ABERDEEN responded to some half-time words of wisdom from manager Derek McInnes to blow Hamilton away after the break with a win that sees them replace the Lanarkshire side in fourth place.
Scorers: Taylor 28, McGinn 51, Rooney 55 pen
McInnes was pleased with the team’s performance despite losing last week’s Scottish Cup tie at Dundee, his only concern being a failure to convert their dominance into a victory.
It looked as though that might be the case again when the home side controlled long spells of the first half without creating too much anxiety for the visitors.
The exception to that came from the imagination and movement of the Dons players as they tried to execute training-ground routines aimed at exploiting corner kicks.
Every Aberdeen attacker took position in the opponents six-yard box, then when the ball was about to be played in, they broke at pace in various directions that made them hard to pick up.
It meant a few anxious moments for the Accies defenders, but they did eventually manage to clear their lines, which only added to manager Alex Neil’s frustration when the Dons hit the front.
That came from a much more orthodox set piece as Niall McGinn delivered a corner from the left and central defender Ash Taylor soared above his marker to head home from eight yards.
However, Hamilton are nothing if not obdurate and their goalkeeper, Michael McGovern, didn’t have a serious save to make for the rest of the first half after losing that 27th-minute goal.
By then Neil had already been cautioned following a war of words with Aberdeen counterpart McInnes after questioning Jonny Hayes reaction to a clash of heads in midfield.
It wasn’t entirely surprising, though, as the Hamilton manager had looked increasingly strained at the way his side kept surrendering possession in promising areas and they rarely threatened the Aberdeen backline in the first half.
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Tony Andreu and Ali Crawford did try their luck from distance, but Scott Brown could have headed off early for his half-time cup of tea for all the threat they posed to his goal.
At the other end, McGovern was much more heavily involved, especially at the start of the second half when his positioning could be called into question when McGinn scored Aberdeen’s second.
McInnes clearly got his message through in the interval about more intensity and desire being needed as they resumed in an impressive manner that effectively ended the contest within ten minutes.
They could have scored a couple of times before the former Celtic winger did hit the target with a sublime effort from the edge of the penalty area.
Hamilton were architects of their own downfall, tamely surrendering possession to McGinn, but he maximised the punishment with a delicate lob over the goalkeeper, who had strayed off his line.
That came after 51 minutes and shortly afterwards, Grant Gillespie’s grappling of Jonny Hayes was punished by a penalty that Adam Rooney converted for his 15th goal of the season.
This was the latest in a recent sequence of disappointing results for Hamilton, although it does seem churlish to claim they are on the cusp of a crisis considering where they came from last season and what they have achieved so far in this one.
The fact remains that a team who lost just once in their first 13 games have now managed a single victory since defeating Aberdeen by three clear goals at New Douglas Park in October.
That run now stands at seven matches and includes elimination from both major cup competitions, which does suggest the opposition are no longer underestimating the challenge Alex Neil’s players pose.
To make matters worse they will be without midfielder Jon Routledge for the visit of Dundee on Saturday after the player received a straight red card in 81 minutes following a confrontation with Ryan Jack and Jonny Hayes.
Neil was so wary of causing more problems for himself that he left the post-match duties to assistant Frankie McAvoy, who had more than a little sympathy for what his boss went through.
McAvoy said: “Alex is bitterly disappointed we lost the game 3-0 and he feels he was unfortunate to be booked. I witnessed the incident and to be quite honest I don’t think he should have been, but these things happen at the side of the pitch where two coaches get involved.
“It was just an altercation. When you’re a manager you can get heated up with a decision you think goes against you.”
McAvoy was just as sanguine when it came to assessing Hamilton’s recent form, adding: “We didn’t get carried away with our great start to the season and we won’t overreact now.”
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