Aberdeen will go into Thursday’s Europa League third qualifying round return leg against Rijeka on the back of a Premiership loss to St Mirren.
After their 2-0 defeat in Croatia, the Reds were looking to get back to winning ways, but Ilkay Durmus’ early goal in Paisley denied them.
Derek McInnes’ team never really got their attack going and were found to be vulnerable on the break in damp conditions.
The rampant optimism of a week ago, after they’d beaten Georgians Chikhura Sachkhere and then Hearts at Pittodrie, has been dimmed, and they’ll need to improve across the board to have any chance of overturning the Croatian Cup winners’ 2-0 first leg lead and keep their hopes of the Euro group stage alive.
McInnes made four changes from the team which lost 2-0 to Rijeka.
Shay Logan, who handed Rijeka a penalty by pulling back Luka Capan, was dropped for new Bristol City loanee Zak Vyner, who made his first appearance.
With one eye on Thursday’s return, McInnes freshened up the attack with Scott Wright, Connor McLennan and league debutant Curtis Main in for Jon Gallagher, Niall McGinn and Sam Cosgrove – although there were questions marks as to whether Cosgrove’s absence was due to muscle tightness.
St Mirren had the first chance to threaten on 10 minutes from a free-kick after Greg Leigh bundled Paul McGinn to the deck on the right of the box.
Durmus’ initial left-footed effort hit Funso Ojo in the wall, before Tony Andreu’s tame effort from 25 yards was caught easily by Joe Lewis.
However, the home side opened the scoring on 13 minutes.
Greg Leigh got caught out of position after a poor clearing header, with McGinn setting Kyle Magennis free down the right.
He squared to the Durmus, who broke into the area and finished into the bottom right corner.
It could’ve been two on 17 minutes. Calum Waters cross from the left headed over by Durmus.
Main blazed a shot over from outside the area with 21 minutes played, having shrugged Gary Mackenzie off in the visitors’ first effort.
The Dons interchanging midfield four of Wright, Ryan Hedges, Lewis Ferguson and McLennan wasn’t quite clicking for all their energy, with the man in possession being crowded out.
Up the other end, big striker Jon Obika looked a real handful, with his pace, strength and aggression occupying Andy Considine and Scott McKenna.
However, Hedges did find space to fire into Vaclav Hladky’s hands from 18 yards on 32 minutes, before Ferguson shot miles wide with a free-kick from 30 yards.
Despite building a bit of pressure towards the end of the period, no more real chances materialised.
Conversely, an Andreu free-kick and Durmus overhead kick could’ve extended Saints’ lead, but were both caught by Lewis.
Soon after play restarted, Main turned well with the ball and almost found the top left corner from range.
On 54 minutes, Vyner got forward and delivered a pinpoint cross on to Ferguson’s head, and Hladky tipped over the bar.
Three minutes later, the keeper threw himself on a deflected McLennan strike. However, he appeared to lift his hands from the ball, which Main stole and rolled into the net.
Referee Steven McLean didn’t allow the equaliser – which would’ve been contentious – to stand.
But it was a decent spell for Aberdeen, with Hladky punching a whipped Hedges free-kick clear soon after, before Sean McLoughlin looked to handle another of the attacker’s deliveries into the middle.
Vyner was booked for protesting too vociferously for a penalty.
Gaffer McInnes sent the rested Niall McGinn and Jon Gallagher on for McLennan and Wright in an attempt to force the issues for the Reds.
But, on 72 minutes, St Mirren could’ve scored again, but Andreu somehow flicked Paul McGinn’s cross past the post.
Ryan Flynn then went close with 10 minutes to go, ghosting inside, but shooting straight at Considine as he tried to find the inside of the front post.
Kyle McAllister was next to try for the home side, and his long-range effort narrowly missed the top left corner.
James Wilson was sent on for the Dons as they threw everything at the quick-countering Buddies to try and level it.
The big chance of a frantic finish fell to substitute McGinn, from Considine’s cross, but he struck the outside of the post on the angle at the death.