no more than we deserved and as good a point as it is with us coming back, there is a tinge of disappointment that big Sam has not taken his chance and we should be winning the game with that header because I thought it was the best chance of the second half.
“And that would have been a great comeback. But at 2-0 down I would have taken a point clearly.”
“The whole reference point for everything that has been aimed at us this season has been the two old firm games up until tonight. We are four point better off that we were at this time last year in the league.
“We are going along fine, our points tally is good but all everyone wants to do is slap us down with these two Old Firm games.
“I understand that.
“So the reference point now I hope for my players is this game against the Old Firm. 2-0 down against a very good side and we have come back from that.
“But our actual league form is good. Maintaining a run is what we are after. We are unbeaten in 13 out of 16 matches, one defeat in eight and that was against Celtic. So the players are doing away fine. We know that we have had our troubles to seek and we still had key players out tonight but clearly it was a far more familiar team that the one that played at Ibrox that day.
“My players are doing away fine at the minute, we just need to keep turning out results and nights like tonight will do them no harm.”
“I needed to see that type of response. I thought my two centre backs were outstanding in the second half. Even when Rangers throw on Katic for the set play and there is a bit of size there and we have lost Considine, but I thought we stood up to it and I still thought we looked a threat ourselves.
“I am still disappointed we have only picked up a point tonight but the fact we have rolled our sleeves up and have managed to find a way to get the game going our way pleases me no end. I needed to see that as well as the supporters.”