Aberdeen returned from their 19-day hiatus to snatch a late Scottish Premiership win at St Johnstone thanks to Ryan Hedges’ deflected strike.
Derek McInnes’ side had been idle since the opening day after having three fixtures postponed for Covid-19 breaches by eight players.
St Johnstone were the slicker side but failed to capitalise on their rivals’ rustiness in this rearranged game.
And substitute Hedges punished them eight minutes from time.
His strike took a nick off Liam Gordon to secure Aberdeen’s first victory of the season and lift them to eighth.
St Johnstone are one spot above the visitors after Callum Davidson suffered defeat in his first home outing as manager.
Of the ‘Aberdeen eight’, four were available, yet only Jonny Hayes started. Unsurprisingly, with four strikers unavailable and combative midfielder Lewis Ferguson deployed as the central figure in a front three, it was a tentative and disjointed start from McInnes’ makeshift line-up.
The nervousness permeated the team, with even basic passes frequently going astray.
St Johnstone looked intent to make their superior fitness count, but were badly let down by a lack of end product. The hosts mustered just one shot on target, a Danny McNamara drive tipped over by Joe Lewis.
Callum Hendry rattled the post in the first half, but was correctly penalised for handball, before blazing wide after being gifted possession by Tommie Hoban in the second period.
Aberdeen coped comfortably at the back, where Ross McCrorie was making his debut following a move from Rangers.
They almost snatched a shock lead shortly before half-time, with Funso Ojo’s acrobatic volley from a Hayes cross dropping just wide.
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And they finished the stronger side, with Hoban glanciding a header narrowly off target before Hedges cut inside from the right flank to deceive goalkeeper Elliot Parish with a deflected finish.
Both sides won’t play until Sunday, with Aberdeen hosting St Johnstone at 1500, with St Johnstone staying in Perth to take on undefeated Hibernian at 1630.
More to follow.
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