Connor Ronan ended St Mirren’s four-month wait for a home win as his stunning finish sent listless Aberdeen to Scottish Premiership defeat.
The Irish midfielder lit up a turgid contest by arcing a fabulous angled strike beyond Joe Lewis.
The second-half winner continued St Mirren’s revival, with back-to-back league victories lifting them eighth.
The visitors – who had 68% possession but no cutting edge – stay sixth having blown the chance to go fourth.
After an 11-game winless run St Mirren are thriving again with three victories in a row in all competitions, and something about Aberdeen brings out the best in them.
The Paisley men’s only other home Premiership triumph this season came against the Pittodrie side in September and Ronan – the double hero that day – again emerged the match-winner.
This time Aberdeen came to Paisley in their best form of the season – five wins and one defeat in seven – but looked ill at ease after a shaky start peppered with a litany of misplaced passes set the tone.
Dean Campbell – deputising for Jonny Hayes at left-back – was particularly jittery. Greg Kiltie ghosted past the 20-year-old to fizz in a cross that had St Mirren appealing in vain for a penalty after David Bates’ awkward clearance.
Jay Henderson blazed over and Marcus Fraser headed wide from set-pieces, while Kiltie slashed off target following another defensive lapse, but for all St Mirren’s intensive pressing and neat build-up, they failed to muster an effort on target before half-time.
Aberdeen gradually began to rouse themselves, and came close to a breakthrough as Lewis Ferguson whistled a 25-yard strike inches past the far post then Calvin Ramsay had goalkeeper Jak Alnwick at full stretch with a thunderous cross-shot.
Skipper Scott Brown also threatened an opener after the restart, looping an effort narrowly too high before having a far-post shot cleared off the line by Scott Tanser after Alnwick failed to collect a Campbell delivery.
Teddy Jenks dragged wide but the visitors never looked convincing going forward, and were beaten by a goal out of keeping with everything that had gone before.
Ronan retrieved Kiltie’s pass and, from the left edge of the penalty box, he curled a brilliant strike past the diving Lewis and into the bottom corner.
It was St Mirren’s only shot on target in the entire game, but proved enough to secure a dogged and deserved victory.
Aberdeen still had half an hour to mount a recovery, yet their comeback attempts were pitiful as the hosts comfortably protected the lead.
Man of the match – Connor Ronan
What did we learn?
This was unlikely to be a classic between the side who had the second worst home record in the league against the team with the third poorest away from.
So it proved, but St Mirren did enough to grind out a win secured by a memorable goal. The hosts’ excellent defensive organisation provided the platform and the work ethic throughout Jim Goodwin’s side stood out.
Jamie McGrath returned from the naughty step – the talismanic midfielder had been left out of the last two games amid speculation over his future – to put in a tireless shift and show there’s more to his game than flair.
As for Aberdeen, this was a dramatic fall in standards from last week’s compelling draw with Rangers and leaves them just three points above St Mirren.
If Stephen Glass’ men are serious about catching Hearts in third and Motherwell in fourth, these are the games they need to be winning. All their key men underperformed and with just two away league wins all campaign, it’s clear Aberdeen are a soft touch on the road.
What did they say?
St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin: “It was extremely tight. There wasn’t much between the two teams. Aberdeen never really caused us a great deal of problems.
“I felt at half-time it would take something special to win it. I’m delighted Connor was able to come up with that.”
Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass: “It’s really disappointing. The one moment of quality was produced by a St Mirren player, we ended up getting what we deserved. It looked like a bit of a mental approach, thinking it was going to be easy.
“We gave the ball away too cheaply, too often. As a group, we’ve got to do better than that.”
The bottom two provide the opposition on Saturday, with Aberdeen hosting St Johnstone (15:00 GMT), while St Mirren are away to Dundee at the same time.