Aberdeen recorded their fourth win in succession as they defeated Partick Thistle by four goals to nil. A double from Niall McGinn either side of goals from Zola and Hector ensured the Dons claimed the three points.
Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes made three changes to the side that triumphed over Motherwell in the SPFL League cup the previous Wednesday. Andrew Considine, Michel Hector and Cammy Smith replaced Joe Shaughnessy, Clark Robertson & Russell Anderson.
The Dons lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Langfield in goal, Jack at right back with Hector and Reynolds in central defence and Andrew Considine at left back. Willo Flood was the sitting midfielder with Hayes, Smith, Pawlett and McGinn in front of him. Calvin Zola was again up front. Lawrence Shankland made his first ever appearance on the bench.
The Dons created an early couple of chances when Cammy Smith found Mark Reynolds who swung in a decent cross but Calvin Zola headed over the bar. They continued to play at a quick tempo and Calvin Zola was holding the ball up well- winning several aerial duels early on.
Partick Thistle had clearly arrived at Pittodrie with attacking intent and on various occasions enjoyed lengthy spells of possession but despite this they failed to trouble Langfield. There were cries from the visiting fans for a penalty kick on 15 minutes but referee Brian Colvin waved the appeals away.
A minute later the Dons created another oppertunity when Pawlett fed Hayes who crossed into the box for Zola but his shot on the turn was palmed away by Scott Fox for a corner. On 24 minutes the Dons were awarded a free kick 5 yards from the Thistle box. Pawlett, Hayes and McGinn stood over the kick and as the former 2 moved away, McGinn curled an excellent ball into the net beyond Fox.
On 35 minutes, referee Brian Colvin controversially gave a foul against Considine when he appeared to get the ball. Three minutes later the Dons doubled their lead thanks to some superb play. McGinn picked the ball up and played it to Pawlett who had made a superb run into the box. He raced towards the byline and cut the ball back across goal where Zola was waiting to slide the ball past Fox.
Towards the end of the half, Zola was penalised for out jumpingAaron Murihead- to the ire of the home fans particularly as the visiting player stayed down for a few seconds. Then just on the cusp of half time, Peter Pawlett was booked for a challenge on Higgenbotham- the Partick player was also booked for his reaction.
After the break both teams continued to exchange spells of possession and the visitors threw an extra man up front as they attempted to claw back a goal. This left more space for the Dons to exploit and on one occasion Zola made a fantastic run from the half way line down the right, eventually crossing into the box superbly. Unfortunately no one was there to capitalise for the home side.
On 55 minutes, Barry Robson replaced Cammy Smith as Derek McInnes made his first change of the evening. A short time later, Aaron Taylor- Sinclair fired a free kick straight at Jamie Langfield from the edge of the box.
On 64 minutes Scott Vernon replaced Calvin Zola who left to a standing ovation from the home support after a fine performance. Just a few seconds later, the Red Army were celebrating as their side scored a third. Robson's free kick eventually found its way to Jonny Hayes whose neat touch found Michael Hector and the Reading loanee turned back on to his right foot and fired a magnificent ball into the back of the net beyond Fox from 20 yards out.
Straight from the restart, Thistle nearly got one back when Higginbotham saw Langfield off his line and fired a shot from the half way line that clipped the cross bar and fell into Langfield's grateful clutches. The keeper actually got to touch to make a wonderful save.
Thistle came alive after that and they excerpted some real pressure on the home side- with Langfield twice having to make good saves to deny the visitors. The second effort in particular was a good save as the ball was spinning powerfully towards goal.
On 73 minutes, McGinn collected the ball and tried to chip it into the net over Scott Fox who had advanced off his line. The Dons were by now playing some lovely counter attacking football and looked a serious threat to the visitors. 3 minutes later, McGinn tried another curling free kick which deflected off the Patrick wall and went just high and wide of the right hand upright. Fox was scrambling and had little chance of saving- had the ball spun on target.
The final change of the game for the Dons saw the excellent Peter Pawlett replaced by captain Russell Anderson. The skipper went into the centre half role and Hector moved over to right back. Straight away the Dons created another decent chance when a free kick eventually fell to Hayes whose shot was goal bound until it was blocked by Piccolo and the visitors broke up field.
Then the Dons rounded off an impressive performance with a fourth goal. After a very good move down the right and very clever dummy from Jonny Hayes, Michael Hector advanced down the right and crossed expertly for McGinn who side footed the ball high into the net to score his first goal in open play this season on 86 minutes.
The Dons saw out the final few minutes in complete control of the game and claimed the three points which took them back into second place ahead of the visit of Hearts the next weekend.