There was plenty of singing from Aberdeen’s ‘Red Shed’ but they had to wait right until the death for something to cheer about.
More than 2,000 supporters bought into the club’s initiative to turn the Merkland Road Stand into a singing section with unallocated seating for the Scottish Cup fourth round tie against Dumbarton.
The packed enclosure helped create a far more raucous atmosphere than would have normally been the case for the visit of Jim Duffy’s League 1 part-timers.
The Dons required a replay to get past Stenhousemuir at the same stage of the competition 12 months ago and it looked for a long time like another home Scottish Cup tie against lower league opposition was going to end in a stalemate.
Chance after chance was passed up and the Dons almost paid for their profligacy with a replay in Dumbarton later this month before Sam Cosgrove came to the rescue.
New York Red Bulls are the latest club to have joined the race for the Englishman, who won a late penalty for a trip by Sons defender Rico Quitongo before stroking home the spot-kick to take his tally for the season to 21 goals.
How many games Cosgrove has left in a red shirt remains to be seen but the Dons support will be desperate for their talisman to hang around until at least the end of the season.
Aberdeen were far from their fluent best but cup football is ultimately about progression to the next round and this was a case of job done.
Dons boss Derek McInnes, however, felt his side should have been far more ruthless in front of goal.
He said: “I’m still cursing the fact we missed so many chances as every one of my bigger lads had a good opportunity.
“Cosgrove, Andy Considine, Scott McKenna and Ash Taylor all had chances and they have got to be better than that.
“That’s an aspect of the game that’s very important and these boys have got to take more responsibility to score more goals when the delivery is so good.
“Niall McGinn’s delivery was on the money every time and we didn’t exploit that as we had umpteen opportunities to score.
“The longer it’s 0-0, and it was that score for long enough, then Dumbarton think they are still in with a chance.
“Thankfully, we did get through but we did control the game and we just have to sharpen up our work now.”
Dylan McGeouch made an encouraging start on his competitive debut, drafted into the side in place of the suspended Lewis Ferguson.
The ex-Sunderland and Celtic midfielder controlled the middle of the park and almost carved out the opener with a cleverly disguised pass to release Connor McLennan but his effort was blocked.
Cosgrove was then denied before the ball broke kindly in the penalty area for Bruce Anderson but he lacked composure and fired wildly over the top.
A frustrating half came to an end with another Anderson effort diverted wide and Considine’s header from the resulting corner was too close to Dumbarton goalkeeper Conor Brennan. The Dons upped the ante after the interval with Niall McGinn and Scott McKenna both guilty of passing up good opportunities to break the deadlock.
The hosts went even closer from a teasing McGinn corner kick but Ash Taylor’s downward header was kept out by a combination of Brennan and the post.
Anderson must have been cursing his luck after going close three times in quick succession.
The 21-year-old fired over from a McGinn cross and was unable to capitalise after Brennan couldn’t hold a Funso Ojo strike before he was denied by a superb save from the Dumbarton goalkeeper.
But Aberdeen’s possession and pressure finally told four minutes from time.
The visitors felt Cosgrove went to ground too easily after colliding with Quitongo but he made no mistake from 12 yards to put the Dons through to the next round.
A decent run in the Scottish Cup is important for the Dons after their League Cup tilt ended at the quarter-final stage with a penalty shootout defeat by Hearts.
Aberdeen’s lack of cutting edge made this tie against Dumbarton far harder than it needed to be but that will be quickly forgotten about if it proves to be the first step on the way to ending a 30-year wait for Scottish Cup glory.
Comment, main paper P24