Barry Robson praised the “resilience” of his Aberdeen side after they held on to defeat 10-man St Johnstone 1-0 at McDiarmid Park and move within a point of third-placed Hearts in the cinch Premiership.
The Dons made it four victories on the spin when they capitalised on the early dismissal of their former player Andy Considine to score the only goal of the game after half an hour when Saints keeper Remi Matthews fumbled an Angus MacDonald effort into his own net.
After his first game since being appointed manager until the end of the season following a fruitful stint as caretaker, Robson dismissed any talk of overhauling Hearts for third place and was instead intent on focusing on the way his team withstood some late Saints pressure to eke out a rare away win.
“I thought we were quite comfortable but St Johnstone did well in the last 10 minutes,” he said. “They had to come out and have a go, we knew that. My message to them at half-time was ‘keep a clean sheet’ because if we do that we’ll win the game.
“This is such a hard place to come and play, but our remit was to come down here and win, and we did.
“The most pleasing thing was that we were in control of the game. I didn’t think St Johnstone were going to score a goal apart from the last five or 10 minutes.
“We probably didn’t switch the ball or play things through quick enough. You could see we had boys away on international duty – Duk (Luis Lopes), Bojan (Miovski) and (Ylber) Ramadani are big players in the team and they didn’t get back until Thursday, Friday so we couldn’t properly match-prep them.
“We were in control, we were okay, but when they came at us in the last 10 minutes we showed resilience, kept another clean sheet and won away from home again, which we’ve not done well as a club for years.
“I said to the players we can be better, but get the heads down, keep working, move on.”
Saints had Considine sent off for denying a goal-scoring opportunity in the opening minutes when he was deemed to have fouled Miovski following a VAR review.
Boss Callum Davidson was pleased with the way his 10-man side kept themselves in the game and threatened to earn a point in the closing stages.
“It was a tough afternoon for the players but I thought they were brilliant,” he said.
“They kept their shape, their discipline and they created chances.
“It’s disappointing we didn’t get anything from the game because they put so much into it.”