On-loan Bristol City striker Marley Watkins has opened his scoring account and boss Derek McInnes has backed him to hit double figures.
In his eighth start since arriving from the Championship side, the 29-year-old netted the opener in a 3-0 defeat of Ross County.
Watkins, on loan until January, had been praised by McInnes previously for his play up front without scoring.
After being denied by the woodwork in previous matches, the Welsh international added that goal and McInnes believes there is many more to come.
McInnes said: “Even last week Marley hit the post with a similar chance.
“He’s hit the post a couple times, keepers have made saves, and we want him to be in the middle of the posts more often.
“I’m really pleased for him because it is important for him.
“His team-mates all recognise his strengths and what he’s doing for the team, but to get a goal is important for the boy.
“He’s never throughout his career been a guy who scored 15 or 20 goals, but he’s always contributed.
“It’s up to Marley to take confidence from that and, when the next chance comes along, hopefully he can remember the way he finished that one today.
“ I think anybody who has been watching us over the last wee while will see how Marley has led the line and bringing so much to the team.”
“Marley has always been an important team player, but he is capable I think, in this team, to get well into double figures.”
It was Watkins first goal since netting in a 3-0 defeat of Luton for Bristol City on December 29.
McInnes is set to welcome back last seasons’ leading goal-scorer Sam Cosgrove from a knee injury next month to further bolster his attack.
He said: “We tried to make not too much of an issue of it, but he is there to score goals as well and I think that was so important for Marley.
“He had to generate a bit of pace on the header, it was in the air a long time, and it wasn’t easy.
“He’s had to watch it the whole way and we’re delighted for him.
“You saw how his team-mates celebrated with him.”
Aberdeen shrugged off the disappointment of exiting Europe at the hands of Sporting Lisbon with a dominant performance in Dingwall.
The scoreline should have been more emphatic.
Niall McGinn and Scott Wright both hit the post and Ross County keeper Ross Laidlaw produced a series of vital saves.
Following Watkins’ opener, Lewis Ferguson netted two penalties in the second half to secure the three points.
Aberdeen remain in fourth place in the Premiership, but closed the gap on third-placed Hibs to just two points.
Crucially, the Dons have two games in hand on Hibs, who lost to Celtic yesterday.
McInnes insists it was vital to put the 1-0 defeat to Portugeuese giants Sporting behind them and return to winning ways domestically.
He said: “It was important that we got back to winning ways. I was so pleased with the fitness of the team. Hats off to the players today, they were outstanding.
“It took us a while in getting the first goal, but it was a very important goal for the team and it was an important goal for Marley to get him up and running.
“There was also a sense of relief to that.
“We were so dominant in that first period, but were so wasteful with our chances.
“On another day, that can come back to bite you. Today it didn’t. We go in at half-time 1-0 up and we ask for more of the same. The tempo and intensity of the team was clear from the start.”
Aberdeen ended a two-game losing run, having crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Pittodrie to Motherwell last Sunday.
He said: “It was in complete reverse to last week where we started a bit dippy after the European game.
“It was so important that we had that in our game against Ross County.
“From first minute to last, I thought the players were fantastic.
“We got three goals, it could have been more, but we’ll take three and another clean sheet.”