Football: Jones steams in to disappoint Aberdeen

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The Independent Online
St Johnstone 1 Aberdeen 1

A DEBUT GOAL from Graeme Jones rescued St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park yesterday after Andy Dow looked to have put Aberdeen on course for a rare win. Dow's 71st-minute lob was cancelled out four minutes later by Jones' firm header from a Gary Bollan free-kick to mark his arrival from Wigan in style.

Early on, both teams' lack of confidence was evident throughout a dour opening half. Aberdeen offered new signing Arild Stavrum an immediate debut after his midweek arrival from Helsingborgs after being top scorer for the Swedish outfit for the past three seasons. Without Eoin Jess (calf) and the suspended Paul Bernard, the Dons also gave the Argentinian Juan Cobian his first start, while Derek Whyte returned to the bench after a long injury lay-off.

Saints also had a debutant striker in Jones, a pounds 100,000 capture from Wigan, who claimed the Golden Boot in 1997 but had since fallen out of favour. Aberdeen were forced into a change within two minutes of the restart when Thomas Solberg, who was injured after being tripped by Nathan Lowndes just before the break, came off with Whyte replacing him.

Lowndes sent a left-foot volley just wide after 51 minutes, while Cato Guntveit produced a disappointing long-range strike after a neat inside pass from Stavrum.

Play was held up for several minutes for Lilley to be treated for a serious knee injury which meant he had to be taken off on a stretcher with Jamie Buchan brought on. A Cobian through-ball played in Robbie Winters after 66 minutes but he shot too close to Alan Main when in a position to have done better. After 71 minutes Aberdeen did find the way to goal, Winters releasing Dow, who controlled the ball expertly before lobbing a shot over Main and into the net.

Remarkably, only four minutes later Saints levelled when Bollan's free- kick from the right picked out Jones whose firm header beat Jim Leighton to make it 1-1. Substitute Miguel Simao set up O'Halloran after 83 minutes but, unmarked, the midfielder sent a free header across the face of goal with Leighton stranded.

An individual effort from Dow was the Dons' best chance to win it in the final minute but the ball fizzed over the bar and both teams had to settle for the point.

St Johnstone: Main, McQuillan, Weir, Griffin, Bollan, McMahon, Kane, O'Neil, O'Halloran, Lowndes, Jones. Substitutes: Cuthbert, Simao, McBride, Lauchlan, Thomas.

Aberdeen: Leighton, Lilley, Solberg, Anderson, Dow, Mayer, Cobian, Guntveit, McAllister, Winters, Staurum. Substitutes: : Esson, Belabed, Buchan, Whyte, Rutkiewicz.

Referee: Stuart Dougal (Scotland).