Aberdeen lost for the second time in three days after they slumped to a 1-0 defeat to St Mirren.
Ilkay Durmus’ first goal for the Buddies in the first half was all that separated the two sides, as the Dons huffed and puffed without breaching Vaclav Hladky’s goal.
With the second leg of their third qualifying round tie against Rijeka coming up on Thursday, in which they have to overturn a 2-0 deficit, another defeat without scoring is the last thing manager Derek McInnes would have wanted.
McInnes made four changes from the defeat to Rijeka, with Sam Cosgrove missing out through a hamstring injury while Shay Logan, Jon Gallagher and Niall McGinn dropped to the bench. Zak Vyner and Curtis Main made their first starts, with Scott Wright and Connor McLennan also coming in.
St Mirren, beaten by a solitary goal against Hibernian last week after a poor Betfred Cup campaign, took a surprise lead after 13 minutes. Paul McGinn took advantage of Greg Leigh being caught out of position to feed Kyle Magennis, whose cross was met first time by Ilkay Durmus and buried into the bottom corner.
It was Durmus again who threatened next four minutes later, escaping his marker to meet Calum Waters’ ball in but he headed over the top. Aberdeen’s struggles defending the flanks continued with Gary Mackenzie heading another chance over from Sean McLoughlin’s clipped ball in from the left, with the Dons failing to generate any forward momentum.
The first shot at goal for the visitors came on 32 minutes through Ryan Hedges, who took aim from 20 yards but only found the chest of Vaclav Hladky.
Durmus was having a day to remember and came close with a spectacular attempt in first-half stoppage-time, latching on to a loose ball after Tony Andreu’s shot was deflected up in the air and sending an overhead kick spiralling towards the far corner. Thankfully for Aberdeen, Joe Lewis clung on.
Hladky was called into action nine minutes into the second half with a fine save, tipping Lewis Ferguson’s header over the bar after he met Vyner’s cross.
Aberdeen had what they felt was a strong penalty claim waived away, when Hedges struck the ball against Ryan Flynn, but referee Steven McLean was unmoved.
Andreu missed a glorious chance to double the home side’s advantage with 18 minutes to go when McGinn picked him out unmarked in the middle, however the former Hamilton and Norwich man proceeded to head wide.
Great individual work by Kyle McAllister, recently back at St Mirren after a spell at Derby, saw him ghost away from Considine and angle a shot just over Lewis’ crossbar.
McGinn had the final chance to rescue something for the Dons, cannoning a shot off the post after Andy Considine picked him out but a late rally from the away side was in vain.