By Thomas Mackintosh:
Aberdeen and Hearts struggled to find a breakthrough as both sides had to settle for a point in a physical encounter at Pittodrie.
The home side battered the Jambos with wave after wave of attack, but could not beat goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald. The Jambos then almost denied Aberdeen a point, when Andy Driver hitting the post deep into injury time.
Aberdeen welcomed back club captain Russell Anderson who recovered from an injury that kept him out of the midweek cup victory against Morton, he came into replace midfielder Stephen Hughes as the only change from midweek.
Fresh from a promising display in the Europa League, manager John McGlynn also made one enforced change, winger Andrew Driver returning to the starting eleven, replacing the suspended David Templeton.
Both teams asserted a physical presence in the opening minutes of the game, with chances few and far between. The only chances coming from the visitors, first Arvydas Novikovas dragged a shot from outside the box well wide of Jamie Langfield's left hand post, before John Sutton had a shot charged down by the Dons defence five minutes later.
Most of Aberdeen's play in the first 15 minutes was coming from the flanks, with summer signing Jonny Hayes and youngster Ryan Fraser posing the real threat for the Hearts defence. And it Fraser who created the home sides first chance, delivering a cross which Scott Vernon did well to get onto, but his glancing header was easily dealt with by Jamie MacDonald.
A defensive mix up between Mark Reynolds and Gary Naysmith allowed Andy Driver to carve out a chance for John Sutton, who couldn't quite connect with his header, but still forced a corner from the Dons' defence.
The best chance of the first half fell to Scottish U21 defender Ryan Jack, who found himself on the end of a fantastic pass from Gavin Rae that split the Hearts defence. Jack struggled to control his shot and MacDonald did well to block the initial attempt, before pouncing on the ball to eliminate any further danger.
The crowd burst into life two minutes before half time when Gavin Rae pinched the ball off of Mehdi Taouil and began to run-in on goal, but had his heels clipped by the Moroccan. Referee Alan Muir adjudged the foul to only merit a yellow card, enjoying the Dons fans in the 11,971 crowd. Minutes later Marius Zaliukus followed his teammate into Muir's book for a clumsy challenge on Fraser as he made another common burst to the byeline.
The Dons' finished the first half as the better side, and almost broke the deadlock in added time; another flowing move involving Fraser and Jack down the right hand side saw the the latter whip a low cross into the six yard box. The inviting delivery found Vernon, who could only divert the ball onto MacDonald's crossbar, with Jonny Hayes missing the rebound attempt.
The second half began with Hearts boss John McGlynn being forced into a change, Marius Zaliukas who had been carrying a thigh injury from last weekend's draw against Inverness was replaced by Denis Prychynenko.
Aberdeen started the second half just as they ended the first. Once again Fraser got the better of the Hearts defence and this time managed to get to the byeline, the cross failed to find Vernon, however MacDonald did well to save Jack's follow up attempt.
The Dons' suffered a set back on the hour mark, when veteran left back Gary Naysmith pulled up with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, and was replaced by Chris Clark. Hayes and Fraser remained to be the real main threats for the home side, regularly drawing fouls from the Hearts defence, however the resulting free kicks would often come to nothing.
As the second half wore on MacDonald was certainly the busier of the two goalkeepers, being called into action to deny a Vernon header, and often coming off his line to catch crosses from the wide areas.
With 15 minutes remaining Craig Brown opted to change the formation in order to search for a breakthrough. Young Ryan Fraser received a standing ovation from the Pittodrie crowd, when he was replaced by Rory Fallon. Josh Magennis was also brought on in place of Vernon, as Brown switched to having two upfront.
Both substitutes made an instant impact, Magennis used his pace to get in behind Barr and forced a corner off of the former Falkirk defender. From the resulting Hayes delivery, an unmarked Fallon headed over the bar, when really he should have hit the target.
In the space of two minutes Fallon had the chance to grab a goal but failed on both occasions to find the back of the net. First, he was presented with a golden opportunity after good work from Jonny Hayes, he found the New Zealand international inside the box, but Fallon took too long and allowed Webster time to get back and make the block. Then he saw his near post glancing header clear MacDonald's crossbar.
Deep into stoppage time Driver nearly snatched all three points for the visitors after some poor defending by Mark Reynolds in his own box, the winger saw his shot smash off of Langfield's post, with the keeper well beaten.
For Hearts it is a point gained, rather than two dropped, whereas Craig Brown will be disappointed that his side didn't make anymore of the many chances they once again created at Pittodrie.
Aberdeen: Langfield, Jack, Anderson, Reynolds, Considine, Naysmith (Clark 59,) Osbourne, Rae, Fraser (Fallon 74), Hayes, Vernon (Magennis 75.) Subs: Rogers, Clark, Low, Fallon, Megginson, Magennis, Paton
Hearts: MacDonald, Grainger, McGowan, Barr, Webster, Zaliukas (Prychynenko 46,) Novikovas (Holt 64,) Paterson (Carrick 69,) Driver, Taouil, Sutton.
Subs: Enckelman, Robinson, Smith, Holt, Prychynenko, McHattie, Carrick
Referee: Alan Muir
Referee: Alan Muir