It’s not often a player wins possession in his own half, runs half the length of the pitch, leaving opponents trailing in his wake, before scoring from the edge of the penalty area and it’s still not the best goal of the game, but that was Niall McGinn’s fate on Saturday.
The winger capped an outstanding performance on his first start since returning to Aberdeen last month with arguably his best individual goal for the club, but all anyone wanted to talk about afterwards was Scott McKenna’s stunning 40-yard strike.
McGinn played a role in that, just as the Northern Ireland international had done when delivering the 49th-minute corner from which McKenna seemed to head the equaliser, although referee Craig Thomson reckoned Adam Rooney got the final touch.
There was no dubiety about the second three minutes later as the ball still seemed to be gathering speed as the in-demand defender’s 40-yard shot ripped into Kilmarnock’s net and an admiring McGinn can hardly credit the transformation in the player.
After all, the pair had started just two matches together when McGinn left for his ill-fated spell in South Korea last summer, now Hull City have had three bids rejected for the Scotland under-21 cap, while Aston Villa were one of the clubs watching him on Saturday.
Derek McInnes is fed-up repeating the mantra that McKenna, pictured below, is not for sale, although the caveat of “in this transfer window” suggests Aberdeen may not be able to resist too much longer, but McGinn knows from failed spells at Brentford and now Gwangju that moves don’t always go well.
Not that he doubts McKenna’s ability, though, as he said: “It was an unbelievable goal for Scott and I’m delighted for him. Since I’ve been away he’s got established in the team and done very well and he is always going to be a big asset for us.
“He’s keeping goals out defensively and showing he can make a telling contribution at the other end as well, so to have a player of that calibre in our team with a great future ahead of him is great.
“He is playing a lot of football and getting a lot of experience at a good level and the priority for him is just to keep working hard, keep developing his game and the world is his oyster.
“If he keeps impressing and doing well other clubs are going to be attracted to him as a young Scottish talent coming through but it is important he doesn’t get distracted by anything else.”
Aberdeen looked collectively distracted themselves for a while after Kilmarnock took a 28th-minute lead through Kris Boyd’s 120th goal in his 300th appearance for the club thanks to a deflection off his backside.
McInnes motivated them at the interval by claiming the doubters would be expecting them to fall away after the midweek defeat at Ibrox and a significant number of those must have been in the Pittodrie stands given the vitriol that poured down on the Dons players when the half-time whistle blew.
The response was impressive as they were ahead within seven minutes while McGinn’s goal in 72 minutes condemned Killie to their first defeat since an identical scoreline against Aberdeen at Rugby Park eight matches previously.