Aberdeen playmaker Ryan Christie thinks the Reds’ rediscovered attacking verve could see them win the race with Rangers for second place.
The Dons ran out 4-1 winners against St Johnstone at Pittodrie on Saturday, with all four goals from open play, to take advantage of Graeme Murty’s men drawing with Motherwell at Fir Park.
Derek McInnes’ side are now level on points with the Ibrox side, with the Gers only ahead on goal difference, but the Dons have a game in hand and can pull clear with a win or draw against the Steelmen tomorrow night.
After a slow start against Saints, Christie, along with Gary Mackay-Steven, Greg Stewart and Stevie May, were rampant, and the on-loan Celtic player hopes this is something they can maintain ahead of this week’s final pre-split matches with the Steelmen and Hearts.
Christie, who opened the scoring, before goals from May and a Stewart double, said: “Obviously we know it’s the business end of the season. So we’re going into every game now knowing there’s a pressure on us to win.
“We will take confidence from our attacking play on Saturday.
“Scoring four goals from open play is always good and we’ll be carrying that on to the next big couple of weeks we’ve got.”
McInnes’ attacking players are trusted to play with a degree of freedom and it hurt St Johnstone. The attacking trio of Christie, Mackay-Steven and Stewart behind May, were constantly switching positions and managed to overcome the bare Pittodrie pitch to play a dangerous and dynamic passing game.
Christie said: “It’s really good there’s a fluidity in our game, in terms of we know we can switch positions at any time.
“Most teams now you need that movement and coming off your shape.
“I love coming out wide and the boys are happy to switch with you.
“It’s great to have that kind of option in the team that you’ve got three or four strikers who can play behind the striker.
He added: “The first part of the game was a bit frustrating for us and the fans.
“Once the first goal went in everybody calmed down and we started to dominante.
“In the second half the boys were much better.
“I think St Johnstone were caught between sitting off us and pressing off us.
“That’s perfect for the likes of me, Greg Stewart and Stevie (May).
“Attacking-wise we were all delighted.”
Christie’s opener in the first half saw him beat the keeper and then Saints defender Joe Shaughnessy to slot through a crowd of desperate defenders.
It was the confidence you’d expect from a man who made his second Scotland appearance in last week’s friendly against Hungary in Budapest.
Boss McInnes was delighted with the manner of the Dons’ win and thinks the Premiership’s final few games are now set up to be “the best they’ve been for several years”, with his side looking to enter the post-split games with “any advantage they can” over Rangers.
He said: “It’s a pattern at the moment with home games, with the pitch and it was quite windy out there as well.
“There’s load of things going against both sets of players to try to bring a bit of quality, but credit to my players, I thought they were determined not to make it a really difficult and untidy afternoon.
“I thought McLean and Shinnie tried to do that.
“The first goal’s a counter-attacking goal and with the pace we’ve got in the team, we can go from box to box really quickly.
“We’ve managed to work Ryan Christie in and he always looked in charge of the situation. “It seemed to take an eternity to go in, but thankfully he knew what he was doing.”
McInnes, who also cited Joe Lewis’ inclusion over Newcastle loanee Freddie Woodman as being down to the No1 stopper’s experience, added: “I’m pleased that all the front four players contributed, because I’ve been demanding more out of them.
“Stewart, particularly, by his own admission (thinks that) he’s not done enough to cement playing week in, week out here.
“But he’s played his way into the team through his training.
“Stevie May today was (also) bright as a button.”