Derek McInnes made four changes to the side that drew with St Johnstone. The Dons lined up with Langfield in goal, Shaughnessy at right back with Hector and Considine in central defence and Reynolds at left back. The midfield five saw Wylde and Hayes in the wide positions, Jack, Smith and Pawlett in the centre. Jack was sitting and allowing the other four to get forward to support Calvin Zola upfront. An attacking looking formation.
The Dons kicked off their first league game at Firhill for nine years in front of an impressive crowd. On three minutes Pawlett made a great run into the box. The ball was played out to Wylde who cut inside his man and his dangerous cross was not far away from Zola and the ball was headed behind for a corner. Hayes swung the ball in but the Partick defence managed to clear. The early stages were frantic and both teams struggled to play much football as players were getting closed down so quickly. Thistle were also lined up in a 4-5-1 formation so there was very little space in the middle of the park.
On 11 minutes, after some good Partick possession, Hayes picked the ball up and hit a great low shot which goalkeeper Fox at his near post did very well to turn away for a corner. It was a good hit by Hayes and a fine stop as he had to get down to left corner. Hayes took the corner, he did not catch it properly but Hector knocked it into the danger area, Reynolds flicked it on with his head and Zola was able to plant a header into the net from about 6 yards. His first goal for the Dons and he was delighted, as were his team mates who looked really pleased for him.
Then on 19 minutes the Dons were in dream land.
After a mix up at the back, the Partick defence did look shaky throughout, Zola did really well to win the ball in the penalty box. He was at too tight an angle to go for goal but showed good awareness to cut it back and pick out Pawlett and he swept it home from about 10 yards. It was great play by Zola and Pawlett showed good composure as there were Partick defenders between him and the goal.
Partick again then enjoyed some possession but the Dons defence looked very comfortable and Langfield did not have a safe to make. The formation Aberdeen were playing was very similar to the one at Motherwell and away from home it certainly looked ideal as they could use the pace of Wylde, Hayes and Pawlett to hit at speed on the break. Like at Motherwell when they got in front, the home side had to come out and play which suited the Dons. It was also a good battling performance up to this point as they were scraping for everything in the middle of the park. Hayes, who had an excellent first half, and Wylde were looking good going forward but were also working back to help their full backs.
On 32 minutes the Dons won their fourth corner after more panic at the back by the Partick defence. They were struggling to deal with the aerial threat of Zola. Aberdeen could do nothing with the set piece and then Partick won their first corner of the game. The ball was played in and Lawless at the back of the area found some space and was able to get a shot in. Although the ball took a nasty bounce in front of him, Langfield handled well. A minute later more uncertainty at the back, this time there was no communication between Fox and centre half Muirhead which almost allowed Pawett in.
On 40 minutes the home side put the Dons under some real pressure. For the first time they got in behind the Aberdeen defence and the ball was worked to Taylor-Sinclair and his shot in the box was deflected. Jamie Langfield had to change direction to make the save and he also managed to get a strong wrist on it to get the ball to safety. A really good stop. Partick kept the pressure on and the ball was played into the back post area. Welsh got a shot in which hit Cammy Smith and just went past the post. From the corner Langfield had to come off his line and punch clear. It was important the Dons did not concede just before the break. A minute before half time Aberdeen put together the best move of the game. Down the right Hector and the impressive Smith linked really well. Smith played the ball in and Zola put in a good header which appeared to heading for the net but Fox made a really really good save. Zola could not have done much more with the header, the keeper did really well to get to it.
A minute into the second half Wylde put in a dinked cross and Hayes cushioned a volley was only inches wide. Fox's desperate dive would have been in vain if the ball had been the other side of the post. The quality of Gregg Wylde's crossing is a major addition to the Dons this season.
On 50 minutes form Don Isaac Osbourne came on as a sub and replaced Sean Welsh. A minute later the Dons very nearly made it three. Wylde galloped down the left and put in another terrific cross. Cammy Smith rose to head the ball goal wards but Fox from point blank range somehow managed to make himself big and keep it out. Another brilliant save.Just before the hour mark the home side made their second change with Craigen being replaced by Ross Forbes. Ryan Jack then became the first player to be booked for nothing more than a strong tackle. It did not look a booking.
The Dons then made a double change within a minute. Josh Magennis came on for Calvin Zola who went off to a great reception from the Dons fans, then Craig Storie replaced Cammy Smith in the middle of the park. Partick also made their final change with Kris Doolan replacing John Baird. All the substitutes affected the flow of the game and it took a while for it to get back up to full speed again. Forbes had a free kick which just curled over the bar, although Langfield appeared to have it covered.
Then on 69 minutes it was game over.
A long ball was played forward for Magennis to chase. He showed great pace to get on the end of it, power to hold off his man and then planted a great strike under Fox from a tight angle. He did not have much of the goal to aim at so all he could do was hit it as hard as possible.
On 73 minutes the home side were very unfortunate not to get back a goal back. Higginbotham did well at the edge of the area to turn his man. He then hit a low shot which hit Langfield's near post and thankfully for the Dons rebounded to safety. The home side continued to throw bodies forward and Forbes dragged a shot wide after creating an opening. The Dons were quite happy at this stage to sit back, soak up the pressure and then hit on the break. With just under ten minutes to go Considine was replaced by Robertson, at the same time Hayes was hobbling about after going over on his ankle. Considine had a really good game, considering this was his first competitive outing for nine months. It was great to see him back at the heart of the defence. Hayes' injury was not too bad although he was still limping a bit at the end of the game.In the final stages Pawlett was booked late on for kicking the ball away and Josh Magennis tried his lucky from 45 yards, his shot just sailed over.
Overall a very good afternoon for the Dons.