THIS game had an early kick-off and goodness it was pretty much all over before the clock struck one. By that point a startlingly rejuvenated Aberdeen were two goals to the good as Niall McGinn and then Adam Rooney had capitalised on their near total dominance in the opening stages and, frankly, from then onwards there never looked like the remotest possibility that Dundee would salvage anything from the proceedings.
Indeed that they did not end up on the wrong end of a more comprehensive mauling was the tiniest piece of solace.
The sunny late summer days may have gone to be replaced by grey winter skies and the tail end of Storm Desmond yesterday but this performance reminded everyone just how devastatingly effective this Aberdeen side can be, just as they were at the start of this campaign. That they didn’t win by a bigger margin might be a minor gripe but as it is they will be delighted to have reconsolidated themselves in second place in the Premiership ahead of their head to head with Hearts next weekend.
“Conditions were tough and energy sapping but we were grateful just to get the game played,” reflected the content Dons manager Derek McInnes. “I thought our start was vitally important. We really imposed ourselves, we were aggressive, played at a real tempo and didn’t let them settle – and we got our just rewards for that.”
“We didn’t get our own way in the second half but we managed the game well. I’m not too concerned about Hearts or Celtic, it was just important to get the three points today to add to those last week. It has been a gradual improvement and a lot of players played really well.”
One of those Dons players who stood out amidst the winter gloom was McGinn, who set the tone from the off with a voracious appetite for surging forward in mesmerising fashion. He didn’t hang about when it came to delivering a breakthrough goal either.
Having seen Scott Bain get a fingertip to a belter of a free-kick just moments earlier, the Northern Irishman was on hand to bury a low shot into the corner of the net after a quickly taken corner was directed into his path by Ash Taylor.
This ebullient start seemed to sprinkle magic dust over the rest of McGinn’s team-mates, with Kenny McLean, Jonny Hayes and Willo Flood all stepping forward and showing some delightful touches. Bain was an overworked last line of defence for Dundee at this stage and come 25 minutes his duties included picking the ball out of the back of the net once again. Incisive play from Flood and Hayes saw a low cross arrowed across the six-yard box and Rooney lurking at the far post buried it mercilessly.
That there were no further goals added prior to the interval had to be viewed as almost an act of mercy towards the hosts by McInnes’s men. Dundee looked like they had stepped into this game in a trance and seem bereft of both fight and inspiration. “Overall, not the best performance we’ve had,” was Paul Hartley’s pithy summation of events and, coming on top of a sequence of just two wins in their past ten games, it was hard for him to dig up too many positives from this one. “We were a little bit better in the second half and worked their goalkeeper a bit more. We also could have had a penalty in the first half when Nicky Low was fouled in the box, but I’m not saying that would have changed the game”.
His men certainly rallied a bit on the resumption and they must also have been lifted by the fact that McGinn didn’t re-emerge for the Dons having felt the effects of a previous groin strain, with Peter Pawlett entering the fray as his replacement. It added up to a more evenly balanced affair, with Danny Ward at last called into meaningful action when Kane Hemmings had him clawing a powerful shot away. But still the visitors were the more dynamic force. McLean ought to have slotted in No.3 when he volleyed over right in front of goal while Pawlett rattled the crossbar and had another on-target shot denied by a last-gasp block.
After that it really just petered out – which suited Aberdeen just fine as they tied up the points with minimum fuss, but just narked a by now very disgruntled home support all the more.