Aberdeen and Rangers served up a seven goal thriller at a chilly Cormack Park with the Light Blues deserving of the victory but pushed all the way by a far younger Dons side that never gave up.
Having met four times already this season in League and Cup, the young Dons were determined to get the better of Rangers for the first time after three losses and a draw, albeit all the games had been very close and keenly fought. After fielding the youngest ever Aberdeen U18s side on Tuesday night against Celtic, Barry Robson was able to call on some of his more experienced youngsters as Liam Harvey, Dylan Lobban, Adam Emslie and Findlay Marshall came in for Timi Fatona, Milosz Ochmanski, Fraser Mackie and Matt McFarlane.
Alfie Bavidge missed out after picking up a strain while on Under 17 Scotland duty. Rangers fielded a very strong side, many of whom had experience playing for their B team in the Lowland League this season.
Rangers started the game strongly and after the highly rated Rory Wilson had fired over, they took the lead on 6 minutes when a lovely dinked ball from Lindsay found Robbie Ure who bundled the ball home.
Aberdeen's first threat came when a powerful run from Harvey saw his cutback just evade the onrushing Alfie Stewart. Rangers responded with some excellent play from Ure and Lindsay creating a chance for Wilson which Kai Watson brilliantly blocked on the line.
The visitors grabbed a second goal on 20 minutes when Lindsay slotted home after some really good build up play. After Pasnik shot over for Rangers, Blair McKenzie saw his header from a corner drop on to the roof of the net as the Dons began to get a foothold in the game.
Liam Harvey's delightful flick sent Stewart racing into the Rangers box, but he couldn't get enough on the shot to trouble McConnell.
Aberdeen had bounced back well from losing the two goals and were beginning to enjoy some decent possession as the half time whistle went.
Half time - Aberdeen 0 Rangers 2
Seven minutes after the break the Dons thought they were back in it when Findlay Marshall battled his way forward before slipping the ball through for Harvey who found the back of the net, but the flag was up for offside.
Just after the hour mark, disaster for Blessing Oluyemi as the keeper fumbled a low Pasnik cross into his own net to make it 3-0 to the visitors. An unfortunate lapse of concentration from our number one, who otherwise enjoyed a solid evening between the sticks.
After Dunlop forced a fine save from Oluyemi, the never-say-die Dons got themselves on to the scoresheet as Adam Emslie fired the ball in from the right.
The cross evaded Harvey, but Stewart was following in and fired the ball past McConnell to register his third goal at this level.
Moving into the final stages there was a mini goal glut. First a fortunate ricochet in the Dons box saw the ball land at Robbie Ure's feet and the striker walked the ball into the net to notch his second goal of the night and Rangers' fourth.
Undaunted, Aberdeen moved on to the attack again and Liam Harvey was denied by a fine save from McConnel after good work from the tireless Marshall, who along with skipper Dylan Lobban, worked hard in the midfield.
On 88 minutes, a long ball from Blair McKenzie found Adam Emslie racing through on goal and he did brilliantly to set himself before beating McConnell at his right hand post.
Then, after Finlay Murray had come close, the Dons grabbed a third from the penalty spot after Cammy Wilson was fouled in the box by Ciubotaru, skipper Lobban calmly sending the keeper the wrong way from twelve yards.
Unfortunately for the Dons the clock beat them as they desperately tried to get on level terms but there were plenty of positives to be taken from the game.
Next up for the youngsters is another home game against Dundee United, kick off at 6pm.
Full time - Aberdeen 3 Rangers 4
Barry Robson ? "I thought we were outstanding,
"First half we struggled a little bit because obviously they are an older and bigger side and move the ball well. We changed the shape to try and help the boys, we always knew it was going to be a game where we needed to help them.
"When you lose a goal and then lose another one, you need to get set. It is about getting organised, getting everyone round about you, getting the back four focussed because you don?t want to lose any more goals against a team that is a lot bigger and stronger. The game can very quickly run away from you.
"We got organised and we settled down a bit, and started to feel our way back into the game.
"At half time we told them they were doing well. Just believe. If you get a goal, then you never know in football.
"Use your technical ability, be brave and use your heart. When you can do that, you will do well in a game of football. You saw that tonight.
"Second half I thought we were so good.
"As a player you can come up against some really good sides, like I did myself as a player and it is really difficult. What you have to do is never give up, stay organised, and the boys certainly never did that. They fought so hard towards the end.
"It will be a very different story next season for this team."