This was a great game for the neutral but a nerve wracking experience for the red army in the 5,655 crowd. In a match that raged from end to end the teams went in level at the interval having scored two apiece. At the death of that half Duncan petulantly kicked the ball into the crowd having witnessed Nicholson scoring a late equaliser. Having been booked for gesturing to the Aberdeen fans earlier in the half the ex-Don was shown a second yellow at the interval and failed to return. Aberdeen then went ahead through Miller, but this Inverness team would not lie down and they levelled just before the hour mark. It took a Chris Maguire goal four minutes into injury time to keep the Dons top six hopes alive. With Falkirk dropping two points the Dons can leapfrog them with a win, but Hearts win over Dundee United might give the Capital side the advantage if they can win away to Kilmarnock next week.
Aberdeen kicked off in their all-white second strip and were caught offside within 15 seconds of the start. A poor clearance from Considine offered an opening for Tokley before Soutar was forced into a fine save from Cowie in the 2nd minute. Seconds later Aluko was sent crashing inside the box by McGuire but referee McDonald was not interested in the Dons penalty claims. Two minutes later Mackie and Aluko combined well but the striker sliced his effort well wide of goal. Aluko was looking lively in the early stages and in the 6th minute he was released by McNamara and sent in another teasing cross that was scrambled clear by the home defence.
A minute later Lee Miller showed some fine skills and released Aluko. The Englishmen in turn showed great skill as he tormented the home defence and fired the ball low past Fraser to give the Dons an early lead. A minute later Foster had a dig at goal and he wasn't that far away with his effort. In the 13th minute Miller released Mackie and his cross had to be scrambled clear by the Inverness back four as Aberdeen looked to add to their early strike. After a frantic start to the match the play had settled down as passes from both teams started to go astray. Lee Miller had a speculative effort go wide in the 17th minute and at the other end Soutar was out quickly to deny Inverness.
Inverness were gifted an equaliser in the 20th minute when Dave Bus tried to steer a free kick wide but ended up heading it past Soutar. Mackie tried to hit back quickly but fired over the bar as the Dons, who were looking comfortable, suddenly found themselves back level. Soutar was forced into another great save in the 25th minute when Niculae skinned Bus and had his shot turned round the post for the first corner of the match. The home side had taken confidence from their gift and were starting to push forward. Hastings collected the first card of the game for a late challenge on Nicholson in the 27th minute.
A loose ball from Mackie on the half hour mark allowed Inverness to break and Maybury had to make an important tackle on Niculae to deny the Rumanian with the home crowd screaming for a spot kick. Miller had another shot at goal from 40 yards that wasn't too far away and Aberdeen then won their first corner in the 33rd minute. Nothing came of the set play as the Dons early promise started to evaporate. A free kick five minutes later was wasted allowing the home side to venture forward once again and with five minutes of the half remaining Inverness took the lead. Imrie and Cowie combined well to set up ex-Don Russell Duncan to fire the ball past Soutar.
Duncan then ran to the Aberdeen crowd to gesture, which in turn caused trouble and earned the scorer a yellow card. Referee McDonald then went card happy and booked Maybury for an earlier foul and Lee Miller for reasons best known to the official. Aberdeen levelled in the 45th minute when A Foster cross was headed past Fraser to level the match. As the final whistle went Duncan, in an act of petulance, kicked the ball into the crowd in front of the assistant referee and can count himself lucky to escape a second yellow card.
Russell Duncan had indeed been red carded for his petulance although no one in the Stadium appeared to have been informed. Chris Maguire replaced the unfortunate Dave Bus at the start of the second half as Severin moved back into the centre of defence. McNamara made a perfectly timed tackle on Niculae in the 47th minute but referee McDonald awarded a free kick on the edge of the box. Aberdeen won a corner two minutes later and as the ball was cleared Aluko was scythed down by McGuire and the ex-Don was rightly booked for the foul. Aberdeen should have went ahead from the resultant free kick as Fraser made a fine block from Aluko's effort and Lee Miller's follow up was cleared off the line by Munro.
Three minutes later Inverness went close as an Imrie shot was deflected for a corner. From the set play Aberdeen broke but Mackie was penalised for a ridiculously soft foul. Maybury forced another corner in the 53rd minute as the Dons increased the pressure. A second corner quickly followed and resulted in the Dons going back into the lead. Nicholson whipped the ball into the box and Lee Miller headed the ball in off the bar. Two minutes later the home defence got into a tangle again and Nicholson fired wide as Aberdeen looked to increase their lead. Maguire and Miller broke quickly in the 57th minute but the home defence got back to tidy up.
This was turning into an incredible match for the neutral but a nightmare for the Dons as poor defending allowed the ten men back into the match. It was McBain who scored in the 57th minute to level the match and with dusk falling quickly Inverness appeared to be reluctant to switch on the floodlights. Five minutes later Severin and Niculae challenged for a long ball and as Severin took an elbow in the face referee McDonald awarded the free kick to Inverness. Aberdeen should have regained the lead in the 63rd minute when excellent play from Aluko set up Lee Miller, but the striker fired wide when it looked easier to score.
Considine and Foster found their way into the referee's book and Inverness's Roy McBain made it yellow card number eight in the 70th minute. An Aluko free kick was fired well over and a minute later Foster had an effort blocked. At the other end Maybury defended well before Duff replaced Mackie in the 72nd minute. A minute later Inverness won their first corner of the second half but it was wasted allowing Aberdeen to clear and they raced up field to win their own corner. It was also wasted allowing Inverness to break but fortunately Niculae fired over.
A Foster shot in the 77th minute was saved by Fraser before Maguire won a free kick in a dangerous position. As the ball was played into the box the ball appeared to hit an Inverness arm but once again nothing was given. The home side then burst forward and won another corner kick that was comfortably cleared. It was end to end football now as both sides looked to try and secure the win. Duff then won a corner in the 80th minute but Considine couldn't steer Nicholson's delivery into the net. A free kick two minutes later was rolled to Foster but he failed to hit the target.
By this stage Jimmy Calderwood had called out the bugles as they looked for the winner. An Inverness corner four minutes from time was tidied up but the Dons desperately needed a winner to keep their top six hopes alive. Nicholson tested Fraser and the keeper fumbled but recovered at the second attempt and a minute later Aluko made a poor delivery as time started to run out for the Dons. At the other end Soutar made a comfortable stop from Paatelainen. Caley then won another corner in the final minute as the ten men more than held their own against the Dons.
Aberdeen were given an extra four minutes to try and save their top six chances but Maguire tried a show boating shot when he had plenty of team mates waiting in the middle. The Dons looked to have run out of ideas and deep in injury time a Maybury shot was blocked as the Aberdeen players appealed for a spot kick but Dougie McDonald was not going to award a spot kick to Aberdeen this afternoon. Chris Maguire then kept the Dons top six ambitions alive with a sensational winning goal deep in injury time. Keeper Fraser made a block from a Maybury shot and Duff did well to set up Maguire to head in the winner although the youngster picked up a yellow card for his celebrations. After the match Grant Munro was summoned to the referee's room and shown a red card. It will be a busy weekend for the whistler as he writes up his report for this thriller.