Aberdeen capitalised on an early red card for their former defender Andy Considine to record a hard-fought 1-0 win at St Johnstone and move within a point of third-placed Hearts in the cinch Premiership.
In the first game since Barry Robson was appointed manager until the end of the season following a fruitful six-match stint as caretaker, the Dons maintained their recent momentum courtesy of a first-half own goal from Saints keeper Remi Matthews.
Aberdeen have now won five of their last six and each of their last four as they step up their bid for a European spot.
Saints made five changes to the side that started the 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock as Ryan McGowan, Adam Montgomery, David Wotherspoon, Dan Phillips and Zak Rudden replaced Alex Mitchell, James Brown, Graham Carey, Cammy MacPherson and Theo Bair.
Aberdeen kept the same XI that started the 3-0 home win over Hearts prior to the international break.
Saints threatened in the second minute when Liam Gordon and McGowan saw shots saved by Kelle Roos following Wotherspoon’s corner into the box.
The Dons were awarded a penalty after Considine – on his 36th birthday and playing against the club at which he spent the majority of his career – felled Bojan Miovski as he burst into the box.
Following a VAR review, it was deemed that the foul took place outside the box and a free-kick was awarded instead but referee Colin Steven – after viewing the incident on the pitch-side monitor – produced a red card for Considine, who was deemed to have prevented a goal-scoring opportunity. The free-kick came to nothing.
Despite being a man down, Saints remained a threat and Rudden saw an angled shot knocked behind for a corner by goalkeeper Roos.
At the other end, Dons midfielder Ylber Ramadani saw a shot from the edge of the box tipped behind by Matthews following a swift counter-attack
Aberdeen centre-back Angus MacDonald had a looping header at the back post from a Jonny Hayes free-kick superbly clawed out by Matthews in the 18th minute.
The same three players were involved when the Dons took the lead on the half hour as Saints keeper Matthews fumbled MacDonald’s near-post flick from a Hayes corner over the line and into his own net.
Ten-man Saints refused to capitulate, however, and they were on top for much of the second half before the Dons had captain Graeme Shinnie sent off after picking up a second yellow card for a foul on Drey Wright as the match entered stoppage time.
Saints skipper Gordon almost secured a point right at the death but his header was brilliantly saved by Roos seconds before the full-time whistle sounded, much to the Dons’ relief.
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