The Steelmen host Aberdeen in the Ladbrokes Premiership tomorrow night, looking to extend their unbeaten run to three matches.
And for Mark McGhee, who is back in the dugout following his two match ban, it presents an opportunity for his side to follow up on the 1-1 draw with St Johnstone.
The Dons come in to the match in the midst of what many are labelling a poor run, but with just one loss in their last four matches, the concern is perhaps more of a testament to the Dons high standards.
A hard fought draw was considered a positive result by manager Mark McGhee, who is encouraged by recent performances and is hoping for the unbeaten run to continue.
Speaking to the press this morning, he said: “Even though it was only ten minutes, we got a flavour of it up there and we felt competitive so I think we’ll give them a good game.
“They are no doubt one of the top four teams and will finish in the top four, so it will be a difficult game.
“But we’re at home, generally we’ve been doing well at home so I think we can be positive going in to the game and we’ll do well.”
He added: “I don’t really know about their difficulties – they lost against Ross County but they had a couple of draws too.
“I’ve said it about us all, and it includes the top teams as well, but what happens in one game practically has no relevance on the next game. We can all go from winning one game to losing the next and so on and it will be no different for Aberdeen.
“We’ve just got to assume that they’ll be at their best, they have a great pitch to come here and play on so they will maybe be thinking that they can come here and get back their form but we have to make sure that they don’t.”
[pullquote]We have to do better in front of goal. We have to be putting these shots on target and at least making the keeper make saves, but it’s the old adage ‘as long as you’re making chances’.[/pullquote]
This is the third meeting between the clubs over the last few weeks, yet is the first league clash this season.
Following the trip north earlier this month, which was cut short due to floodlight problems at Pittodrie, the two U20s sides met and Stephen Craigan’s youngsters caught wide spread attention when they stormed to a 1-9 victory up in Montrose on Tuesday night.
McGhee insists the game plan will be different tomorrow compared with how he had set up his team for the match that was eventually abandoned.
He said: “It won’t be the same game plan as we had at Pittodrie when the game was abandoned.
“It will be hard to second guess how they will set up because once you go on what is deemed to be a poor run, you look to see how you can change it and that can mean personnel or shape.”
He added: “With the way we set up there a few weeks back they’ll maybe not be sure how we’ll line up tomorrow night either.”
The Steelmen have a few fitness doubts ahead of tomorrows clash with the Reds, including Carl McHugh, Joe Chalmers, Jacob Blyth and Kieran Kennedy, who all remain sidelined. Ross MacLean, who has broke on to the scene in recent weeks, is still injured with a broken toe.
‘Well defender Ben Heneghan is looking forward to finally facing up against Aberdeen for the first time tomorrow night.
After the trip to Pittodrie ended after ten minutes of play due to floodlight failure earlier this month, tomorrow’s match is the first meeting between the two sides.
And the 6ft 4in Motherwell centre-back is raring to go.
Speaking to the press this morning, he said: “I heard there have been warns of high speed winds so hopefully the match won’t be called off yet again and we’ll finally play 90 minutes, so I’m looking forward to the game.”
The defender believes that three points would be “massive” not only in terms of the league table, but also in terms of the confidence it would give the squad.
[pullquote]We’ve shown what we can do, especially in the first half against Celtic when I think we were quality, so we’ve just got to carry on progressing, keep the momentum.[/pullquote]
He said: “We need the three points to be honest and it would be a nice early Christmas present for the club, but we’ve just got to play our best.
“We’ve shown what we can do, especially in the first half against Celtic when I think we were quality, so we’ve just got to carry on progressing, keep the momentum and play like that for the full games ahead.”
He added: “We’ve got to be at our best – there’s no doubt about it. We need to make this our fortress and keep all the clean sheets that we can.”
Coming up against a new side is something Ben relishes, and he admits that as much as he’ll prepare, it all boils down to him making sure he wins his battles on the park.
He said: “Apart from the ten minutes the other week, we’ll look at some video clips to prepare us but at the end of the day it’s just you against the man on the field so you just have to win your battles.
[pullquote]I relish the challenges, especially against the sort of physical forwards Aberdeen have, that’s why I’m here, I look forward to the battles and hopefully I can come out on top.[/pullquote]
“I relish the challenges, especially against the sort of physical forwards Aberdeen have, that’s why I’m here, I look forward to the battles and hopefully I can come out on top.”
This season, his first in Scotland, the centre-back admits he has found it equally enjoyable and frustrating.
He said: “It’s been good so far and I’m enjoying it. When it comes to points it’s been a bit frustrating, like losing the odd game or conceding late for a draw.
“But like I said before we’ve just got to keep our momentum going and hopefully get clean sheets and get those three points on the board.
“I’ll keep working hard over the break, train hard, keep my fitness up and come back the same way I left.”
Aberdeen have chalked up one victory in their last three league outings and will be keen to return to winning ways in tomorrow nights clash at Pittodrie.
For Derek McInnes, he will have a near full-strength squad to pick from as his side look to close the gap on second-placed Rangers.
A slip up in the shape of a 2-1 loss away to Ross County last weekend has left many claiming the Reds are struggling, but while they’ve only won once thos month, they’ve only lost once too.
They couldn’t find the breakthrough against St Johnstone prior to County at the weekend, with the two sides playing out a 0-0 draw.
Prior to that, McInnes’ men stormed to an emphatic 5-1 victory over Kilmarnock in what was the first of three matches in the space of seven days for the northern outfit.
And while they come in to the match on the back of a loss, the prospect of facing Aberdeen is a challenging one for every club in the division this season.
In the eight matches they’ve played at home so far, the Dons have lost just once and that was in the shape of a 1-0 defeat against league leaders Celtic, when Tom Rogic fired in the only goal of the game in the same weekend the Steelmen ran rampant at home to Ross County – winning 4-1.
Goals haven’t been a problem for Aberdeen this season, and the league’s third highest scoring side have found goals from all over the park.
Midfielder Jonny Hayes has five goals to his name, while Niall McGinn sits level with striker Adam Rooney on four goals. Jayden Stockley and Kenny McLean have three.
Defenders Andy Considine, Shay Logan and Anthony O’Connor have all found the back of the net, while James Maddison has chipped in with some important performances and a particularly important goal – a last minute free-kick against Rangers to secure all three points.
Equally impressive is the Dons defensive record. McInnes’ side have only conceded 17 goals in the league – a total only bettered by Celtic.
This is the first clash between the two sides this campaign after the two met on four occasions last term. Aberdeen won twice, Motherwell once and the other match ended in a 1-1 draw.
It’s an important match for both sides, postponed due to the Dons progression in the League Cup, where they got all the way to the final but lost 3-0 against Celtic.
With the chance to move in to the top six, it is enough inspiration for Mark McGhee’s side and will be an intriguing encounter at Fir Park tomorrow night.