The Dons lined up in a 3-4-3 formation with Langfield in goal, Osbourne, Anderson and Reynolds at the back, Robertson and Shaughnessy were the wing backs with Hughes and Rae in the middle and the front three were Milsom, McGinn and Hayes. New goalkeeper Twardzik was on the bench with Magennis, Pawlett, Vernon and Smith.
The Dons kicked off in front of a superb Aberdeen support which totalled about 3,200 and virtually filled the stand behind Jamie Langfield's goal. On 3 minutes Reynolds was forced to give away the first corner of the game after a clever flick on by Griffiths and Reynolds was also the player on hand to head the ball off the line from the set piece. A minute later Aberdeen won a couple of corners but neither yielded any opportunities. 8 minutes gone and former Dons fullback Alan Maybury cut inside and with no real attacking options in front of him he elected to shoot from about 30 yards. His shot sailed comfortably wide but it did at least wake the home fans up.
It was a very cagy start to the game which was hardly surprising due to the significance of the match to both teams. It was very evident that this was a game neither team wanted to lose. After about 10 minutes Aberdeen made a tactical change, moving to what looked a 4-4-1-1 formation with Shaughnessy going to right back, Osbourne moved into the middle of the park with Rae playing just off McGinn. Young Shaughnessy did very well to block Paul Cairney on 12 minutes when left one on one inside the box. On 17 minutes good pressure from the Dons and McGinn had his first sighting on goal but put his effort went well wide. Seconds later Clark Robertson went a good deal closer but his right footed shot dipped just over. The reaction from the left back indicated that he felt in was a good opportunity.
The match was slowly coming to life.
On 20 the Dons gave away a couple of very soft free kicks in dangerous areas but thankfully the Dons defence stood firm. Russell Anderson presence at the back was already making a big difference and they were looking a lot more secure. Midway through the first half signs the Dons midfield were beginning to get on top with Osbourne and Hughes putting in some crunching tackles. On the half hour mark Osbourne put in another superb tackle which allowed McGinn space on the right. The ball was then worked back to Hayes who again had space on the right but his crossed frustratingly sailed over the bar.
The Dons were by now enjoying the loin's share of possession but similar to the league game last week they were not putting the Hibs defence under any real pressure. On 36 minutes Hibs hit on the break and Lewis Stevenson had an opening on the edge of the box but Anderson did brilliantly to read the situation and get a block in. Three minutes later Hayes did well to beat McGivern and put in a dangerous cross but Maybury did really well to cover his centre backs and head the ball behind. Again the Dons could do nothing from the corner.
The half time whistle was met with boos from the home support which told you all you needed to know about who was on top but once again the Dons were guilty of not getting any shots away.
The second half started off with Hibs being awarded a free kick wide on the right. Griffiths went for goal and Langfield made a good save. From the resulting corner Clark Robertson almost turned the ball into his own net but thankfully Hayes had not come off the line and was able to clear. Hibs had started the second half in a far more determined fashion and on 48 minutes they took the lead. Gary Deegan picked the ball up about 40 yards out. No one closed the Hibs player down so he elected to shoot from about 25 yards. His shot appeared to move in the air which gave Langfield no chance and went in off the bar.
The goal came out of absolutely nothing and the Dons players looked shell shocked and it took them a little while to get going again. Craig Brown made the first change of the afternoon on 58 minutes in an attempt to try and get his team going again. Peter Pawlett replaced Rob Milsom in a straight swap. On 61 minutes the ever dangerous Griffiths had a good effort but Langfield saved well and parried the ball away to safety with Cairney following up. The ball did fall to McGivern outside the box but his shot went just over. The referee pointed for a goal kick although it looked like Langfield actually got the faintest of touch on it. If he did it was a very good double save.
On 66 minutes McPake was booked for a late tackle on McGinn. The Dons leading scorer had been well marshalled by the centre half all afternoon. A minute later Cairney was put in but Langfield rushed out and spread himself and Shaughnessy then came in and made a brilliant block as the Hibs man dithered about what to do. Hibs were now playing with a bit more confidence and Dons were living dangerously as they pushed players forward. On 71 minutes Matthew Done came on for Wotherspoon and then Hibs felt they should have had a penalty when Shaughnessy tangled with Cairney but referee Brines correctly waved play on.
On 73 minutes Russell Anderson had a shot from the edge of box which was well saved by Ben Williams. Finally a shot target and it took the skipper to show his team mates how to do it. It inspired the reds who came back to life again. On 74 Scott Vernon replaced Gavin Rae and the striker very nearly scored with his first touch. From a ball played into the box Anderson, who was getting forward at every opportunity, knocked it down and Vernon headed the bouncing ball from close range but Williams made a very good reaction save. On 80 minutes Hayes did really well down the right. He cut the ball back for Vernon but the striker elected to take a second touch and that allowed the Hibs defenders to make a block. Then Pawlett from the other side beat two men brilliantly and had a shot which Williams saved with his legs. The ball bounced up for McGinn but he could not put any pace on the ball with his header and the keeper was able to get back on his feet and make a double save. The first save was excellent as the ball came through a ruck of players and he would have been unsighted.
The Dons were by now running Hibs ragged at the back and on 82 minutes Hayes went on another mazy run and was bundled over by McPake in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Penalty! Scott Vernon took the responsibility but his spot kick was saved by Williams who knocked the ball onto the post and agonisingly for Aberdeen the keeper managed to smother the rebound even though he did not know much about it. For the second week in a row the Hibs keeper had saved an Aberdeen penalty. The Dons fans behind the goal could not believe it. It was so unlucky that the rebound did not fall to Vernon.
Aberdeen threw everything at Hibs in the closing stages. Stephen Hughes had a snap shot which went wide and Niall McGinn, who brilliantly turned McPake, forced another excellent save from Williams. The Dons simply could not force their way past the Hibs keeper. Another hugely disappointing day for everyone connected to Aberdeen football club but no one could fault the effort of the players.