Aberdeen striker Sam Cosgrove continued his red-hot Ladbrokes Premiership scoring streak with a double in their 3-0 win at Hamilton.
Derek McInnes’s charges remain just three points off the top after their convincing win as Cosgrove took his tally to nine goals in his last seven league outings.
Cosgrove fired Aberdeen into a 25th-minute lead and then doubled their advantage after 53 minutes.
Lewis Ferguson, on his return to Hamilton following his summer move to the Dons, then claimed their third in the 56th minute when he scored from close range.
The defeat pushed Hamilton deeper into the relegation mire, now just two points above bottom club St Mirren with Dundee in between the pair of them.
Hamilton, who handed home debuts to January recruits Steven Davies and Tony Andreu, had not won since the beginning of December and were in need of points to kick-start a push away from the relegation scrap.
Aberdeen, however, were just as keen to pick up maximum points but for different reasons as they were striving to keep in touch with the Premiership pace-setters at the top of the table.
Hamilton were denied a ninth-minute opener when Matt Kilgallon’s powerful header from a Dougie Imrie corner was brilliantly touched onto the crossbar by Joe Lewis.
Accies made a positive start, with Andreu bursting forward from midfield and Mickel Miller looking lively, but that was undone in the 25th minute as Cosgrove benefited from a huge stroke of good fortune to give Aberdeen the lead.
Max Lowe played possession out to Stevie May on the left flank and he swung in a cross that was met by Cosgrove, but he got his header all wrong as he directed it sideways rather than towards goal.
But his header struck Kilgallon and bounced back into the striker’s path and he scuffed it home from close range.
Hamilton were forced into a change before the break when Miller hobbled off injured and was replaced by Steven Boyd. The substitute threatened at the start of the second half but screwed a shot wide.
Hamilton had a shout for a spot-kick when Aaron McGowan appeared to be barged over by Gary Mackay-Steven but referee Greg Aitken waved away their appeals.
To rub salt into Accies’ wounds, Aberdeen then went straight up the field and doubled their advantage.
Mackay-Steven played the ball up to Cosgrove and the hitman was in behind Ziggy Gordon and in on goal. He slotted a low shot beyond Ryan Fulton and although it took a slight nick off Kilgallon, it was going in anyway.
It then went from bad to worse for Hamilton as Aberdeen claimed their third three minutes later.
Cosgrove’s powerful downward header from a May corner beat Fulton and though it was stopped on the line, former Accies ace Ferguson was on hand to force it home from close range.