Aberdeen 0 Dundee United 1

Andy McLaren's early goal proved enough to earn Dundee United a 1-0 win at Aberdeen.

Both sides started brightly with chances being created at either end. The best of these early exchanges came after seven minutes when Paul Sheerin sent Scott Muirhead clear inside the area, the youngster's low driven ball across the six-yard box was only just missed David Zdrilic.

United went ahead after 11 minutes when Mark Wilson waltzed passed four players before finding McLaren on the edge of the area. The striker cleverly steadied himself before driving the ball home with the aid of a deflection of Russell Anderson.

The Dons almost clawed themselves level when Chris Innes failed to deal with a Muirhead cross, the ball finding its way to Zdrilic, who controlled the ball on his chest before firing a left-foot drive just over.

After 25 minutes a speculative effort by Kevin McNaughton went well off-target. The Dons were dealt a severe blow minutes later when McNaughton had to be replaced by Chris Clark after a clash of heads with United skipper Derek McInnes.

The Dons were upping the pace at this stage and Steve Tosh's long-range effort was brilliantly parried over by Paul Gallacher.

In Aberdeen's best move of the half thus far, Anderson picked out Zdrilic, whose header found Scott Booth, but the Dons striker couldn't get enough purchase on the ball as it went wide of the upright.

The visitors could have extended their lead when a Wilson free-kick was missed by the Dons defence, this allowed Innes to steal in at the far post, but the centre-back's shot clipped the face of the bar on the way over.

Excellent play on the right by McLaren took him away from Phil McGuire, before picking out Jim McIntyre with his cross, however his fellow striker mistimed his jump as his weak header went off-target.

Muirhead broke clear from his marker on 54 minutes, but when his cross came in it found no takers and was comfortably cleared by Innes.

Gallacher didn't look too clever in the following minutes when he spilled a Zdrilic cross, David McCracken was on hand to spare his keepers blushes.

The Dons had a major let-off after 75 minutes when a backpass was intercepted, thankfully for the home side a combination of David Preece and Anderson stopped the visitors extending their lead.

Dons boss Steve Paterson introduced Leigh Hinds and Darren Mackie for the final quarter as his side struggled to make any in roads on the United goal.

The Dons thought they had claimed a share of the spoils in the very last minute, but Hinds netted when he was clearly in an offside position.