THE scoreline may not have been spectacular but this will surely be noted down as another sign of progress in the Derek McInnes era by the Aberdeen faithful.
SCORERS: Aberdeen - Vernon 20, Robson 66
St Mirren have been fiendishly stubborn opponents for the Pittodrie side to negotiate their way past in recent times – no fewer than eight of the previous nine fixtures between the pair had ended in draws – so this result surely has greater significance than just the routine gathering of another three points.
On an afternoon when the wind absolutely howled in off the North Sea and led the players on something of a merry dance, the feel-good factor for the hosts was also embellished by a decisive second goal scored by Barry Robson straight from a corner for which the term “wind assisted” does scant justice. It needed the right delivery to make it happen, of course, and it was to be a game in which the former Scotland international turned back the clock with some telling passes and a real appetite to drive his side forward.
While Aberdeen may not have the effervescence of Dundee United’s wonderkids at the moment, they are still hard on the heels of their old east coast rivals and Inverness in pursuit of a top-three finish. “Of all the wins we’ve had this season, that’s probably the most satisfying,” asserted McInnes. “We knew what the weather was going to be like and we drummed into the players that they had to be focused, keep concentration and not make mistakes – and they’ve done just that.”
It wasn’t all down to mastering the gale though – the home side showed a greater inventiveness allied with patience to overcome obstinate opponents. They got an early break, too, when Steven Thompson side-footed the ball into the net only for the offside flag to be raised and, naturally, St Mirren manager Danny Lennon was eager to highlight its significance.
“It was a big call”, he insisted. “It’s difficult enough to come here without these sort of decisions going against you. The conditions played a big part too though”.
The elements were certainly to be catalyst for both goals, the first arriving after a period of Aberdeen dominance, when an old-fashioned hoof up the park by Jamie Langfield simply sailed forward. The Buddies defence hesitated fatally with bewilderment and Scott Vernon lofted the ball over Marian Kello before driving it home for the crucial breakthrough.
As the hosts continued to press, Vernon was the recipient of yet another very plausible chance when McGinn drove the ball across goal but he stumbled and was unable to make it a double. For some reason, this signalled an easing off the gas by Aberdeen and the visitors started to show their decent run of form of late was not without foundation by pushing forward and making a few chances of their own of which a Paul McLean shot that was impressively clutched by Langfield was the best.
The Paisley side continued with a little flurry of attacking intent after the interval but Aberdeen showed they have a bit of grit in their armoury as well as panache as they once again pushed their opponents on to the back foot. Their reward was to come with Robson’s dramatic set piece – he just wrapped that devilish left foot around it and let Mother Nature do the rest. The ball rapidly picked momentum as it swayed towards poor Kello’s goal and positively flew past him into the net.
“Both goals have come from misjudging the flight of the ball in the conditions”, observed McInnes, “and I think overall we’ve dealt with them better than they have.” It was
certainly game over after this.
Robson took his applause at leisure as he was replaced by Nicky Low a few minutes later and the Dons went in search of more. Vernon sent another effort fizzing past the post while St Mirren never looked like a side with the firepower to claw back the deficit on this occasion. It’s not been that often that the home fans have had the luxury of seeing out this fixture in such angst-free
fashion in recent times.