After the 1-1 draw at St, Mirren last weekend, Derek McInnes made three changes to his starting team as the Dons finally returned to Pittodrie after more than a month away. Dean Campbell, Connor McLennan and Curtis Main all started the game with Lewis Ferguson suspended, Greg Leigh injured and Sam Cosgrove on the bench. Tom Ritchie replaced Gary Woods as the sub goalkeeper on the bench, Niall McGinn, Kieran Ngwenya and Calvin Ramsay also among the subs, with Mikey Devlin missing out with injury.
Three changes for Ross County too, following their 4-0 defeat at home to Rangers last weekend. Regan Charles-Cook, Connor Randall and Stephen Kelly all started, with Michael Gardyne and Josh Reid dropping to the bench, Keith Watson missing out altogether.
A spell of good possession from the Dons won the first corner of the game after four minutes and it brought the home side an early goal. A deep delivery from Ryan Hedges on the left was met by Tommie Hoban at the back post. His header goalwards bounced off McLennan and dropped nicely for Curtis Main, who tucked the ball away from six yards to give Aberdeen the perfect start.
Iacovitti was down and requiring treatment after making a routine clearance in the 11th minute and though Reid was ready to come on, Iacovitti initially continued.
A nice move down the right between Hedges and Main set McLennan away on the chase, his cutback inches away from Main, galloping forward, in the 15th minute. Seconds later, a vicious low cross from Jonny Hayes into the six yard box drew a good save from Laidlaw who just managed to scoop the ball to safety as Matty Kennedy darted in behind him. With that, Iacovitti gave up the struggle against injury and was replaced by Reid.
There was some great play down the left, little give and goes from Considine, Hedges, Kennedy and Hayes, ultimately winning a corner on the left after 27 minutes. Hedges fizzed in a low flag kick which County managed to clear.
Ross McCrorie and Donaldson had a coming together on the 32nd minute, the Aberdeen man collecting a yellow card as a consequence. Charles-Cook followed him into the book a minute later after tripping Kennedy, as the rain began to set in. County made a second change after 35 minutes, McKay on for right-back Randall as the visitors added a second striker to their team.
That saw the Staggies enjoy a bit more possession of the ball than they'd had in the first half hour, but without really discomforting the Dons until added time when McKay glanced a header well over the bar from a left wing free-kick, a good opportunity.
HALF-TIME: ABERDEEN 1 ROSS COUNTY 0
The Dons were almost in after just 10 seconds of the second half, a ball pinged forward from Hedges neatly played first time by Main into the path of Kennedy. In behind the defence, his shot from a tight angle was well saved with his legs by Laidlaw. A low cross from Kennedy was then plucked out of the air by the County keeper as the Dons made a sharp start to the half.
Ross won their first corner in the 51st minute after good defending by Considine, Aberdeen clearing the ball in for a throw easily enough. Hayes then took a knock on the left ankle from a late challenge by Paton, requiring treatment before gradually getting to his feet. Surprisingly, there was no yellow card.
County had a golden chance to level in the 56th minute, a deflected ball forward from Reid ballooning up awkwardly off a deflection and then dropping for Stewart who got in between the defenders but poked his effort wide of goal from four yards out, a bad miss.
The Dons capitalised on the let off just seconds later, Main turning and rifling the ball into the roof of the net after swopping down on a loose ball in the box after a Hedges shot from a Hayes cross was blocked, unleashing an unstoppable drive from ten yards.
Chasing the game, County made their last change, Gardyne and Hylton on in the 64th minute in place of Paton and Tillson. Gardyne made an impact within a couple of minutes, a volley from the edge of the box swerving wide of goal.
McCrorie was poleaxed in the 68th minute, taking a fierce drive forward from Vigurs full on the side of the head, the referee getting the physio on the pitch to tend to him. Shay Logan became Aberdeen's first sub in the 73rd minute, replacing McLennan after putting in a good shift on his return to the side.
Main was inches away from his hat-trick in the 79th minute, Laidlaw brave to take the ball off his toe as he tried to get on the end of Dean Campbell's cross. Straight up the other end, Joe Lewis was called into to make a terrific one handed save from a ferocious Stewart shot to retain the two goal advantage. Lewis was a little less composed in the 81st minute, whacking a clearance against Considine, the ball popping up for Lewis to catch, though it could really have flown anywhere.
With the rain hosing down, Cosgrove was the Dons' next switch in place of Kennedy with seven minutes to go, Aberdeen looking to see the game out. County still offered a threat, Charles-Cook drilling the ball through the six yard box in the 86th minute but there were no takers for it from the visiting side. Tommie Hoban then had to be sharp to concede a corner as a ricochet threatened to put Hylton through.
As we headed into added time, McGinn and Ojo came on as did Ngwenya, making his Aberdeen debut, Main, Campbell and Hayes making way. Ngwenya made an immediate impression with a good tackle and a decent delivery into the box, the Staggies clearing the danger away from Cosgrove, adding further lustre to a very good day for the Dons.