There hasn’t been too much for Aberdeen fans to cheer in what has been an inconsistent season following a summer of change.
The Dons moved on from Derek McInnes as they look to move to a more progressive style of play but Stephen Glass lasted less than 12 months and the hunt is on for a new manager.
Interim boss Barry Robson could only manage a draw with relegation-threatened St Johnstone but there was one real note of positivity at Pittodrie.
Young midfielder Connor Barron was given his Premiership debut and first start for the club, and the 19-year-old put in a man of the match display.
Fans of any side love to see one of their own make the jump to the first team, and there’s understandable excitement following the youngster’s showing.
Many supporters won’t be too familiar with Barron though, so RecordSport is here to give the lowdown on the Scotland youth international.
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Who is Connor Barron?
A graduate of the Aberdeen youth system, Barron was previously captain of the Under-18 and Under-20 sides.
The 19-year-old has been capped by Scotland at Under-16 and Under-17 level and committed his future to the club in January.
Barron inked a deal to 2024 after being recalled from a loan spell at Kelty Hearts, making his debut against Edinburgh City in the Scottish Cup.
The St Johnstone draw was his Premiership debut, with the youngster given Man of the Match.
What’s he like as a player?
We’ll dive into the film further down, but let’s allow the young man to describe himself in his own words.
He told Red TV after the St Johnstone game: “I bring passion and commitment. I will always give 100 per ent for the team. I want to win. I want to get on the ball but I can also do the other side of the game.
“I have a bit of a scream about me.”
That grit was essential for loan spells at Brechin City and Kelty Hearts but Barron is more concerned with the creative side of the game.
The 19-year-old is always looking for the ball in midfield and likes to break forward into space.
Barron is not afraid to have a shot from distance, firing off four strikes in a 2-2 draw with Forfar back in August.
That match saw him put in an impressive display as he completed 80 per cent of his passes and bagged an assist.
Even better was to come against Stenhousemuir in November though as he scored the opening goal of the game with a smart run behind the defence.
Showing that tendency to get forward from deep, Barron pointed out exactly where he wanted the ball and broke through the defense before finishing calmly.
The midfielder also completed 90 per cent of his passes in that match as well as getting his team up the field with eight dribbles.
Much of what was good about his game at Kelty Hearts was on display in Barron’s Premiership debut.
Though playing in a slightly deeper role he still managed to get forward and shoot three times, as well as completing 78 per cent of his 54 passes. One attempt showed his class from him on Tuesday night as he dug out a curling shot that flew just inches wide.
Barron did lose the ball six times but never in his own half, and losing it occasionally is to be expected from a player trying to force the issue in a creative sense.
As can be seen from his last five matches, the 19-year-old is happy to roam around the pitch looking for the ball.
If he’s to be deployed in a deeper role at Pittodrie he may have to become more disciplined positionally, but his energy and passing ability can certainly add something to the Dons midfield.
Despite a positive debut there will be a steep learning curve for Barron, particularly physically.
While he’s not afraid to put himself about – he made eight tackles in the aforementioned Forfar game – the young talent was occasionally overpowered in the Kelty engine room.
That loan spell will have helped though, with Barron dealing with the physical side of things In League Two while also playing for a side with a passing approach, having struggled in his time at Brechin.
He said on his return: “I got 15 games (at Kelty) and I felt the time was right for me to come back and push on.
“One of the things about me going to Kelty was that Kevin Thomson (manager) was there and they were a side who wanted to play football.
“That sold it for me and I went to Kelty.
“They are a good footballing side with a lot of experienced players.
“I have learned a lot from them and I feel I have come back a better player.”
What they say about him
Former Dons defender Willie Garner said on Red TV on Tuesday night: “I was at Kelty for a few years and still have contacts down there. They all say he just loves football and comes to training with a smile on his face. He has so much enthusiasm and I think that he showed against St Johnstone. He also has great technique and I’m looking forward to seeing how his career develops.”
Can he nail down a first team place?
After an exciting first start there will naturally be clamor for Barron to play more, but it’s likely Aberdeen will take it easy with the rising star.
With Lewis Ferguson, Scott Brown and Funso Ojo ahead of him, the youngster will have to take his chances when they come.
Working with more established midfielders in training will only help his development though, and the Aberdeen captain has already been showing him the ropes.
Barron explained: “We have Scott Brown and Fergie in the middle of the park.
“There are a lot of big names to take advice off and learn from. I am enjoying every minute of being involved.
“It’s just little bits here and there in training, when he (Brown) feels I need to do something better he will give me a little tip or two.
“He sets demands on the whole team but that is just the type of person he is. It has had a massive benefit and long may it continue.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.