Interim boss Paul Sheerin revealed Scottish Cup super-sub Callum Hendry was close to starting the third round tie at Dumbarton.
However, Sheerin praised the on-loan St Johnstone striker for coming off the bench to net an “excellent” goal to fire the Dons into the next round.
Sheerin insists Hendry had been “chapping at the door” for a start against the League One part-timers after impressing during training.
The interim gaffer opted to start with Florian Kamberi as he believed the Albanian international slotted better into the set-up he had formulated.
Largely ineffective, Kamberi, on loan from Swiss side St Gallen, was replaced by Hendry in the 55th minute.
Callum was chapping at the door in terms of how close he has been.
“With the way we wanted to set up it was just a different type of striker that we opted for at the start of the Dumbarton game.
“However, I always had it in my mind that I needed to get Callum on at some stage.”
Interim Aberdeen manager Paul Sheerin
The 23-year-old delivered a clear message to incoming new manager Stephen Glass by netting the late winner to secure a home clash with Livingston in the fourth round.
Former Atlanta United 2 boss Glass was absent from Dumbarton as he is undergoing a 10-day quarantine having jetted in from the United States.
Glass will begin work at Pittodrie next Tuesday alongside England striker coach Allan Russell, who will be his assistant.
One of the new management team’s early priorities will be solving a goal-scoring problem with the Dons having netted only twice in the last 11 games.
Both of those goals have been scored by Hendry – who has started just once since arriving on loan on the transfer deadline day of the winter window.
Ironically, after laying down an argument for a starting slot, Hendry is ineligible for Saturday’s trip to parent club St Johnstone due to the terms of his loan deal.
Sheerin said: “Callum was chapping at the door in terms of how close he has been.
“With the way we wanted to set up, it was just a different type of striker that we opted for at the start of the Dumbarton game.
“However, I always had it in my mind that I needed to get Callum on at some stage.
“That was because of the way he had trained during the build up to the game throughout the week.
“I’m really pleased for Callum to get his goal.
“It was excellent and he showed how sharp he is around that area.
“Callum showed quick feet and did the keeper with his eyes to get his goal.”
Hendry is the only striker secured in a transfer deadline day revamp of the attack to have delivered what they were signed for – goals.
He came off the bench to net the winner in the 1-0 defeat of Kilmarnock on February 20, the Dons last Premiership victory – and goal.
Hendry’s goal against Killie ended the worst scoring drought in the club’s 118-year history extending six games and 574 minutes.
Despite starting seven games, Kamberi has yet to score.
Stade de Reims’ Scotland Under-21 international Fraser Hornby, who has suffered from a thigh injury recently, has also yet to score in five starts and one substitute appearance.
With goals scarce, Sheerin praised the Dons for not panicking against lower league part-timers Dumbarton as the tie was edging towards extra-time.
He said: “The longer it goes without scoring and the fact we have struggled to score, it becomes a wee bit more desperate than it needed to be.
“It becomes more precarious and you are then susceptible to a counter attack or the long ball played forward into their big players.
“However, as a group they showed patience and got their reward.”
The need for Hendry’s goal-scoring intervention was underlined by the stats from the tie at Dumbarton.
The Reds had 83% of the possession with 26 shots at goal, eight of them on target – but just one goal.
Sheerin insists that was primarily down to the tactics deployed by Sons’ boss Jim Duffy.
He said: “The biggest part of it was Dumbarton’s set-up as they were really disciplined in their shape.
“They make it hard to get round them and force you to play wide.
“Then they defend their box really well.
“It is full credit to Dumbarton that they made it more difficult for us to score.
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“Obviously from our point of view we could have been a bit more ruthless with the opportunities we had.
“Sam Ramsbottom in goals for Dumbarton also made some excellent saves.
“It was a combination of things on why it wasn’t quite happening.
“However, the fact we stuck at it was really pleasing.”
Reward for edging past Dumbarton is a home clash with Livingston on the weekend of April 17.
Should the Dons progress past Livingston, they will then play either Dundee United or Forfar Athletic at Pittodrie the following weekend.
Sheerin said: “The positive is we are in the next round of the cup and when you go to places like Dumbarton and know how difficult it will be that is the aim.
“We have achieved that aim and are in the next round.”