Both teams have to win to give themselves a chance of earning a place in the top six before the league splits in two. They know that it is as simple as three points and Hibs failing to beat Hearts at Tynecastle will ensure a top-six finish.
On top of that you have two teams who are much better on the front foot, presenting an opportunity for one of the most entertaining matches of the season and a possible feast of goals.
Under Jim Goodwin, Aberdeen have packed much more of a punch in attack than they did under Stephen Glass. A concoction of profligacy and wayward defending has prevented the former St Mirren boss from having the Dons sitting in the top six going into the fixture.
“In recent weeks, we’ve created plenty of opportunities in the last few games,” Goodwin said. “We now need to be a little bit more clinical and a little bit more ruthless at one end and be more solid at the other end .
“The manner of the goals we conceded against Dundee were extremely poor which we highlighted after the game and the players are well aware we need to defend those situations far better to give ourselves a chance.”
The attack threats
The return of Marley Watkins has given the Pittodrie men a different dimension, even off the bench, as has moving Ross McCrorie into the middle of the park. A player with dynamic qualities that are often required in the harum scarum midfield battles of Scottish football.
At the other end there is concern with Aberdeen conceding goals at a greater rate in the league since they finished ninth in 2010/11, which has somewhat added to the sense of frustration amongst fans that club legend and defensive stalwart Andy Considine is being allowed to leave at the end of his contract.
Ross County will fancy their chances of getting on the score sheet. Only the top three have scored more goals and they possess the league’s top scorer in Regan Charles-Cook, plus goal threats in Joseph Hungbo and Jordan White.
“I think Malky Mackay deserves a huge amount of credit for what he has done with the squad,” Goodwin noted. “He’s given them some great confidence and they’ve got some match winners in their team as well. Regan Charles-Cook has had a fantastic season.He must be in the running for one of the player of the year nominations.
“We know exactly what we have to expect. We won’t be underestimating Ross County. Everything I’ve said to my players in the build up to this game, I’d imagine Malky is saying the same to his players about him.
With 13 league goals and a contract expiring in the summer, Charles-Cook has caught the eye of many clubs who are eyeing a free contract bargain and will be the one to watch.
“I think last season he was possibly a little bit inconsistent whereas this season he’s really added that consistency to his game,” Goodwin, who addressed links with the player, said. “He’s a match winner for Ross County with the number of goals he’s scored and assists he’s created for his team-mates.
“Fair play to him and fair play to Malky for giving him the confidence.
“I think when you’re high on confidence and everything is going well and you’ve got the habit of being in the right place, he’s not scored too many bad goals. A lot of goals are of very, very good quality, cutting in from the left and curling it in the far corner.He’s scored a number of penalties as well and is very calm.
“The kid has had a great season and we’re going to have to be at our best on Saturday to keep him out.”
Final day shootout
Aberdeen will be without a trio of players but Calvin Ramsay should be available after being replaced with a head knock during last week’s 2-2 draw with Dundee.
“Matty Kennedy is out,” Goodwin confirmed.[Dylan] McGeouch might be back next week. Kennedy three or four weeks down the line. [Adam] Montgomery is out for a couple more weeks.”
In the end it essentially comes down to a shootout between two sides who have drawn both meetings so far this campaign. It could and should be a game fans can’t keep their eyes off. At the same time, it is one of those occasions when you get to the business end of the season that you can’t help to refresh the phone to keep track of what is happening elsewhere with the Edinburgh derby and Livingston v Motherwell encounter of interest .
Playing with caution is a risky strategy with the need to score one more goal than the opposition, especially when the best form of defense for both sides comes in the final third and being a threat in attack.
“Hopefully it’s a very entertaining game,” Goodwin said. “That’s what we’re all wanting at the end of the day. I said at the last press conference prior to the Dundee game that I would take any kind of victory. Ross County are a very good side, very exciting to watch.
“I don’t think either team are going to be too cautious. I think we have to, especially us being the home team, the onus is on us to take the game to Ross County.”
‘I am not going to stand for it’: Firm Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin sets Andy Consi…
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