NIALL MCGINN’S excellent 17th goal of the season was enough to guide Aberdeen to victory over Clydesdale Bank Premier League basement boys Dundee.
Scorers: Aberdeen: McGinn (18)
The home side made heavy work of their win on a Pittodrie pitch showing the scars of a hard winter, and they even had to play for the last 15 minutes with only 10 men, Isaac Osbourne going off injured after manager Craig Brown had made his third substitution.
With defender Mark Reynolds suspended, Scott Vernon came into the team in place of the former Sheffield Wednesday man, and he partnered McGinn in attack.
Joe Shaughnessy stepped into the centre of defence, and Osbourne dropped from the midfield to fill in at right-back. There were places on the bench for long-term injury victims Gary Naysmith and Ryan Jack.
Dundee are 15 points adrift at the bottom of the SPL, and after their 2-0 defeat to Ross County last week, they made two changes. Wingers Nicky Riley and Ryan Conroy came into the side, with Kevin McBride and striker Colin Nish dropped to the bench.
Right from the off, Aberdeen were determined to attack a young and inexperienced Dundee central defence. As early as the third minute, a Johnny Hayes cross found Vernon at the back post, and although his close-range strike seemed to come off the arm of Gary Irvine, referee Brian Colvin was unmoved by the appeals for a penalty.
Ten minutes later, Dundee went close through Brian Easton, whose low shot was pushed away by Jamie Langfield. The Dons eventually scrambled clear as John Baird tried to pick out Lewis Toshney.
But after 18 minutes, Aberdeen took the lead, and a fine goal it was. McGinn picked up the ball on the halfway line and shuffled past two men before unleashing a low, 20-yard drive which bounced just in front of Rab Douglas, and nestled in the back of the net.
It was a full 20 minutes before the next real chance for either side. Douglas punched away a Hayes cross and Osbourne set himself for a strike from the edge of the area, but sliced his right-footed effort well wide of the upright.
A minute before the interval, the visitors were within inches of an equaliser. Gary Harkins played in Jim McAlister, and the former Morton man cannoned a shot past Langfield, off the underside of the crossbar and back out.
The Dees started the second half brightly and, six minutes in, McAlister tried a low shot from the edge of the area, which Langfield did well to push round the post.
They were, though, missing the focal point of Nish in attack, and that was especially evident at set-pieces. Once again, this one came to nothing.
Aberdeen made the first move from the bench just after the hour, with Naysmith replacing Clark Robertson.
A minute either side of the change, Dundee had half-chances for Baird and Riley, but neither really connected with their shot, and former Dark Blue Langfield remained untested.
Declan Gallagher picked up the game’s only booking after 63 minutes for a foul on McGinn, but the resultant free-kick came to nothing.
The Dons switched Rob Milsom for Peter Pawlett with 25 minutes left, and five minutes later they had a brief glimpse of goal as McGinn flicked a shot across the face of goal with the outside of his right foot.
The third and final change for the home side saw Josh Magennis replace Joe Shaughnessy, much to the chagrin of the home support, and they cruelly lost Osbourne to injury just a minute later, reducing them to 10 men.
Dundee were making a decent attempt to find a way back into the game even before Osbourne went off, and they quickly brought on Nish for Conroy in a bid to make the most of their man advantage, but it was not to be for Barry Smith’s men.