Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes hailed a dominant performance from his side that left new Hearts head coach Ian Cathro with just a single victory from his first five matches in charge.
Jonny Hayes’ 50th career goal midway through the second half was enough to separate the sides and pull Aberdeen six points ahead of Hearts in fourth place. “When we heard the Hearts fans boo at half-time, that was one part of our job done,” said McInnes.
“But we were conscious we had to ask more of ourselves to get the three points. When the goal comes it was no more than we deserved.” McInnes was always confident his side’s pressure would tell eventually – and it did when Hayes’ sheer determination to reach Niall McGinn’s cross saw him score what proved the winner in the 66th minute.
“I wasn’t worried,” said McInnes. “We were creating chances. But we have all been to games like that – you don’t want to rue missed chances. It is important to score the first goal when you come away from home and fortunately we were able to do that.”
McInnes stressed he was still hopeful of extending the loan spell of James Maddison, who was an unused substitute last night. Reports from Norwich City suggest manager Alex Neil has decided to keep the player in England. McInnes confirmed he will report to Norwich on Monday. “He will speak to them on Monday but I have spoken to Alex and the technical director – they see no reason why James can’t continue his loan with us,” he said. “It’s not signed or sealed but we are more than hopeful.”
Hearts struggled to impose themselves on the game, with Aberdeen spurning several chances as well as hitting the post through Graeme Shinnie. The home side felt Callum Paterson’s loss, with the right back missing due to a severe knee injury sustained in Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Kilmarnock.
“There is a lot of work to do,” accepted Cathro afterwards. “But I think that was probably the case anyway. The more stressful the situation, the more intense the game, the more you learn.
“It has been a positive that inside the first five games we have had games against two of the teams at the higher end of the table.
“We have had some tough situations which we can learn quite a lot from.”
“It became closer to the type of game Aberdeen prefer and it was difficult – we had to stay strong and fight our way through that and the players deserved credit to get to half-time 0-0. We made some adjustments in the second half and we were stronger.”
Cathro imagined there would be some activity in the window, particularly given Paterson’s situation. “It is a difficult window so we are not obsessed with it, but we will assess what we can possibly do,” he said.