ABERDEEN suffered a damaging 2-2 draw with the Premiership’s bottom side St Mirren at Pittodrie in a match also marred by an injury to defender Tommie Hoban.
Dropping points at home to the team rock bottom of the table will be hammer blow to their chances of overtaking second placed Rangers in the Premiership.
The only positive, albeit minor, is that the Dons did not lose ground on Rangers who were held 0-0 by St Johnstone.
A dismal day for the Reds was made even worse when on loan Watford defender Hoban was stretchered off with a knee injury late in the first half.
Aberdeen fell behind to a penalty from Duckens Nazon before Lewis Ferguson headed an equalizer in the first half.
However Buddies went ahead again through a strike from Kyle McAllister before a goal from prolific scorer Sam Cosgrove restored parity.
Aberdeen made two changes to the side that defeated Championship Queen of the South 4-1 in the Scottish Cup fifth round on Sunday.
One was enforced with right-back Shaleum Logan ruled out with an ankle injury sustained in that cup victory.
He was replaced by Mikey Devlin who made his first Aberdeen starts since a 1-0 defeat of Hibs on November 9.
Devlin had been ruled out for three months with a foot tendon injury.
Following his impressive shift as a half-time substitute in the cup tie Niall McGinn was handed a start with Stevie May dropping to the bench.
Aberdeen should have netted the opener in the 10th minute when McGinn’s corner kick from the left found Lewis Ferguson racing in at the back post but he headed wide from eight yards out.
Moments later McGinn raced onto a clever through ball from Mackay-Steven.
Racing towards the by-line McGinn drilled a low, inviting cross along the face of goal but there were no takers.
However it was relegation battling St Mirren who went ahead in the 19th minute when goal machine Sam Cosgrove, on 14 goals in the last 13 games, tugged down Paul McGinn.
Referee Craig Thomson awarded a penalty that was converted by Duckens NAZON who fired the spot kick in off keeper Joe Lewis’ right hand post.
Aberdeen threatened in the 25th minute when Cosgrove played a superb through ball that split the defence to release Greg Stewart.
Keeper Vaclav Hladky raced off his line to win the ball in a 50-50 but Stewart was left poleaxed inside the box as play raged on.
Eventually Buddies kicked the ball out to allow Stewart to receive treatment.
Aberdeen equalized in the 32nd minute when a corner from Mackay-Steven was flicked on by Mikey Devlin to the back post.
Teenager FERGUSON had drifted in unchecked and clinically headed home from eight yards.
The Reds should have gone ahead moments later when Stewart squared a pass to McGinn but with the goal beckoning he scooped a shot over from 10 yards.
Aberdeen suffered an injury set-back in the 43rd minute when on loan Watford defender Tommie Hoban was stretchered off with a knee injury.
The defender went down when his studs looked to have caught in the surface going for the ball in front of the Main Stand.
There was no contact with a St Mirren player as he appeared to twist awkwardly.
Clearly in distress Hoban received treatment on the pitch before being stretchered off.
It was the latest injury blow for the Watford defender who has only recently returned from five months out following shoulder surgery in August.
Hoban also missed the whole of the previous season having suffered a knee cruciate ligament injury that required surgery.
St Mirren should have gone ahead soon after the break when Kyle McAllister’s cross from the right found Brad Lyons unmarked 10 yards out but his header flashed inches wide of the near post.
Slack play when trying to move the ball out of defence was punished by St Mirren in the 61st minute when a loose pass was intercepted.
Buddies raced up field and Lyons found McALLISTER who fired a magnificent, unstoppable shot from just inside the penalty box into the far corner beyond Joe Lewis.
The Reds drew level in the 75th minute when COSGROVE met a cross from the left side with his and clinically slotted home from 14 yards out for his 17th goal of the season.
Aberdeen had a strong penalty claim when substitute Connor McLennan appeared to be brought down in the box in the 77th minute but referee Craig Thomson waved play on.
Moments later Cosgrove should have put the Dons ahead when he met a Stewart cross in a great position only to fire an effort wide.
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Hoban, Devlin, Considine, Lowe, Ferguson, Shinnie, Stewart, Mackay-Steven, McGinn, Cosgrove.
Subs: Gleeson (for Hoban 45), Wilson (for Lowe 63), McLennan (for McGinn 78)
Subs not used: Cerny, Ball, Campbell, May.
ST MIRREN: Hladky, McGinn, Muzek, Flynn, Nazon, Lyons, Baird, Popescu, McAllister, MacPherson, Ferdinand.
Subs: Jackson (for Nazon 46), Erhahon (for Muzek 46)
Subs not used: Holmes, Mullen, Tansey, Corbu.
Referee: Craig Thomson