PRE-SEASON predictions are already being obliterated. 

St Mirren were heavily fancied to again struggle at the wrong end of the table this term, while Aberdeen had been tipped to push Rangers all the way for second place. On a sodden day in Paisley, you would have struggled to guess which team was which. 

This was a first St Mirren league win over their visitors for more than eight years but it was more than merited. 

Granted, they had to withstand a lot of heavy Aberdeen pressure in the second half and would have had their hearts in their mouth when Niall McGinn struck the post in the 90th minute. But for their first-half enterprise and defensive robustness they were good value for the three points.

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A dismal Betfred Cup campaign has given way to renewed optimism. Manager Jim Goodwin has, belatedly, been able to recruit the players he said would improve his team and they have not let him down. 

One of the new crop, Ilkay Durmus scored the only goal of the game, but others, including debutant Calum Waters, were pivotal in the victory. The home fans left celebrating as if they had won the league itself. 

For Aberdeen, this was the worst possible way to prepare for the second leg of their Europa League tie against Rijeka at Pittodrie on Thursday night. 

Perhaps showing the after-effects of their draining 2-0 defeat in Croatia last week, they looked lacklustre for large spells. Even when they began to dominate the ball in the second half, there wasn’t much in the way of clear-cut chances.

They will feel, however, that two key decisions in the match went against them. Curtis Main thought he had done nothing wrong when he toed the ball out of the grasp of Vaclav Hladky as the goalkeeper lay on the ground and then rolled it into the empty net. Referee Steven McLean, though, decreed that an infringement and the “goal” didn’t stand.

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To compound Aberdeen frustration, they were then denied what Derek McInnes felt was a stonewall penalty when Ryan Hedges’ shot struck Ryan Flynn on the arm. Goodwin, to his credit, felt his team had perhaps been fortunate although Flynn himself was not of a similar mind.

“The ball did come off my arm but I don’t think that is a penalty,” said the midfielder. “I’m not too sure about the rule changes but my arm was right by my side.

“I think you have to credit the referee for being brave. It is easy to give the decision against the underdog team. I thought it would have been really soft if we had been penalised for that.”  

Aberdeen had a few other chances – most notably McGinn’s shot against the post as play ticked in to injury time – but it was St Mirren who continued to look more likely to score on the counter attack.

How wasteful they were, though. Tony Andreu somehow headed wide from close range while Magennis failed to find a team-mate in space as St Mirren twice broke on a three-on-one counter attack. 

The captain was one of the game’s stand-out performers although his manager might have throttled him if Aberdeen had found an equaliser after those botch-ups.

In the end one goal would prove enough and Durmus got it. The winger landed in Scotland recently promising to put the fun back in to football. After a promising debut at Easter Road the previous weekend, he made good on that claim here by bagging his first goal to put St Mirren in front after just 13 minutes.

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Durmus, of Turkish stock but latterly playing in Austria, has pace to burn and a bagful of tricks, too.  

He also demonstrated terrific game awareness for his goal, too, watching as Scott McKenna was dragged wide to try to close down Magennis and then ghosting in to the space to meet his team-mate’s centre. A left-foot shot buried into the corner of the net showed he can finish, too.

Perhaps his heading needs some work, though, as he could have claimed a second just minutes later. Waters’ cross was enticing and in the right place but Durmus couldn’t direct his header on target. 

An acrobatic bicycle late in the first half further demonstrated his capabilities even if it lacked the power to trouble Joe Lewis.

Goodwin was in the side the previous time St Mirren beat Aberdeen in 2011 and, after a turbulent start, appears to be building something of substance here.

“It was just a good all-round performance - one I want from team all the time: grit, effort, determination, commitment and showing fans we really care,” he said. “I want us to play better and we will improve in terms of possession of the ball. But that’s a good place to start.”