Aberdeen 1-0 Hibernian

Referee Craig Thomson took centre stage as 10-man Aberdeen made it three games without defeat with a controversial win over Hibernian at Pittodrie.

Hibs claimed Peter Pawlett had dived to earn the 59th-minute penalty for a Ivan Sproule challenge, after which Scott Vernon fired the winning goal.

Pawlett was sent off eight minutes later for a lunge on Lewis Stevenson amid claims there was little contact.

And Akpo Sodje missed a late chance to equalise for the visitors.

But the Dons held out for a win they just about deserved in a poor game that nevertheless moves them six points clear of Hibs in the relegation zone thanks to gathering seven points within eight days.

Peter Pawlett hits the deck
Pawlett crashed to the ground to win the penalty for Aberdeen

Dons boss Craig Brown had been forced to reorganise his defence, with Andrew Considine suspended and Youl Mawene out injured, so in came Rory McArdle, Fraser Fyvie and Mohamed Chalali, with Chris Clark dropping to the bench.

And the former Scotland boss was forced into another change within six minutes when Chalali's third first-team start came to an end when he appeared to twist an ankle, to be replaced with Pawlett.

That seemed to knock the home side, who had until then dominated possession without posing a real threat, out of their stride.

Hibs were without Leigh Griffiths through suspension and Isaiah Osbourne through injury and replacements Danny Galbraith and Martin Scott sparked the Edinburgh side into life.

Interview - Aberdeen manager Craig Brown

Galbraith's clever through-ball set free Garry O'Connor to deliver the first shot on target, on the turn after 16 minutes, while Scott also drove straight at goalkeeper Jason Brown from 18 yards.

The Dons' only threat had come after a fumble from goalkeeeper Graham Stack until McArdle lashed over from 14 yards after 22 minutes following a poor attempt at a clearance by David Stephens.

Aberdeen missed an even better chance when Rob Milsom's cross found Rory Fallon unmarked 16 yards out and the New Zealand striker ought to have done better than send his powerful header flashing wide of the far post.

It was the Dons' turn to display poor marking at a curling Galbraith free-kick that was superbly volleyed at the back post by Scott only for Brown to parry clear.

There was little change in the quality of play after the break and it took a spot kick to break the deadlock.

Interview - Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon

Although Pawlett's dive was a tad theatrical, Thomson ruled that he had been clipped by Sproule as the winger turned just inside the penalty box and Vernon's penalty just evaded Stack's fingers as it nestled in the corner of the net.

Pawlett's next involvement was just as controversial - a studs-first sliding challenge that did little more than graze Lewis Stevenson's toes but led to a red card, seemingly for dangerous play.

Substitute Sodje ought to have saved a point for Hibs with five minutes remaining when he wriggled free of McArdle but fired against the legs of Brown from seven yards.

Galbraith sent a volley straight at Brown before the final whistle stretched Hibs' run to six league games without a win and leaves Pat Fenlon still looking for his first points as manager.

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