Dundee sealed their place in the top six of the cinch Premiership as they completed a controversial week with a goalless draw at Aberdeen.

The Dark Blues were the better side for long spells of a match that saw Dons captain Graeme Shinnie sent off in injury time.

After the postponement of their midweek clash with Rangers, the visitors arrived at Pittodrie knowing their place in the top six would be confirmed if they matched Hibernian’s result away to Motherwell.

But the home side had other ideas.

The lively Duk was brought down by Antonio Portales in the opening stages, with the defender earning the first of three bookings for fouls on the Cape Verde man in the first quarter of the game.

From the resulting free-kick Leighton Clarkson’s effort was pushed over the bar by Jon McCracken in the Dundee goal.

Another Clarkson set-piece saw Nicky Devlin head tamely towards goal before Bojan Miovski’s persistence in the right channel fashioned an opening for Clarkson himself, only for the former Liverpool man to hit wide.

Dundee had been lively without creating a clear-cut chance until Connor Barron’s lose touch after 20 minutes allowed Luke McCowan to steal possession before playing in Lyall Cameron, but Kelle Roos stood up well to block.

A lull in the action followed until Joe Shaughnessy’s knock-down gave Dundee’s Amadou Bakayoko a chance at the edge of the area, but he sliced well wide.

Cameron then tried his luck from 20 yards, but his effort clipped the bar on the way over.

Dundee had found their feet and had the first chance of the second period as McCowan flashed a free-kick well wide.

Miovski’s neat touch allowed him to create a chance for Duk, who saw McCracken push his crisp strike wide at the near post.

But it was the visitors who had the better of the second period and Cameron should have broken the deadlock when Scott Tiffoney picked him out at the corner of the six-yard box, only for Angus MacDonald to block.

Substitute Curtis Main thought he had broken the deadlock after 72 minutes, but the flag went up for an offside against Bakayoko.

With Hibs wining at Motherwell, the Dark Blues were now throwing everything forward in search of a winner, Main again threatening, this time with a bicycle kick.

That of course left spaces at the back and Aberdeen suddenly sparked into life, with a late Duk header forcing a save from McCracken, just before news of a Motherwell equaliser got the visiting fans off their seats.

Stefan Gartenmann flashed a bicycle kick wide for the Dons deep in injury time before Shinnie, already booked for a foul on Dara Costelloe, picked up a second yellow for a late challenge on Malachi Boateng.

Aberdeen’s interim manager Neil Warnock insisted his side must cut out the sloppy defensive errors that see him still on the hunt for a first cinch Premiership win following a 2-2 draw with Hibernian.

The Dons fell behind after Martin Boyle rounded Kelle Roos after just 12 minutes, but were quickly level through Nicky Devlin.

Jamie McGrath put the home side in front just after the break, but sub Emiliano Marcondes turned home from close range to earn his side a share of the points.

And Warnock said afterwards: “It’s frustrating. We’ve had 26 attempts on goal but given two goals away like Sunday league.

“I think that’s the best we’ve played since I’ve come here, and we just missed a little bit of the rub of the green.

“We played some good stuff at times, but we needed a clean sheet to win the game. I bet Hibs can’t believe the goals we’ve given them – it’s elementary defending, and it’s disappointing after the effort we put into the game.”

Hibs boss Nick Montgomery was handed his professional debut by Warnock during a spell at Sheffield United, and he felt his side could have got one over on his former boss.

He said: “I think we came here with a game plan, and we scored early but we’re disappointed with the goals we lost. It was a competitive game on a difficult pitch.

“I thought we probably should have had a penalty for handball in the first half, and in the second we conceded another poor goal.

“I thought we showed great character to level, and [Emiliano] Marcondes is a top quality player, and I thought his finish was quality.

“We had chances to win the game, as did Aberdeen. We could have taken three points but it wasn’t to be so we’ll take a point at a difficult place to come.”

Aberdeen’s interim manager Neil Warnock is still seeking a first cinch Premiership win after his side could only draw 2-2 with a resilient Hibernian at Pittodrie.

The visitors led through Martin Boyle, but Nicky Devlin quickly restored parity before the Dons went in front early in the second half thanks to Jamie McGrath.

However, a leveller from substitute Emiliano Marcondes ensured the sides shared the points.

The evergreen Boyle made an early impact, sliding past Kelle Roos at the near post after good work from Myziane Maolida had created the chance.

The Edinburgh side’s lead did not last long, as David Marshall could only parry Bojan Miovski’s 10-yard volley and Devlin threw himself at the loose ball to turn home a quickfire leveller.

Aberdeen would be the more threatening side, and Marshall had to look smart to deny Jack MacKenzie midway through the first half, and the former Scotland man then had to palm away a Connor Barron corner from under his own crossbar.

Miovski passed up a gilt-edged chance to put the Dons in front just before the half-hour as he ran onto Duk’s through ball, but in electing to lift over Marshall rather than round the veteran keeper, he allowed a save.

The home side survived a penalty scare as VAR official David Dickinson took a look at a potential handball from an Elie Youan cross, but at the other end they were denied a second goal by the woodwork, as Leighton Clarkson slid in to meet Miovski’s cutback, the ball coming back off the crossbar.

They would get their noses in front after 51 minutes, as Duk left Lewis Miller for dead, and put a ball into the box, where Clarkson found McGrath, and the Irishman passed into the net after getting the ball out from between his feet.

It looked like they might extend their lead when Miovski ran onto a ball over the top three minutes later, but Marshall was off his line quickly to avert the danger.

A flying save from Marshall denied Duk, and the keeper held a Graeme Shinnie volley before Hibs drew level in controversial circumstances.

Play went on after what seemed an offside on the left, only for assistant referee David Roome to raise his flag after substitute Marcondes turned home Joe Newell’s cutback. A lengthy VAR review followed, before eventually the goal was given.

Aberdeen threw on new signing Junior Hoilett for the last 10 minutes, and his first involvement set up an opportunity for Miovski, only for Marshall to deny the Dons top scorer. That would be the keeper’s last involvement as he picked up an injury that saw him replaced by Jojo Wollacott.

Despite 10 minutes of injury time, neither side could find a winner, though Miovski should have done better when the ball fell to him at the back post deep in stoppage time.

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson welcomed a return to form ahead of their Viaplay Cup semi-final after watching his side beat Motherwell 4-2 at Fir Park.

Jamie McGrath hit a double and Nicky Devlin and substitute Luis Lopes were also on target as the Dons played the ball around with confidence, especially after the Irish midfielder’s first goal in the 26th minute.

Late goals from Motherwell substitutes Theo Bair and Mika Biereth added a touch of respectability to the score from the home team’s point of view but they failed to take the shine off the night for the Dons, who face Hibernian at Hampden on Saturday evening.

“We were good all over the pitch, passed it really well,” said Robson, whose side had lost 2-0 at Kilmarnock on Sunday.

“Credit to Motherwell, it’s a great pitch, night and day from playing at the weekend. That helped us a bit as well.

“We passed it really well, brought speed to the game, transitioned really well and thoroughly deserved it.”

The Dons had not won in their previous four matches.

Robson said: “They are all big wins. We are sixth, have a game in hand, we are in a semi-final, we are fighting it out in Europe against some huge European teams. We just need to keep going.”

Motherwell have now not won in six games and conceded some soft goals throughout as manager Stuart Kettlewell experienced his side’s worst performance of his reign.

Kettlewell said: “We played poorly and got everything we deserved. In terms of our discipline and decision-making, having a real soft centre, our organisation.

“I know there is always an intent to score, but what we did when I first came in, we started from the back end of the pitch and made sure we had a real stability, not just from the guys in the back line but the midfielders and forwards too.

“That’s not working just now – we have conceded seven goals in two home games. We are not rectifying situations when we lose the ball.

“There’s a chink in the armour at this minute and sometimes it can come from decision-making more than ability. That was a big aspect again – we have put ourselves into poor positions and made bad choices.

“There isn’t a magic wand to fix that side of it but we have to remain together. We are going through a bad spell – it was undoubtedly our worst game since I took charge in February.”

Jamie McGrath hit a double as a 4-2 victory at Motherwell gave Aberdeen a much-needed morale boost ahead of the Viaplay Cup semi-finals.

McGrath scored in each half with Nicky Devlin and substitute Luis Lopes also on target as the Dons claimed their first win in five matches to send them to Hampden on a high when they face Hibernian on Saturday.

Motherwell conceded some sloppy goals and never troubled Aberdeen keeper Kelle Roos until substitute Theo Bair netted his first goal at Fir Park in the 79th minute.

Mika Biereth scored his third goal in three cinch Premiership appearances off the bench in stoppage time but the Steelmen have now taken just one point from six games.

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson had taken responsibility for Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Kilmarnock, admitting he should have made more than one change to his starting line-up. He made two at Fir Park as Dante Polvara and Leighton Clarkson came in.

Motherwell had Lennon Miller back from suspension while Conor Wilkinson made his first start since August.

Both sides had some decent spells of possession without threatening, until some hesitant defending gifted the visitors the lead in the 26th minute.

Dan Casey failed to get a decent connection on his header following Devlin’s cross and Paul McGinn was slow to react as McGrath got in behind to nod home at the far post.

The goal seemed to have a major and contrasting impact on each team. Aberdeen looked increasingly confident on the ball while Motherwell were struggling to string two passes together and the crowd started to get on their backs.

A slack pass from McGinn set up Polvara to shoot straight at Liam Kelly before the away team doubled their lead in the 44th minute.

McGrath’s pass put Bojan Miovski through and, although McGinn made a last-ditch tackle, Devlin was by far the quickest to follow up and slotted home.

Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell made two half-time changes, bringing on Biereth and Calum Butcher, who was making his first appearance since suffering a foot injury in May.

The start of the second half was delayed by about seven minutes by a technical issue with the VAR equipment.

The home fans soon lost their patience with referee Colin Steven as he booked four of their players in the space of eight minutes and waved away several appeals for Motherwell free-kicks – Biereth’s yellow card came for a show of dissent.

McGrath had a header saved before adding to his tally in the 68th minute after another goal-saving challenge fell for the Dons.

Casey this time slid in to nick the ball off Miovski’s feet and McGrath emerged with it as Kelly hesitated to pick up, before the Irishman found the net. The goalkeeper was booked for dissent as he claimed for an infringement.

Kelly was well beaten six minutes later when he came for Ryan Duncan’s corner as Lopes headed into the empty net.

Bair soon curled the ball home from 22 yards with Roos slow to get down at his near post.

The Canadian missed a decent chance from Biereth’s driven cross before the Dane slotted home following a cross.

Nicky Devlin revealed Barry Robson’s desire to bring him to Aberdeen played a huge part in his decision to leave Livingston for the Granite City.

A recently-leaked photograph appeared to showed the 29-year-old Livi captain, a free agent at the end of this season,  being paraded by the Dons.

Ahead of the home game against Motherwell on Wednesday night, Devlin, who joined Livingston from Walsall in 2019 revealed the contract  “has not all been ticked off yet” but spoke openly about the main reasons behind him opting for Aberdeen.

He said: “I spoke to the manager few times and I know one of his backroom staff up there, Liam Fox.

“Speaking to him (manager) it felt like they were a club pushing the boat out more than any other.

“For me it was a very similar feeling to when I signed for Livingston.

“When I spoke to the manager here at the time, David Martindale, they obviously made it clear they wanted me to come here. That makes it a wee bit easier.

“Aberdeen looks like a club on the way up, especially from recent seasons.

“The style of play they have adopted since the new manager came in suits me and hopefully everything going well we will be in European football next season as well which is obviously a big lure.

“It is a massive football club, one of the biggest clubs in the country and I think anyone would be silly to turn their nose up at that.

“But it was extremely difficult. I am at a club where I feel loved and in a place where I love to be, I love playing here and that made it so much harder to make the decision to maybe move on.”

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