Sam Cosgrove cemented his place as the Aberdeen fans’ new cult hero with the match-winner against St Mirren.
In a game shorn of quality and cheer for the freezing fans in Paisley, Cosgrove’s second-half header and general nuisance-making earned him a song of his own from the packed away end.
The three points ensured the Dons moved back into the top six and are within touching distance of third.
Connor McLennan started for the visitors after his impressive second half against Livingston. Scott Wright was benched after his disappointing showing in the same game.
Dean Lyness, who had a summer trial at Pittodrie, started in goal for St Mirren, with on-loan stopper Danny Rogers ineligible to face Aberdeen, his parent club.
After an inconsistent and sometimes frustrating first half of the season, Lewis Ferguson’s late winner against Livi gave the Dons the platform to change a few perceptions. Before kick-off they were just four points behind third-placed Kilmarnock with a game in hand, that coming against struggling Dundee tomorrow.
Saints’ intriguing set-up of three banks of three meant they had plenty of fluidity between the lines and targeted getting Simeon Jackson in behind early.
Aberdeen’s attacking gameplan consisted of aiming for Cosgrove and hoping he could win flick-ons, then getting red shirts around him to sniff out second balls.
Their decision-making in the final third left something to be desired in the first half, with Cosgrove and Niall McGinn taking on shots from distance when team-mates were available.
The opener came from a set-piece with McGinn’s free-kick tipped over by Lyness and from the resulting corner, Andy Considine was dragged down by Alfie Jones. In the absence of regular penalty-taker Gary Mackay-Steven, Stevie May seemed a likely option given his need for a goal. He duly obliged, sending Lyness the wrong way.
Rather than consolidating or building on their lead, the Dons frittered it away in minutes.
Much like the Livi game, the goal was preventable. Adam Hammill’s clipped free-kick was clever but it caught out the entire defence, leaving Cammy Macpherson alone to slide the ball in.
It was two defences far from on top of their game and mistakes were always likely.
May missed a golden opportunity to double his tally eight minutes into the second half, showing his confidence may not be fully restored, but Cosgrove is a man enjoying his football. Fresh from his midweek goal, he found the net again on the hour, pouncing with a diving header after Lyness had superbly tipped Considine’s header on to the bar.
Cosgrove became a vital second-half player for Aberdeen, winning numerous clever free-kicks around the Saints area. His link-up play when the ball was at his feet has improved too and McInnes will hope to keep reaping the rewards of this run of form for some time to come.