SPL

Craig Levein says David Keltjens was due to come off before grabbing equaliser

By Sports Desk January 24, 2024

St Johnstone manager Craig Levein admitted he had ditched a plan to take debutant David Keltjens off before the Israel international netted a late equaliser against Aberdeen.

Saints appeared to be heading towards a hard-luck story after Bojan Miovski’s penalty put the Dons ahead but debutant Keltjens headed home in the 78th minute to seal a 1-1 draw.

The 28-year-old January signing had been without a club since last season and Levein planned to remove him after an hour after starting him at wing-back.

“That was our intention but he was doing so well that I didn’t see any reason to take him off,” the saints boss said.

“David was excellent. He has hardly played any football at all for a long time and that was one of the considerations when we signed him. But he has played six times for Israel and he is a good age.

“It was just about whether he was capable of performing at the levels that we require and he more than did. He was steady, reliable and tough. To get the goal was the icing on the cake.”

Liam Gordon was twice on the end of VAR decisions – a disallowed goal and a penalty – which were far from clear and obvious to anyone inside McDiarmid Park, including Levein.

The Saints skipper was penalised for catching Jamie McGrath after the midfielder cleared only as far as Graham Carey, whose volley had squeezed inside the near post of Kelle Roos.

The defender was then ruled to have fouled Slobodan Rubezic following a Dons corner and referee John Beaton pointed to the spot after being called to his monitor for a second time by Steven Kirkland.

Levein, who felt his side deserved “at least a point”, said: “I haven’t seen any of the incidents. The boys said Gordy caught somebody for their penalty so that was fair enough. I don’t know what happened with their disallowed goal. I will wait and see.

“It was a bit of a palaver to be honest. It does seem there is a lot of time taken to make decisions and if every decision was correct then I would be happy for them to spend as much time as they want.

“But when you have human beings involved, there is always a chance there is going to be errors. I’m not saying there was tonight because I don’t know.”

Aberdeen missed the chance to move into the cinch Premiership top six and manager Barry Robson felt his side paid the price for poor game management.

“It was disappointing, when you are 1-0 up with 15 minutes to go, you are hoping to go on and win the game,” said Robson, who lost Rubezic late on to a knee injury which will require a scan.

“When the opposition is coming at you and they will come at you, you have to be calm and use your experience. You get your distances right, stop crosses coming into the box and when the ball does come in the box, you win your headers.

“We never did that well enough in the last 15 minutes.”

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