Aberdeen 1-1 Dundee United

Niall McGinn's first goal in three months earned Aberdeen a draw in a fast-paced match against Dundee United.

The Northern Irishman met Barry Robson's perfect delivery to head in from six yards and equalise after United had taken an early lead.

Tangerines midfielder Paul Paton's classy finish made an initially sloppy Aberdeen pay in the sixth minute.

Both teams have now gone four games unbeaten in the Premiership as the battle for second place intensifies.

Derek McInnes's Aberdeen still occupy that coveted spot and move two points clear of Motherwell, who lost at home to Kilmarnock.

Jackie McNamara has now failed to mastermind a victory over the Dons in three attempts this season.

Paul Paton's second goal of the season put United in front after six minutes
Paul Paton's second goal of the season put United in front after six minutes

Much is made of how the Dons enjoy the benefits of two former United central midfielders; Willo Flood and Barry Robson, but the beginning of this match was shaped completely by the Tangerines' current engine room.

Paton has been a quietly effective presence at the heart of United's team this season, appearing in 31 of 32 Premiership games to date.

Few more deserving, then, to be on the end of Russell Anderson's half-clearance to cleverly steer the ball into the bottom corner from 18 yards - a second goal of the season for the man who was called up by Northern Ireland in March.

And as Aberdeen struggled to settle, similar to the previous week at home against Kilmarnock, Paton's holding midfield partner almost doubled the lead. Dons' goalkeeper Jamie Langfield had to be at full stretch to turn John Rankin's long-range strike wide of the post.

Next up to deny the visitors a second was Mark Reynolds, who despite not knowing much about it, deflected John Souttar's goal-bound drive over the crossbar.

Eventually, though, Robson's influence began to tell for Aberdeen as he orchestrated a number of promising moves, the first of which he himself could have levelled the match from if he hadn't arrowed his shot straight at Radoslaw Cierzniak.

United's Polish 'keeper denied the Dons again when he turned McGinn's effort onto the inside of the post, a taste of what would be coming his way after half-time.

McGinn moved up front alongside Adam Rooney and the ripple effect was evident immediately. Robson watched his tidy half-volley be saved but the 35-year-old was soon creating Aberdeen's equaliser.

From the right-hand side, the former Celtic midfielder's cross was met by a stooping McGinn, who headed in the goal that had eluded him since December.

It was his 10th goal of the season, which almost became 11 immediately when he burst forward confidently and tested Cierzniak once more.

From there on in the game remained frenetic and end-to-end, but apart from a late, low Rooney drive, neither team created anything clear-cut.

As It Stood

4Dundee Utd3215981954
5Inverness CT3114710549
6St Johnstone3213613645
9Ross County328717-1731
10Partick Thistle3261214-1930
11St Mirren327718-2228
View full Scottish Premiership table

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