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Aberdeen rack up sixth successive win with 1-0 win over Ross County – which moves them five points clear in third place

The Dons had skipper Graeme Shinnie dismissed in stoppage time.

Duk celebrates his winner for Aberdeen against Ross County. Image: SNS
Duk celebrates his winner for Aberdeen against Ross County. Image: SNS

Aberdeen strengthened their grip on third place with a hard-fought 1-0 Premiership win against Ross County at Victoria Park.

Duk continued his rich vein of goalscoring form by netting the game’s only goal on 14 minutes – meaning he now solely tops the Dons’ goalscoring charts with 18 for the campaign.

County had started the game brightly, but were thwarted by some excellent defending by a Reds side who kept their fourth successive clean sheet.

Aberdeen were reduced to 10 men in stoppage time when skipper Graeme Shinnie was dismissed for a challenge on Jack Baldwin following a VAR check.

Barry Robson’s men held out for the victory, though, to continue their excellent recent form however. It means they are now five points clear of Hearts, who face Hibernian in the Edinburgh derby on Saturday.

Duk scores for Aberdeen against Ross County, Image: SNS

County remain 11th in the relegation play-off spot, one point behind Kilmarnock, but still just two ahead of bottom side Dundee United.

Staggies boss Malky Mackay made two enforced changes, with Eamonn Brophy out through a thigh strain, while Alex Iacovitti was also sidelined having broken his nose in last weekend’s win over St Johnstone.

There was a return for Jack Baldwin following a three-match ban, while Simon Murray was drafted in to support Jordan White in attack. It prompted a change in shape, with Connor Randall being used in a central midfield position.

Aberdeen striker Duk and Connor Randall of Ross County in action. Image: SNS

The Dons were targeting a sixth straight victory, but were without a win in Dingwall since September 2020.

They were dealt a blow by the loss of Ylber Ramadani due to flu, however, skipper Graeme Shinnie was able to take his place on his return from suspension.

County caused threat from set-pieces in the early stages, with an opportunity nearly presenting itself for teenager Dylan Smith, who could not stay on his feet at the far post after Victor Loturi’s cross had been knocked into his path.

In the midst of the passage of play, there was a VAR check for a possible handball by Bojan Miovski, but referee Euan Anderson was informed there was no offence committed.

Murray was next to threaten for County on 13 minutes when he cut in from the left after being released by Nohan Kenneh, with his effort being well blocked by Angus MacDonald.

The Staggies were denied by strong defending from the visitors again moments later, with Mattie Pollock this time doing well to thwart a goalbound George Harmon effort.

George Harmon in action against Ross McCrorie. Image: SNS

The Reds then showed clinical instincts to take the lead on 14 minutes – Leighton Clarkson latched on to a loose ball in midfield before supplying a slide rule pass for Duk, who tucked home a crisp low first time finish beyond the reach of Ross Laidlaw.

County looked to show an instant response and they came close to netting a quickfire leveller three minutes later. A deft through-ball by Kenneh released Murray, who had the goal at his mercy, but he was denied by an excellent saving block by Liam Scales.

County could count themselves unfortunate not to have made a breakthrough come the halfway stage, however, Mackay signalled the Staggies’ intentions by bringing on Yan Dhanda in place of Kenneh for the start of the second period – marking the attacking midfielder’s return from a foot injury.

Aberdeen skipper Graeme Shinnie. Image :SNS

The Dons thought they had made it 2-0 just four minutes into the second half when Miovski tucked home a lovely finish from a Duk cutback.

A handful of Dons fans piled on to the pitch to celebrate, but the joy was cut short when a VAR check ruled that Duk had strayed offside in reaching the North Macedonian’s initial through ball.

It was to prove one of Miovski’s final involvements of the evening, as he made way for Marley Watkins in Robson’s first change shortly afterwards.

Aberdeen knew a second goal would give them much needed breathing space, with a chance presenting itself for Ross McCrorie after he was teed up by a Duk lay-off, but Smith was able to get across to make a crucial block to divert the ball safely into keeper Laidlaw’s grasp.

County’s first meaningful chance of the first half arrived just after the hour mark when Murray showed neat footwork on the byline before delivering an excellent cross for Josh Sims, whose header lacked the power to trouble Kelle Roos.

Ryan Duncan came inches away from killing off the game for Aberdeen on 73 minutes, when he took aim with a curling effort which deflected off Randall before coming off the underside of the crossbar.

With just a solitary goal still in it, County looked to up their threat in the latter stages of the match, with Harmon unable to hit the target with a rasping low drive after the ball fell to him just outside the box.

Substitute Josh Stones then flashed a strike inches wide with County’s best chance in the closing stages.

County made a late push following Shinnie’s dismissal, however, they ultimately fell to defeat against the Dons for the first time since Mackay took charge.

Graeme Shinnie’s challenge on Jack Baldwin which resulted in a red card. Image: SNS


ROSS COUNTY (4-3-3): Laidlaw 6, Watson 7, Baldwin 6, Smith 8, Harmon 6, Randall 7, Kenneh 5 (Dhanda 46), Loturi 6 (O Edwards 73); Sims 7 (Stones 77), White 6, Murray 7.

Subs not used: Munro, Purrington, O Edwards, D Samuel, Macphee, Williamson, Stones.

ABERDEEN (3-5-2): Roos 6, MacDonald 7, Pollock 8, Scales 7, McCrorie 7, Duncan 6, Shinnie 6, Clarkson 7, Hayes 6; Miovski 6 (Watkins 57), Duk 7 (Coulson 89).

Subs not used: Lewis, MacKenzie, Markanday, Myslovic, Richardson, Kennedy, Bavidge.

Referee: Euan Anderson

Attendance: 6,619

Man of the match: Mattie Pollock