Aberdeen relied on their dependable Dens Park talisman to force extra-time and then secured a quarter-final place through a winner from Sam Cosgrove.
The striker was only in a position to get back to scoring ways because Andrew Considine, such a thorn in Dundee’s side over the years, rescued his team after bundling the ball over the line in time added on. The scrappy goal gave manager Derek McInnes some relief after what had been another uninspired performance from his side.
Considine has now scored six times against Dundee, including a hat-trick in a 7-0 win at this stadium two-and-a-half years ago.
It was a lot closer contest yesterday and Considine’s luck at Dens Park seemed set to run out after he conceded the penalty that saw Dundee take a first-half lead through Danny Johnson. The hosts should really have been out of sight at half-time following an opening half when they not only belied their Championship status but also looked comfortably in control as Aberdeen struggled to shake off the disappointment of last Thursday’s exit from Europe.
Johnson hit the post with a shot on the turn from 20 yards and Josh Todd could not get on the end of Jordan Marshall’s angled cross to the far post.
Dundee did secure the lead they deserved through Johnson’s penalty two minutes before half-time after Jordon Forster had been dragged to the ground by Considine as the Dundee defender looked to get on the end of Jamie Ness’s free-kick. Johnson drilled the award past Joe Lewis – his third penalty success of the season.
Considine’s afternoon got better at the death. He was in the right place at the right time to score after Jack Hamilton had pulled off a flying save from Greg Leigh’s header 20 seconds into time added on. It was a hammer-blow for the hosts, who had put everything into the 90 minutes only to come up just short as time ebbed away.
As for Aberdeen, this victory, more gritty than gallant though it was, might serve as the kick-start their season needs. McInnes celebrated Considine’s equaliser in a way that suggested he was fully aware of its significance.
There had been enough grumbles from the away supporters to glean that it would have been very uncomfortable for McInnes had his side not turned things around to secure a trip to face Hearts in the last eight next month. With the tie having entered the 91st minute, Aberdeen were staring at a fourth consecutive defeat as well as a fourth blank in front of goal.
Belief drained from Dundee in extra-time as Aberdeen took heart from the reprieve.
No-one will convince the home fans they should not have had a penalty before the one Johnson scored after Funso Ojo seemed to move his arm to deflect Cammy Kerr’s cross. Johnson’s hold-up play up front for Dundee had proved effective and both Scott McKenna and Considine struggled to contain him.
McInnes sprinted out for the start of the second half. He was clearly keen to see what effect his attempt to rouse his players would have. Judging from the way his side started the second, very little. It said everything that Aberdeen had used three subs by the 65th minute after resisting making at least one change at half-time. McInnes recognised little had altered in terms of the flow of the game. Craig Bryson, who was making his full debut, was one of those who made way having tired badly. Aberdeen thought they had given themselves a lifeline when Jon Gallagher’s shot looked to be in all the way before Forster performed an acrobatic clearance on the line with the Aberdeen fans already cheering the goal.
Dundee manager James McPake elected to take the tiring Todd off and threw on an extra centre-half in Josh Meekings for the last five minutes – or at least what he hoped would prove the last five minutes. The formation shake-up seemed to leave Dundee more vulnerable. They sat deeper and the calamity their fans feared arrived after a goalmouth scramble following Hamilton’s save from Leigh’s header. Gallagher turned the ball back across goal from the rebound and Considine struck while almost standing on the goalline.
Leigh was again heavily involved in the winner in the first period of extra-time after getting the better of Kerr and finding Cosgrove, whose header was all the more praiseworthy since he had to apply his own power to the looping cross as well as get above Marshall at the far post.