Dons left rueing their spurned opportunities as they draw with Stenhousemuir

© SNSStenhousemuir's Mark McGuigan (L) equalises for his side.
Stenhousemuir's Mark McGuigan (L) equalises for his side.

Aberdeen were left with faces as red as their shirts after being held by Stenhousemuir at Pittodrie in the Scottish Cup.

The Dons were cruising, or so it seemed, to the fifth round of the competition despite having only one goal to show for their efforts against the League 1 side but a combination of poor finishing matched by a moment of collective switching off from the home ensures the Dons will head to Ochilview next Tuesday for a replay.

Aberdeen only have themselves to blame.

Given the gulf between the sides the Dons forced Stenny into defensive rearguard action but could not put the tie beyond their opponents and were eventually punished.

The League 1 side had five players across their defence and were largely successful in restricting the space for the Dons to operate in with the home side restricted to a couple of efforts on goal in the first half.

Aberdeen had all the possession and all the time in the world to spread the play from left to right at will but frustratingly it was the delivery into the box which let them down in the opening 20 minutes.

That all changed in the 21st minute when Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie burst into the box and he picked out Max Lowe with his cutback and the on-loan Derby County left back fired past Graeme Smith from close range to give his side a deserved lead.

© SNS
Aberdeen’s Max Lowe (L) celebrates his goal.

The Dons probed and pressed for a second following their opener and poor handling from Smith in the visitors’ goal almost gifted the home side another goal after he spilled a Sam Cosgrove shot but his defence managed to clear the ball before anyone in a red shirt could capitalise.

The Dons remained in control for the rest of the first half but it was disappointing not to see Derek McInnes’s men make more of their possession although the effort exerted by the visitors to restrict Aberdeen was commendable.

Stenhousemuir’s resolve was put to the test from the second half as Aberdeen increased the tempo in pursuit of a two-goal cushion.

Greg Stewart just failed to connect with a loose passback before Smith denied Gary Mackay-Steven after he had been sent clear in the box by Niall McGinn.

With the Dons starting to find the gaps Smith made an even better save to deny Stewart after McGinn had cut the ball back into his path from close range.

The chances continues to flow as Stenny retreated deeper towards their own goal and Stewart went even closer with a terrific right-footed shot which struck the crossbar before bouncing clear.

Stenny were hanging on, or so it seemed, but from out of nowhere they produced an equaliser 19 minutes from time.

Joe Lewis had watched the whole game with the ball rarely near him but there was nothing he could do to keep out Mark McGuigan’s excellent diving header from Morgyn Neill’s cross.

The visitors were ecstatic and the home side dumbfounded by what had happened, and what had looked a comfortable and serene afternoon descended into a nerve-wracking finale.

A Stenny side which had been under the cosh for so long, sensed an upset to match that of the class of 1995 and they pushed forward in search of a dramatic winner.

Aberdeen, from a period of total supremacy, were suddenly ragged and trying to force the issue.

Stevie May was sent on to try to find a winner but the Dons did not look like getting it.

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