Aberdeen stopped their recent rot with a gritty-if-uninspiring 1-0 win over Kilmarnock at Pittodrie.
Callum Hendry’s first goal for the club – which came from his first touch – decided the game in the Dons’ favour, on an otherwise dreary afternoon.
With Hibernian beating Hamilton Accies, it at least ensured Derek McInnes’ side lost no further ground in the push for third place.
However, there is still room for improvement, with Aberdeen allowing Kilmarnock back into the game in the second period.
The Dons made two changes from the defeat at Parkhead, with Connor McLennan and Niall McGinn in for Matty Kennedy and the injured Jonny Hayes.
Without a win and a goal in six games prior to Saturday afternoon, the onus was on Derek McInnes’ side to finally deliver an end to their dreary run of form.
Lewis Ferguson remains their top scorer this season and it was he who had the first chance of the game. Ash Taylor’s pass into Fraser Hornby was flicked on by the Scotland under-21 striker into Ferguson’s path, with Colin Doyle beating away his shot at the near post.
Hornby’s inauspicious Aberdeen career took another twist, injuring himself shooting wide, with Hendry brought on to replace him after 20 minutes.
After 574 minutes, Hendry was the man to finally end the streak. McGinn’s free-kick from the right picked out Hendry – signed by Killie boss Tommy Wright for St Johnstone – and his header flew back across goal to bring the drought to an end.
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Aberdeen were by no means any more fluid or incisive in their build-up play, with Lewis Ferguson often driving into space in the final third but then having limited options to pass to. Their preferred route to goal continues to be a more direct one, which perhaps does not suit the personnel they have.
They restricted Killie to few opportunities, to their credit, with Nicke Kabamba blocked off by Joe Lewis in their sole chance.
Kabamba was guilty of wasting a chance to level five minutes into the second half, neither shooting nor cutting back for Ethan Pinnock as he sent the ball trundling harmlessly wide of goal. An ambitious strike from Pinnock was then beaten away by Lewis and cleared by the Dons defence.
The first bit of decent link-up play came via Ferguson and Florian Kamberi, with the former collecting his team-mate’s return pass and sending a left-footed effort narrowly wide of goal.
Wright’s men were delivering plenty of crosses into the box but all were easily claimed by Lewis, as their own barren run in front of goal extended to five games and they dropped an eighth defeat in a row.
There was time for Ross McCrorie to cannon an effort off the frame of the goal but Aberdeen held firm for a much-needed three points.