Hibernian should have left Pittodrie with only a second win in their last 13 league games but Christian Doidge must shoulder the responsibility for the Easter Road club failing to mark their recent revival with even that modest achievement.
The Welshman was clean through on goal on no fewer than four occasions only to be unnerved when confronted by Aberdeen keeper Joe Lewis racing out to save at the frankly inept striker’s feet.
That made it painfully inevitable when Sam Cosgrove’s 14th goal of the season four minutes from the end wiped out a Ryan Porteous opener to earn a point for a side who played for the last 35 minutes with ten men, and the dying seconds with just nine.
It’s just as well Derek McInnes is getting some of his injured players back because he will now be without Curtis Main and Lewis Ferguson for the trip to Motherwell following the international break.
Main certainly added the sort of aggression his manager demanded after last weekend’s humiliation at Ibrox – too much on occasion, though, as an off-the-ground challenge on Stevie Mallan earned a straight red card in 55 minutes.
Porteous had just shot Hibernian into the lead but by the time Ferguson was also dismissed for a reckless challenge on Mallan in stopage time, Cosgrove had hauled the depleted Dons level with a thumping header from substitute Niall McGinn’s corner.
Not that the final whistle brought an end to the drama as a clearly irate Aberdeen manager marched to the centre circle to berate referee Don Robertson over those red card decisions before gesticulating towards Mallan indicating the midfielder had made a meal of the incidents.
Perhaps sensibly McInnes left assistant Tony Docherty to face the press afterwards although he was hardly in the mood for diplomacy either as he said: “Mallan’s reaction to the Curtis one influenced the referee. It was a real dubious decision.
“I haven’t seen it back but I think Curtis wins the ball and the reaction of their player encourages the ref to make the decision. It was the same player for the Ferguson one, I didn’t think that was a red card either.”
There was no evidence of the soft centre Hibernian have been accused of in recent times as Paul Hanlon and Porteous coped well with Aberdeen’s aerial threat from set pieces until that costly lapse near the end.
The home side certainly looked determined to make amends for last weekend’s 5-0 thumping at Ibrox and Docherty was right to be pleased with the resilience his players showed in digging out a point. “They never gave up even with ten men and we could have gone on to win it,” he claimed. “The character and personality of the team reflected the manager. We are lucky to have Derek McInnes and a lot of people have to realise that.”
Scott McKenna’s return from injury in front of watching Scotland manager Steve Clarke certainly helped, as did the performances of Andrew Considine and Lewis but there was a lack of invention from middle to front.
The same could be said for the visitors for most of the first half but they did construct a fine goal from a corner three minutes into the second half that involved Mallan, Daryl Horgan and
Tom James before the ball landed at the feet of Porteous who prodded in his first league goal since December.
They then created ample opportunities to tie up the win but their miserable form in front of goal was manifest in Doidge’s dismal display, although manager Paul Heckingbottom tried his best to disguise his disappointment.
“Christian is that determined to get the goal he’s got the blinkers on,” he said. “I can’t fault how he’s leading the line for us but we want to be winning games.
“We could have gone back down the road three or four nil up because we played really well. It’s an opportunity missed.”