Curtis Main scored twice for Aberdeen as they arrested a worrying slump in form with a deserved 2-0 win over Ross County at Pittodrie.
The Dons were without a win in their four games since the international break, all of them on the road, but Main netted in each half to earn a welcome three points in the Scottish Premiership.
He had his first after just five minutes, on hand to turn home from close range after the County defence had failed to clear Tommie Hoban’s knockdown from a Ryan Hedges left-wing corner.
Hopes the early goal would spark an entertaining match full of goal-mouth action were soon extinguished with much of the play in the midfield, though a moment of magic from Hedges created an opening just after the quarter-hour.
He took Stephen Kelly completely out the game with an audacious bit of skill, and spread the play out to Matty Kennedy on the left, but his low cross was cut out by goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw.
County’s first half was disrupted by injury, with both Alex Iacovitti and Connor Randall forced from the field, with Josh Reid and Billy McKay taking their places.
And McKay had the visitors’ best chance in first half stoppage time, heading over an inviting Kelly free-kick when he really should have at least tested goalkeeper Joe Lewis.
The home side responded immediately after the interval with Kennedy forcing a save from the feet of Laidlaw and Main doing likewise moments later.
But County were threatening and Ross Stewart was unlucky to turn wide from close range, as he got in behind the Dons defence to meet a Reid cross, but could only nudge his effort wide of the post.
His profligacy was immediately punished as Aberdeen scored seconds later. Jonny Hayes’ ball from the left found Hedges on the edge of the six-yard box, and his mis-hit shot fell kindly for Main to take a touch and drill home his second of the afternoon.
Substitute Michael Gardyne saw a volley from the edge of the box squirt wide of the right post as County looked for a way back into the game, and Lewis had to be alert to deny Stewart with a strong one-handed save with 10 minutes remaining.
Lewis was a fortunate man moments later when his attempted clearance bounced back off the heels of Ash Taylor, but the ball found its way into the arms of the grateful goalkeeper as the Dons held on to their clean sheet.
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