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Aberdeen 2 Partick Thistle 0: Low on a high as midfielder emerges from wings to grab starring role

Derek McInnes's call for greater attacking invention from his Aberdeen side did not fall on deaf ears.

Aberdeen's Nicky Low, standing in for Willo Flood, fires in the opening goal at the start of the second half Photograph: SNS
Aberdeen's Nicky Low, standing in for Willo Flood, fires in the opening goal at the start of the second half Photograph: SNS

The goals struck by Nicky Low and Niall McGinn, both executed in spectacular fashion, did not tell the whole story, that this was a romp from the Pittodrie side with Partick Thistle's powder-puff tactics systematically dismantled.

Low usually plays the understudy to Willo Flood, but the Irish midfielder was laid low by a hamstring injury - and his 22-year-old replacement grabbed the chance to take his place in the spotlight.

McInnes said: "Low is such an infectious player. He loves his football and I like that about him. He watches every game on the telly. He finds a partner and takes me and Tony Docherty [his assistant] on at head tennis every afternoon.

"He loves his job and you can see that by the way he plays. He's desperate to be involved. He's got quality from that left foot and we saw that today."

McInnes has yet to decide which of his two main strikers - Adam Rooney and David Goodwillie - is his principal boy, but the latter was preferred in the hope that he might open his account since his move to the north-east in the close season. Rooney and midfielder Barry Robson, now no longer a certainty to start, were on the bench.

Thistle made five changes from the team that beat Morton in the League Cup in midweek, the most notable being the demotion of Kris Doolan, their top scorer last season, to the bench.

Low, keen to make an early impact, sent a long, searching pass over the head of Conrad Balatoni into Goodwillie's path, the former Dundee United front-man then firing slightly wide, all within the opening minute of the game.

The Dons turned up the heat when they came close twice to producing an opener within a sizzling two-minute spell as, first, Goodwillie's downwards header from Low's cross was stopped on the goal-line by Paul Gallacher, though the Jags' keeper knew nothing of Mark Reynolds's header from a corner as Jake Carroll, making his debut for the Maryhill men, swept the ball away from the near post.

McGinn's stinging shot from 20 yards in the 25th minute bolstered the belief among the home support that a goal was round the corner. Gallacher's acrobatic save did nothing to dispel such thinking.

Five minutes later a Jonny Hayes run down the left sparked a bagatelle session in the area involving Goodwillie and Carroll before McGinn's attempt to finish failed.

During the course of the opening 45 minutes Low's ability to shoot with accuracy from distance was put to the test a number of times. So it was no surprise that, with the second period less than two minutes old, he tried his luck with his favoured left foot from the edge of the area and found success as his strike flew into Gallacher's net at his left-hand post.

Thistle's determination to play their passing game was laudable, but it made no impact on the Aberdeen defence.

Yet had it not been for a wonder save by the largely redundant Jamie Langfield soon after an hour had been played, Kallum Higginbotham's sweet 25-yard strike would have changed the picture. It underlined the need from the home side to find another goal to make life even more unbearable for the visitors and it was McGinn who delivered with an exceptional shot from 20 yards that left Gallacher flapping at fresh air and his side two down.

There was further drama to come, this time via a thunderbolt of a free-kick - all 35 yards of it - in the final moments as Robson, on for Low for the closing 15 minutes, could not believe Gallacher's save, pushing the ball on to the post.

There were no excuses from Alan Archibald, the Thistle manager, who accepted his side were outclassed. "They were the better side," he said. "I'm just disappointed with the way we performed. We didn't get in Aberdeen's faces. We were too easy to play against and we brought much of our problems on ourselves."

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