Aberdeen cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory against Ross County at Pittodrie.
The Reds hit the Staggies with two goals in the space of two minutes towards the end of the half through Greg Leigh and Sam Cosgrove’s penalty, with Ryan Hedges adding a third in an exemplary display from Derek McInnes’ side.
The Staggies twice hit the post after their break in their pursuit of a way back into the game, most notably when Billy Mckay missed from the spot, with Steven Ferguson and Stuart Kettlewell’s men well beaten.
Neither side had their selection problems to seek, with the Reds limited to just four defenders due to injuries to Shay Logan and Scott McKenna, while Jon Gallagher and James Wilson also dropped to the bench. Zak Vyner was drafted in for his home debut, while Michael Devlin also returned for just his second appearance of the campaign, and there were also recalls for Niall McGinn and Ryan Hedges.
County travelled to the Granite City with a shortage of options, with Steven Ferguson and Stuart Kettlewell making four changes from the side which was looking to atone for their 4-1 loss to Livingston the previous weekend. Liam Fontaine and Sean Kelly were ruled out through injury, meaning new signing Richard Foster was pitched in from the start along with Keith Watson. Blair Spittal and Joe Chalmers dropped to the bench, however Michael Gardyne returned from injury and Tom Grivosti started in an unfamiliar central midfield role.
The Dons began on the front foot, and were close to an opener on eight minutes when Cosgrove saw his effort hacked off the line by Watson after Ross Laidlaw had tipped away McGinn’s cross.
McGinn was presented with a fine opportunity of his own on the quarter hour mark when he got on the end of Leigh’s low cross, but sidefooted over from 12 yards.
The Dons continued to probe and were rewarded with the lead on 34 minutes, when McGinn worked a short free kick to Hedges, whose floated cross was guided home by the head of Leigh.
The home side took less than two minutes to double their advantage from the penalty spot, with referee Nick Walsh pointing to the spot when Lewis Ferguson went down under the challenge of Ross Laidlaw. Cosgrove stepped up and clinically drilled the ball past Laidlaw despite the Staggies goalkeeper’s best efforts.
County offered little to test Joe Lewis, with Mckay unable to get enough power behind his effort after being picked out by Grivosti towards the en d of the half.
Aberdeen emerged with intent after the break, and grabbed the all-decisive third goal on 50 minutes. McGinn curled a delivery to the far post, with Hedges beating Foster to squeeze the ball home from close-range.
The Staggies spurned a glorious chance to pull a goal back from the spot just a minute later, when Ross Stewart’s strike cannoned off the hand of Funso Ojo, however Mckay saw his effort come back off the post.
Aberdeen had chances to add further to their lead, with McGinn striking wide after Hedges had cut inside Foster, while Cosgrove also saw an effort palmed behind by Laidlaw.
It was simply not County’s day, with the Dingwall men denied by the post for a second time when Stewart’s curling effort inches from finding the net.
Substitute Scott Wright was denied a fourth when his strike was blocked by the legs of Joe Lewis, however the points had long been wrapped up.