Aberdeen came through a test of character with a strong second half performance as they came from behind to beat Kilmarnock at Pittodrie.
From a bright start to trailing and seemingly losing their way, the Dons rallied in an entertaining second half against Steve Clarke’s side with in-demand Scott McKenna catching the eye with a stunning goalscoring contribution in his side’s victory.
Hull City, Aston Villa and Preston North End are all trailing the defender and he showed he offers a goal threat as well as a no-nonsense mean streak.
A bullet header and a stunning long range effort turned what could have been a challenging afternoon for the Dons in their favour before Niall McGinn capped a stirring comeback with a fine solo effort to end any hope of a comeback for the visitors.
Aberdeen relinquished second place to Rangers following their midweek defeat at Ibrox and they were eager to get back to winning ways at the first opportunity against Killie.
Right back Shay Logan almost provided a perfect start for his side in the third minute when he controlled a high ball into the box before firing in a low left footed shot which Kilmarnock goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald did well to turn round the post. It was a bright start from the home side with captain Graeme Shinnie, who called for a ruthless streak from his team-mates following the Ibrox loss, leading the way.
It was one-way traffic towards the Killie goal and MacDonald made another fine save to turn over a shot from McGinn, making his first start since his return from South Korea in the absence of the injured Ryan Christie.
So far, so good for the Dons but they were made to rue not taking their chances as the visitors opened the scoring with their first attempt on target.
Anthony O’Connor’s poor clearance resulted in the ball being played back to Jordan Jones who beat Logan before picking out Greg Taylor whose shot was deflected past Danny Rogers in the Aberdeen goal by Kris Boyd.
Pittodrie was stunned and the mood darkened further as Killie broke away immediately through Jones but the winger was denied by a low save from Rogers.
Worryingly, Aberdeen lost their way for the rest of the first half as they struggled to maintain their early momentum.
Suddenly the space which had been afforded to Shinnie was closed by Youssouf Mulumbu for the visitors and he went on to dominate the midfield as the Dons fell out of the game.
The boos from the home support said it all but the jeers quickly turned to cheers within minutes of the second half as the Dons levelled.
McKenna rose highest to meet McGinn’s corner with a bullet header. The ball hit the crossbar and bounced down over the line with Adam Rooney putting the rebound in just to be sure.
The fans were unsure who had scored the equaliser but there was no doubting McKenna scored the second three minutes later as he hammered home a stunner, beating MacDonald with a rocket of a shot from all of 35 yards.
Rogers saved a fierce free kick from Boyd as Killie pushed for an equaliser but Aberdeen put the game beyond the visitors on the counter with McGinn getting off the mark with his first goal since his return.
The Northern Ireland international did it himself, nicking the ball off Gary Dicker 10 yards in his own half before leading a two-on-one counter with Mackay-Steven, whose run created the space for McGinn to go it alone before curling an 18-yard shot past MacDonald to make it 3-1.