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Aberdeen 4-1 St Mirren: Leighton Clarkson marks debut with stunning goal as Dons power to victory

Leighton Clarkson fires home Aberdeen's third goal against St Mirren.
Leighton Clarkson fires home Aberdeen's third goal against St Mirren.

Debutant Leighton Clarkson stole the show as Aberdeen issued an early statement of intent with a swashbuckling victory against St Mirren.

This was as enjoyable an afternoon as the Red Army have had in some time and the Dons’ new midfielder proved he could be a very useful acquisition by capping an impressive display with a stunning strike.

Aberdeen’s cause was aided by former Dons defender Declan Gallagher who endured a miserable return to his old stomping ground.

He lasted only 24 minutes before being sent off for conceding the penalty that allowed Bojan Miovski to break the deadlock.

North Macedonia international Miovski pounced on a Trevor Carson error to double the advantage before Clarkson produced an early, but strong contender for Aberdeen’s goal of the season.

The ball sat up beautifully for the 20-year-old to send a fizzing strike from distance high into the net on the stroke of half time.

St Mirren reduced the deficit through a Jonah Ayunga penalty early in the second half, but substitute Luis Lopes completed the scoring with a composed fourth as the Dons ran out deserved winners at a lively Pittodrie.

Aberdeen made one change from the side beaten 2-0 by Celtic on the opening day with Liam Scales returning in place of Dante Polvara.

Aberdeen’s Leighton Clarkson celebrates with his team mates after making it 3-0 against St Mirren.

Clarkson was named on the bench after his arrival on a season-long loan from Liverpool was confirmed just hours before kick-off, but there was no place for Jim Goodwin’s other new recruit Shayden Morris.

Gallagher endured a remarkable afternoon as the pantomime villain on his Pittodrie return.

He picked up a yellow card for a crunching challenge on Hayden Coulson which ended the on-loan Middlesbrough player’s day prematurely.

Gallagher’s didn’t last much longer.

After a sweet strike from Vicente Besuijen bounced back off the woodwork, Gallagher was adjudged to have used his arm to block Liam Scales’ effort on the rebound.

Referee Alan Muir pointed to the spot and showed Gallagher a second yellow and subsequent red with only a quarter of the game gone.

After Gallagher walked down the tunnel to the sound of ironic cheers, Miovski slotted home from the penalty spot to put the Dons in control.

The North Macedonia international grabbed his second eight minutes before the break when he was decisive as Carson dithered and slid home from a low Jonny Hayes cross.

Aberdeen’s Bojan Miovski celebrates after opening the scoring from the penalty spot.

Jim Goodwin’s side were in the driving seat and it got even better on the stroke of half time.

After Miovski had been denied by Carson, Matty Kennedy rolled the ball back perfectly for Clarkson to unleash a thunderous shot which flew into the net.

An incredible moment for a player who had only been introduced to his teammates just before kick off.

It was a calamitous first half for St Mirren and their supporters must have been fearing a mauling at the hands of a buoyant Aberdeen when the teams emerged at the start of the second half.

To their credit, the Buddies were much improved after the break and they pulled a goal back within eight minutes of the restart when Ayunga netted from the penalty spot following a foul by Hayes on Greg Kiltie.

The Dons had plenty of chances to add to their tally, but Carson redeemed himself slightly for his early lapse with an excellent double save to deny Miovski then Besuijen.

Goodwin’s side managed to find the fourth their dominance deserved in the dying embers from a well-constructed move.

St Mirren’s Declan Gallagher heads down the tunnel after being sent off.

It culminated with two substitutes combining as Christian Ramirez threaded a perfect pass through for Lopes, who was coolness personified as he dinked the ball over the advancing Carson.

The Cape Verde international sparked raucous scenes in the Red Shed as he ran to celebrate his strike.

For a support served up too many lacklustre showings at Pittodrie last season, this was a thoroughly enjoyable 90 minutes.

Tougher tests await over the coming weeks, but the Dons have the chance to start building some momentum when Motherwell visit this weekend.

On this evidence, it looks highly unlikely that Jim Goodwin’s men will suffer the same troubles they endured last season.

And, in Liverpool loanee Clarkson, they may have unearthed a gem who can provide the key to unlocking tight games and turning draws into victories.

Aside from his wonder strike, the manner in which the 20-year-old bossed the game in midfield after entering the fray was hugely impressive.

Clarkson believes Aberdeen can be a great place to further his development and it looks like a deal that can be a perfect match for both parties.

ABERDEEN (4-2-3-1) – Roos 7; Richardson 7, Stewart 7, Scales 7, Coulson 5 (Clarkson 12); McCrorie 7, Ramadani 7; Kennedy 6 (Roberts 62), Besuijen 7, Hayes 7 (Lopes 72); Miovski 7 (Ramirez 72). Subs not used: Lewis, Watkins, Polvara, Duncan, Milne.

ST MIRREN (3-5-2) – Carson 6; Gallagher 3, Shaugnessy 5, Dunne 5; Strain 6 (Taylor 90), Kiltie 6, Erhahon 6, Baccus 5 (Greive 78), Tait 5; Main 5 (Flynn 46), Ayunga 6 (Brophy 78). Subs not used: Urminsky, Henderson, Reid, Olusanya, Offord.

REFEREE: Alan Muir 6


MAN OF THE MATCH: Leighton Clarkson