Aberdeen’s attacking four are finally clicking and could provide the fuel to rocket the Reds back up the Premiership table.
The Fab Four’s movement, swift passing, understanding, interchanging play and lethal finishing swept aside St Mirren in an emphatic 4-1 win.
Aberdeen could have scored even more in a game where the attackers gelled and played with a fluidity that at times left St Mirren chasing shadows.
If the attack can consistently recreate this level of performance, combined with a robust and creative midfield Aberdeen can revitalise their campaign in December.
United States international Christian Ramirez led the front-line with Marley Watkins, Ryan Hedges and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas in behind.
It was a lethal combination that ripped apart the Buddies defence and dragged the back-line out of position.
For so long this season Dons boss Stephen Glass had been denied his first choice attacking options due to extended injuries to both Watkins and Hedges.
With both Hedges and Watkins now fully fit and match sharp, the front-line is motoring.
⚽️ Hedges played in the impressive Jenks who cut it back to Ramirez who tapped in from close range. COYR!
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) December 4, 2021
The need to retain Hedges in January
Having impressed in the 2-0 defeat of Livingston midweek, Welsh international Hedges was yet again highly influential.
Hedges was only denied a goal by the heroics of keeper Jan Alnwick.
It was a performance that underlined how vital Hedges is to Aberdeen when he is in full flow, running at defenders and carving out key passes and shots.
Hedges recent performances will not have gone unnoticed.
Aberdeen rejected an offer of under £500,000 from Blackburn Rovers for the attacker in the summer transfer window.
Championship Blackburn are set to come in with a renewed bid for Hedges in January and other English clubs are tracking the 26-year-old.
Hedges’ Aberdeen contract expires at the end of the season and he will be free to talk to any interested teams from the start of the winter transfer window on January 1.
The hope is that Hedges will be at Pittodrie at least until the end of the season and will not exit in January.
If he does leave next month that would disrupt an attack that looks capable of consistently tormenting Premiership defences and entertaining the Red Army.
Positive return from Pittodrie
Braces apiece from Ramirez and Watkins secured back-to-back wins at home for the Dons, having overcome Livingston 2-0 on Wednesday.
Aberdeen have now won four of their last five Premiership matches at Pittodrie.
They had only won three in the previous 13 in the Granite City prior to that.
Making Pittodrie a fortress again will be key to any bid for success.
⚽️ We are two up inside 10 minutes as Watkins scores from close range and Ramirez produces a fine finish on the volley. COYR!
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) December 4, 2021
And the attacking quartet will also be pivotal to making Pittodrie feared – if they can remain free of injury and the Dons can retain star play Hedges beyond January.
This enthralling game was played in brutal weather conditions and both teams deserve credit for delivered attacking, positive football in a memorable match.
Dons boss Stephen Glass retained faith in the same starting XI that beat Livingston.
Aberdeen make the breakthrough
Aberdeen made the breakthrough in the sixth minute when Marley Watkins met an in-swinging free-kick whipped in from the right by Funso Ojo.
Watkins broke away from marker Matt Miller to engineer a free header that keeper Jak Alnwick did well to save.
The loose ball bounced back to Watkins, who slotted home with a clinical right-footed finish into the near corner.
Two minutes later Aberdeen doubled their advantage when a low shot at the edge of the box from Emmanuel-Thomas was deflected towards the back post.
Ramirez met the ball to fire a lethal eight-yard right-footed drive beyond keeper Alnwick.
The Dons threatened when Hedges who fired across the face of goal and just wide.
In the 18th minute, defender David Bates headed a Jamie McGrath header off the line at the back post.
Aberdeen keeper Lewis then produced a magnificent double save from Scott Tanser’s corner kick.
He first produced a superb block to deny Millar’s powerful effort and then also saved from Joe Shaughnessy who had latched onto the loose ball.
St Mirren deservedly netted in the 42nd minute when wing back Millar crossed from the right to find Tanser, who rifled a right-footed drive beyond Lewis from 12 yards.
Aberdeen hit back immediately in a kinetic period of play when Emmanuel-Thomas won a header and directed the ball towards Hedges, who ran at goal.
Hedges then slid a pass from the edge of the box to the onrushing Watkins who drilled a low left-footed drive beyond Alnwick.
In the second half Hedges, Ojo and Ramirez all came close to increasing the advantage but Alnwick denied them.
An inevitable further goal came in the 71st when Teddy Jenks worked his way to the right byline before drilling a low cross along the face of goal that left Alnwick stranded.
Ramirez was perfectly positioned at the back post to convert from close range and show his striker predatory instincts.
A day when it all clicked up front for Aberdeen. The challenge is to ensure their attacking mojo continues throughout the season.
ABERDEEN (4-2-3-1): Lewis 7; Hayes 7, Bates 8, McCrorie 7, Ojo 7, Ferguson 7, Brown 7, Emmanuel-Thomas 6 (Jenks 59), Hedges 7 (McLennan 77), Watkins 8 (McGinn 83), Ramirez 7
Subs not used: Woods, Gallagher, Samuels, Campbell.
ST MIRREN (3-4-2-1): Alnwick 6; Fraser 5, Dunne 5, Shaughnessy 5, Tanser 6, Power 6, Ronan 6(Erhahon 75), Millar 7 (Dennis 67), McGrath 6, Flynn 5, Brophy 3 (Main 28)
Subs not used: Lyness, Tait,Kiltie, McAllister.
Referee: Willie Collum
Man-of-the-match: Marley Watkins (Aberdeen)