Aberdeen's young guns produced possibly their best collective effort to beat a strong Hearts side at Oriam this afternoon, Alfie Stewart and Adam Emslie scoring two second half goals after Makenzie Kirk had opened the scoring for the home side in the first half.
The Dons headed for the Hearts Training Centre for the second time this season looking to get back to winning ways against a Jambos team with whom they have had three very close encounters this season. Both sides have won a home game while the third match at Cormack Park ended all square.
This match was being used by the SFA as a trial for VAR so there was a full complement of Category One officials taking charge.
It was a cagey start from both sides as they tried to come to terms with a difficult surface and it was fully ten minutes before the first shot at goal, Alfie Stewart firing a fine twenty yarder just wide.
Two minutes later only superb defending by Finlay Murray, who was superb throughout, prevented Hearts taking the lead. The rangy Kirk got clear to lift a shot over Blessing Oluyemi and the ball looked netbound until Murray got a toe on it to divert the ball on to the post. The rebound fell perfectly for Ross, and he thought had an open goal to tap into before Murray produced an incredible block to thwart him. Magnificent defending from Murray.
However, a minute later, referee Colin Steven pointed to the spot after Findlay Marshall made a fine block in the box. Despite vehement protests from the defender who claimed the ball had deflected off his knee onto his hand, the decision of both referee and the VAR ruled against the Dons and Marshall was booked. Kirk, who made his Hearts first team debut last weekend, stepped up and confidently dispatched the spot kick.
The Dons showed their character once again and Dylan Lobban saw a shot comfortably saved by McFarlane before Adam Emslie was put in by a combination of Finn Yeats and Liam Harvey, his parting shot lacking the power to seriously test the keeper.
Yeats took a knock and had to come off, sub Taylor Mason moving to left back and Marshall taking over from Yeats in midfield. A fine ball from Alfie Stewart gave Emslie another sight of goal but McFarlane pulled off a fine save to deny the Dons man. Harvey and Stewart both had efforts on goal, but the interval arrived with Hearts clinging on to a slender advantage.
Half time - Hearts 1 Aberdeen 0
Hearts were first to threaten in the second period, Tait bursting into the box before losing his composure and firing wildly past the post, an opportunity scorned.
Blair McKenzie was a colossus in the heart of the Dons defence winning header after header and the confidence was beginning to show as the younger visiting side sensed they were very much in with a chance of turning the game on its head.
On 70 minutes a deserved equaliser arrived. Lobban sent Emslie scurrying down the wing and his cross found Harvey whose shot on the turn was blocked, but Alfie Stewart was following in and curled a lovely shot just inside the keeper's right hand post. Great reward for the perseverance being shown by the Dons.
Fourteen year old Victor Enem came on for Cammy Wilson and was immediately in the thick of things, winning the majority of his headers despite giving away a fair bit in height to some of his opponents.
With eleven minutes of regulation time left Aberdeen grabbed the lead, a long clearance from Oluyemi causing a bit of panic in the home defence and when the ball found its way to the feet of Emslie, the front man smashed the ball past McFarlane to spark scenes of jubilation amongst the Dons players.
Skipper Flatman headed over as Hearts pressed for an equaliser, but Aberdeen defended as well as they have done all season to see the game out and earn themselves a richly deserved three points.
On many occasions this season the team's performances have merited better results, so this victory was one to savour.
Next on the agenda is a home clash with Kilmarnock on Tuesday, the Cormack Park game kicking off at 2pm.