Christian Ramirez’s volley after 27 minutes was the difference as the Dons – who lost two defenders to injury in the first half – held out despite sustained pressure from the visitors in the second period and relieved some of the pressure hanging over them following a wretched run punctuated by Dave Cormack’s appearance on Sportsound midweek.
Hibs’ own pattern of defeats hasn’t quite reached the stage where Ron Gordon or Ben Kensell will be dialling into the programme just yet but six goals conceded, two red cards, and just one goal scored in their last three games is a poor return from a team that looked virtually unstoppable in the early days of the season.
They were better, certainly, than last week’s lacklustre display at home to Dundee United but there was still precious little to cheer the fans.
The opening exchanges were, predictably, cagey. It wasn’t until the thirteenth minute when Ryan Hedges forced Matt Macey into a diving save low to his left and bar a deflected Martin Boyle effort after a sumptuous pass by Kevin Nisbet, Hibs struggled to threaten the Aberdeen goal much in the first half.
The Dons by comparison looked slick going forward but Jack Ross will have been dismayed to see the home side open the scoring from a cross that could, and should, have been better dealt with by the Hibs defence. Calvin Ramsay’s cross was at the perfect height for Ramirez to catch it on the volley and the roar from the Aberdeen fans as the ball nestled in the bottom corner sounded more relieved than exuberant.
Ramsay was then forced off with injury, shortly before Declan Gallagher also had to be helped off. That Scott Brown started the second half in the middle of a back three containing only one natural defender highlighted Aberdeen’s personnel issues in the backline.
The introduction of Jamie Murphy for Chris Cadden at the start of the second half and a tweak to the formation afforded Hibs more in attack but lady luck certainly wasn’t clad in green. Cross after cross came in and was cleared, or just out of reach of the on-rushing player, or hit a body en route to goal.
Nisbet twice came close to connecting with cross-balls; one that just spun away from him and another that Joe Lewis bravely took in a bundle of bodies, earning himself a good few minutes of treatment.
The ‘keeper’s commitment perhaps summed up this performance by Aberdeen. Down to the barebones defensively, under pressure from fans and pundits, and up against a team licking their own wounds and seeking to right a few wrongs of their own.
For Hibs, the midweek visit of Celtic becomes a re-run of this weekend – an increasing need for three points and just maybe, a bit more luck in front of goal and in defence.