Dons on the edge

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The Independent Online
Falkirk 0

Aberdeen 2

Thomson 14, Glass 50

Attendance: 13,000

ABERDEEN headed back home to the north-east of Scotland yesterday content with their day's work at Brockville, in avoiding an immediate drop from the Premier League. Their 2-0 win means they will not automatically be relegated for the first time in their 92-year history, but they still face a play-off against the First Division runners-up.

The visitors' fans applauded at the end of a frenzied 90 minutes as rapturously as if Aberdeen had actually won more than three points. Perhaps they had in terms of preserving their dignity, and such was the relief that the Aberdeen players came back on to the field at the end of the game to applaud their long- suffering fans, who were grateful for this much success.

So too was the interim manager Roy Aitken, who has managed to motivate a mentally depleted squad of players in recent weeks sufficiently to deserve the offer of a more permanent appointment from the board.

Yesterday's match was a step in the right direction for his side, but forget entertainment, this angst-ridden affair was about bare survival as far as the visitors were concerned, nothing more.

Aberdeen took the lead in 14 minutes when Scott Thomson headed downwards into the net from a Stephen Glass cross. This was no more than they deserved but they still had a long way to go against a dour, workmanlike Falkirk side. That lead was stretched to 2-0 after 50 minutes when Glass ran on to a clever defence-splitting pass from Joe Miller inside the box to sweep the ball beyond the Falkirk goalkeeper, Tony Parks.

In the end Aberdeen perhaps deserved their 2-0 win, but they were grateful that the 90 minutes, probably the most stressful they have experienced in recent years, were over.

It is sad to see a club of Aberdeen's stature battling for survival in the Premier Division right up until the last league match of the season. They are, after all, former League champions, and Scottish Cup and European Cup-winners' Cup holders. Maybe the good times will return to Pittodrie, but much work has to be done before they do.