Losing last year’s Scottish Cup final has given Aberdeen extra incentive to engineer another shot at it this term.
Still smarting over that defeat by Celtic, Adam Rooney says they have every intention of getting back to Hampden in the hope they can leave with the trophy rather than regrets. That was evident in the way they tackled Saturday’s tie.
Up against the Championship leaders, the Pittodrie side were aware of the danger St Mirren posed and equipped to repel it. A goal seven minutes into the match settled any nerves and reminded their guests of the magnitude of their task and another in the 18th minute magnified that.
They were clinical in the way they dismissed their guests, who were slack in defence but showed some fight, pulling a goal back by half-time. But hope dwindled when Aberdeen responded with a third goal seven minutes later and another just two minutes into the second half.
“It was very disappointing last season,” admitted Rooney, “but we try and use disappointments to motivate us for the next season and every player the manager has brought in has been told about the demands of the club and how we want to win silverware. We would all love to do that but we are still a long way from that.”
Still a lot of work to do, they edged closer and will face Dundee United in the last 16. A similar level of performance should see them progress.
They snuffed out much of the supply to St Mirren’s much-vaunted frontmen as Graeme Shinnie and Kenny McLean bossed the middle of the park and Ryan Christie pulled the creative strings, working with Gary Mackay-Steven, Greg Stewart and Rooney to give their promotion-chasing guests’ rearguard a lesson in how tough life could be if they win the title and turn up at places like Pittodrie on league duty next term.
“All due respect to Dumbarton, where we were last week, it’s arenas like Pittodrie you want to be playing,” said Saints’ Stephen McGinn. “We wanted to go create a good impression, showing everyone why we are top of the Championship. But we knew we would have to carry a bit of luck, defend properly and not lose goals at bad times. Unfortunately, we did a couple of those things.”
While Aberdeen’s build-up play had been incisive, Stelios Demetriou was reckless in his challenge on Stewart in the seventh minute, gifting Rooney the penalty and the hosts their early lead. It was Christie who added the second, running on to a Mackay-Steven cutback and coolly finding the net, and the same player re-established the two-goal advantage with a header at the back post, after Gavin Reilly had reacted brightly in the 26th minute to drag his side back into it when Joe Lewis parried a Lewis Morgan shot.
But the match was over as a contest in the 47th minute when Mackay-Steven rocketed a shot into the top corner from the edge of the box. After that, St Mirren tried to minimise the damage, while Aberdeen fans were afforded one last moment to cherish, as prodigal son Niall McGinn joined the fray. Even when they went down to ten men for the final minutes, when the influential Christie hobbled off, the news was good, with McInnes insisting it was precautionary and he would be available for Wednesday’s league trip to Ibrox.