Sam Nicholson was disappointed but not downhearted after Hearts lost in cruel fashion at Pittodrie on Saturday.
With second meeting third in the table, both sides fought hard and the game looked set to end in stalemate before there was drama three minutes from time.
After Jordan McGhee handled the ball, Adam Rooney converted a spot-kick to earn his team all three points.
Following the match, the winger confessed he felt the game could have swung either way but admitted that the Jambos’ failure to make their second half pressure pay had cost them.
Nicholson hit the crossbar with a beautiful curling effort from distance, before Juanma brought out a superb save from Danny Ward and Callum Paterson had a header cleared off the line.
“Obviously we’re disappointed, but I think we showed today we can compete with teams up the league, as it could have gone either way,” said Nicholson.
“It’s just not gone the right way. Both teams had a lot of chances. We were well on top in the second half, and we should have taken one of our chances.
“I thought my effort might be in, but I wasn’t surprised when it came back out. As you know, I don’t score many goals,” he continued, with a wry smile. “The game could have gone either way, but they managed to get the goal.”
When asked about the mentality of the squad, Sam was in no doubt that the team would recover from this setback in positive fashion, as they had done following three defeats to go eight games unbeaten.
“It’s our first defeat in nine games, so we know we’re capable of going on another run of games without losing,” stated Sam. “We’ve got a good squad with real mental strength and we’ll push on from here.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, journalists were keen to quiz Sam on his views of the incident that resulted in Aberdeen’s penalty, and for his thoughts on how Jordan McGhee might handle the situation.
Sam insisted Jordan would bounce back from his mistake, and had nothing but praise and admiration for his teammate.
“He was gutted but even Messi makes mistakes, every single one of us has made a mistake that has cost us a goal at either end. I missed a chance against Motherwell to win it when I should have scored it.
“We are all so supportive of Jordan, he’s our teammate and we support each other,” said a defiant Nicholson. “He is a great player and he is only 19 and he has a great future and that is what he needs to look at.
“When you’re a young lad playing at a good level, you want to be told to play without fear and if you make mistakes, then fine. You don’t want to be cagey and afraid.
“Aberdeen have a lot of experienced players but I guarantee every single one of them has made mistakes similar to that and look at them now, they are all great players and Jordan is going to go on a similar path.”
After confirming that he and McGhee had known each other for some time, the Scotland U21 star reaffirmed his view that McGhee would go on to far greater things, and that this incident would be forgotten quickly.
“I know him very well. I know what sort of person he is. He is mentally one of the strongest boys at his age. He made his debut at 16 years old, and soon after he scored against Aberdeen – that says it all.
“He has a great future and I hope he and everybody else put things to one side. We just have to kick on because that is football and now we have to look forward to St Johnstone.”