There were two changes for the Dons as they kicked off 2021, Ross McCrorie returning from suspension and Niall McGinn making his first start since the League Cup tie at St. Mirren at the end of November. They came in for Sam Cosgrove and Dean Campbell who both started from the bench. Scott Wright made a welcome return to the matchday squad amongst the substitutes.
Currently the best of the rest in fifth place in the table, Dundee United made just one change from the side beaten 3-0 by Celtic on Wednesday, Lewis Appéré in for Marc McNulty. There was a further late change when Lewis Neilson replaced Ryan Edwards, injured in the warm up.
There was an early scare for the Dons when a misunderstanding between Tommie Hoban and Joe Lewis on the edge of the box fortunately came to nothing as Shankland looked to get on the end of a ball forward for the visitors.
Shankland did get the ball at his feet in the ninth minute, cutting inside from the left before lashing a fierce shot against the bar from the edge of the box. Aberdeen retaliated with a brilliant curling delivery in from the left from Jonny Hayes, the ball getting a flick off a defender on its way through to go behind. From McGinn's corner, Hoban was up highest but put his header wide of goal.
There were calls for a penalty as Ryan Hedges wriggled his way into the box in the 12th minute only to go to ground under a challenge from Connolly as the defender came across him. The Dons were building up a head of steam now, winning another corner in the 14th minute, McGinn picking out Lewis Ferguson at the near post, but he misdirected his header across goal.
Ross McCrorie was next to threaten, getting in front of his marker to get a glancing header on a good cross in from Matty Kennedy on the left, Siegrist clutching the ball away to his left. Kennedy then tried his luck from 25 yards after good build up play by the Dons, winning another corner as it was deflected wide. From Ryan Hedges' corner, there were more penalty calls as Andrew Considine's header struck Connolly's hand, but referee Clancy was unmoved.
A Hedges dart down the right took a couple of United defenders out of the game, his cross cleverly left by Curtis Main for Hayes to come on to, but his effort from 20 yards flew over. Hedges tried his luck himself in the 24th minute, a low drive from the edge of the area drawing Siegrist into a sprawling save. The Dons were knocking on the door but, just as they had at Tannadice earlier in the season, United were still holding firm.
Next up was Main, clubbing a bending shot at goal from 20 yards out, Siegrist dealing with it comfortably in the 36th minute. Hedges pulled a shot wide two minutes later after good work from back to front by the hosts involving McCrorie, Kennedy and Ferguson.
Clark became the afternoon's first booking as he pulled Ferguson down in the 41st minute. From the free-kick out on the left, McGinn bent a ball through the 18 yard area but just too far in front of any of the oncoming Dons for them to be able to get a touch.
Great defending from Connolly prevented Aberdeen grabbing the lead a minute before the break, a curling ball in from Hayes looking destined for Main until the defender got a crucial touch behind at the near post. From the resulting corner, Considine headed over. United responded instantly, Shankland left free at the back post but he got under his shot and hooked it well over.
HALF-TIME: ABERDEEN 0 DUNDEE UNITED 0
There was an interruption right at the start of the second half, Pawlett requiring treatment after a good tackle from McCrorie before carrying on briefly, eventually being replaced by Powers in the 51st minute.
United could have been in front a minute later, Shankland free at the back post, Considine getting a block on his shot, the visitors keeping the pressure on until Robson drove wide. Aberdeen were struggling to recapture their momentum from the first half and made a change in the 63rd minute, McGinn replaced by Wright. Hayes went into the book shortly after for a challenge on Smith.
United were almost in again in the 68th minute, Lewis having to scurry off his line to get to the ball just ahead of Shankland as he chased down a ball back to his goalkeeper from Ash Taylor.
The Dons weren't far away after good possession in the 71st minute, Hayes crossing from the left, Hoban stretching to get his head on it, the ball arcing wide of goal. Main had a better chance yet a minute later, a lovely weighted pass from McCrorie threaded through the defence and into Main's feet, his drive flashing over the bar at the near post. Cosgrove became the Dons' next change in the 75th minute, replacing Kennedy.
More frustration in the 77th minute, Wright sending Hayes on his way down the left. His ball into the near post was back heeled by Main but it ran behind Cosgrove, coming in behind him, and away to safety.
Lewis had to be down smartly to his left as a United free-kick into the box ricocheted off Connolly, the captain made a sharp stop in the 79th minute. Appéré then went in the box for a foul on Ferguson. Dean Campbell and Ryan Edmondson came on in the 83rd minute in the Dons' last swaps, McCrorie and Main coming off.
Shankland bought himself a lottery ticket in the 87th minute, fizzing a shot at goal from 20 yards, right across goal, Lewis throwing himself to his left to make a fine save. Robson had a better chance two minutes later, a fast breakaway putting him in behind the defence only for him to slice his shot way wide from distance, the last meaningful action of the afternoon.