Aberdeen coasted past League One strugglers Stranraer at Pittodrie to reach the fifth-round of the William Hill Scottish Cup and keep hopes alive of their first triumph in the competition since 1990.
Dons manager Derek McInnes showed his intent by fielding the same team which won three consecutive Ladbrokes Premiership matches prior to the winter break, and it turned out to be a long afternoon for the part-timers.
Adam Rooney and Niall McGinn both netted in each half as the Dons, recently back from warm weather training in Dubai, won 4-0 in a one-sided contest.
Andrew Considine squandered a fifth-minute chance for the hosts when he sent a free header over the crossbar from McGinn’s corner.
Both goalkeepers were then called into action shortly after, Aberdeen’s Joe Lewis saving low down to his right to deny Willie Gibson before Cammy Belford pulled off an outstanding stop to keep out McGinn’s header.
Stranraer had been fairly comfortable until they fell behind in the 30th minute thanks to a Rooney strike. McGinn crossed to the far post for Jonny Hayes, who rose to nod the ball down for Rooney and his 12-yard shot gave Belford no chance.
McGinn quickly doubled the Dons’ lead with a well-taken goal in the 34th minute. The Northern Irishman latched on to a Kenny McLean lay-off before driving a low 16-yard effort inside the far corner of the net.
Only good goalkeeping from Belford kept the score down at the interval, which could not come quickly enough for the visitors.
When Rooney scored his second and Aberdeen’s third five minutes into the second half, it turned into a damage limitation exercise for the Stair Park club, who this week parted company with boss Brian Reid. On-loan Livingston defender Morgyn Neill was penalised for handling a Hayes cross and Rooney converted the resultant spot-kick.
There was no stopping the rampant Reds as McGinn lashed in a 14-yard left-footed effort from Andrew Considine’s cutback in the 54th minute.
Hayes, the subject of two recent failed bids from Sky Bet Championship side Cardiff, was replaced by Peter Pawlett in the 64th minute and Dons supporters will be hoping it was not a farewell appearances from the flying winger.