Pat Fenlon was today still looking for his first point as Hibs boss after a controversial Scot Vernono penalty earned Aberdeen a hard-fought victory at Pittdorie, the win making it four games in a row without defeat for the Dons as they continue their climb away from the foot of the SPL table.
Peter Pawlett won the spot-kick, seen by many as soft, as he went down under the combined challenge of David Stephens and Ivan Sproule but the Dons substitute saw red just eight minutes later, adjudged to have gone in dangerously on Lewis Stevenson.
Already without striker Leigh Griffiths through suspension, Fenlon was robbed of the services of Isaiah Osbourne after the midfielder failed a late fitness test on a groin problem although there was better news for the Hibs boss as top scorer Garry O’Connor had recovered from the knock which threatened to keep him out of this clash.
The Dons were missing Andy Considine following his red card against St Johnstone in midweek, Mohamed Chalali taking advantage of his absence to make a rare start for Aberdeen.
The Algerian, however, lasted just 13 minutes before being forced to hobble off following an earlier challenge by David Wotherspoon, his place taken by Pawlett.
In a first half largely devoid of goalmouth action, a misplaced header from Stephens as he attempted to clear Fraser Fyvie’s free-kick caused Hibs a moment’s consternation before Sean O’Hanlon stepped in to clear. A Rob Milsom cross found the head of Rory Fallon but the Dons striker couldn’t get his effort on target.
At the other end Hibs midfielder Martin Scott went closest of all, finding himself beyond the far post to meet Danny Galbraith’s free-kick on the volley only to see Aberdeen goalkeeper Jason Brown pull off a smart save.
The second half started with as little incident as the first until Aberdeen won what looked a soft penalty kick in the 58th minute. Pawlett turned cleverly but went down between Stephens and Sproule but referee Craig Thomson had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Sproule picked up a booking for his protests, goalkeeper Graham Stack guessed the right way but couldn’t prevent Vernon’s spot kick slipping beyond his left hand and into the bottom corner of the net.
Pawlett became the third Aberdeen player to be sent off in as many matches just eight minutes later referee Thomson infuriating the home support as he flashed the red card following a scything tackle on Lewis Stevenson.
Those incidents certainly livened the match up, the Dons fans calling for Hibs subsitute Akpo Sodje to be sent off after he clashed with Aberdeen skipper Richard Foster but Thomson saw it as nothing more than two bodies coming together as heavy snow began to fall on Pittodrie.
Sodje had a late chance to equalise, the Hibs star turning on the edge of the Dons six yard box only to see his shot break off Foster and fall tantalisingly wide.
Aberdeen: J Brown, Jack, McCardle, Arnason, Foster, Fyvie (Clark 82), Osbourne, Milsom, Chalali (Pawlett 13), Vernon, Fallon (Mawene 70). Subs not used: Gonzalez, Mackie, Magennis, Megginson.
Hibs: Stack, Hart (Sodje 70), O’Hanlon, Stephens, Hanlon, Wotherspoon, Stevenson, Galbraith, Scott, Sproule (Towell 76), O’Connor. Subs not used: M Brown, Booth, Murray, Palsson, Welsh.
Referee: Craig Thomson.