The Manager made one change to the side that drew with St Mirren on Monday night. Calvin Zola was replaced by Niall McGinn. The Dons lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Langfield in goal. The back four were Shaughnessy, Hector, Considine and Reynolds. Ryan Jack was the sitting midfielder with Hayes, Smith, Pawlett and McGinn in front of him. Hayes and McGinn were the wide players. Scott Vernon was up front. Willo Flood made a welcome return to the squad and was given a place on the bench.
The opening 20 minutes were frenetic with little football being played. Like St Mirren on Monday night, the home side looked well up for this and were thundering into every tackle and closing the Dons down very quickly. On 10 minutes there was a half opening for Jonny Hayes as he came in at the back of the area but he did not connect properly with his volley.
Ross County forced their way into the box a couple of times but the Dons defence stood up well.
The first Aberdeen corner came on 21 minutes. 2 minutes later County had their first opening at goal. A mistake at the back let in Rocco Quinn. The ball was worked into the left side of the box and Quinn ran onto it. He shot first time but got it horribly wrong and blasted it high and wide. Someone of his quality should have worked Langfield. Quinn's game did not get better a few minutes later when he was booked for a late challenge on Hayes. To be fair to the Ross County man, there were two worse tackles in the game that had gone unpunished. On 27 minutes McGinn burst on to the ball. His pace took him away from the defender before he made room for the shot but dragged it well wide.
On the 35 minute mark referee Crawford Allan had to go off for treatment to a hamstring injury. Whilst he limped about the touchline the players took a time out. Crawford was unable to continue so fourth official David Somers took over. I am not quite sure why it took him 10 minutes to take his tracksuit off but after a long delay the new ref was given a big cheer as he entered the field and got play going again.
On 43 minutes Somers had his first bit of paperwork to do when Scott Vernon was booked for an untidy tackle. Scott did not really deserve a booking. On 45 minutes there was a major let off for the Dons. Aberdeen had a promising attack after Pawlett left his man for dead and put the cross in. Hayes picked it up in the corner and appeared to be bundled to the ground. Play was waved on and Ross County broke forward. Both Hector and Reynolds lost out in tackles at the edge of the area and the ball again fell to Quinn, in a similar area to last time. Langfield did well to narrow the angle but Quinn rounded him before firing into the side netting. Cammy Smith had got himself back on the goal line but would have been unlikely to keep the shot out if it was on target. In the first minute of added time there was the first shot of the game on target. McGinn hit a good shot from about 20 yards out but Mark Brown made a comfortable save at his near post.
Just before half time Hector headed a corner over the bar.
It was noticeable at the start of the second half that McGinn had pushed further forward to give Vernon more support, more of a 4-4-2 formation. On 47 minutes Ben Gordon was booked for a poor tackle on Pawlett.
It is a very tight pitch in Dingwall so the Dons were struggling to get Hayes and Pawlett into the game and get any width into their play. They were also struggling to get the ball forward at any pace due to some poor passing.
After 50 minutes the Aberdeen defence stood off and the ball was worked wide to Graham Carey. He sent in a really dangerous cross which Langfield was unable to come for it as it was in the 'corridor of uncertainty'. Thankfully no Ross County player could get a touch. The Dons though continued to stand off their men and were made to pay only a minute later. An excellent reverse pass by Dutchman Melvyn De Leeuw put Quinn in the clear. It was probably a harder chance than his two previous efforts, but he had so much time he was able to set himself before hammering the ball high past Langfield at his near post. The keeper had no chance- it was a very good finish.
By 55 minutes Derek McInnes had seen enough and made a double substitution. Cammy Smith was replaced by Willo Flood and Andrew Considine was replaced by Clark Robertson. There was a tactical change as Mark Reynolds went into central defence. On 57 minutes Pawlett got to the byline and did really well to get a cross in. Vernon got away from his marker for the first time in the afternoon and was able to get a header in but he could not get enough power on it to direct the ball away from Brown.
That spurred the Dons into life though. For the first time in the afternoon the Dons enjoyed some pressure and were also first to the 50/50 balls as they raised their tempo.
Midway through the second half the game became a bit more stretched which made it a slightly better spectacle. Aberdeen had to withstand a dangerous free kick from Richard Brittain, who must have one of the best deliveries from set pieces in the league. On 70 minutes the Dons had a strong penalty shout when Pawlett hammered in a shot which hit the arm of Brittain. No penalty was given and things could have got worse for the Dons when Steven Ross got the better of last man Hector. Langfield was out of position due to the mistake by Hector but thankfully Ross's lob went wide.
On 72 minutes Scott Vernon was replaced by Josh Magennis.
After 80 minutes another very good chance for the home side. Carey put in another great cross from the left. Sub Kevin Luckassen met it but was unable to direct the ball on target. He really should have done, and the game should have been over.
As it was the Dons were able to throw players forward in the final stages, and although they won numerous corners they didn't create anything of note. McGinn did have a header well saved by Brown but the flag was up anyway. Hayes & Hector picked up yellow cards in injury time as frustrations boiled over. Substitute referee Somers didn't add nearly enough stoppage time on to the game but it probably wouldn't have made much difference as the Dons didn't look like scoring. That was despite having 14 corner kicks in the game- none of which were attacked well enough.