Dons ease to win over Buddies
Former Scotland midfielder Barry Robson netted direct from a corner as Aberdeen continued their resurgence with a comfortable 2-0 win over St Mirren to stay in touch with Inverness and Dundee United in the race for second spot in the Scottish Premiership.
Robson's second-half strike came after Scott Vernon had given the Dons the lead, taking full advantage of a mistake from Marc McAusland.
After their win over St Johnstone a week ago, there was one change to the Dons side as Willo Flood, who was a late substitute at McDiarmid Park, came in for Jonny Hayes.
Following a slow start to the season, St Mirren have moved into a mid-table position and had lost just one of their last six league games. They were unchanged from their 0-0 draw with Inverness last week.
The home side had their first chance after three minutes. The in-form Peter Pawlett cut in from the right and saw a shot from the edge of the area blocked, before his follow-up was deflected away for a corner.
The Buddies had the ball in the net after seven minutes but, as Steven Thompson swept home Jason Naismith's cross from close range, the linesman's flag denied Danny Lennon's men, Naismith having been in an offside position.
With a blustery wind blowing over Pittodrie, the best of the play was going to come along the deck, and Pawlett came forced a save from St Mirren keeper Marian Kello following just such a move, the ex-Hearts man getting down well to save his angled left-foot shot.
A minute later, Vernon turned on the edge of the area and angled a strike narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
The home side were starting to assert themselves, and took the lead after 19 minutes as Jamie Langfield's long clearance held up and caused McAusland to hesitate. Vernon was alert, though, and nipped between the defender and goalkeeper, lifting over Kello before firing into the unguarded goal.
With the rain making the pitch greasy, there was a risk that referee Craig Thomson's notebook would begin to fill up with the names of those tempted into sliding tackles.
It was almost half an hour, though, before Ryan Jack became the first man into the book. He was quickly and predictably followed by Saints' Jim Goodwin in being cautioned.
Goodwin's booking came for an off-the-ball foul on Andrew Considine, but the referee played a good advantage that saw Pawlett link up with Niall McGinn, only for the latter's cross to be turned wide by Vernon when finding the net looked easier.
The first change came nine minutes after the break, as Hayes came off the bench to replace the impressive Flood, manager Derek McInnes clearly easing the former Celtic man back in after two hamstring injuries this term.
And although the Buddies had started the second half well, Aberdeen were soon back on top.
Hayes looked busy down the right, and ten minutes after coming on, he beat his man before sliding a shot wide of the near post.
But it was Robson, who along with Flood had impressed in the Dons midfield, who would net the second goal. His wickedly inswinging corner from the right was on top of goalkeeper Kello and, no doubt assisted by the wind, flew over the Latvian and into the net.
He too was replaced shortly after, with the emerging youngster Nicky Low taking his place. St Mirren responded by throwing on Gary Harkins in place of John McGinn.
With four minutes remaining the Dons final substitution saw them tighten up, with Joe Shaughnessy replacing Pawlett, however they could have extended their lead through an unlikely source seconds later.
On-loan Reading defender Michael Hector galloped through the St Mirren defence, but was forced onto his weaker, left foot and shot wide of the target.
They certainly finished the match strongly. Vernon was denied by Kello after good work from McGinn, and then Hayes struck the post with a cross from the right, McGinn's run having diverted the attention of Kello.