Ross County 0-1 Aberdeen: Visitors pull clear in third
Aberdeen moved five points clear in third place in the cinch Premiership with a 1-0 victory against relegation-threatened Ross County in Dingwall.
Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes’ 16th goal of the season proved to be the difference as the Cape Verde international made it six goals in his last five matches.
However, Aberdeen were left hanging on in stoppage time when Graeme Shinnie was sent off in his 200th game for the club.
Ross County failed to put daylight between them and bottom-of-the-table Dundee United with only two points separating the pair at the foot of the table.
The Staggies now face a nervous wait and could go bottom on Saturday if the Terrors win at Motherwell.
Ross County started the game brightly and came close to opening the scoring in the early stages.
Victor Loturi’s deflected shot into the box fell to teenager Dylan Smith but he was unable to connect with the ball, which was scrambled away from danger.
Immediately afterwards Ross County appealed for a penalty, believing Simon Murray’s shot had hit the hand of Bojan Miovski.
But VAR ruled the North Macedonian was not guilty of handball and the game remained goalless.
Ross County piled on the pressure and George Harmon was allowed the freedom of the box to fire on target, but Angus Macdonald blocked the shot with his head to the relief of the defence.
Against the run of play Aberdeen took the lead after 16 minutes, a counter-attack seeing Leighton Clarkson pounce on a loose ball and play through to Duk. He beat the offside trap, charged into the box and fired a low drive past Ross Laidlaw from 12 yards out.
Ross County persevered to find the leveller and came close 10 minutes before half-time when Jordan White played in Murray.
But his low drive forced a good save from Kelle Roos as he maintained the Dons’ advantage.
Minutes later, Harmon’s cross into the box from the right almost found White, who would have had a tap-in from close range. But Liam Scales managed to divert the ball away from danger to keep the Dons in front at half-time.
Miovski thought he had put Aberdeen 2-0 up in the opening minutes of the second half when he played a neat one-two with Duk to fire home from 12 yards out.
But he was adjudged to be offside after a VAR check.
The Staggies pressed for an equaliser and Josh Sims came close midway through the second half, however his close-range header went straight into the hands of Roos.
Harmon also went close to grabbing an equaliser for County when he was left unchallenged inside the edge of the box, yet his shot fired wide of the right post.
Shinnie almost marked his 200th game for the Dons with a goal in the closing stages when his thunderous effort went inches over the bar.
But he was then instead sent off in stoppage time for an ill-timed tackle on Jack Baldwin, with the Dons holding on for victory.