ABERDEEN moved within three points of leaders Celtic, who have played one game fewer, with this comfortable victory over ailing Hamilton.
Scorers: Considine 6, Jack 8, McGinn 87
The winning margin would have been greater had it not been for yet another eccentric display from referee Willie Collum, who allowed play to continue after Aberdeen had clearly scored in the 43rd minute.
He also refused to allow a second legitimate goal to stand and denied the Dons what looked like a blatant penalty.
Mr Collum was “rested” last month after a series of poor decisions, a fate which may befall him again once the supervisor in the stand sends his report to Hampden.
Accies were forced to play for the final 30 minutes with ten men after Jesus Garcia Tena was ordered off but the Lanarkshire side were already up against it by then and they have now taken only two points from a possible 21 since Martin Canning replaced Alex Neil as manager.
Wingers are, by definition, peripheral figures but that did not prevent Niall McGinn, deployed in a wide role here, from having a major impact on proceedings. Indeed, he was involved in all three goals and the red card.
After only six minutes McGinn appeared on the right to send in a cross which Adam Rooney ought to have converted at the near post. However, the striker failed to connect with the ball, which struck the inrushing Ziggy Gordon. Michael McGovern dived to his right to prevent the own goal but Andrew Considine was on hand to lash home the rebound.
Two minutes later another inviting delivery from McGinn, this time from the left flank, picked out the run of Ryan Jack and the midfielder’s first-time shot found the net via the underside of the crossbar.
Accies’ best spell came midway through the first half but Jason Scotland could not provide a finishing touch to Stephen Hendrie’s driven cross and the West Ham-bound left-back then watched in frustration as his shot from 25 yards took a deflection and skimmed the crossbar.
Scotland missed an even better opening just past the half hour. Grant Gillespie and Ali Crawford combined to leave the former Trinidad and Tobago striker with only Scott Brown to beat from 12 yards but the goalkeeper took the pith out of his shot and that allowed Mark Reynolds, on the line, to clear.
However, the Dons should have been allowed to increase their lead two minutes from the interval. Jonny Hayes’ surging run down the right ended with a deep cross which McGinn rolled back across the face of the goal for Rooney, who smashed a shot against the underside of the bar.
The ball bounced at least a foot over the line but neither Collum (who is enduring an annus horribilis) nor, more pertinently, his assistant, David McGeachie, managed to spot that a goal had been scored.
The visitors continued to enjoy the upper hand after the break. Kenny McLean went close with a cross-shot which drifted inches wide of the far post and Tena was cautioned for illegally halting Hayes as he burst past him.
Collum appeared to err again when, after McGovern had parried Rooney’s shot from point-blank range, he penalised the striker after Tena had wrestled him to the ground rather than awarding the Dons a penalty and the Spaniard a second yellow card. His dismissal was not delayed for long. His poor clearance was intercepted by McLean, who supplied McGinn and Tena bundled the Irishman over. This time he was not spared.
McGovern did well to keep out the resulting free-kick from McLean but the game was effectively over as a contest once Accies had been reduced to ten.
Considine had the ball in the net once again but his header was correctly ruled out as a result of the defender climbing over his marker. However, substitute David Goodwillie then had a goal wrongly chalked off for offside. However, at least McGinn got the goal he deserved at the death, finishing with aplomb from Considine’s through ball.
Hamilton Academical: McGovern; Gordon, Canning, Tena, Hendrie; Routledge; Redmond, MacKinnon, Gillespie (Sumsky 85), Crawford (Watson 64); Scotland (Brophy 77). Subs not used: Hill, Lyon, MacDonald, Longridge.
Aberdeen: Brown; Logan, Daniels, Reynolds, Considine; Jack; Hayes (Flood 76), Pawlett (Goodwillie 79), McLean, McGinn; Rooney (Robsonj 79). Subs not used: Langfield, Smith, Shankland, Shaughnessy.
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