The Sunday Post (Inverness)
Dons make Hayes in race for third place
New Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass will take over a Dons side buoyed by a vital win to enhance their prospects of playing catch-up with third-placed Hibs.
A smartly-taken second-half strike from veteran midfielder Jonny Hayes – only his third of the campaign – eased the Dons to within four points of an Easter Road side facing champions Rangers today at Ibrox.
Glass should be in the dugout for the weekend Scottish Cup tie with Livingston, having quarantined after arriving from Atlanta.
And interim boss Paul Sheerin was thrilled to sign off with three points. “Normally when you come in to a club it’s struggling in terms of league position but we are in a strong position to get into Europe, like we have been in previous years,” he said.
“It can only be a good thing coming in at this stage and I’m sure the new manager will soon see that.
“We started poorly, we overplayed and invited too much pressure.
“I asked them to play a certain way and they maybe took that too literally, but in the second half we got the ball forward more.”
Perth boss Callum Davidson gave Rangers forward Glenn Middleton his first start for Saints since arriving on loan from Ibrox.
Dons striker Callum Hendry, who had netted their only two goals in the previous 11 games, was ruled out against the club he’ll return to when his short-term loan agreement ends in the summer.
In an enterprising start, Middleton started and almost finished a slick fourth-minute move but defender Tommie Hoban deflected his volley for a corner.
Within a minute Ross Mccrorie produced a vital sliding challenge to thwart Craig Conway on the edge of the penalty area and then Chris Kane almost embarrassed keeper Joe Lewis by blocking a delayed clearance attempt. Kane should have rewarded the early Perth pressure when a Conway free-kick was deflected into his path but the off-balance striker blazed over from 10 yards.
The visitors finally posed a threat in the 23rd minute when Andrew Considine – who had been booked earlier for tripping Kane – rose to meet a Niall Mcginn corner kick but the defender’s header was deflected past the upright.
At the other end, Saints skipper Jason Kerr got on the end of a Conway corner 10 minutes later but his header edged past the far post.
Minutes after the interval, Dons players were claiming a penalty when Zander Clark’s punched clearance brushed Conway, but referee John Beaton was unconvinced. The Reds, who replaced the ineffectual Florian Kamberi with Fraser Hornby at the interval, snatched a 52nd-minute lead, with former Saint Matty Kennedy slipping a well-weighted pass into the box for Hayes to latch on to.
The veteran midfielder maintained his composure under pressure from two defenders to slide a close-range finish past keeper Clark. Hornby squandered a great chance to double the Dons’ advantage in the 68th minute.
Mcginn’s cross picked out the substitute lurking menacingly at the back post but he headed weakly into the side netting from a tight angle.
With a string of substitutes pitched on, Perth defender Shaun Rooney struck the post with a header and in the last minute Dons keeper Joe Lewis denied Ali Mccann at close quarters to preserve their slim lead.