Ross County will be grateful for a timely international break to rest up their depleted squad.
Making the trip to Pittodrie with a fully fit squad is a demanding enough challenge, but the task was made all the harder with an ever-growing injury list which saw the Staggies without the services of seven senior players.
Although Steven Ferguson and Stuart Kettlewell still had plenty quality on the field, the enforced lack of continuity in their selection in recent weeks has undoubtedly not helped their efforts to settle into the top flight.
Against one of the strongest sides in the league, the combative influence of Ross Draper in the middle of the park was among the most glaring omissions from the list of absentees.
County’s co-managers attempted to fill the void by deploying Tom Grivosti as a makeshift central midfielder and the Englishman rose to the task well.
Grivosti’s shift in position was symptomatic of the selection issues County currently face. Draper and Lee Erwin are unlikely to feature this month, while Sean Kelly, Liam Fontaine, Don Cowie, Lewis Spence and Nathan Baxter also remain out.
Ferguson and Kettlewell will be glad of the opportunity to nurse some of their absentees back ahead of their next fixture at home to St Mirren on September 14 – and consider it no surprise if they dip into the transfer market before the deadline.
Following successive Premiership losses against Livingston and a determined Dons side, the newly-promoted Staggies will also benefit from the opportunity to take stock of their start.
Although County did not help themselves in spells at Pittodrie, their refusal to throw in the towel when the afternoon threatened to become grim will encourage Ferguson and Kettlewell.
But for a matter of inches, Billy Mckay’s penalty and Ross Stewart’s curling effort could have made the end result less of a formality for Derek McInnes’ men.
County knew their trip along the A96 would not determine their season, but they will want to atone for the crushing loss against Livingston they suffered in their last home outing when they entertain the Buddies.
Although momentum has somewhat stalled in recent weeks, County’s excellent showing in their opening two matches against Hamilton Accies and Hearts gives should rightly give them the belief they can hold their own in the Premiership.
Supporter’s view: Power looks switched on in brief Staggies cameo
By John Maxwell
Aberdeen reaffirmed their credentials as one of the top teams in the country and had a relatively comfortable afternoon against the visiting Staggies.
The signs were there early on when Ross Laidlaw parried a fizzing low cross by Niall McGinn into Sam Cosgrove’s path, but Keith Watson made a spectacular goal-line clearance to keep County in the match.
Aberdeen had all of the good territory in the first 20 minutes.
County tried to play their way into the game at times, but just as against Livingston the ball wasn’t sticking up front and the pressure mounted.
However, after the opening quarter of the match the Staggies started to show more confidence and I felt they were getting a foothold, before Greg Leigh got the opener for the hosts.
For the second match in a row the first goal was from an opposing defender getting a free header at a set-piece, which is hugely disappointing given the pressure that County had absorbed to that point.
The second arrived within a couple of minutes and the game felt wrapped up already, with County barely troubling the home side.
Billy Mckay then had a great chance to score but probably didn’t realise how much time he had when he sliced his volley.
The third goal early in the second half killed the contest, but County then started to play better football and were unlucky in hitting the post twice.
One positive from my point of view was Simon Power’s brief cameo.
Power’s pace gave Aberdeen something to think about and gave County the chance to squeeze higher up the pitch.
He could be a useful asset at venues like this as the season progresses.
In the meantime there is the international break for the squad to regroup and come up with a plan to beat St Mirren at home.