Aberdeen’s clash with Hamilton tonight is an important fixture for a number of reasons.
It’s one of the Dons’ games in hand on the sides above them and a chance to leapfrog Hibs into third, while also closing the gap on Celtic and Rangers.
Psychologically, even at this stage of the campaign, getting above Hibs while still having another game in hand would be a good marker to send out.
On current form the Reds start as heavy favourites to take the points tonight.
The Accies have proven over many years in the Premiership that they can be tricky opposition, but Aberdeen should have enough creativity to break them down and see them off.
The Dons face Celtic on successive weekends in the league and last season’s Scottish Cup semi-final following this evening’s game and going into that double header in good form is imperative.
Neil Lennon’s Hoops are playing as poorly as they have for a number of seasons and the Reds want to be able to take advantage of that and going into the fixtures high on confidence as a result of good performances will help in that mission.
All that Aberdeen lacked in the draw against Dundee United was the killer touch to score because they did produce a good performance.
It looked very much like a game between a side that has consistently been finishing in the European spots and a newly-promoted side.
The Dons were streets ahead of the Tangerines in every department other than putting the ball in the net.
United were well-organised and defended well enough, but other than one occasion really they were barely a threat at the other end.
Goalie Benjamin Siegrist had one of those days where everything seemed to go for him and he kept everything out, but there was no doubt the Reds dominated.
I felt a little bit for Scott Wright because he had a couple of decent chances and he didn’t do a lot wrong with them, but on both occasions Siegrist did well.
There were other opportunities for Aberdeen that they should have done better with.
There’s no doubt it’s two points dropped – but it was certainly a very good away performance which merited better than a 0-0 draw.
It’s one of the quirks of football that there will be games this season where the Dons play worse than Saturday but manage to win.
Games like Saturday’s where plenty of chances are created but not taken are frustrating.
Then on another day you might only have one decent opportunity to win.
Look at Aberdeen’s victory against St Mirren before the international break.
The Dons didn’t play particularly well, but they found something special in the closing stages to grab the three points.
It can be encouraging to know that the Reds will play worse and win games, but it still doesn’t make up for the frustration of not taking maximum points in the New Firm derby at Tannadice.
Sam Cosgrove being on the sidelines plays a part as well.
The Englishman has been Aberdeen’s talisman for the past two seasons – netting more than 20 goals in both campaigns – but hasn’t been seen yet this term after sustaining a knee injury in pre-season.
Cosgrove isn’t far away from a return and the Dons have coped pretty well in his absence.
However, McInnes doesn’t have another natural goalscorer at his disposal who is similar to Cosgrove.
When he returns it will give everyone great confidence in front of goal and with the chances that are being created once Cosgrove is available it shouldn’t be long before he’s cashing in.
Generally McInnes won’t have been unhappy with the display at Tannadice, but he will hope goals can be added to the display against Hamilton this evening.
Football needs to keep putting case forward for fan return
I understand Dave Cormack’s frustrations after his attempt to hold another test event with fans this weekend was turned down.
The Aberdeen chairman had hoped to welcome 1000 supporters into Pittodrie for this Sunday’s clash with Celtic, but this has been rejected by the Scottish Government.
The reasoning for asking is quite clear. Both the previous test events that Aberdeen and Ross County held went without a hitch.
But then the rise in infections across the country has prevented any more test events being held.
That’s hugely frustrating for both the clubs and fans. Supporters across the country have stood by their clubs and bought season tickets to support them so it’s disappointing some of them can’t actually get into stadiums.
The Scottish Government hasn’t yet given an indication of when fans might be allowed back in so it’s up to football to keep asking the question until they get some answers.
One thousand people inside Pittodrie should be very manageable, although I know there are concerns around how fans travel to and from stadiums.
I understand the government’s position, but sport shouldn’t just be forgotten about and the prospect of fans returning shouldn’t just be written off indefinitely.
Work needs to continue to try to get some amount of supporters back inside stadiums as soon as the situation allows.