Derek McInnes admits his Aberdeen side had to cling on desperately against Hamilton Accies to see out a seventh successive league win that moved them five points clear of Celtic at the top of the table.
However, the Dons manager was never in doubt that his team had the resilience and character to secure the single-goal victory gained by Adam Rooney’s penalty after 23 minutes of a tense encounter.
The Premiership leaders even finished with ten men for the second game in a row as Ash Taylor was forced off with a head injury near the end when McInnes had already used all three substitutes.
In truth it was a more edgy finale than it should have been as Aberdeen created the better chances throughout and although Hamilton never gave up the fight, they lacked the finesse to make their pressure tell.
“It was all hands to the pump at the end” admitted a relieved McInnes afterwards.” We had Adam Rooney at centre-back, which is the furthest he’s been away from the opposition goal but there’s not a successful team out there who hasn’t had to dig in like that.
“There’s not a team out there who has won anything, whether it’s cups or leagues, who haven’t won games like that. There is a confidence that we can win games like that.
“People will always throw doubts at us so we’ll have to keep proving it. I never have any doubts about them. Maybe the levels were not there after last weekend, but we would have taken that before the game.
“The attitude was spot on, even though we didn’t get the rhythm going that we usually have. While you don’t get the second goal, against any team – never mind one as good as Hamilton – then you always have a worry near the end. But we stood up to it. That’s seven wins in a row now and we’re delighted. We go to Hearts on Sunday now trying to get eight wins.”
This was the second defeat in four days for Accies but the loss at Pittodrie was far more palatable for their player-manager Martin Canning than the one endured at Perth last weekend.
He was critical of his players’ concentration levels in defence when losing 4-1 against St Johnstone but felt they had improved so much they were unfortunate to lose to Aberdeen.
“I thought the momentum was with us towards the end and I felt if anyone was going to score it would be us,” he said. “I’m disappointed for the boys because we put so much into it. ”
It was a tale of two penalties as far as Canning was concerned as he felt on reflection referee Crawford Allan was right to award Aberdeen’s match-winning spot kick but wrong to book Dougie Imrie for diving instead of awarding one to his side shortly afterwards.
“I felt we should have had a penalty. From what the boys were saying it should have been,” he said. “They are also telling me that the Aberdeen one was a penalty but overall I thought the boys were excellent and if we play like that we’ll win more games then we lose.”