A devastating afternoon for the Dons, one that summed up this disappointing season in many ways, as they let a golden chance to finish in the top six slip through their fingers, losing to Ross County courtesy of a controversial late penalty.
There were two changes for the Dons from the side that drew 2-2 at Dundee last Saturday. Calvin Ramsay and Connor McLennan started from the bench with Funso Ojo and Marley Watkins coming into the starting XI in their place.
Ross County announced an unchanged side from the team that drew 1-1 with Hearts at Dingwall last weekend.
After all kinds of weather earlier in the day, things kicked-off in bright sunshine at Pittodrie. With both sides needing the win, the early exchanges saw the two sides feeling each other out, but it was the Dons first to threaten, some lovely one touch football releasing Jonny Hayes down the left in the eighth minute. His cross was aimed for Vicente Besuijen at the near post but the County defence was able to snuff out the danger.
It was 25 minutes before another chance emerged, Watkins away to cross from the right. The ball was half cleared but Besuijen worked it back to Ross McCrorie. Unfortunately, from the edge of the box, he sidefooted the ball over the bar.
Watkins was away again a couple of minutes later before he was totalled by the hefty frame of Iacovitti who collected the game's first caution as a result. From the free-kick some 30 yards out, Lewis Ferguson couldn't get enough bend on the ball which flew wide of goal.
The tension of the situation was clearly gripping both sides, no real flow to the game as players were quickly into tackles, preventing anyone having the time and space to really play, making for a stalemate. David Bates was next to try to break it on 43 minutes, winning a header from Hayes' cross in, but it was a comfortable enough take for Laidlaw under the bar.
HALF-TIME: ABERDEEN 0 ROSS COUNTY 0
A bright start from the Dons, Besuijen's 47th minute cross finding Watkins beyond the back post. He looked to curl it back across goal and into the far corner but his effort drifted wide.
Three minutes later, there was good work from Watkins on the left, wriggling into space to cut the ball back for Ferguson, but as he shaped the ball across goal, he pushed his shot just wide of the far post. Much more promising for the Dons though, buoyed perhaps by news that Hibs were struggling at Tynecastle.
Callachan went into the book on 56 minutes, seemingly for dissent after upending Bates. Moments later, McCrorie was on the run down the right, bending the ball into the near post, Hayes flinging himself at it to head over from a tight angle. Aberdeen were starting to turn the screw.
There was a change for the hosts midway through the half, Jack MacKenzie replacing McCrorie after 66 minutes. McLennan also joined the action, on in place of Watkins. Baldwin got a yellow card for fouling him on halfway shortly after he came on.
The Staggies made their first substitutions with 14 to go, Cancola and Samuel replacing Paton and White. There were nervous moments when Charles-Cook got into the Aberdeen box a minute later before going to ground, the referee waving away his appeals for a penalty.
Aberdeen were in County territory again on 78, Besuijen overhitting his cross, Hayes stretching to get on the end of it but only able to balloon a header over. Connor Barron was next to threaten down the right, a much better cross to Christian Ramirez at the back post. He got the ball down but his shot at goal was blocked away with ten minutes to go.
Hungbo replaced Spittal a couple of minutes later as County went looking for the goal they also needed to clinch a top six place. The chance came on 84 minutes, Hayes controversially penalised after the ball was driven at his arm from a couple of yards away. The referee pointed to the spot and booked Hayes. Ferguson joined him in the book for dissent.
Hungbo stepped up to take and smacked the ball into the net, disaster for the Dons. Watson was then brought on for County as Charles-Cook took an age to get off to run the clock down.
The Dons laid siege to the County goal from there but with virtually every blue shirt defending their box, space was at a premium, Ferguson having a shot blocked as we edged into added time. Barron drifted in a dangerous cross on 92 minutes, Besuijen acrobatically firing wide from it, the last hope of salvaging the game going with it.