The Dons created a hatful of chances but couldn’t score as they found themselves beaten by Hibernian as they conceded a goal in each half at Easter Road.
There were eight changes for Barry Robson from the side that drew 2-2 in Helsinki on Thursday night, Kelle Roos, Slobodan Rubezic and Richard Jensen all retaining their places with Nicky Devlin, Graeme Shinnie, Stefan Gartenmann, Jamie McGrath, Bojan Miovski, Leighton Clarkson, James McGarry and Ester Sokler returning to the team.
After Hibs won 2-1 at Dundee last time out, Lewis Miller and Jordan Obita missed out with Lewis Stevenson and Rory Whittaker replacing them in the starting XI.
Hibs had the Dons in trouble after two minutes, Boyle sprinting away from Rubezic to get on the end of a long ball forward, Roos making a good save at his near post. It was part of a strong start by the home side who pushed Aberdeen back into their own territory.
The visitors constructed their first good bit of football on seven minutes, McGarry and McGrath combing to find Clarkson, his teasing cross turned nervously behind at the back post, the corner coming to nothing.
Clarkson caused problems again on 14, a free-kick wide on the right drifting all the way to the far post but Jensen’s attempt to turn it back into play was cleared. Aberdeen were able to keep the pressure on with a series of crosses that Hibs kept at bay, if not especially convincingly. A speculative scissor kick from Sokler then went wide a minute later as Aberdeen began to exert some control.
But the Dons were undone on 18 minutes, caught out by another long ball. Boyle got beyond the Aberdeen defence to collect the goalkeeper’s clearance and rolled the ball into the path of Vente for a tap in. A VAR check for offside ensued, but the goal was given, a poor one for Aberdeen to concede.
It could have been 2-0 on 23 minutes, a free-kick to the back post finding Bushiri, Devlin doing just enough to deflect the ball wide when the Hibs man looked set to score. Thirty seconds later, Tavares was in behind and had another great opportunity but looking to fire across goal and inside the far post, he pushed his effort just wide.
Desperate defending from Aberdeen managed to keep Hibs out on the half hour, Hibs swarming forward and looking likely to find another goal, Aberdeen scrambling clear. Aberdeen did carve out a chance on 32 minutes, pressing high and forcing an error, Sokler getting hold of a loose ball and squaring for McGrath who drove a low shot from 20 yards, Marshall down to his right to save well.
The Dons were close to an equaliser on 37 minutes, Shinnie’s persistence forcing an opportunity, crossing to the back post, Miovski trying to turn the ball in only to see Marshall make a terrific save, McGrath then ballooning a shot over the bar in the aftermath. It was a golden opportunity to level things up. Four minutes later, Fish went in the book for a foul on McGrath.
Fish almost had a goal in the final minute of the half, getting up highest to get on the end of a free-kick, but fortunately his header across goal bent wide of the post.
HALF-TIME: HIBERNIAN 1 ABERDEEN 0
Hibs were looking dangerous again early on the half, Gartenmann cutting out a Newell cross that looked bound for Tavares on 50 minutes, then McGrath had to deflect a Vente shot behind for another corner. A third in quick succession soon followed, the ball half cleared to Levitt who fired over the bar.
Aberdeen were up the other end and a Clarkson cross to the back post had Marshall stretching as he went up with Sokler. The goalkeeper spilled the ball and from there, McGarry hit the post with a header, then tapping in only for the goal to be disallowed for a foul on Marshall.
After Shinnie pulled a cross through the Hibs box without any takers, the home side were on the break on 56 minutes, Boyle sliding in with a poor challenge on Jensen that earned him a yellow card. Newell followed him for a real hack on Sokler a minute later.
McGarry had a great chance on 62 minutes, McGrath, Sokler and Shinnie combining well to play the ball into him as he chased forward but from 20 yards out, he put his effort over the bar. Within seconds, it was Miovski who was putting Hibs under pressure, coming in at the back post to collect a long ball. Manufacturing a brilliant first time volley with the left foot, the ball hit the post, hit Marshall and was then bundled clear.
High pressing from a goal kick forced Marshal into an error at a goal kick. In the aftermath, Gartenmann looped a cross into the near post, Miovski putting the ball wide from just a handful of yards out. One great chance after another was going begging for Aberdeen. Jensen was booked on 67 minutes, then Duk replaced Sokler.
The Dons were left to rue those missed chances as Fish made it 2-0 on 70 minutes. From a Boyle corner on the Hibs left, the ball sailed to the back post where Fish was left all alone to enjoy a free header and nod in.. Youan then replaced Vente, Jonny Hayes and Jack Milne replacing McGarry and Devlin.
The Dons were give a lifeline on 76, a clever backheel from Miovski drawing a handball from Stevenson, a clear penalty. Miovski put the ball just inside the post, Marshall sprawling to his right to save, summing up Aberdeen’s day in front of goal. Levitt and Campbell were then replaced by Doidge and Jeggo, and Connor Barron came on for Shinnie. On 82, Tavares made way for Molotnikov.
Milne came close on 86 minutes, taking a half volley nicely from a Hayes cross, forcing Marshall into an excellent save with his feet as Hibs somehow continued to maintain their clean sheet. Marshall was announced as man of the match and made another save on 92, Barron pouncing on a loose ball, the goalkeeper making the necessary block from a tight angle as the Dons slipped to defeat again in the capital.
Actual attendance 11968.
3+1 minutes added at end 1st half.
7 minutes added at end 2nd half.