Three was the magic number for Aberdeen as they came from behind at Ross County.
The Staggies, as they have been all season, were game in trying to take on their opponents but Aberdeen’s pressure play paid off in the second half.
Three goals, three points, a third win in a row for the first time this season and a move up to third place represented a pretty solid response after the defeat by Celtic last month.
Aberdeen are beginning to look much more like their old selves as they head into the international break.
The growing confidence has brought a swagger back to Aberdeen’s play, not to mention some resilience.
The Dons’ response to going a goal behind in the Highlands was particularly impressive.
As far as County are concerned, while they have suffered back to back home defeats against two of last season’s top four, they go into the break in a decent position overall.
But there is no escaping the glaring goals-against column. You can be sure that co-managers Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson are well aware of one statistic which is in need of drastic improvement.
Aberdeen arrived in Dingwall having won all of their previous three visits but they found themselves a goal behind after five minutes.
Referee Alan Newlands had no hesitation in pointing to the spot after deeming Lewis Ferguson had blocked Michael Gardyne’s cross with an arm.
Ferguson argued the offence happened outside the box but the official did not change his mind and Josh Mullin sent Joe Lewis the wrong with from the resulting penalty for his first Premiership goal for the Staggies.
The early goal for the Staggies presented a test for the Dons and their response was swift and emphatic.
The visitors were given a set-piece opportunity of their own by the official after Liam Fontaine handled a cross 22 yards from goal and Niall McGinn took full advantage, curling the ball over the County defensive wall past Ross Laidlaw to make it 1-1 in the 10th minute.
Aberdeen took control of proceedings following their equaliser and enjoyed a good 20-minute spell of sustained pressure. But for all their possession they failed to ask a question of Laidlaw in the County goal. The Dons had several set-piece opportunities but a wayward header or a clearance ensured the home goalkeeper was not called into action.
Perhaps the best chance for Aberdeen came two minutes before the break when Sam Cosgrove’s powerful diving header went over the crossbar.
Aberdeen’s inability to capitalise on their good play was due in part to some resilient rearguard action from the County defence.
County have leaked goals since returning to the Premiership and, while Aberdeen pushed hard for a second, the Staggies dug in to protect their goalkeeper well and reach the interval on level terms.County undid all their solid defence work by conceding a horrendous goal seven minutes into the second half.
The Dons were awarded another free kick following a foul on Cosgrove and, while Ryan Hedges’ delivery was excellent, the home defence’s concentration wasn’t as every player, including the goalkeeper, stood and watched as the ball curled into the box before bouncing past Laidlaw.
The goal brought a surge in confidence from Wales international hedges and his growing influence on proceedings became a key part of Aberdeen’s attack.
County committed men forward in search of an equaliser and Sean Kelly saw a shot saved by Lewis before Aberdeen doubled their lead with 20 minutes remaining.
Cosgrove went down in a crowded penalty area but referee Newlands dismissed the appeal. However, County failed to clear their lines and Andy Considine strode forward to win the ball just inside the Staggies box before beating Laidlaw with a superb rising shot to make it 3-1.
Aberdeen were rampant following the third goal and Ferguson clipped the crossbar with a fine long-range effort before McGinn saw his free kick turned over the crossbar by Laidlaw.