Heart of Midlothian 1-1 Aberdeen
Ten-man Hearts came from behind to draw 1-1 with Aberdeen at Tynecastle on Wednesday night.
Willo Flood's second half free-kick, moments after Danny Wilson saw red, had given the Dons the lead, but Jamie Hamill's late penalty ensured that the Jambos retained both a point and league status - for the time being.
An injury to derby goal hero Dale Carrick meant that Gary Locke was forced into one change from Sunday's 2-0 win over Hibs. Paul McCallum was brought in to lead the line with Gary Oliver taking his place on the bench.
A fairly even opening five minutes almost culminated with the visitors taking the lead. Peter Pawlett did well to burst into the Hearts half before passing to Niall McGinn, who cut inside from the right and stung the hands of Jamie Macdonald from 25 yards.
The visitors again went close, this time just after the half hour mark. Adam Rooney squirmed away from his man and into the box, but MacDonald rushed out and blocked the Dons striker's effort.
Aberdeen were enjoying the best chances of the first half and McGinn went a within a whisker of breaking the deadlock after 37 minutes. Though his free-kick hit the wall, he reacted first to get on the end of the loose ball and curl a 20-yard effort inches over the crossbar.
Hearts had a half chance on 41 minutes when Ryan Stevenson's glancing header from David Smith's cross flashed across the goal and wide, though Stevo will know that more of a connection will have seen goalkeeper Jamie Langfield troubled.
The Jambos started the second half in a more positive fashion, attacking the Aberdeen goal with purpose. Stevenson dragged a shot wide from the edge the box, then moments later Smith zig-zagged inside from the right and blasted over the bar from distance.
A beautiful move on 67 minutes saw the men in maroon go close to making the breakthrough. Jason Holt magnificently spread the play out to Callum Paterson on the right-hand side, and the Hearts No.12 skinned two Aberdeen players before hitting a rasper of a shot from 25 yards which Langfield dived to block at his left-hand post.
Though Hearts were playing with momentum, a hammer blow arrived after 71 minutes when Danny Wilson saw red after a second yellow card.
From the resultant free-kick, Willo Flood drilled the ball through the Hearts wall and over the hands of the diving Jamie MacDonald, into the back of the net.
Hearts passed up a golden opportunity to get back on level terms with seven minutes remaining. A mix-up at the back presented Stevenson with a clear shot on goal from the edge of the six yard box, but he screwed his shot wide with the target at his mercy.
Incredibly, the Jambos were handed a lifeline in the 86th minute. Paterson burst through into the Aberdeen box and was brought down by Shaleum Logan and referee Kevin Clancy showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Jamie Hamill stepped up and duly dispatched beyond Langfield as Tynecastle erupted.
Despite being a man down, Hearts continued to press forward in search of the winner, but to no avail. Gary Locke's men remain unbeaten against the League Cup winners, and hold onto Premiership status for another round of fixtures.
Hearts: MacDonald; Paterson, McGowan, Wilson, McHattie; Hamill, Stevenson, Holt; Smith (King, 68'), McCallum (Robinson, 46'), Nicholson (McKay, 72'). Subs: Ridgers, McGhee, Walker, Oliver.
Aberdeen: Langfield, Logan, Anderson, Reynolds, Considine, Jack, Flood, Robson (C. Smith, 69'), Pawlett (Vernon, 76'), Rooney, McGinn. Subs: Weaver, Tate, Shaughnessy, Low, McManus.
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Top man: Jamie Hamill