The Aberdeen supporters have been desperate to see Adam Rooney and Jayden Stockley play up front together and they were finally granted their wish last night.
The gamble paid off with the pair linking up well and helping Aberdeen move back to second position in the Scottish Premiership with a hard-earned 2-1 victory against Partick Thistle at Firhill.
Anthony O’Connor’s first goal since his summer move from Burton Albion gave the Dons the lead seven minutes before half time.
Adam Barton headed Partick level six minutes into the second half before Stockley put the Dons back in front two minutes later with a sublime strike.
It was a far from straight forward victory for the Dons but manager Derek McInnes would have been pleased with his side’s improved performance after two defeats on the bounce, especially with a Betfred Cup final against Celtic on the horizon.
Aberdeen were unbeaten in seven matches against Partick Thistle but the sides went into this one in contrasting form.
Partick were in confident mood after impressive away victories at Dundee and St Johnstone, while the Dons were looking to make amends after successive 1-0 defeats by Hamilton and Celtic.
There was much made of Derek McInnes’ decision to leave Adam Rooney and James Maddison out of his starting line-up for last week’s match against Celtic – both returned to face Partick.
Jayden Stockley came in for his third league start of the season and first since the 0-0 draw with Hearts on August 13 with Niall McGinn, Wes Burns and Mark Reynolds all dropping to the bench.
Unsurprisingly, Partick stuck with the same team that had defeated St Johnstone as they looked to record three consecutive league victories for the first time in over a year.
The Dons deviated from their favoured 4-2-3-1 and lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with Stockley and Rooney leading the attack.
The teams did a fine job of cancelling each other out in the early stages but the Dons almost found a way through when a Rooney cross was desperately hacked clear by Danny Devine before Jags captain Abdul Osman prevented Stockley getting on the end of an enticing Maddison delivery.
It took 23 minutes for the game to warm up and Aberdeen to register the first shot on target with captain Ryan Jack feeding Stockley but the Englishman’s low drive was well held by Partick stopper Thorsten Stuckmann.
An even better opportunity chance fell the way of the hosts a minute later when Ade Azeez beat the offside trap but his attempted chip was easily held by Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis.
After a slow start, Partick started to liven up and Azeez went close to his third goal of the season with an overhead kick after Stockley had failed to deal with a Christie Elliott delivery.
The Dons had another let-off 10 minutes before the break when an in-swinging Sean Welsh corner was turned over the crossbar by Devine from only two yards out when it looked easier to score.
Instead it was Aberdeen who made the breakthrough seven minutes before the break when a Maddison free kick was won in the air by Stockley to allow Rooney to lay the ball into the path of O’Connor to rifle home from 10 yards out.
Kris Doolan went close to an equaliser for the Jags three minutes after the break but Dons goalkeeper Lewis was alert to the danger.
But the Dons resistance finally gave way in the 51st minute when Barton displayed great determination to reach a Welsh corner and head powerfully into the top corner.
It took the Dons only two minutes to regain the initiative in stunning fashion.
A clever first-time pass from Maddison released Stockley and the former Bournemouth forward showed fantastic awareness to delicately chip the ball over the advancing Stuckmann to put the Dons back in front.
Partick brought on Chris Erskine and David Amoo as they pushed for a second equaliser, while Aberdeen’s first change saw McGinn replace Maddison, who had struggled to make an impact.
The Dons had opportunities to put the result beyond doubt with substitute McGinn firing over from distance as the clock ticked down.
It was an anxious finale for the travelling support as Partick pushed forward in numbers in search of a share of the spoils.
Erskine almost grabbed a point for the Maryhill side at the death but Lewis was equal to the midfielder’s left-footed drive to ensure the Dons left with all three points.