Roy McArdle passed a late fitness test but Andrew Considine failed one to cause Craig Brown to reshuffle his pack prior to handing in the official teamsheets at 2.00pm. With Osbourne, Pawlett and Milson all out long term, Milsom is out for the season, and with Mawene still not fit the Dons were not looking strong going into this game.
Josh Magennis came off the bench and the Dons lined up with Brown in goal, McArdle was going to play right back but he moved into the centre to partner Mark Reynolds. Another new central defensive partnership. Ryan Jack moved to right back with Clark Robertson filling in the left back spot again. In midfield Magennis played on the left with Clark and Arnason in the middle and Fraser Fyvie on the right. Up front Scott Vernon was again partnered by Rory Fallon who replaced Mo Chalali.
U19 winger Ryan Fraser was promoted to the bench after training with the first team squad all week.
With Considine out the captains armband was handed back to Kari Arnason. The skipper was adjudged to have conceded a free kick after only 15 seconds by ref Brines. The free kick was played behind for a corner. Aluko went over to take it and not surprisingly was given a less than warm reception from the 900 or so Aberdeen fans. His corner was curled to the back post where Papac had a free header but thankfully his effort looped harmlessly over.
On 5 minutes Ryan Jack and Scott Vernon linked up well down the right and played a neat one two before Jack crossed the ball low into the box. Magennis got to it first but he was unable to control the ball and McGregor was able to gather.
In the early stages Rangers were trying to get the ball out to Aluko so he could run at Robertson but the youngster was standing firm. Rangers then cut through the Dons defence and Davis got to the byline and put in a low cross but Brown did really well to read the situation and cut out the cross by diving low on the ground. On 11 minutes Aluko was one on one with Robertson at the back by Clark did well and Aluko could only get the ball by fouling him. The Dons then burst forward and Fyvie played in Magennis on the left good turn of pace but his low cross was far too close to McGregor. A good opportunity wasted. Aluko then burst into the box but Magennis matched his run well and should his strength to push him off the ball and send the ex Dons man flying into the advertising boards behind the goal.
On 14 minutes Fallon won a throw. Arnson was able to launch a long throw into the box and it caused problems as the Rangers defence struggled to clear. The ball was eventually played out on the other side and Arnason was again able to thrown it into the box. Fallon flicked it on and Magennis very nearly got to it. Encouraging signs.
On 21 Robertson was booked for a foul on Aluko. Brines could hardly wait to get his yellow card out. Robertson's task of curtailing Sone was now even harder. From the free kick Jelavic headed the ball in which Brown touched onto the bar before pushing the ball clear. Brines adjudged though that the keeper had been fouled which was a let off for the visitors. In the melly in the box McArdle damaged his shoulder but thankfully was able to continue after a few anxious minutes.
On 25 Jelavic played in Healy and the striker from a tight angle had a good chance but he completely missed the target. On the half hour mark Jack and Fyvie linked up well but Jack's cross was poor. Fyvie was having an excellent game and running the midfield for the most part.
Aluko was also keen to impress and he got one on one with Robertson in the box. The full back just did enough to hold him up, Reynolds came over to help out and although Brown was unable to grab it McArdle was on hand to put it behind for a corner. The Dons were then able to defend the set piece. Josh Magennis won the Dons first corner on 31 minutes. Fyvie struggled to take it because of the strong wind. After three attempts of replacing it he eventually played in a brilliant cross which an on rushing Arnason got to first and his glancing header shaved the top of the bar. So close.
Aberdeen were looking comfortable at this stage. Scott Vernon and Chris Clark were both doing their best to give Clark Robertson some protection.
The Dons had a few let offs as the first half wore on. On 40 minutes the best move of the game from Rangers. Eventually Aluko shifted it to Wallace on the left side of the box and his sweetly hit shot was only inches past. Then the Dons failed to clear a cross and Bartley had a great chance but thankfully he was unable to connect probably and his shot trickled just wide.
On 43 minutes Magennis latched onto a Jack through ball. The Northern Irishman showed great power and pace to run into the box but he dragged his shot wide across the face of goal. He might have been better trying to pick out Vernon. Then on the stroke of half time Aluko crossed to Jelavic. His turn and shot was not held by Brown but again thankfully McArdle was on hand to clear the danger and send the teams in at the break goalless. Brown got a whack on his face for his troubles. After treatment he was able to recover.
Aberdeen made a good start to the second half.
On 46 minutes Arnason played in long throw which was flicked on by Fallon and it almost gave Vernon a chance. Then on 49 minutes Aluko had another run and he beat Robertson but Reynolds came over and nicked the ball off Sone. Reynolds looks a very decent player.
On 52 minutes Davis beat the offside trap and his cross ball across goal found Wallace at the back post. From a very tight angle the former Hearts man hit the woodwork and then McArdle blocked Aluko's shot at the expense of another corner. From which Goian headed over. On 55 minutes a Fyvie free kick rebounded off the back of a Rangers defender after a poor clearance by Papac. The ball could have gone anywhere but sadly did not fall for a red shirt. On 58 minutes Chris Clark had a shot deflected behind for a corner. Fyvie played the ball in. McGregor came for and got nowhere near it. McArdle headed the ball into the ground and Papac was forced to clear off the line off the line. Another good chance for the Dons. McGregor claimed he had been impeded but he came for a ball which he could get nowhere near. The Rangers players continued the protest and from the second corner Brines blow up straight away to penalise the Dons for some infringement in the box. It was not clear what the foul was.
On the hour mark an excellent ball in by Aluko and it was only inches away from the outstretched Jelavic. Aluko was not having the best of games but was the only real threat from Rangers.
Then on 63 minutes the Dons took the lead. Arnason won the ball midway inside the Dons half. Clark broke and ran forward and ran straight at the defenders. He then played the ball wide to Arnason. The captain stepped inside and steered the ball into the bottom corner of the net. An absolute brilliant finish. The Dons fans went berserk. Clark, who had a fine game in the centre of midfield, did well and Arnason showed so much composure with the finish. You thought he was going to blast it but Arnie just coolly curled the ball home.
Rangers almost immediately made a double substitution to try and change things. The officials then offered their help to the home side by awarding them a corner on 66 minutes. It looked a poor decision. Clark Robertson made the challenge but the ball clearly came off the Rangers man. The Dons never cleared their lines and on 67 minutes Papac played the ball into the danger area and Edu's shot from the edge of the box deflected off Arnason and looped over Brown into the corner of the net. A poor goal to lose and very frustrating the Dons had not managed to hold on for longer.
The Dons were now under pressure. The home fans for a few minutes got behind their side. Fyvie was then booked for holding back Davis off the ball. It led to a free kick to Rangers in a dangerous area. Thankfully Davis curled the ball well over. On 75 minutes Mackie came on for Fallon but it was still one way traffic at this stage. On 78 minutes the Dons worked the ball well to Arnason and as he had space and the fact no one bothered to close him down he decided to shoot from about 40 yards. It was a great shot which slid off the turf McGregor was forced to make a good save. From the resulting corner Fyvie put the ball straight behind which was a waste.
On 80 minutes Jelavic was about four miles offside but Brines waved play on. He crossed for Edu who just poked the ball past the post with Brown not getting to it. A fairly interesting decision by linesman Willie Conquer to keep his flag down. On 83 minutes a Davis corner was won in the air by Jelavic but his downward header was just missed by Wallace.
Arnason was booked for a foul on Aluko on 86 minutes. Rangers had a few more corners but the Dons were defending brilliantly at this stage. McArdle and Reynolds were outstanding, as were Jack and Robertson. Young Clark could well have made the left back spot his own after this performance.
Then a moment of real controversy. The ball was won in the middle of the park by Aberdeen and Magennis burst onto it. He left the Rangers players for dead but was brought down by Bocanegra. Josh looked to have a clear run through on goal but referee Brines decided it was only a yellow card. Another interesting decision. It looked a clear red card as none of the defender would have got back.
And then another questionable decision when Ryan Jack was penalised for diving in even though he clearly won the ball. This gave Rangers the chance to throw the ball into the box. It was only partially cleared to Aluko who hit a first time effort but Brown saved brilliantly diving away to his right. Then from the corner Bocanegra won the header but it was straight at Brown who was able to hold on. Another good save. Bocanegra should not have been on the pitch.
On the final whistle the Dons players looked shattered. They had given everything and everyone had done their job magnificently. It is now only one defeat in nine and with all the injury problems this was a good point with two important home games to come against Dunfermline on Saturday and Queen of the South in the Cup.