Derek McInnes was forced to make one change to the side which beat St Mirren last Saturday. Andrew Considine missed out through injury and Joe Shaughnessy came in. Joe went into the right back spot, Anderson and Hector formed the central defensive partnership with Reynolds at left back. The midfield saw Robson line up on the right with Jack and Flood in the middle and McGinn wide left. Pawlett played his usual free role supporting Vernon up front.
The home side had the better of the early skirmishes. On four minutes Foran headed a free kick just wide although Langfield did not look too concerned. Two minutes later Nick Ross had a great chance when he found himself in acres of space at the edge of the area but thankfully he pulled his shot just wide. Then after 10 minutes Aberdeen very nearly gifted the home side a goal. Shaughnessy made the initial error but then Hector and Langfield got in a mess and the keepers' hurried kick out landed at the feet of Nick Ross. The ICT player had an open goal to aim at but shot weakly from about 25 yards out and Langfield was able to recover the situation by making a simple save.
The home sided had started very brightly and the Dons midfield were struggling to get a foot hold in the game. It therefore made it even more incredible what was about to unfold.
On 13 minutes Ross Draper was booked for a lunge at Pawlett. Robson took the free kick and it was deflected behind for the first corner of the game but Anderson was penalised when attacking the ball.
The Dons then came into the game and put a good little spell of pressure on after about 20 minutes and this led to the opening goal. Aberdeen had put over a couple of good crosses which were not really cleared very well. Robson then played a ball in and Josh Meekings was penalised for handling the ball in the air when challenging Scott Vernon. The reaction of the Inverness players suggested referee Calum Murray got this one spot on as no one really complained. Robson stepped forward and hammered a perfect penalty past Dean Brill. The keeper guessed correctly but the ball was passed him by the time he dived due to the power Robson got into the shot.
The early goal makes such a difference to the Dons when they play away from home. The home side have to throw bodies forward and Aberdeen are set up perfectly to hit on the break. As it was the Dons actually did a lot more than hit on the break and for the next ten minutes took the game to Inverness. On 28 minutes McGinn had a shot which just went wide and then on the half hour Aberdeen got a second.The ball was played into the box by Pawlett from the left. Vernon went up for it and put some much pressure on the central defenders, Robson was then able to come in and head the ball towards the goal and the ball sneaked past Brill. Vernon deserves a lot of credit for his role in the goal and his all round play. He was a handful and the ICT defence could not deal with him.
Aberdeen were by now in complete control.
On 33 minutes McGinn had a shot which beat the stranded Brill but the ball went behind for a corner after an ICT defender got a touch. From the corner Anderson won the header but it went straight to the keeper.
On 36 minutes Flood did brilliantly to put pressure on Inverness and win the ball 10 meters inside their half. He played it to Pawlett who in turn played in Vernon. The big striker had a sighting at goal and no one could have blamed him had he shot but instead he played a return pass to Pawlett who side footed the ball home. What a fantastic goal!
By this stage the Dons fans behind Langfield's goal had started their Christmas celebrations early and things were about to get even better. On 43 minutes McGinn broke after Pawlett had made a superb tackle. He raced forward before cutting inside and placing a shot past Brill low into the corner. Incredibly the Dons were four up. It has to be said the defending was not great but once again the Aberdeen finishing had been absolutely clinical. From the 20th minute to the 45th, Aberdeen played some of their best football of the season, and for many a season.
Not surprisingly the home side came out strongly after the interval. One would imagine their dressing room was not a place for the fainthearted once John Hughes and Duncan Shearer got going.
A minute into the half ICT played over a corner. Langfield came for it but could not get much on it as he had a ruck of players to get through. The ball bounced about in the box and no red shirts were able to clear. The ball landed at the feet of Billy McKay and he comfortably prodded home his 16th goal of the season.On 52 minutes the Dons had a chance when Hector danced his way into the box. He had plenty of time to look up and pick out an Aberdeen player but failed to do so.
Then on 55 minutes the home side should have had a second. McKay at the back post beat Shaughnessy and nodded the ball into the path of Ross. He headed the ball goal wards but Langfield made a good save before Jack hacked it clear. McInnes and Docherty were looking a bit concerned how open the game had become. They were even more concerned when on 56 minutes McKay added a second. He got the better of Hector before rounding Langfield and although Hector had got himself back on the line McKay was able to fire it past him. Worryingly Inverness had the momentum and the Dons were struggling to deal with aerial threat Inverness were posing.
Things got even worse for the Dons just after the hour mark when Mark Reynolds had to be stretched off after a collision with substitute David Raven. Jonny Hayes came on with Ryan Jack going over to the left back spot. Hayes went over to the right and Robson came into the middle of the park.
It was not completely all one way traffic, on 65 minutes McGinn had a chance after being set up by Vernon. He stepped inside his man but his shot was then blocked. Then, on 68 minutes, a major let off for Aberdeen. An ICT corner was swung over and Raven won it but the ball hit the bar before Robson was able clear.
Thankfully this miss proved to be the turning point. Anderson and Robson managed to get hold of the game and back came the Dons. Robson went close on 70 minutes to his hat-trick when he burst into the box but his shot just went wide. Then on 71 minutes McGinn had a chance but shot straight at Brill before the keeper made a good save to keep out Pawlett. In the end the Dons were seeing out the game with relative comfort. A mistake by Shaughnessy though allowed Shinnie to head the ball home in the 89th minute- all of a sudden in was 4-3 and game on!
The Dons had five minutes of injury time to withstand. It was hard to watch.
As a wall of blue shirts drove forward , Hayes should have sealed it on the break but wasted a great chance after being played in by Flood. The Dons were very nearly made to pay for that miss. They then somehow survived a corner in the final minute of injury time and held on for a very important three points after a fantastic period of play in the first half.