SPL - Aberdeen draw with Celtic

Sat, 03 Mar 11:36:00 2012

Celtic dropped points for the first time in five months, after a 1-1 draw with Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Saturday.

Neil Lennon - 0

The Bhoys' winning run of 17 successive league victories and 20 matches in total came to an end, after Andre Blackman's own goal just before half-time cancelled out Anthony Stokes' 27th minute opener.

Aberdeen's impressive recent run continues, with Craig Brown's men now 12 games unbeaten, going back to Christmas Eve and defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Aberdeen are in seventh place in the Scottish Premier League on 33 points, whilst Celtic are 21 points clear at the top of the table, with Rangers' game against Hearts to come.

Aberdeen were without Stephen Hughes, Michael Paton, Chris Clark, Isaac Osbourne, Russell Anderson, Rob Milsom and Yoann Folly for Saturday lunchtime's clash. The Dons made one change to the side that drew with St Mirren last week, with Rory Fallon replacing Youl Mawene.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon made four changes to the team which beat Motherwell last week at Celtic Park, with Mikael Lustig and Andre Blackman making their first-team debuts at right and left-back respectively.

The Bhoys made an early chance in the fourth minute, when Rory McArdle tripped Jamie Forrest on the right edge of the Aberdeen area. Charlie Mulgrew took the free-kick, and curled a shot that hit the post, with Dons' goalkeeper Jason Brown getting the slightest of touches on the ball.

The hosts' first opening came after 11 minutes when Gavin Rae found Fallon with a crossfield ball, but the New Zealand striker headed wide from an offside position.

Celtic had 60 percent of the possession, but seemed incapable of finding the killer ball to break down Aberdeen's packed defence.

That was until the 27th minute, and a moment of magic from Kris Commons, who took advantage of a misplaced Andrew Considine clearance, rolled his marker Rae and threaded a pass beyond Mark Reynolds towards Stokes.

There was still much to do for the Irishman, but he superbly dropped the shoulder to go past Brown before passing the ball into the net from a tight angle.

Stokes could have had a second in the 37th minute, after Ryan Jack had pulled back Blackman on the edge of the box. Stokes' free-kick was low and powerful, but Brown was down sharply to save to his left.

Aberdeen's leveller a minute from the break came after a defensive lapse from Thomas Rogne, who was dragged out of position on a Dons' counter-attack, allowing Rae to level for Aberdeen, via a massive Blackman deflection.

Fallon won the header in midfield and flicked on to Scott Vernon, who set up the unmarked midfielder to shoot past Forster. Rae has never scored against Celtic and will claim the goal, but the ball was initially going wide, and will go down as an own goal.

Celtic seemed shocked by the reverse, and it was the home side who made the better chances in the second period.

The best came just after the hour, when Mitchel Megginson shot wide after a great crossfield ball from Rae. The 19-year-old had got round the back of Lustig, but could not get his left-footed shot on target.

Kari Arnason's long throws were a constant menace to the Celtic defence, and Aberdeen came close on 67 minutes, but Vernon at the near post was unable to direct his header.

Celtic had a great chance on 76 minutes, when Jamie Forrest's cross from the left just evaded the onrushing Ledley. The ball beat everyone and ended up with Stokes at the far post, but he shot straight at Brown from an acute angle.

Aberdeen put ten men behind the ball in the final moments, and restricted the Bhoys to long-range shots. The Dons' fighting spirit was exemplified by Ryan Jack, who hurled himself at substitute Victor Wanyama's shot from the edge of the box in the final minutes.

PA Sport

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