Analysis: Opportunities to leapfrog Rangers into second don’t come much more enticing and Aberdeen knew it

McLean makes it 4-0 after going around Scott Fox.

Two signings, three points, Scott McKenna still at the club and back up to second spot – it was a successful transfer deadline day for the Dons.

Aberdeen leapfrogged Rangers back into second on a night keeper Freddie Woodman joined on loan from Newcastle and Sam Cosgrove signed until summer 2020.

New keeper Woodman was on the bench for Newcastle against Burnley in the Premier League 295 miles away.

But his loan deal until the end of the season was pushed through before the window closed at midnight to bring Derek McInnes’ winter window signings to five.

In January, Aberdeen have signed Niall McGinn and Hamilton’s Michael Devlin, both until 2021, and Manchester City midfielder Chidi Nwakali on loan until the summer.

When you factor in securing £200,000 for the transfer of Kenny McLean to Norwich and taking him back on loan, it has been a positive January.

Especially when they emerged from the window in second and with McKenna still in red. The club having knocked back three bids from Hull City, with the highest £700,000.

A setback in the transfer window was an injury to Joe Lewis, who underwent surgery yesterday on knee ligament damage and will be out for up to three months.

The SPFL scheduling a fixture on transfer deadline day was ridiculous and added yet more complications in a day that is traditionally stressful enough. Regardless, the Reds took full advantage of Rangers’ Scottish Cup tie at Fraserburgh to regain the edge in the race for second.

Opportunities to jump back into second don’t come more appealing than a trip to the Premiership’s bottom club, who were suffering a 12-game winless streak.

However, any outfit fighting for survival can potentially spell danger if underestimated.

The Reds approached this game in the right manner and reaped the rewards.

They dominated, produced some impressive passing and possession play and should have scored more.

Only slack defending towards the end made it a far more flattering score than Ross County merited.

Respect to the sizeable travelling Red Army who made it up to Dingwall for a midweek clash, especially in light of the weather warnings for snow.

Aberdeen made two changes to the side who defeated Kilmarnock 3-1 with Anthony O’Connor and Dominic Ball both dropping to the bench.

Icelandic international Kari Arnason and Ryan Christie both returned to the starting line-up.

The ever-influential Christie had missed the win over Killie with a knee injury.

Danny Rogers was in goal but faces a real battle to retain the No1 spot. A keeper of Woodman’s calibre did not move to the Granite City to sit on the bench.

Ross County created the first opportunity when Chris Eagles fired a low drive wide in the ninth minute.

Moments later Rogers was called into action when he dived to block a Harry Souttar downwards header from eight yards.

Aberdeen threatened in the 23rd minute when McGinn created space for a shot 22 yards out, but his effort flashed wide.

The breakthrough came in the 28th minute as Considine found Christie at the left of the penalty area.

On-loan Celtic attacker Christie rolled an inviting pass towards the edge of the box and into the path of the on-rushing Kenny McLEAN.

The midfielder unleashed a powerful shot which took a deflection off Liam Fontaine and although keeper Scott Fox got a hand to it, he could not keep the effort out.

The goal stunned struggling County who capitulated completely for 10 minutes and looked absolutely lost.

By the time they had regrouped it was game over as the Reds were three goals to the good and threatening to add more.

The Dons went 2-0 up in the 32nd minute when Christie collected a return pass in a one-two with McGinn.

Christie was pulled back by Tim Chow for a penalty, which Adam ROONEY lethally converted.

Any negligible hope of the Staggies salvaging anything from the game were obliterated two minutes later as ROONEY doubled his tally.

McGinn crossed from the left and the prolific striker met it first time with his left foot to send a shot beyond Fox.

Aberdeen were rampant and Christie fired a powerful shot just wide.

Rooney had a drive blocked in the 51st minute, but an inevitable fourth came in the 65th.

There was a blunder from keeper Fox, who attempted a quick turn after completing a one-two with Fontaine.

It was ill-advised as McLEAN had followed up and robbed him of possession.

He then poked the ball between his legs and shot home.

County grabbed a consolation in the 76th minute when substitute Alex SCHALK exploited indecision in the Reds’ defence from a long ball punted upfield to lift a lob over Rogers from 12 yards.

Soon after the Reds again failed to deal with route one football.

A long kick from the keeper in the 82nd minute was flicked on by Craig Curran to SCHALK, who fired a shot underneath Rogers.

ABERDEEN: Rogers, Logan, Shinnie, Considine, McLean, Rooney, Mackay-Steven, Arnason, McGinn, McKenna, Christie.

Subs: Wright (for McGinn 67), Stewart (for Mackay-Steven 68), O’Connor (for Christie 89).

Subs not used: Craddock, Reynolds, Maynard, Ball.

ROSS COUNTY: Fox, Fraser, Naismith, Souttar, Chow, Curran, Effiong, Draper, Fontaine, Eagles, Kellor-Dunn.

Subs: Dow (for Effiong 46), Gardyne (for Eagles 46), Schalk (for Draper 67).

Subs not used: McCarey, Ngog, McKay, Melbourne.

Referee: Andrew Dallas.