Football: Dons rescued by Dodds

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The Independent Online
Aberdeen 1

Dodds 44

Dundee United 1

Winters 33

Attendance: 12,060

A decade ago Aberdeen and Dundee United's vibrant health forced Scottish football to declare they were a viable alternative to Glasgow's Old Firm. The New Firm now look more like the infirm as yesterday's encounter underlined, leaving both clubs still in search of their first Premier League win.

At least Billy Dodds' 43rd-minute goal had the effect of raising Aberdeen off the bottom of the table but there is little doubt that Roy Aitken's patient is looking distinctly unwell.

The Aberdeen manager has spent over pounds 2m in the summer recruiting players for the dawn of the Dons' new era but, apart from Jim Leighton, the Scotland goalkeeper who was picked up as a free agent from Hibs to return to the club where he made his name before going off to link up with Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, the investment has yet to pay off.

Eoin Jess looked as peripheral here as he did at Coventry while the marking of Brian O'Neil, a pounds 750,000 purchase from Celtic, looked to have cost Aberdeen the goal which allowed Robbie Winters to put United ahead in the 33rd minute.

For Tommy McLean's side, this 90 minutes was all about restoring equilibrium after a traumatic last eight days in which they suffered a 5-1 mauling at the hands of Rangers and then made a Uefa Cup exit in mid week to Trabzonspor. All of that anguish seemed to be wiped out when Winters got between O'Neil and David Rowson to power a header beyond Leighton in the 33rd minute.

The striker seemed certain to capitalise on another defensive blunder just eight minutes later but an offside flag robbed him of the opportunity. Aberdeen responded instantly by equalising just two minutes before the interval. Paul Bernard beat his marker Erik Pedersen with a wonderful piece of skill and delivered a cross which Dodds, who scored 23 goals last season, headed past United keeper Sieb Dijkstra from 12 yards.

Jess squandered a wonderful chance early in the second half after a good lay-off from Mike Newell set him up and then sent a free-kick from a dangerous area on the edge of the box high into the seats behind the goal.

United were denied the winning goal thanks to the experience of Leighton when the keeper stood up well to block a shot from Andy McLaren five minutes from time.