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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 January 2008, 16:52 GMT
Aberdeen 1-0 Inverness CT
Barry Nicholson drills home a late spot-kick winner for Aberdeen
Barry Nicholson drills home a late spot-kick winner for Aberdeen
Aberdeen scraped three points at Pittodrie, thanks to Barry Nicholson's late penalty against Caley Thistle.

Lee Mair came close to putting the Dons ahead in the 21st minute, but his header was saved by Michael Fraser.

Inverness failed to replicate their impressive recent form, and Richard Hastings missed their best chance in a poor game after 32 minutes.

Ross Tokely blundered in bringing down Lee Miller for an 83rd minute spot-kick from which Nicholson duly converted.

With this narrow win, Aberdeen now extend their unbeaten home run to 12 games.

But the Dons had to cope with a string of key absentees for the Highlanders's visit, while Craig Brewster had a full squad to choose from.

Darren Mackie, Michael Hart, Andrew Considine, Jackie McNamara and Zander Diamond were all forced to miss out with injury.

Inverness - who defeated Kilmarnock 3-1 in impressive style at the weekend - were hoping to build on the recent form which saw them claim six victories in their last seven SPL outings.

The players, officials and supporters of both sides paid tribute to Phil O'Donnell with a minute's applause before kick-off.

However, Sone Aluko almost broke the deadlock for the Dons in the sixth minute.

But before the on-loan Birmingham player could shoot he was tackled by the alert Ian Black, and Scott Severin's drive from distance monents later flashed wide.

Aberdeen were on top, but could not convert their chances and missed a pair of headers in quick succession.

Firstly, Miller was off-target as he looped an effort wide following a pinpoint centre from Derek Young.

Caley Thistle's Marius Niculae takes possession at Pittodrie
Caley Thistle's Marius Niculae takes possession at Pittodrie

Caley Thistle goalkeeper Fraser was then in the right place to stop a powerful close-range Mair header as the Reds were poised to break the deadlock.

The visitors began to edge into the game, and Graham Bayne and John Rankin managed to set up Hastings only for the left-back to lift the ball over the bar.

But it was the best Brewster's men could conjure up in a turgid first period.

Marius Niculae, who scored against both Celtic and Kilmarnock recently, was a largely anonymous figure for Inverness, and the Romanians' showing mirrored the lacklustre performance from his team-mates.

Steve Lovell - who scored a late winner at St Mirren in Aberdeen's previous fixture - came off the bench for Aluko, with Calderwood seeking to bring some punch into the Pittodrie attack.

As a spectacle, the match was poor fare for both sets of supporters, and even though Lovell's introduction sparked the Dons briefly, the cutting edge was lacking.

Jamie Langfield, who was mainly untroubled, fumbled a Hastings drive from 30 yards around his post as the Highlanders asserted themselves for a late winner.

Just when Caley Thistle felt they had earned a vital point, struggling Tokely barged into Miller in the box for a clear cut penalty.

Nicholson calmly drilled home the spot kick to draw the only tangible highlight of a dull afternoon.

It was enough to keep the points in the Granite City, with Inverness, despite a late flurry, still to record their first win against the Dons.


Aberdeen: Langfield, Mair, Severin, Byrne, Foster, Young (De Visscher 76), Nicholson, Clark, Aluko (Lovell 64), Miller, Jamie Smith. Subs Not Used: Soutar, Touzani, Daniel Smith, Jonathan Smith, Crawford.

Booked: Byrne.

Goal: Nicholson 83 pen.

Inverness CT: Fraser, Tokely, Munro, McGuire, Hastings, Cowie, Duncan, Black, Rankin (Hart 80), Bayne, Niculae. Subs Not Used: Malkowski, Wyness, Vigurs, Proctor, Gillespie, Duff.

Booked: Black, Niculae.

Att: 13,372

Ref: M Tumilty

SEE ALSO
Aberdeen win pleases Calderwood
02 Jan 08 |  Aberdeen
Brewster bemoans Pittodrie defeat
02 Jan 08 |  Inverness CT


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