Boss Stephen Glass believes left-back Jack Mackenzie is continuing to excel for Aberdeen due to his relentless graft and work ethic.
The 21-year-old has cemented his place in Glass’ starting line-up with a succession of impressive performances.
The unstoppable ascent of Mackenzie ramped up another level when he netted an injury time goal to secure a 2-1 defeat of Livingston.
Glass reckons that dramatic winner was reward for the full-back’s work and dedication.
Mackenzie has started the last three matches for Glass and is in contention to retain his slot for Thursday’s Euro tie against Breidablik of Iceland at Pittodrie.
Glass hailed the defender for continuing to ‘excel’ both defensively and as an attacking threat.
Glass said: “Jack has been brilliant since we came in and the goal is reward for the work-rate he has put in.
“I am just pleased that Jack has continued to excel.
“Jack’s defensive work was great against Livingston and going forward he showed good energy.
“I am so pleased for him.”
Mackenzie has grabbed his chance to shine
Following a 3-2 Europa Conference League defeat of Breidablik in Iceland, manager Glass made six changes to his starting line-up at Livingston.
Glass, the Dons and the 900-strong travelling Red Army looked set to be frustrated as the game moved into injury time at 1-1.
Until Mackenzie intervened with a 25-yard shot Livingston keeper Max Stryjek allowed to squirm through his fingers and into the goal.
The late strike ensured Aberdeen made it two wins from two Premiership games having seen off Dundee United in the league opener.
Aberdeen are one of only three Scottish top flight teams to have won their first two Premiership games, with Hibs and Hearts also boasting a 100 percent return.
Last season Mackenzie spent a spell on loan at League One Forfar and did not make his Aberdeen first team debut until a 1-0 loss to Dundee United on March 20.
He was handed that starting debut by interim management team Paul Sheerin, Barry Robson and Neil Simpson following the exit of former manager Derek McInnes.
Three days after Mackenzie’s impressive debut Glass was confirmed as McInnes’ successor and has retained faith in the left-back.
Glass said: “It was brilliant for Jack to get that goal.
“He managed to cut in on his right foot and let one go.
“If he doesn’t shoot, he doesn’t score.”
— Jack Mackenzie (@Jack_Mack32) August 8, 2021
Never-say-die attitude pays off
The work ethic and self belief of Mackenzie was epitomised by his willingness to unleash that late strike in the push for three points.
He would not settle for a draw.
Glass was delighted with his squad’s attitude and willingness to go to the very end having returned from the third qualifying first leg tie in the wee small hours of Friday morning.
Aberdeen did not arrive back in the Granite City until 4.30am following the win in Iceland.
He said: “You are 1-0 down away to Livingston and you can feel sorry for yourself after the travel for the European game.
“You never think you are going to score a last-minute winner, but there is that hope and drive.
“You could see the drive and the effort of the players to try to get the winner.
“That is a group of players that are determined to win games for the club.
“When the work rate is there and you get the reward, you are delighted.
“It is not easy to win at any time at Livingston so to do it from a goal down is a special win for us.”
Major changes but three points secured
In a major reshuffle of his starting line-up, Glass dropped in-form United States international striker Christian Ramirez, who had netted four goals in four games.
Also dropping to the bench were captain Scott Brown, Ross McCrorie and Calvin Ramsay, while Lewis Ferguson and Funso Ojo missed out through injury.
The replacements were Scotland international centre-back Declan Gallagher, on-loan Brighton midfielder Teddy Jenks and Jack Gurr, who all made their first starts.
Also coming in were Niall McGinn, Ryan Hedges and Dylan McGeouch.
Aberdeen trailed 1-0 at half-time, but rallied to secure the win.
Glass said: “I know the performance in the first half could have been a touch better.
“Maybe that’s to be expected with the amount of changes that we made.
“However, the players who came in produced the goods and got the win, so we are delighted for them.
“It is testament to the players that they showed the belief to go get that win.”