Aberdeen 2-0 Partick: Dons see off Thistle

DEREK McInnes demanded a positive response to last week’s defeat at St Johnstone and his Aberdeen players obliged with a win that suggests both sides can expect to experience similar seasons to the previous one.

Niall McGinn (left) celebrates his goal with Aberdeen team-mates Shaleum Logan (centre) and Ryan Jack (right). Picture: SNS

Scorers: Aberdeen - Low 47; McGinn 66

Most people expect the Dons to finish runners-up to Celtic at the end of their manager’s second full season in charge, with some rash enough to predict a title challenge.

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The Aberdeen manager is too savvy to suggest such a thing but they will now go to Parkhead after the international break in a much more conducive position to test the current champions.

By contrast, Partick Thistle ended the previous campaign just three points clear of the relegation play- off place and their manager has adopted a more pragmatic approach in attempting to avoid another nervous finale this time round.

Alan Archibald’s intention to play attacking football on their return to the top flight was laudable but came dramatically unstuck at times, like on their single visit to Pittodrie. Aberdeen took full advantage against expansive opponents to run in four goals, their highest home league win of the season, but even though the visitors were determined to be less obliging, on this evidence they will do well to steer clear of trouble.

Last season’s top scorer Kris ­Doolan dropped to the bench, ­sacrificed for a more solid shape at the back designed to frustrate a side who have found it hard to overcome such stubborn resistance.

That was a major motivation behind the addition of David Goodwillie in the summer and the former Scotland striker was picked ahead of Adam Rooney as McInnes tried ­everything to solve the problem.

It was a move that really should have produced instant success and Nicky Low, in for thigh injury ­victim Willo Flood, released Goodwillie with an exquisite ball played over the head of Conrad Balatoni.

That was the sort of chance the player would have gobbled up a couple of seasons back, but the lack of certainty in his game saw a quickly snatched shot from the edge of the area comfortably saved.

It was also a microcosm of what played out for the rest of the half as Aberdeen poured forward in numbers, with pace and imagination at times, only for those efforts to be undermined by their finishing.

Partick’s defending was frantic at times, particularly when defending corner kicks given the variety the home side produced, showing just how hard they had been working on the training ground this week.

Jake Carroll marked his debut at left-back at the start of a six-month loan from Huddersfield by clearing a Mark Reynolds header off the line.

Unfortunately for the visitors that sort of luck was unlikely to last the full 90 minutes but it must have been galling for Archibald to see his plans undone so quickly after the break. To be fair, it took a stunning strike from Low to break the deadlock, but just reward for the midfielder who made the most of his rare start in the team with a fine all-round performance.

He was aggressive in the tackle, gave Aberdeen’s play the intensity it needed at times, then produced the breakthrough goal before Partick could get back into their rhythm.

That came out of the blue as there seemed little danger when he got the ball 22 yards from goal. Appearances were deceptive though, as the ball was thrashed past Gallacher into the top left-hand corner.

If that was good then there was even better to follow, when Niall McGinn gathered possession just beyond the right hand junction of the 18-yard box, then bent a wonderful shot into the far corner.

A delighted McInnes said: “Those two goals lit up the game as Nicky’s was a fantastic strike and Niall’s was even better. Nicky has a lot of similar qualities to Willo Flood in the way he loves his football and gives it everything.

“Fair play to him for coming in and taking his chance as we need to have a strong squad if we are going to kick on from last season.”

This performance suggests he has it, as it was achieved with Russell Anderson and Flood injured while Adam Rooney and Barry Robson started on the bench.

On the plus side for Archibald, signings Carroll and Dan Seaborne looked decent but the Thistle manager took little consolation from that and said: “I wouldn’t say we didn’t turn up, but we just didn’t get in Aberdeen’s faces. I thought we were easy to play against and brought problems on ourselves.”