Niall McGinn scored Aberdeen’s 500th goal since Derek McInnes took over as manager in March 2013, but it took a redemptive double save from Joe Lewis to ensure it was good enough for all thee points.
The Dons captain threw out an arm to prevent Jonathan Obika taking the ball round him in the penalty area as the St Mirren striker looked certain to score what would have been his second equaliser of the afternoon. It might have been an idea to let the Englishman take the resulting spot-kick as Tony Andreu never looked convincing in anything he did all game, in particular when the Frenchman was given the opportunity to score from the 12-yard mark.
Lewis dived right to block the initial effort only for the ball to bounce straight back to someone who used to rattle in the goals for Hamilton Accies and Dundee United but looks devoid of confidence now, as he showed by virtually passing the ball back to the prostrate goalkeeper.
That miss leaves St Mirren as the first top-flight club since Dundee United 19 years ago to fail to take a single point from any of their first eight away games and only goal difference separates them from the foot of the table. A source of double frustration, then, for their manager Jim Goodwin who had some justification for the view that Lewis shouldn’t have been on the field to face the penalty having made no genuine attempt to play the ball.
However, he conceded: “We should score the penalty. Now I’m sitting here on the end of another 2-1 defeat and the amount of games we’ve lost by the odd goal is remarkable.”
By contrast, it was double relief for McInnes as Aberdeen made it just one defeat and 20 points in eight matches since a five-goal thrashing at Ibrox, as a red card would have meant Lewis sitting out Wednesday’s rematch with Rangers at Pittodrie.
The Dons manager claimed afterwards that his goalkeeper is worth an additional 12 points a season to the club – and, along with the goals Sam Cosgrove keeps on scoring, is a reason why they can look forward to another successful season. Of course, repulsing the offers that seem certain to come in January for a striker who has now scored 18 goals in 22 games will be crucial to that ambition.
Cosgrove’s first two goals for the club came against St Mirren last year, but the quality of this latest one against the Buddies illustrated how much his confidence has surged since then, controlling Sean McLoughlin’s poor clearance before clipping in the opener after just six minutes.
It means Cosgrove has now scored seven goals more than the entire St Mirren team this season – although the one they managed at Pittodrie was a moment of quality as Ryan Flynn left Greg Leigh and Ryan Hedges flailing before crossing for Obika to back-heel the ball home.
After that it was more about graft than great play that secured Aberdeen’s win, with Hedges hitting the byline and crossing for McGinn to flash a drive into the roof of the net after 56 minutes.
McInnes said:“Four wins out of five is not bad shooting and now we face one of the strongest teams in the country, because Rangers and Celtic are playing at such a good level at the minute. Rangers are a better team than us, they have better players but we can win the game. It is important my players believe that when they go out there.”