Sam Cosgrove’s 19th goal of the season warmed a cold Aberdeen support and sent Hamilton into familiar territory – the bottom of the Premiership.

It was Cosgrove’s fortieth goal in76 appearances since his £25,000 move to Aberdeen from Carlisle United two years ago and sufficient to see the Dons edge into third place in the league.

Dons manager Derek McInnes, keen to retain the towering striker, knows a sufficiently high bid from south of the border, where Cosgrove’s exploits have been monitored by Middlesbrough, Stoke and Derby, will leave him impotent to resist.

“He’s become the guy when even when we’re not at our best, he scores goals,” McInnes said. “These types of players are invaluable.

“I’m hoping we don’t lose him. I don’t think it would be in our best interest to lose our best goalscorer, but I’m not naïve enough to think teams aren’t looking at him.

“Sam will move on at some point but midway through the season it wouldn’t be of any benefit to us.

Hamilton’s resilience in remaining in the top tier of Scottish football has marked their continued presence there over a number of years.

Their stubborn Pittodrie performance may have been peppered with some attractive football, but testing Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis was not on the menu and the 57 Accies’ fans who travelled north might have been better deployed on Christmas shopping duty.

The match statistics told a story of dominance by the hosts, the bulk of the possession and a clutch of meaningful shots blocked or saved by Luke Southwood, Hamilton’s goalkeeper, as well as stoic defending from the Lanarkshire outfit.

If Hamilton manager Brian Rice took heart from this - and he would have been pleased that Southwood’s right foot had had stopped Shay Logan’s ferocious strike from inside the area moments before the half-time whistle – McInnes would have been slightly miffed that his players couldn’t finish more often.

“My view of that is that it’s similar to the few games against Rangers and Celtic,” he said. “It was the same again today.

“We stayed in the game until half time and lost a sloppy goal. We kept going to the end. I feel for the boys in the changing room. We can’t get a break.”

For all Aberdeen’s pummeling and pounding of the Accies defence, however, it was Cosgrove’s 53rd minute tap-in at the back post from Niall McGinn’s clever chip across the area that proved the difference in the teams.