Aberdeen must take chance to go clear of Rangers, says Tony Docherty

Tony Docherty and manager Derek McInnes
Tony Docherty and manager Derek McInnes have guided Aberdeen to second spot in the past three seasons

Aberdeen assistant manager Tony Docherty has urged the team to take their chance to move three points clear of Rangers in the race for second spot in the Scottish Premiership.

The Dons are level with the Ibrox side on 59 points but have a game in hand, at Motherwell on Tuesday (19:45 BST).

Aberdeen then face Hearts away on Saturday before the league splits for the final five rounds of fixtures.

"It's all about taking that opportunity and gathering momentum," said Docherty.

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Highlights: Aberdeen 4-1 St Johnstone

The Dons, who have finished second in the league table three seasons in a row, beat St Johnstone 4-1 on Saturday after Rangers had drawn 2-2 at Motherwell in the early kick-off.

"We spoke about it when the [Rangers] result came in before our match on Saturday," Docherty said.

"At this stage of the season, if you get any opportunity you have to grab it - as we did on Saturday."

Docherty, who says the upcoming Scottish Cup semi-final against Motherwell will be forgotten about before Tuesday's Premiership encounter, was delighted with the Dons' display on Saturday, particularly given the poor state of the Pittodrie playing surface.

"We had players on the pitch who took real responsibility to make sure it was a football match," he added. "We played good football, scored four and could have had more."

Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis, who returned to the starting line-up on Saturday after injury, echoed Docherty's sentiments regarding the pitch.

"We should be used to it by now as it's been bad for a little while now," he said. "It's even more pleasing because it would be easy to play out a 0-0 or try to scrape a 1-0 in difficult conditions.

"We're confident, that showed on Saturday, scoring four against a side that can be difficult to break down. Going forward we have lots of quality and it's important for me and the defensive players to keep our concentration, because we know we have goals in our team."

Joe Lewis
Lewis started against Saints after a spell on the sidelines with injury

Greg Stewart hit a double against Saints, with Stevie May and Ryan Christie also on the scoresheet.

"Stevie has worked incredibly hard since he came to the club and it's probably been a bit frustrating for him not to be as free-scoring as he can be, but hopefully that's the start of it now," Lewis said.

"He gives so much more to the team than just goals, so he has been contributing. But getting your name on the scoresheet is good for any striker.

"Greg as well has incredible talent and hopefully that's the start for him as well."

Lewis, 30, was handed the gloves again despite the fine form of 21-year-old Freddie Woodman, who was number one in his absence.

"It was obviously a frustrating time to be out injured but I'm delighted to be back," said Lewis, who injured his knee against Rangers in January. "I didn't have too much to do on Saturday but it was nice to be back out there.

"When I first got injured I knew it was a nasty one and I'd be out for a little while. But we have great physios here and I had no worries. I knew I'd be back as quickly as possible.

"I was pleased to go back in as Freddie did well. I know I have to be playing well to keep my spot."

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