Rory McAllister’s dramatic late winner against Edinburgh City helped Cove Rangers take a major step towards the League 2 title.
The Citizens arrived at Balmoral Stadium with the aim of drawing level on points with Paul Hartley’s side with a win and, for a while, it looked like James McDonaugh’s men were going to get the victory they craved to blow the title race wide open.
The driving wind and rain made life difficult for both sets of players, with precious little goalmouth action in a cagey first half.
The two best chances of the opening period fell to McAllister but he found the side-netting with the first before being denied by Edinburgh goalkeeper Kelby Mason later in the half.
The visitors made the breakthrough three minutes into the second half when Scott Shepherd was in the right place to steer home a Jordan Sinclair corner.
It took Cove only seven minutes to get back on level terms with Daniel Higgins, making his first start since November following a hamstring injury, producing a stunning dipping volley that sailed into the top corner.
The Citizens should have restored their advantage five minutes from time when substitute Blair Henderson raced through only to be thwarted by an excellent stop from Cove goalkeeper Stuart McKenzie.
They were made to pay for that miss three minutes later when a Jamie Masson corner fell kindly for McAllister to convert from close range and send the Aberdeen side six points clear at the top.
The former Peterhead captain, who joined Cove last month, was thrilled to net the decisive goal in the top-of-the-table clash.
He said: “Jamie Masson said to me two minutes before the goal he thought we were going to score the winner.
“I said to him: ‘I’ll do it, I’ll score the winner’.
“I also said I would take my top off if I scored but it was far too cold for that.
“I thought a knee-slide would do instead.
“I felt we would get another chance and when the ball broke to me all I had to do was a wee toe-poke.
“I feel I have been doing well in the games, I just needed a couple of goals. I have two in five games, which isn’t too bad, so hopefully I can keep it up.
“I want to keep it going and get a league winner’s medal with the boys.”
McAllister, who led the line for Cove with Mitch Megginson missing due to a calf injury, admits his side still have a huge amount to do to be crowned champions.
He said: “I have been in this league enough to know that one bad result and they can be close again. Hopefully we can keep it up and come May we will be the champions.
“We have some big games coming up and we have to try to win every one of them to stay ahead.”
Cove manager Paul Hartley praised his players for preserving their perfect home record with 12 wins out of 12.
He said: “The conditions were difficult and I thought the players showed great character, especially after going a goal down.
“It wasn’t the prettiest of games but I didn’t expect it to be.
“We had to dig in and we showed great resilience.
“I’m really proud of the players.”