Aberdeen failed to make a significant cut to third-placed Motherwell’s lead after a turgid draw with St Mirren.
Derek McInnes’ side were booed off after passing up the chance to narrow the gap to two points, sitting four adrift after the Premiership stalemate.
Jon Obika hit a post for the hosts, while the visitors looked blunt in attack throughout.
St Mirren do move a point further away from second-bottom Hamilton, now two clear of the relegation play-off spot.
Aberdeen had named new signing Matty Kennedy in the starting line-up, but in three games in 2020 they have yet to score from open play.
Fresh faces, same performance
The game had a huge significance for both sides; St Mirren looking to put distance between themselves and the bottom two, while Aberdeen arrived in Paisley as a team under pressure.
They needed a big performance to appease a support who had witnessed just one win in their previous four league games after Wednesday’s home loss to Motherwell, at a venue where they had lost 1-0 on their last visit in August.
Seldom has an Aberdeen signing made his debut under such expectation. Kennedy, fresh from joining from St Johnstone, was named in the starting line-up looking to fix Aberdeen’s lack of pace and goal threat, and add an entertainment value sorely missing from McInnes’ team.
He could do little about Aberdeen’s inability to put away their early chances. Ash Taylor headed over from close range while Niall McGinn should have finished when St Mirren goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky handed him a chance on a plate with a poor pass.
Sam Cosgrove had a strong shout for a penalty when Conor McCarthy grabbed his waist and knocked him to the floor, before a deflection denied Scott McKenna’s goalbound shot, but it was all scrappy from Aberdeen as once again they huffed and puffed.
The frustration for home manager Jim Goodwin was how easily his side were gifting away possession to give the visitors the impetus.
St Mirren are crying out for consistency. December had brought two wins, two draws and two defeats, and they only have 11 goals scored on their home patch this season. That number should have grown to 12 when Dylan McGeouch’s short-back pass was pounced on by Obika, but he cracked his effort off a post.
It was a big miss, but more chances would come their way. McCarthy could have given St Mirren a half-time lead, but he headed straight at goalkeeper Joe Lewis. Ilkay Durmus and Tony Andreu both threatened after the break as they began to grow in confidence.
Durmus shot over again as St Mirren broke on the counter, as Aberdeen drifted out of the game as an attacking force. But with 20 minutes to go McInnes switched Kennedy to the middle, moved Lewis Ferguson deeper, and briefly things began to click for the visitors.
They had another penalty shout when McKenna volleyed the ball off the arm of a defender. Then Ryan Hedges collected the ball on the edge of the box but spun his shot wide. Ferguson too had an opportunity but elected to pass rather than shoot. Funso Ojo’s long-range shot was a simple enough save.
But Aberdeen ran out of ideas and it is now just five points taken from their last 15, and nine from their last 24.
Man of the match – Ryan Flynn
BBC Scotland’s Martin Dowden at the Simple Digital Arena
Aberdeen debutant Kennedy was the subject of much attention pre-match with McInnes hoping he might spark something positive in the final third.
He failed to do so largely because of the performance of St Mirren’s Ryan Flynn who didn’t put a foot wrong all afternoon. He read the game well and nullified any threat on his flank.
Full-back isn’t his natural position but Flynn increasingly looks like first pick in that role in a defensive structure that is proving very effective.
Article courtesy of BBC Sport