Nine man Aberdeen had to dig deep to force a late draw against Hibernian at Pittodrie, grabbing a share of the points with Sam Cosgrove's 14th goal of the season on an afternoon when Curtis Main and Lewis Ferguson were both given straight red cards.
There were four changes to the starting XI decisively beaten at Ibrox last Saturday, with returns to the side from illness and injury for Scott McKenna and Andy Considine, Michael Devlin and Zak Vyner making way for them. Curtis Main joined Sam Cosgrove up front from the off for the first time, Ethan Ross getting his first league start for the Dons in midfield, Niall McGinn and Connor McLennan on the bench. An improving Hibernian made two changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Celtic last weekend, Porteous and Horgan in for Jackson and Middleton.
The game kicked off at a very blustery Pittodrie, though at least the morning rain had disappeared. Hibs were the first to really threaten in the fourth minute, Joe Lewis having to be quick off his line to block Doidge, the ball going behind for a corner. A couple of minutes later, a dangerous centre from Stevenson flashed through the penalty area without anyone able to get a touch.
In the 13th minute, Hibs had a free-kick 35 yards out, James' attempt skipped wide under Lewis' beady eye. At this stage, Hibs were looking just the livelier in a very scrappy start to the game as both sides tried to master the windy conditions.
The Dons had a glimpse of an opening in the 18th minute when Cosgrove's strength won him good possession, but he picked the wrong option with his pass and Hibs cleared up the danger. Three minutes later, a good run by Ross down the left showed his potential, but he put a bit too much on the cross and nothing came of it.
Aberdeen were improving now and Lewis Ferguson dug out another dangerous cross that was put behind by the visiting defence in the 23rd minute. The hosts kept Hibs penned in and won another corner, Greg Leigh heading wide from Ryan Hedges' delivery in the 25th minute.
Good work from Main, Hedges and Cosgrove got the Dons away down the right, but Cosgrove's cross was comfortably cut out in the 28th minute. Big Sam conceded a free-kick moments later, Hibs trying their luck again from 35 yards out, Mallan smacking the ball straight at Lewis, the visitors more than a little optimistic in their decision making at set plays.
Aberdeen created their best opportunity thus far in the 34th minute, Main holding the ball up well before whipping a low ball through the six yard box, but there were no takers for a tap in. The Dons were beginning to turn up the wick now, forcing three corners in quick succession but they couldn't break the deadlock. From the third, Hibs broke quickly, requiring Leigh to mop up well as Stevenson went on the run.
There were two shots at goal in quick succession in the 38th minute, Cosgrove's effort blocked, Ferguson's drive from the edge of the box comfortably handled by Maxwell. Moments later, Hedges was just wide of goal with a left footer from similar distance.
Hallberg and Cosgrove were unnecessarily booked in the 40th minute after a small disagreement that would have barely merited a mention on the floor of the House of Commons. We live in strange times.
In the dying moments of the half, Ross' neat ball to Leigh won Aberdeen a sixth corner, cleverly worked short for Ferguson whose shot on the turn was blocked at the near post as a fairly drab opening 45 minutes came to its close.
HALF-TIME: ABERDEEN 0 HIBERNIAN 0
Hibs forced a corner three minutes into the second half, the ball worked short initially and then to James on the edge of the box. His low shot was blocked but the rebound fell perfectly for Porteous eight yards out to put the ball past Lewis.
It might have been worse a couple of minutes later as Mallan claimed a penalty but rightly, the referee waved away his protests. Hibs were well on top at this stage and only a great save by Lewis kept it at 1-0 in the 53rd minute, Doidge through on goal only for Lewis to swoop down and pick the ball off his toe.
The Dons were in deep trouble a minute later when referee Robertson produced a straight red for Main as he looked to win a loose ball from Mallan in midfield, perhaps a slightly harsh decision albeit that Main was just off the ground as he made the challenge, Mallan not the only Hibs player to make a meal of things during the game.
Doidge was somehow ruled onside again in the 59th minute, clean through with just Lewis to beat but, once more, he couldn't, another good stop from the skipper to keep the game alive. It had been a torrid opening to the second half for the Dons as Hibs knocked the ball about with real confidence.
The Dons made a double switch in the 65th minute, Campbell and Ross coming off for Jon Gallagher and McGinn. The changes almost worked in the 68th minute, McGinn fizzing a cross into the box, Hedges cushioning the ball back to Gallagher, but his shot was always rising over the bar.
A ferocious drive from 30 yards from James flashed onto the roof of the net in the 70th minute, whereupon Middleton replaced Horgan for the visitors. A push in the back from Porteous on McGinn brought calls for a penalty in the 71st minute, but there was nothing doing as the Dons began to press for an equaliser.
Doidge was again allowed to run in on goal when apparently yards offside in the 74th minute but yet again, he couldn't find a way past Lewis in the Aberdeen goal, sparing the assistant's blushes.
A minute later, Hedges caught one perfectly on the edge of the box, the ball smacking against the post, McGinn onto the rebound only to have his shot blocked, though perhaps he should have put that one away. Hibs made their second change in the 77th minute, Doidge relieved from his personal nightmare of missed opportunities, Kamberi replacing him. Newell then replaced Hallberg after he had received treatment during a minute long stoppage.
A foray forward by McKenna won a free-kick 25 yards out and wide on the left in the 85th minute, McGinn's ball in headed behind by Porteous for a corner. From it, McGinn produced a perfect delivery to the back post, Cosgrove rising high on the edge of the six yard box to power his header at goal and in off the post for the equaliser.
Mallan had a pop at goal in the 90th minute, wrapping his foot round a 25 yarder that bent wide as the fourth official announced four minutes of added time. Forward came the Dons once more, Hedges winning a 92nd minute flag kick but the delivery was poor and cleared comfortably. Back came Hibs, only for Kamberi to blaze over from the edge of the box.
There was still time though for referee Robertson to reduce the Dons to nine men in the 94th minute, Ferguson mistiming a tackle on Mallan and earning a straight red card, the last action of an afternoon that was as much about the officials as the football.