Tony Docherty emphasised his pride in his Dundee players after seeing his side clinch their spot in the cinch Premiership top six after a trying week.

The Dark Blues weathered an early Aberdeen storm but grew into the game and dominated proceedings, although only Lyall Cameron’s 70th-minute effort, which was blocked by Angus MacDonald, really threatened the home goal.

The hosts had a late flurry before captain Graeme Shinnie saw red deep into injury time for a second bookable offence.

Docherty, whose side’s game against Rangers was called off in mid-week due to a waterlogged pitch, said: “There’s an enormous sense of satisfaction and pride in the players. They deserve all the credit for everything they’ve done.

“There are certain seasons a team can get to a cup final by winning four or five games, but to do it over the course of a season, from being the newly-promoted team. It’s the youngest group in the league and it’s huge testament to them.”

Dundee’s top-six spot was confirmed thanks to Motherwell’s late equaliser against Hibernian.

“Our kitman was keeping in touch with the Hibs game, but the supporters got there before him,” added Docherty.

“It was a day where we had to adapt. We threw on strikers and then the goal (for Motherwell) comes so we throw on defenders.

“Today was a fantastic, gritty performance, but we’ve earned it over the course of the campaign. It’s testament to the players and I’m so pleased for them.”

Aberdeen caretaker Peter Leven felt his side had to score when they were in the ascendancy in the first half.

He said: “I thought we were really good first half, but I turned to the bench and said we need to score when we’re on top.

“We caused Dundee problems and they had to change their shape, then they changed personnel, but we really had to get that goal.

“We lacked a bit of cutting edge. We generally played well in our tempo and intensity, but in front of goal we’re a wee bit shy.

“I’ve not seen the red card as yet. I didn’t even know if it was for a second yellow, but I’ll need to watch it back.”

Aberdeen interim manager Peter Leven rued Bojan Miovski’s late disallowed goal as the Dons were held to a 0-0 cinch Premiership draw away to bottom side Livingston.

The striker’s close-range effort looked to have settled a disappointing game in the final minute before it was disallowed, after VAR spotted Angus MacDonald had been offside in the build-up.

The Dons – who finished third last season – have endured a frustrating season and this result confirmed they would definitely finish in the bottom six this time around.

Leven said: “I’ve not seen the angle back. Angus (MacDonald) thought he was onside but I’ve not seen it back.

“It was a sickener at the end. It’s a great finish but overall I don’t think we did enough to put pressure on their goal.

“From back to middle we were all right but I don’t think we had that spark in the final third.

“It was difficult with the high winds and the dry pitch. We tried to get the ball down and play and we punched it through the lines.

“We saw that with the pass for Bojan and Leighton Clarkson got the ball a couple of times. It’s difficult for both teams.

“I see it as two points dropped to be honest. We don’t get the goal in the 90th minute but I’m delighted with the clean sheet.

“That’s really important to build on that but I’ve always said, if we can’t win we don’t lose.”

Livingston manager David Martindale, meanwhile, praised the character of his side as they hung on for a point to close the gap to second-bottom Ross County – to nine points – with six games remaining.

He said: “One thing you can never question from the group of players is the character. I thought they gave everything today.

“The weather wasn’t good. The amount of head knocks. It was stop-start and not any fluidity. In that first half, both teams had their best chances.

“The second half, I felt we were the better team if I’m honest. I am not being disrespectful to Aberdeen.

“We tried to build. We got into good offensive areas. I felt the execution in the final third was missing.

“Whether that was down to our decision-making or Aberdeen defending well. Probably a wee bit of both.

“We were unlucky not to take something more from the game today if I’m honest.”

Aberdeen caretaker boss Peter Leven hailed his side’s “character” but admitted their performance left plenty of room for improvement, despite a vital 2-1 cinch Premiership victory over relegation rivals Ross County.

The victory, secured thanks to goals from Bojan Miovski and Jamie McGrath, either side of Simon Murray’s header for County, moved the Dons six points clear of their opponents, who remain second bottom.

Leven said: “I’m delighted with the three points and the result, but the performance could have been better.

“I thought we started well and then County came into it a bit. I always knew we had the players who could get us the next goal.

“At half time I told them to relax on the ball. They looked nervous at times and they were trying the hard pass when the simple pass was on. They were better in the second half and I thought the subs really impacted the game.

“When Duk is like that, he’s a handful for anybody with his power and pace. He did really well for the second goal.

“The character the boys showed was brilliant. They were fighting for everything and the boys were focused.”

The Staggies are also under interim management and Don Cowie admitted this match was a missed opportunity for his side.

He said: “I thought it was a really good performance and the team responded really well to a poor start.

“The team were perhaps a little bit spooked for 10 minutes, but the response was excellent and we deserved to go in level.

“I felt that we could step on and win it after that, but if you can’t win it you have to make sure you don’t lose it and we have to learn from that.

“Every game you play is an opportunity and we’ve come away with nothing, so there’s a natural disappointment there, but I’m so proud of the team and the way we’ve played.

“It’s a team that’s working hard for each other and there’s real quality in there as well, but we have to build on that.

“We’ve shown over the last seven or eight games that we can be dangerous, but we need to start picking up points away from home and it’s about those fine lines.”

Interim Aberdeen boss Peter Leven was delighted after his side dug deep to defeat Motherwell and give themselves some breathing space in the cinch Premiership relegation battle.

Leighton Clarkson netted the only goal of the game after 25 minutes, before the Dons survived a disallowed goal and a last-gasp penalty claim.

Aberdeen’s first league win in 12 games moved them into ninth place, though their advantage over Ross County in the relegation play-off spot remains at three points after the Staggies defeated Hearts.

But Leven said: “There is a bit of breathing space and the three points are massive.

“But we can’t look at other teams around us. It’s all about us and what we can do.

“I don’t look at what happened elsewhere. We can’t affect what happens elsewhere and the boys just need to keep getting results and keep climbing the table.”

Leven felt a first clean-sheet in a dozen games was key in ending their winless league run.

Despite some nervous moments, Kelle Roos and the Aberdeen defence held strong.

“I thought we were brave, we didn’t panic and I thought we controlled the game,” Leven added.

“The flip side of it for me is the way we defended – getting a clean sheet is massive.”

Motherwell boss Stuart Kettlewell was fuming after vital VAR decisions went against his team.

Lennon Miller looked to have levelled five minutes before half-time, only for the goal to be ruled out for handball against Theo Bair following a lengthy VAR check.

It then looked like the Steelmen would be awarded a penalty after the ball struck the arm of Graeme Shinnie in the final seconds, but the Dons player was not punished.

“I’ve just looked at the incident at the end of the game, it’s the first time I’ve had that situation,” Kettlewell said.

“The ball 100 per cent comes off Shinnie’s arm and his arm is out from his body.

“We’ve all spoke about the incidents you see with Celtic and Hearts the other week there – somehow I don’t think this will gather as much traction as what that did.

“Somebody is going to have to sum this up for me, somebody is going to have to give me some sort of clarity.

“I’ve already said I’m not going back and speaking to (Scottish Football Association head of referee operations) Crawford Allan because it’s going absolutely nowhere on a Monday morning, trying to find out why that was the case.

“We’re going to have to try tidy this up for the sake of Scottish football.

“What I should be doing as always is talking about our team, our performance and how the game has went – but no we’re back talking about handballs and VAR.”

Aberdeen caretaker manager Peter Leven warned his players that better teams have got relegated after a 1-0 defeat at Dundee left them just three points above the cinch Premiership danger zone.

Luke McCowan’s 66th-minute penalty, following a VAR-assisted handball call against Jack MacKenzie, earned the home side a well-deserved three points at Dens Park as Aberdeen’s run without a league win stretched to 11 matches.

A late equaliser for Ross County against Hibernian edged the Dingwall side closer to the Dons and allowed Dundee to jump back into the top six – leaving the spectre of the play-offs hanging over Leven’s side.

Leven is expected to remain in charge for Saturday’s trip to Motherwell after being put back in caretaker charge following Neil Warnock’s departure and he had some home truths for the players after a fourth consecutive league defeat.

“Not good enough,” the first-team coach said. “First half, really poor. Started well second half and the goal has killed us. But, for me, not enough quality on the ball and we dropped too deep.

“I just said to them, listen, we are in trouble. You have got to find a way. We had some honest words in there.

“We are running out of games and we have got to pick up points. Yeah, I could blame VAR but it’s just not good enough. (The penalty) was harsh, I have only seen one replay, but whatever I can say can’t change it.

“We have got to stand up and be counted now, that was nowhere near good enough for Aberdeen Football Club.

“Better teams have gone down, probably. It’s a big game on Saturday now.

“It’s about desire, playing for the badge, playing for the fans. We never picked up second balls, we never tested them.”

The travelling fans chanted “sack the board” in the closing stages and “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” as the players left the park.

Leven said: “I apologise to the fans. They pay their hard-earned cash to come here and follow us all over Europe and Scotland.”

Dundee manager Tony Docherty was delighted with his side’s display.

“I thought it was a fantastic performance, one of the best of the season,” he said. “We had huge dominance in the first half, I was bemoaning a final pass and cross but the level of performance was outstanding.

“Before the game we were bemoaning the fact we were surrendering too many leads. I felt, when we went 1-0 up, I didn’t have any fear we would lose the game.

“Aberdeen threw a lot at us but the mentality of the team was fantastic and it shows we are learning and developing.”

Nicolas Kuhn scored his first goal for Celtic but pre-match dissent from the visiting supporters at Pittodrie was amplified as a strong second-half performance from Aberdeen earned the hosts a point.

Celtic ran out to chants of “sack the board” and a banner which read “Celtic board, on your heads be it” as the fans expressed their displeasure over the club’s transfer window business.

Their team had a goal disallowed and hit the bar twice in a one-sided first half but Bojan Miovski gave Aberdeen the lead with their first effort at goal in the 50th minute and his 19th goal of the season.

German winger Kuhn levelled in the 64th minute in his second appearance for Celtic but the game remained in the balance and the 1-1 draw ended a run of six consecutive wins for the cinch Premiership leaders since they lost back-to-back games in December.

Aberdeen had first-team coach Peter Leven in charge following the sacking of manager Barry Robson and he handed a first start to the club’s sole January signing, on-loan Crystal Palace midfielder Killian Phillips.

Celtic had both of their new signings, German winger Kuhn and on-loan Norwich forward Adam Idah, on the bench as Maik Nawrocki replaced the injured Cameron Carter-Vickers.

The defender’s ball over the top earned Celtic their first real chance and Luis Palma was celebrating after converting the rebound from Liel Abada’s saved effort. The Honduran winger was clearly offside though, however it took the VAR team several minutes to disallow the goal.

Celtic continued to create a steady stream of first-half chances. Kelle Roos saved comfortably from Palma and Abada and the former missed a great opportunity after Alistair Johnston’s cross found him in space on the corner of the six-yard box. His shot hit the top of the bar and went over.

Paulo Bernardo lobbed a delicate effort over a crowded goalmouth and off the top of the bar as Celtic continued to dominate. They had 13 first-half shots at goal, but only three on target with Matt O’Riley and Alexandro Bernabei off target just before the break.

Aberdeen had barely managed to get the ball in the final third but they re-emerged from the interval with a new-found vigour and quickly turned defence into attack when a Celtic move up the left broke down.

Dante Polvara’s forward pass set Miovski up to run at Nawrocki and the striker shifted the ball inside before curling home from 18 yards.

The game was transformed. Aberdeen threatened from a series of set-pieces with Celtic blocking several shots and Phillips almost made himself an instant hero with an audacious 45-yard chip which had Joe Hart beaten but just drifted off target.

It was another recent signing that was soon celebrating though. Kuhn and Idah came on along with Anthony Ralston in the 59th minute and the winger soon made his mark as he cut in from the right, played a one-two and then got the ball back from Idah before shooting in off Nicky Devlin.

Both teams went all out to get ahead. O’Riley saw a deflected effort hit the outside of the post and Hart saved from Connor Barron after Nawrocki’s poor clearance.

The offside flag went up after good chances at either end and Graeme Shinnie looked all set to score only to hit Hart with his shot. Leighton Clarkson looked offside from Shinnie’s header before he got the ball back.

Miovski was definitely offside when he beat Hart to Clarkson’s low cross and knocked the ball into the net from close range.

Celtic finished strongly but Roos came off his line to foil O’Riley and substitute Stephen Welsh headed over with the last action of the game before the away supporters resumed chants against the board while applauding the players.

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack is braced for the “exhausting” process of recruiting a fourth new manager in the space of three years after Barry Robson was sacked on Wednesday.

First-team coach Peter Leven and under-18s coach Scott Anderson have been placed in temporary charge while the Dons board begin the now-familiar task of searching for a new boss.

Alex Neil, Neil Lennon, Robbie Neilson, Neil Warnock and Stephen Robinson are among those to have been linked with the Pittodrie vacancy.

Almost 12 months to the day after stepping up from his role with the under-18s to take charge of the first team – initially on an interim basis – Robson was relieved of his duties along with assistant Steve Agnew.

Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at home to Dundee, in which the 45-year-old came under fire from sections of the Dons support, proved to be the final straw, with a club statement saying this season’s results and performances in the cinch Premiership “have been well below the expectations set”.

Robson was appointed Aberdeen manager on a permanent basis last May after overseeing impressive form during his stint as caretaker, with a run of seven successive wins helping the Dons overhaul Hearts to claim third place and a crack at European group-stage football.

Cormack lamented the fact the Dons were unable to replicate such form this season as he described the current league position of eighth as “unacceptable”, even allowing for the demands of trying to juggle domestic matters with competing in the Conference League.

“Although it has been a difficult call, the board felt the change was necessary and in the best interests of Aberdeen FC,” the Dons chairman told the club’s website.

“Barry earned the right to be Aberdeen manager and knew the high level of expectation we had when he took the role.

“We gave Barry as much time and support as we possibly could in the hope, and expectation, he could return us to the league form we witnessed in the spring of last year.

“There is a talented squad of players at the club which makes our current league position unacceptable.

“With 17 games left in the league and still in the Scottish Cup, this change is necessary to help us refocus on our ambitions for the rest of the season.

“It’s important we thank Barry for his significant contribution to Aberdeen as a player, a coach and manager. He’s a good man who worked extremely hard in everything he did for us, and it goes without saying that we wish him, and Steve, our very best.”

Following the relative stability of having Derek McInnes in charge from 2013 to 2021 – finishing in the top four in each of his seven full seasons in charge – the Dons have seen Steven Glass, Jim Goodwin and Robson all last no more than a year at the helm before being sacked with the team in the bottom six.

Cormack is frustrated that he and his fellow Dons directors find themselves on the hunt for yet another new boss at a time when the club is “in good shape” off the field.

“The club, as a business, is in good shape,” he said. “We have no bank debt, significant commercial growth, record season ticket and AberDNA membership sales.

“We also have an evolving player trading model that is allowing us to invest significantly more in the football operation than the operating income we generate.

“But, as chairman, I accept responsibility, along with the board, for the managerial upheavals. It’s exhausting for everyone to go through, not least our fans and the managers who gave their all and lost their jobs.”

Aberdeen’s next two league games are at home to Celtic and away to Rangers before they host League Two side Bonnyrigg in the last 16 of the Scottish Cup.

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