Not the most inspiring afternoon of football on a dry plastic pitch but the Dons toughed it out in the end to come away with three big points against a Livingston side who failed to take their chances.
Kicking off a huge week, with trips to Hearts in the League Cup and Rangers in the league to follow, Derek McInnes made three changes to the side that drew 1-1 with St Johnstone last week, Craig Bryson and Funso Ojo both sidelined after picking up injuries in that game, top scorer Sam Cosgrove starting the game on the bench. In came Dean Campbell, Jon Gallagher and Curtis Main, while young Connor Barron made the subs' bench for the first time, having notched a hat-trick of penalties for the Under 18s against Celtic earlier this season. Barron was pulled out of the Scottish Under 18s squad for their tournament in Istanbul later this month to help the Dons' cause. Livingston, defeated 3-1 at Ibrox last weekend, made one change, Dykes missing out through suspension after his sending off in Glasgow, replaced by Robinson.
In blazing sunshine, the Dons got the ball down nicely early on, spreading the play and stretching the game from the off, Zak Vyner and Greg Leigh both looking for the crossfield ball as they tried to get forward. Players were slipping and sliding on the artificial surface early on, Lewis Ferguson seemingly turning his ankle in the 8th minute, but as the Red Army held its breath, he got up and carried on.
The two sides spent the first quarter of an hour feeling one another out, the Dons edging matters as they played with urgency and purpose, but with neither side able to carve out a meaningful opportunity. That finally arrived for Livi in the 19th minute, a quick break from Lawless allowing him to find Robinson's supporting run just inside the box, but with just Joe Lewis left to beat, the keeper quickly narrowed the angle and saved well. Main was flattened by a leading Bartley elbow moments later but fortunately got back to his feet to continue.
Livi continued to look dangerous on the break, Erskine sent on the run by Robinson in the inside-right position in the 23rd minute. Opening his body up, he tried to shape a left foot shot into the far top corner but fortunately got a bit too much lift on it and ruffled the roof of the net. The hosts' pace on the break was a clear threat to the Dons as they began to take charge of the game, Vyner having to make a headed intervention from another dangerous cross two minutes later.
Against the run of play - but who cares? - the Dons were in front in the 28th minute. Ryan Hedges drifted the ball in from a left wing corner, the cross going over Main at the near post but dropping perfectly for Andrew Considine on the edge of the six yard box, the centre-back guiding the ball beyond Stewart and into the bottom corner. Goal number 35 of his Aberdeen career.
Considine was in action at the opposite end in the 35th minute with an important header behind from a dangerous cross, the resulting corner coming to nothing. Another crunching Bartley challenge - this time on Campbell - went unpunished in the 42nd minute, the big midfielder fortunate by now not to have seen a card the same colour as his shirt.
In the final minute of the half, Considine left a pass to Michael Devlin shor , Bartley swooping on it and heading into the area before squaring for Erskine 14 yards out, a great opportunity spurned as the Livingston man produced an embarrassing air shot.
HALF-TIME: Livingston 0 Aberdeen 1
Erskine's embarrassment continued when Stobbs was introduced in his place at the break, leading the hosts to go even more direct in their play. Stobbs caused some consternation in the 57th minute, a curling ball through the six-yard box that forced Lewis into making a sharp collection as the half started in aimless fashion.
Two minutes later, Lawson replaced Bartley, the Dons then making their first change with Connor McLennan joining the action in place of Hedges. At this stage, pretty much the only action of the half had come in the shape of the changes, and that continued when Robinson made way for Tiffoney in the 66th minute, Cosgrove replacing Main moments later.
Livingston carved out a half chance with a quick break that degenerated into a goalmouth scramble in the 70th minute, Considine eventually clearing the Dons' lines. The Dons really got away with one three minutes later, a long throw causing chaos, Lewis impeded as he tried to collect, Guthrie onto the loose ball, smashing his shot across goal and back off the post, then putting the rebound wide of the other side of the goal.
Shay Logan returned to action for Vyner in the 75th minute to bring experience to the rearguard in the latter stages as Livi pressed for an equaliser. Jacobs collected the first booking of a leniently officiated game with eight minutes to go, after clattering into Campbell.
The Dons' first real sight of goal in the second half came in the 88th minute when a half cleared free-kick reached Ferguson who drive into the box from the right and fired across goal but over the bar while at the other end, Logan made an important block from a Crawford shot moments later.
As the game edged into added time, a last quick break down the left from the Dons allowed Cosgrove to head into the box where he was shoved to ground by Jacobs. Sam stepped up and rolled the penalty into the bottom corner for his 11th goal of the season, sealing the win and sending the Dons into the top three. Never mind the quality, feel those three points.