Aberdeen’s Anderson strikes late to deny 10-man Rangers

Steven Gerrard says ‘it seems like the world is against us today’ as his team loses two points in stoppage time

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard during the Scottish  Premiership match against Aberdeen at Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen. Photograph: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard during the Scottish Premiership match against Aberdeen at Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen. Photograph: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire

 

Aberdeen 1-1 Rangers

This was a tale of heroes and villains, and even, as Steven Gerrard alluded to, a potential conspiracy against his Rangers team.

This was a fraught, ill-tempered encounter, and Gerrard might have had “welcome to the Scottish Premiership” spinning around his mind following a controversial affair where he witnessed one of his players ordered off, another hit the opener from the penalty spot and the loss of two points in stoppage time.

Both sides see themselves as principal contenders, if not for the league title, then for the runners-up spot, where Aberdeen have finished for the past four seasons. Yet if Derek McInnes, their manager, needed persuasion that Gerrard’s influence on Rangers will make a fifth successive silver medal place more difficult this term, it came in the Pittodrie sunshine on Sunday.

McInnes needs a goalscorer if his men are to make an impact, however, and he spent most of the match watching Sam Cosgrove and Stevie May firing blanks against opposition that had been reduced to 10 men since the sending-off of Alfredo Morelos in the 12th minute for an off-the-ball kick at Scott McKenna.

McInnes then pitched 19-year-old Bruce Anderson into the fray 18 minutes from time, and showed his delight as the youngster swept home an equaliser two minutes into stoppage time. Cue the day’s hero.

But it was the red card shown to Morelos, for whom he had no comforting words, and the lack of one from referee Kevin Clancy after Aberdeen’s Dominic Ball had felled Josh Windass in the area on the half-hour mark, that prompted Gerrard to enter the realm of a potential sanction from the Scottish FA.

‘Provoked’

Of his Colombian striker he said: “I think when you do stuff like that, when you react like that, you leave officials with decisions to make. So we will speak to him about the part he has played in it.

“But we feel hard done by because we felt he was provoked twice with violent barges [from McKenna]. No way in the world was his kick-out violent. So we didn’t think he deserved a red. He needs to learn and be ready for that. I can’t prove that’s the case but two violent barges by McKenna, it seems people are out to wind him up, yeah.

“What’s disappointing from our point of view is that the whole incident was two or three seconds but the assistant referee [David McGeachie] only saw one second of it, Alfredo’s instant in one second but not the two barges in the other two seconds.

“At the same time, with the penalty incident there was no attempt to play the ball. So, it’s beyond me how a card can’t be shown for that situation.

“It seems like the world is against us today. But we’ll make sure we get better for that. We’ll make sure we play better and try and put results to bed, because it looks like some more decisions will go against us as the season goes on.”

The Dons struggled to make an impact in this game, and seemed only to find their feet midway through the second half, keeping their depleted opponents on the defensive yet failing to test Allan McGregor in the Rangers goal.

Possible bid

With McKenna, the subject of a possible bid this week from Swansea City, limping off with a torn hamstring, and a recognition that scoring opportunities were a rarity, McInnes conceded his team, who played 120 minutes of punishing football in their Europa League defeat to Burnley at Turf Moor on Thursday night, were tired physically and psychologically, which was why he was pleased with the eventual outcome.

“For me it was no more than we deserved. When you don’t play anywhere near your best then it’s important you still get something.

“Late goals have been synonymous with my teams over the years, whether that’s an equaliser or winning goals. It’s always better to score a late equaliser than lose one.”

His decision to hand Anderson his debut in such trying circumstances, however, paid off and presented the Dons with a point they did not deserve. Andy Considine’s header fell for to the teenager 16 yards out, and allowed him to put the ball out of McGregor’s reach with the game almost over.

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