Aberdeen made one change to the side that beat St Johnstone 3-0 at Pittodrie two weeks ago. Gary Mackay-Steven came in for Greg Stewart as the Dons looked to extend their unbeaten league run. That meant young Scott McKenna paired up with Kari Arnason, fresh off his success with Iceland, in the heart of the Dons defence. With Hibernian unlucky not to take all three points at Celtic Park before the international break much was expected of the fixture. This was also the first league meeting between the sides since April 2014.
The hosts forced the first corner of the game on three minutes. Anthony Stokes put an inviting cross in, but it evaded every man in the box. The Dons couldn't clear their lines and gave away a free kick. It was taken short and McGeouch hit a low effort that went wide of Joe Lewis's post. Kenny McLean tried a low effort of his own after some good play from Mackay-Steven down the left, but his shot went way wide. The game had begun at a good pace and Aberdeen forced another effort at goal in the 8th minute. Graeme Shinnie intercepted well and played it out to Rooney. From the left Rooney slipped in Mackay-Steven and his first-time effort went into the side netting. It was a half chance.
After a return to the starting line-up, Mackay-Steven was getting stuck in and took a sore one from Lewis Stevenson, which resulted in a yellow card for the Hibernian left back. A few minutes later Stevie May delivered a dangerous free kick from the left and Arnason glanced a header, which Laidlaw had to save well, but the linesman ruled there was an offside. The Dons had started the better of the sides and more good passing between Rooney, Christie and McLean sent Mackay-Steven through, but his effort on target was weak and Laidlaw gathered. Hibernian pressed forward and were unlucky not to take the lead on 22 minutes. Slivka found space on the right and cut inside the box where Whittaker smacked an effort off the post. A let off for the visitors.
Graeme Shinnie picked up a booking for a foul on John McGinn. The free kick was taken from a good area, but Lewis gathered easily and the Dons held firm. The defence again was looking solid. Anthony O'Connor was soon in Steven McLean's book. After giving the ball away in the middle of the park, he raced back and brought down McGinn for a free kick 30 yards out. There were no complaints from the Irishman.
After Aberdeen being the better side in the first 20 minutes Hibs were coming more into it but then the visitors took the lead with a bit of real quality. There was some fantastic passing and moving. Shinnie played a square pass to Kari Arnason who picked up the ball on the half way line and played an intelligent forward pass for Stevie May. Stevie cleverly laid it off for Kenny McLean and he played a superb first ball through to Mackay-Steven who had made a run inside the full-back. Gary then very coolly slotted home to give the Dons the vital break through. Gary had been up for it from the start and his goal was richly deserved.
Hibernian looked for a near-instant reply. O'Connor gave the ball away cheaply and Stokes was able to get to the back post, but his effort sailed over the bar. Shortly after that Steven McLean brought an exciting half to a close shortly after and The Dons lead, but Hibernian were still very much in the game.
The second half started at a frantic pace and Hibernian forced Joe Lewis into two saves. The first was an effort from McGinn and then Logan brought down Boyle to concede a free-kick within shooting range. Stokes curled it towards goal, but Lewis was there again to palm away.
It took until the 54th minute for the Dons to threaten. Christie sent Mackay-Steven down the right and after a bit of trickery sent a dangerous cross into the box. Although it was behind him, Rooney did very well to flick an acrobatic effort just wide of the post, with Laidlaw scrambling across his goal line. With both teams enjoying spells of possession, Hibs forced a succession of corners in the 67th minute. The first nearly ended up in the Dons net after the ball bounced off Rooney. McGinn's second delivery was poor however and ended up going straight out for a goal kick.
Aberdeen then enjoyed their best spell of the second half. Christie found space in the middle. The midfielder drove towards goal and tried his luck from 30 yards, but his effort went over. Aberdeen continued to probe for a second goal but as the clock down the side started to sit deeper.
With 15 minutes to go, Mackay-Steven made another surging run forward, but took a sore one after a tackle from Stevenson. He was then substituted and received a standing ovation from the Red Army. His replacement was Dominic Ball as the Dons looked to see out the game. Immediately Aberdeen gave possession in the middle of the park and Hibs broke. Shinnie was beaten on the left, but McKenna did well to block the shot and the Dons cleared.
Stevie May was next to pick up a caution as he broke up an attack on the right-hand side. Before the free kick was taken, May was replaced by Greg Stewart. McGinn delivered the cross and once again Lewis was there to catch with ease. Hibernian were beginning to press higher up the pitch and throw bodies forward. Simon Murray also came off the bench, he gave Hibs a target to aim at up top.
It would require a lot of grit and determination from the Dons to see the game out. Substitute Danny Swanson wriggled his way into the Aberdeen penalty area and forced O'Connor into a block. Anthony had a number of vital interceptions late on. Swanson then had an even better chance seconds later. He managed to get to the by-line and cut the ball back, but slipped at the final moment and McKenna was able to clear at the front post. Mark Reynolds came on for the final five minutes in place of Ryan Christie. As Hibernian pressed for the equaliser, the referee added on five minutes and it would be a nervy five minutes for the Red Army. Hibs continued to work the ball into the box and another dangerous cross evaded everyone.
It was a very nervy ending but Arnason marshalled the troops brilliantly and the Dons defence held firm to see the game out. The back four very outstanding today in what was a very good defensive performance.
Aberdeen remain joint-first in the league and unbeaten.