‘We will treat every game like a cup final’ says Mackay-Steven before Aberdeen’s key double header

Gary Mackay-Steven in action for Aberdeen.

Down but not out, Gary Mackay-Steven insists losing a 10th successive game to Celtic has not derailed the Dons’ belief they can still have a successful season.

The 2-0 loss to the league leaders completed a damaging week for Aberdeen after slumping to the same scoreline at Hibs the previous weekend.

Six points dropped to rivals at the top end of the table have been costly as the Reds are now three points behind Rangers in second place.

The high pressure games keep coming as Aberdeen now travel to Motherwell tomorrow before hosting Kilmarnock in the Scottish Cup quarter-final three days later.

Now into the business end of the season, each game has enormous significance.

Mackay-Steven insists the Dons must be “on it” in every minute in every game until the season ends at their target of the Scottish Cup final at Hampden in May.

Winger Mackay-Steven claimed the Reds were dejected after the loss to the Hoops – completing a dismal run of losing all SIX games to Celtic and Rangers so far this season.

But the belief this can be a successful campaign remains strong.

The 27-year-old said: “We have a lot of belief in what we can still achieve this season.

“There is still a lot to play for and we are confident.

“We know what we want this season.

“The business end of the season is where the trophies and the medals are handed out and we want to be right in the thick of things.

“We will treat every game like a cup final, which is a good way to look at it.

“We have to make sure we are on it every minute, in every game and that starts at Motherwell in the league campaign.

“Then we have to follow that up again in the Scottish Cup against Kilmarnock on Saturday.”

Aberdeen have finished runners-up to Celtic for the previous three seasons.

That status of Scotland’s second force is now in serious jeopardy with a Europa League berth also in the balance.

Fourth-placed Hibs now trail Aberdeen by just four points.

Mackay-Steven accepts the Reds have been hauled into the mire of a scrap for second.

He said: “Rangers have a slight advantage on us now, but I think it is going to go down to the wire for second spot.

“Hibs are also pressing now. We are under no illusions as teams have caught up with us, so we know we are in a fight.

“There are a lot of good teams in and around us but we ultimately concentrate on ourselves.

“We have been doing that all season and have been doing pretty well.

“There was a feeling of deflation in the dressing room after the Celtic defeat as we felt it was a chance missed.

“We will look ahead to Motherwell, which is another big game, but it is good that there is a quick turnover after this disappointment.

“We can’t wait to get back out there and start picking up wins again.”

Aberdeen’s Premiership campaign would have been transformed, perhaps into a genuine title assault, had they managed to take anything from the Old Firm this season.

Instead there is a lingering sense of “what if?” as all 18 points in the six games against the Glasgow two have been dropped.

Asked if the losing streak to Celtic in turns brings more pressure to end it, Mackay-Steven said: “I don’t think there is any more pressure as every game against Celtic is a big one.

“They are the ones we always look forward to.

“We know Celtic’s strengths and weaknesses but unfortunately came up short exploiting their weaknesses.

“I felt for long spells we did all right though, so we can take confidence into the league games coming up.

“Previous results go out the window and it is all about how you perform on the day.

“We did that on Sunday and did well in a lot of aspects in the game but they took their two chances and we didn’t take ours.”

Asked if it was a matter of not believing they could beat Celtic, Mackay-Steven was quick to reject the notion.

He said: “No. I don’t think it is in our heads at all. It is 11 v 11 on the pitch.

“We go in fully expecting to win every game we play in and Celtic was no different.”

Next up for the Reds is a trip to Motherwell tomorrow night.

With the cup game against in-form Killie looming on Saturday, Mackay-Steven is under no illusions as to the importance of this double header.

He said: “It is a big week for us as Motherwell has added importance due to Rangers creeping ahead of us.

“We want to get that second spot back and it is good we have a game again so soon.

“The Scottish Cup is a competition we want to go far in so it is a massive week.

“We need to dust ourselves down after the performance against Celtic and look at what we did well and what we didn’t do so well.

“And right the wrongs at Motherwell.”