Aberdeen have defeated St Johnstone 2-1 at Pittodrie to move back up to third in the Premiership.
The Dons are now two points clear of Hibs, having played a game less than the Edinburgh outfit, and have stretched their unbeaten league run to six games.
Derek McInnes made one change to the starting line-up from Wednesday’s 0-0 draw at Fir Park.
Ross McCrorie was suspended for accumulating too many bookings, with a change of shape to 3-5-2 allowing Sam Cosgrove to come in and partner Curtis Main upfront.
The game stopped for a couple of minutes soon after starting, St Johnstone’s Scott Tanser going down with what looked like a knee injury after moving to challenge Ryan Hedges.
10 minutes in and Lewis Ferguson’s flick over the Saints defence almost found Main running in behind, but a timely intervention from Danny McNamara prevented the first chance of the game coming to fruition.
On 14 minutes, the visitors went close when David Wotherspoon shot past the post from the right corner of the area.
Soon after they had a penalty claim turned down after a ball into the box appeared to strike Tommie Hoban’s arm. From the resultant corner, Ali McCann shot wide of the left post.
The first half was pretty poor fare. However, Saints certainly shaded it in terms of territory, winning the midfield battle and generally looking a bit livelier in attack.
On 39 minutes, St Johnstone took the lead with Liam Gordon left unmarked to head in Liam Craig’s corner at the back post.
It had been coming. What was surprising was how quickly Aberdeen restored parity, responding to the shock of conceding almost immediately.
Just before 45 minutes, Cosgrove spun on the edge of the area to lash at goal, with Zander Clark getting down to stop the low effort.
Soon after Andy Considine shot from a bouncing ball and the effort hit Callum Booth’s arm from a couple of yards away. The Dons demanded a spot-kick, but Alan Muir was unmoved and the call was correct.
The drama wasn’t over, however, as seconds later, Cosgrove fell backwards, claiming to have been pulled back by Jamie McCart in the area as a cross arrived and Muir immediately blew up for the penalty.
St Johnstone fumed at the call, and it appeared doubtful that it was the right one. Nevertheless, striker Cosgrove sent Clark the wrong way with a low penalty to the keeper’s left.
Having ended the first half with a reprieve, the Dons started the second with more purpose and after a few moments of improved attacking play, Main got to the byeline and won a corner on the 54 minute mark.
The delivery from Lewis Ferguson wasn’t cleared and Ash Taylor had plenty of time to volley into the left bottom corner from 16 yards.
St Johnstone were getting forward far less regularly in the second 45 minutes, although former Don Stevie May did fire wide from the outside the box with 25 minutes left to play.
The visitors wanted a penalty of their own on 70 minutes, when Taylor flattened Shaun Rooney from Gordon’s long punt forward. They didn’t get it – but Dons defender may well have been overly physical in his eagerness to win the ball right on the line of the 18-yard box.
As the clock wound down, Aberdeen created very little, as they had done bar the 10 minute spells on both sides of the interval, and were just protecting their lead.
Meanwhile, Saints’ best chance of a point was being awarded one of the spot-kicks they kept demanding from Muir, the final shout coming with less than 10 minutes remaining when Callum Hendry claimed to have been barged over by Considine.
Ultimately, no other clear chances arose after Taylor’s winner.
Saints sub Hendry was dismissed late on for a second booking and, but for a scary moment where Joe Lewis had to flick away a May cross, the home side took all three points.