The Dons were left to rue two poor pieces of defending that gifted Dundee a draw at Dens in a game which Aberdeen dominated and deserved to win. There is still a chance they could make the top six next week if they beat Ross County and results go their way, but this was a big opportunity missed to catch some of the teams above them.
Jim Goodwin was able to announce an unchanged Aberdeen starting XI from the side that began the 3-1 win over Hibs two weeks ago. Dylan McGeouch was missing from the bench which was, however, boosted by the return of Jack MacKenzie, Jack Milne and Funso Ojo.
Dundee were beaten 2-1 at home to Rangers last time out and Mark McGhee made just one change from that game, Danny Mullen replacing Declan McDaid. Former Don Niall McGinn was on the bench for them.
The hosts made a sharp start, Elliott fizzing a dangerous ball through the six yard box in the opening minute, but thankfully, there were no takers. A minute later, Connor McLennan did well to head a dangerous looking cross behind at the back post as Dundee maintained the pressure.
Aberdeen responded, Vicente Besuijen forcing Lawlor to go full length to punch clear, Connor Barron whacking the loose ball back at goal from 25 yards out, but the ball flashed over. Lewis Ferguson produced a similar effort in the sixth minute.
The Dons were a fraction away from the lead on 11 minutes. McLennan drifted in from the left and unleashed a vicious, swerving shot that beat Lawlor but crashed against the bar. A corner resulted and this time Lawlor did make a terrific save, clawing away David Bates' header from just under the bar, after Ferguson had headed the ball back across goal.
Dundee were on the break a minute later and Declan Gallagher had to find a crucial interception from Elliott's cutback, Mullen unable to get enough on his shot in the scramble that ensued. He got a lot more power on a ferocious shot across the face on the quarter hour, but fortunately it was just too high.
Christian Ramirez produced a good knock down from a Gallagher ball forward on 24 minutes. McLennan fed Ferguson from there but his shot from the edge of the box curled wide of goal.
Again the Dons were so close to the opener on 35 minutes. Sent away by Barron, Calvin Ramsay darted forward then came inside before unleashing a 25 yard. Drove that Lawlor pushed away. Aberdeen kept the ball alive, working it into Ramirez whose stabbed shot at goal was blocked on the line by Elliott. Moments later, Besuijen danced his way into the penalty area but the ball wouldn't quite run true on the pitch and the massed Dundee defence was able to smother him and the ball.
On 41 minutes, Ross McCrorie played the ball put wide and from there, Ramsay produced a copy of his effort a few minutes earlier, but this time, there was no stopping it, his shot from 20 yards flying beyond Lawlor at the near post. It was Ramsay's first Aberdeen goal and it came at a crucial moment, finally turning the Dons' supremacy into a lead.
HALF-TIME: DUNDEE 0 ABERDEEN 1
The Dons made a measured start to the second half, happy to protect the lead and wait for further opportunities to come as Dundee were required to force the game. To exploit any gaps that might leave, Aberdeen brought on Watkins in the 57th minute, McLennan making way.
Barron was away down the right on 58 minutes, slinging the ball to the back post where Besuijen headed wide of goal. In the aftermath, Adam replaced Elliott for the hosts.
Gallagher was the first booking of the afternoon on the hour, the referee having somehow missed Adam strongarming Ferguson away at the start of the move. Adam then produced a perfectly shaped free-kick, arcing to the back post where McGhee got in front of his marker to head in the equaliser. The Dons had it all to do again.
They were screaming for a penalty on 69 minutes when Ferguson went down under a challenge as a cross came in, but there was nothing doing from the referee. McDaid replaced Rudden for Dundee a minute later.
A great ball in from Jonny Hayes almost brought dividends on 72, Ferguson not quite able to get on the end of it in the six yard box. Ferguson did get behind a 25 yard drive on 75 minutes, Lawlor down to his left to scramble the ball away. The Dons were knocking on the door, but not yet getting over the threshold.
Ramsay went down for treatment on 77 minutes and had to make way for Jack MacKenzie in the end, McCrorie going to right-back, Hayes playing further forward on the left. Adam was booked on 79 for hauling Hayes down in midfield.
Hayes came powering forward again a minute later, Lawlor blocking the ball behind at the near post. The first corner was flapped behind by Lawlor, but from the second corner, there was a call for a penalty on Besuijen. While he was prone on the pitch, Aberdeen manged to work the ball back into the box, Watkins glancing on a Hayes cross, McCrorie taking the ball in his stride and burying it across goal and into the bottom corner with a really smart finish. The Dons back in front.
Five minutes to go, Dundee got a free-kick out on the right, 40 yards out. Adam ballooned the ball into the box, the defence standing off as Mullen ghosted in to scramble the ball home from seven yards out.
Ferguson took the game to the hosts, wriggling away from a string of challenges before feeding Watkins. His shot from the edge of the area spooned just over the bar. Watkins had another opportunity on 89, firing in a low effort from 10 yards that Lawlor saved with his feet.
Aberdeen were throwing everything forward now, but time was too short.
A desperately disappointing draw for the Dons, conceding two poor goals from a game they should have won. It leaves them needing to beat Ross County next week and hope that Hibs don't beat Hearts.