The Dons claimed victory against Dundee United for the third time this season with a fine performance that can give the Red Army real hope for next weekend's Cup Semi Final. It is the first time since 1976 that Aberdeen have defeated United in all of their matches in one season.And this game ended with the same score as the first meeting of this season in October as the Dons ran out 3-1 winners. Darren Mackie gave the home side the lead only for Daly to level things up 15 minutes later. The Dons got themselves deservedly in front thanks to uncharacteristic error by Dusan Pernis- Chris Clark the grateful recipient of the howler. Ryan Jack made sure of the points on 77 minutes when he headed home from close range.
Boss Craig Brown made just one change to the side that was defeated 3-0 by Hearts last Saturday. Stephen Hughes replaced Kari Arnason who dropped to the bench as he was recovering from illness. Peter Pawlett, Russell Anderson and Rory Fallon all started on the bench as well as they have been ill all week. Jason Brown was also ill and was struggling during the game but did make the starting line up.
Prior to the game the players, staff and fans of both clubs paid their respects to former Dons player Jens Petersen who died a few weeks ago. The minutes applause was witnessed by some of Jens' former teammates including Joe Haper.
When the action got under way it was Aberdeen who made a bright start. A cross by Ryan Jack was fumbled early on by Pernis, an early indication of what was to come from the keeper. Fortunately for him no one was there to capitalise.
On 8 minutes there were claims for a penalty from the visitors when Clark Robertson tangled with a United player in the box but the referee waived away the appeals.
Again the Dons looked bright going forward and on 10 minutes Stephen Hughes fed Scott Vernon but his shot was deflected well wide of the target for a corner.
Aberdeen were eventually rewarded for their enterprising start to the half when the ball fell to Darren Mackie and he hit the ball on the volley and into the net over the head of Pernis. It was a fine goal- Mackie's third of the season. And The Dons continued to dominate the game after scoring, creating a few decent opportunities
Referee Calum Murray was never too far from the anger of the Red Army all afternoon and particularly with a series of bizarre decisions to award corner kicks to United when it appeared the ball came off the visiting players. The first resulted in a John Rankin shot which was just over the bar from the edge of the box. That certainly would not have gone down well with the home support had he scored but up the other end, Stephen Hughes stung the palms of Pernis with a fierce curling effort.
United did get themselves level on 28 minutes thanks to another controversial decision from referee Murray. The ball was shepherded out of play by Mark Reynolds from the United players' touch only for the experienced ref to signal a corner. Willio Flood took the kick and found Jon Daly unmarked in the box and he hammered home the equaliser. It was certainly a case of poor defending from the Dons.
The game continued to rage from end to end however United did begin to dominate possession as the break approached but the sides remained level at the interval.
Darren Mackie was first have a shot at goal for Aberdeen in the second half but his early effort was straight at Pernis.
The Dons then looked to receive a cruel blow when skipper Andy Considine had to be replaced on 54 minutes. After the game Craig Brown revealed that he was hopeful that it was just a dead leg that Considine suffered. In his place came the returning Russell Anderson to make his home debut for his second spell at Pittodrie.
United fans thought they had gone ahead not long after but the ball landed in the side netting to their disappointment and Aberdeen's relief. Moments later Scott Vernon nearly capitalised on more shaky defending from the away side but his shot was cleared for a corner by Paul Dixon. A threaded ball from Hughes was just too strong for Vernon to latch on to a short while later or he would have had a clear shot at goal.
Ryan Jack also had an effort at goal but his shot narrowly drifted wide of the target from a very tight angle following good possession play from the Dons.
The home side then went 2-1 ahead thanks to a huge blunder by Pernis. A throw in from the Main Stand side was crossed into the box by Rory McArdle and when Pernis dropped the ball, Clark was on hand to fire the ball into the net. It was no more than the Dons deserved for their start to the second half.
It should have been three just seconds after the restart- Vernon's shot was blocked by Pernis and fell kindly to Jack but his effort was wasted and failed to trouble United.
Aberdeen made their second change on 74 minutes when Stephen Hughes, who had an excellent game but tired as the game wore on, was replaced by Kari Arnason. And on 77 minutes the home side made sure of the points thanks to a Ryan Jack header from Arnason's cross. The goal sent the Red Army into raptures and sent many of the large travelling support away with at least 13 minutes still to play.
The Dons looked totally comfortable in the closing stages and were rarely troubled by a lacklustre Dundee United side. The visitor's were awarded several dubious decisions but failed to take advantage and Jason Brown had very little to do at any stage of the game.
Fraser Fyvie replaced Darren Mackie on 87 minutes for the Dons and they nearly made it four when Jack found himself bearing down on goal but he slashed his shot just wide of the target from a narrow angle as the Dons finished victors in a hugely entertaining contest at Pittodrie. Attention now turns to one of the biggest games in recent years as Aberdeen head to Hampden to take on Hibernian in the Scottish Cup Semi Final next Saturday.