Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes says Sam Cosgrove’s current streak in front of goal is something his team have been “searching for”.
Cosgrove, 22, a £20,000 signing from Carlisle United in January who had just two competitive goals for Aberdeen at the start of this month, has scored four times in the last three games – taking his tally to six.
He netted a double, a diving header and cool near post finish, in last night’s 5-1 league win over rock- bottom Dundee at Pittodrie, which took the Reds to within a point of the Premiership summit.
The Dons’ struggles in front of goal in early season following the summer departure of prolific main striker Adam Rooney have been well-documented, but
McInnes thinks his shift to a front two of Cosgrove and Stevie May has been the difference in consecutive wins over Livingston, St Mirren and now Jim McIntyre’s Dees.
The Aberdeen manager said: “He (Cosgrove) has always been a boy who’s worked hard for the team.
“But the added confidence of scoring goals, his game’s in a good place, there’s certainly been good service into him and support round about him. Stevie’s had a big part to play in that.
“There’s no doubt Sam’s game is in a good place.
“We’ve been searching for that in the top end of the pitch, for those goals to come.”
Cosgrove wasn’t alone in netting against McIntyre’s sorry side, with impressive young winger Connor McLennan scoring a volleyed fourth – after he’d set up the opener – and centre-back Andy Considine getting a double of his own from set-plays.
Calvin Miller had grabbed a long-range consolation for the team in dark blue before Considine wrapped things up.
McInnes added: “10 goals in three games now shows you the importance of having the added threat from everyone at the top end of the pitch.
“It’s been a good spread of goals.”
The manager was delighted at the ruthlessness of Aberdeen’s performance against Dundee, where the visitors, clearly low of confidence, were ferociously pressed and forced into surrendering the ball time and again.
He said: “I’m really pleased. From the outset the players’ appetite for the game was clear.
“We played with a real edge and intensity.
“(Graeme) Shinnie and (Lewis) Ferguson had to do the job in there (centre midfield) against three midfielders, but we wanted to carry the threat of May and Cosgrove once we could get to their back four.
“Both were very potent in their work carrying that threat for us.
“We had good moments in the game. The second goal just before half-time helps us.
“We spoke about trying to keep the intensity for the first 15-20 minutes of the second half and to go and win the second half.
“Getting the next couple of goals allows us to make the changes because of the schedule – it allows us to get (Niall) McGinn off, to get May off, Cosgrove off.
“The only little blemish was losing the goal. But to score five at home to one of Jim’s teams, who are always well organised and go toe-to-toe with you, I’m really pleased.”
Aberdeen have now won four of five league games this month and climbed from the bottom six not so long ago to one point behind Rangers and Kilmarnock, although the Gers play Hibs tonight.
They are level on points with Celtic, who play Motherwell tonight and have another game in hand, which means the next two Premiership matches for the Dons – Hearts (three points behind) on Saturday and Celtic on Boxing Day, both in the Granite City, could help tip the balance for the rest of the campaign.
Of the Reds’ recent return to the upper part of the league, where they have finished second behind the Hoops for the past four years, McInnes said: “I’d rather be top, but considering where we were a few weeks ago, we set ourselves a target before the Livingston game to go and win the next four games.
“We felt it was important to get to 36 points after 19 games.
“That’s the halfway stage and normally where we are. We’re always on course to break 70 points.
“We had a lot of work to do and points to gain, but we’ve got nine out of nine now and we’ll go and try to get the next three available on Saturday.”
The boss confirmed Gary Mackay-Steven, who was knocked out in the 1-0 Betfred Cup final loss to Celtic at the start of the month, still has a chance of a return on Saturday after suffering concussion.
Mikey Devlin, sidelined with a foot injury, will not be back playing until January after seeing a specialist in London this week.