A dramatic finale spared Aberdeen’s blushes and denied Ross County their first Premiership win of the season at Pittodrie.
A European hangover lingered over Pittodrie for long spells as Aberdeen’s midweek efforts threatened to hand Malky Mackay his first win in the league thanks to Regan Charles-Cook’s first half goal but Christian Ramirez’s goal two minutes from time rescued a point for the Dons.
The Staggies were worth their point following a committed display in the Granite City but there will be frustration among the Dons camp at failing to turn their pressure into three points.
Matty Longstaff and Austin Samuels made their Dons debuts while Dean Campbell also came into the starting line-up as Glass made three changes from the side beaten by Qarabag in the Conference League playoff round on Thursday.
Jack Mackenzie, Jonny Hayes and Teddy Jenks dropped to the bench where they were joined by Marley Watkins, who signed a two-year deal before Thursday’s European tie. Fellow new signing David Bates was in the stand as international clearance did not come through in time following his move from Hamburg.
Following the disappointing exit to the Azerbaijan team the Dons were keen to go into the international break by returning to winning ways and both Samuels down the left and right back Calvin Ramsay were involved in the early action for the Dons.
Samuels was by far the liveliest of the Aberdeen players in the first half and his head head-to-head with County right back Connor Randall was a fascinating side-attraction to the game itself.
The pace of the on-loan Wolves attacker was highlighted by the Dons boss when he arrived earlier in the week and it was not hard to see why as he tested Randall with his willingness to run in behind the full back.
He also showed a keen eye for goal and was on the end of Aberdeen’s two chances of note in the first half, a header from a Lewis Ferguson cross which was saved by Staggies goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw just as the flag went up for offside, and a lobbed effort after running on to a Ramsay through ball which went just wide.
But that was as close as the Dons got to the County goal with the Staggies’ 4-5-1 formation stifling protecting their goalkeeper well.
Worryingly for Aberdeen, their defence did not look so resilient when County countered and Joe Lewis was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers in the opening 45 minutes.
A poor Longstaff ball forced Scott Brown to stretch and his attempt to control the ball was intercepted by Jordan White who played in Ross Callachan but Lewis did well to smother the midfielder’s effort.
That warning was not heeded by the Dons and they eventually paid the price as County broke away to take the lead in the 33rd minute.
The Dons defence failed to clear a Blair Spittal cross and Lewis did well to save Harry Paton’s shot but Regan Charles-Cook reacted quickest to fire home the rebound.
It was Charles-Cook’s first league goal for County and he could have doubled his tally in the first minute of the second half but he fired straight at Lewis.
Longstaff effort from edge of box spilled by Laidlaw but County scrambled away for a corner. From Ramsay’s resulting delivery Christian Ramirez’s shot was blocked by the crowded penalty area and County again cleared the danger.
Aberdeen continued to probe for an equaliser and Samuels fired in another low ball across the six yard box which both Ramirez and Funso Ojo slid in for but neither player managed to connect fully and Laidlaw managed to dive on the ball.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Watkins were introduced for the final quarter of the game but it was the intervention of Ramsay on his own goal-line to keep out a Callachan shot which prevented the Dons from going 2-0 behind.
It was a crucial block as Aberdeen swept upfield and Laidlaw parried a powerful Ferguson drive before Brown’s attempt to convert the rebound was blocked by the Staggies defence.
The pressure intensified as Aberdeen’s need for a goal became greater and it was the turn of Alex Iacovitti to clear off his line as he headed Ferguson’s header over the crossbar with Ramirez poised to head the ball into the empty net.
It looked as if it was going to be one of those days for the Dons but with two minutes remaining their pressure paid off as Ramirez slid in to convert the rebound after Laidlaw could only parry a low shot from substitute Jonny Hayes.
For Aberdeen, joy, dismay for the visitors.