Jim Goodwin made two changes to the side beaten at Livingston on Tuesday, with Matty Kennedy and Hayden Coulson returning to the starting XI, and Jack MacKenzie and Jayden Richardson starting from the bench. Ryan Duncan and Jack Milne returned to the subs' bench too in place of Alfie Bavidge and Dylan Lobban.
There was just one change for Dundee United after their 4-0 win over Kilmarnock 4-0 at Tannadice on Wednesday, Craig Sibbald replacing Arnaud Djoum, who dropped to the bench.
The opening period of the game was very much one where the two sides were feeling one another out, neither being able to work an opening of any real significance. We were 13 minutes in before we saw the first shot in anger, Kennedy putting his effort well over the bar having been set up by Leighton Clarkson.
The visitors came close on 19 minutes, a Middleton drive clipping Anthony Stewart and flashing just wide with Kelle Roos left flatfooted by the deflection. From the corner, Aberdeen were forced to scramble a little bit before Stewart cleared.
Coulson and Clarkson produced a neat one two that got the wing-back into the box on 28 minutes, only for him to have the ball nipped off his toe as he prepared to shoot. More lovely passing football between Kennedy, Duk and Clarkson almost got the Dons in again two minutes later but United defended their box well. Sheer weight of black shirts behind the ball was already frustrating the home team.
A counter-attack was already looking the best route to goal and it came on 35 minutes. Bojan Miovski tiptoed past a couple of changes on midway after collecting a clearance from Coulson and played a finely weighted ball to Duk who tried to go round the goalkeeper, only to be pulled down by Birighitti for a clear penalty. Miovski back on 12 yard duty, he sent the keeper the wrong way and Aberdeen into a 37th minute lead.
The Dons spurned a golden chance for a second on 43 minutes. Roos launched the ball forward and Graham, unaccountably, ducked under it, assuming it would reach his goalkeeper. It was never going that far though and Duk was onto it. From the edge of the box, he looped a lob over Birighitti but agonishingly a couple of yards wide of the goal.
HALF-TIME: ABERDEEN 1 DUNDEE UNITED 0
Ylber Ramadani going into the box for a foul on halfway was the first meaningful action of the second half on 50 minutes. Two minutes later, Ross McCrorie met a Kennedy corner at the near post, turning his shot into the side netting.
Graham did produce a header on 58 minutes and a vital one it was too, Clarkson's cross bending towards Miovski at the back post, Graham getting across to head the ball over his own bar. Another vital defensive header came as the Dons recycled the ball from the corner, McCrorie's effort headed to safety off the line.
Fletcher wasn't far from levelling it up on 66, Levitt bending a cross through the box. Fletcher was onto it at the back post bit at full stretch, he pushed his volley wide of goal, a real let off. United made a double change on 67, Sibbald and Middleton replaced by Harkes and Anaku.
Harkes was right into the action, spearing a cross through the box, McCrorie doing brilliantly to beat Fletcher to the ball to clear. Fletcher was up to win a header from a Freeman cross on 70 minutes, putting it straight at Roos. United were beginning to turn the tide.
Ramadani got Aberdeen moving in the right direction a couple of minutes later, but his 25 yard shot was comfortable for Birighitti.
Roos had to produce a sharp save on 76 to retain the lead, a Graham volley from the edge of the box looking like it might creep under the bar before the Dutchman palmed it over the top. MacKenzie and Marley Watkins came on for Aberdeen on 78 minutes, replacing Coulson and Miovski.
Good play from Kennedy, wriggling along the by-line, gave Duk a sight of goal on 82 minutes, but his effort was easily hacked away inside the six-yard box. Two minutes later, a United free-kick from 19 yards was hammered straight into the wall by Fletcher. United then brought on Pawlett for McGrath.
Kennedy could have sealed the game on 87.
Breaking from a United corner, Duk shrugged off a couple of challenges to power forward before slipping Kennedy in. Advancing on a goal, from a tight angle, he fired across goal and just over the bar. In the aftermath, Duk and Clarkson were replaced by Duncan and Vicente Besuijen.
With the game in added time and just seconds to go, Meekison replaced Levitt. Too little, too late for the visitors.
A very good defensive display from the Dons.