With the final confirmation of qualification for the Europa Conference League, the remainder of Aberdeen’s season – aside from a theoretical battle with Hibs over a handy few quid in prize money – can now be spent focusing on individual and strategic goals.
Ryan Hedges may have more at stake than most. The news that Euro 2020 squads will be increased to an enormous 26 players will have been a major boost to those who see themselves as having real wildcard potential, and a powerful end to a breakthrough campaign could see the thrice-capped Welshman enter Robert Page’s thoughts as a form horse.
It will certainly have encouraged his quick return before season’s end, and inspired him to mark it by stroking home an excellent goal with his very first kick of the ball. Another, to reach double figures, and he might suddenly find himself playing in two different shades of red this July.
There will be others in the Dons’ squad sweating over contract situations, although in most such cases it is probable that their fate has already been privately decided by either the manager or those to whom he answers.
If Gary Woods is among those on tenterhooks, pending any official confirmation of job security beyond the last two games, he will be thankful he will not have to reckon with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas in either.
In four Aberdeen appearances, Woods has been beaten four times by an opponent playing as if the jet on his back were a propulsion unit rather than just a jersey name. His scintillating volley left Scottish football with something to remember him by before he flies off to continue his career, likely in Asia, at a safe enough distance that even strikes of such ferocity will no longer worry Aberdeen goalkeepers or defenders. Whoever they may be.