Derek McInnes says his Aberdeen side ultimately deserved to exit the League Cup at the hands of St Mirren.
The Buddies won 2-1 in Paisley to head into the competition’s last eight. Ilkay Durmus put Jim Goodwin’s men ahead after four minutes before Niall McGinn equalised, a late howler from Dons keeper Joe Lewis allowing Jamie McGrath to secure victory.
Overall though it wasn’t a great night for Aberdeen, with this their third game in six days as McInnes struggles for numbers. Despite having plenty of key players missing, he isn’t using that as an excuse for cup elimination.
“We didn’t start the game right,” the Pittodrie boss said. “We gave St Mirren the initiative early on with the free kick. We were dithering in the middle of the park, we were slow to react, we didn’t turn over the ball and from there we were playing catch up which resulted in a challenge outside our box and them scoring from the free-kick.
“That passage of play epitomised our play, that uncertainty in the middle of the park, just a bit unsure instead of being more aggressive, getting onto the ball quicker, playing forward and we didn’t start anything in the first half.
“Even though we got the equaliser, let’s not kid ourselves we were second best in the first half. Sometimes you think you might not need to make the changes because you get the goal, but I felt we needed to make the changes at half time. We changed our shape, the shape should have been better than it was, that shape has been good for us.
“We should have had Ryan Hedges and Niall McGinn causing them problems, but we never saw that extra body in the middle of the park. It looked as though they were enjoying the middle of the park far too much. We went man for man, we played against them in the second half and I thought we were better, and I thought we competed. I thought St Mirren didn’t enjoy the game as much.
“Unfortunately for us a mistake has put us out of the cup. There are boys there who haven’t been first choice this season and some have done better than others. There were players playing who were a wee bit of a risk; Jonny and Niall haven’t trained a lot.
Ash pulled up yesterday with his calf and Shay was suspended. Ross and Lewis are missing from the middle of the park, you don’t lose many battles in there when they are about. McLennan, Wright, Watkins and McGeough are all unavailable so a lot of what has been our identity this season has not been there for us.
“We tried to navigate this week. It is a tough week with three away games in six days, but it was a cup tie, and I thought any fatigue issues would have come later in the game. I can’t stand here and say it is a reason.
“We had key players missing today but we still had a good enough team to start the game better and be far more competitive. We will be better, but I am disappointed that we didn’t start the game with the aggression that was required. It is a cup tie, and we should have treated it far better.”