Aberdeen’s troubles deepened as a winless run extended to nine games as they went down 2-1 to struggling Celtic.
Following a summer rebuild boss Stephen Glass’ new-look side have have taken just two points from the last possible 18 in the Premiership.
The Dons are mired in ninth place in the Premiership and have failed to register a clean sheet in 12 matches.
It is the first time Aberdeen have lost four consecutive league games for more than a decade and they have failed to haul themselves out of the worst run of form since 2010.
It is a shocking return for a club that has a budget geared towards pushing at the top end of the Premiership – and a support that demands that expectation is met.
Ominously the Reds have still to face the Premiership’s top three sides in Rangers, Hibs and Hearts this month – with little momentum and confidence low.
The positives. Despite the abject stats – it is not all doom and gloom.
There were clear signs, particularly in the second half, that Aberdeen’s period of transition could be showing signs of clicking.
Aberdeen looked the more likely to grab the winner and looked dangerous on the attack, robust in midfield and solid at the back during that spell – until Jota sunk hopes with a late winner
So, signs of light at the end of what has been a dark tunnel recently for Dons fans.
Aberdeen fans also realised this and backed the team throughout.
However the pressure continues to ramp up on boss Glass and his squad to deliver results. There was an understanding this was a period of transition – but that also has to be balanced with results on the pitch.
That is not happening as Celtic secured their first away win domestically in seven months.
A high stakes game for both sides Aberdeen boss Glass dropped keeper Joe Lewis to the bench following a number of recent mistakes.
Following Lewis’ error for the winning goal in a 3-2 loss to St Mirren manager Glass confirmed he would assess the 33-year-old keeper and have discussions with him in the run up to the Celtic clash.
The result of that was Lewis dropping to the bench for the first time in his five year Dons career.
Every time Lewis, the club captain, has been fit and available he has started since signing for the Dons in summer 2016.
Woods came in for his first start since a 1-0 Premiership loss to Hibs on May 12 last season – when Lewis was out with a rib injury.
Welsh international attacker Ryan Hedges was also absent through illness.
Hedges, 26, only returned last weekend in starting the loss to St Mirren having missed six games with a hamstring injury.
Lewis and Hedges were two of three changes to the team that lost at St Mirren with Teddy Jenks, red carded in that defeat, suspended.
Aberdeen threatened in the seventh minute when Samuels cut inside from the left and unleashed a low 22 yard shot that crashed into the side netting.
Moments later Lewis Ferguson’s shot from the edge of the box was saved by Joe Hart.
Celtic went ahead in the 11th minute when David Turnbull delivered a superb cross from the right wing and Kyogo Furuhashi raced in front of David Bates to meet the ball and chest in from six yards.
The Japanese international was left completely unmarked when the corner initially came in. Allowed the freedom of the 18-yard box, he exploited it.
In the build-up to the goal, which came from a throw in, it was effectively Turnbull and Liel Abada against left-back Jack MacKenzie who was left exposed.
Consistently defensively vulnerable, Aberdeen’s run without a clean sheet extended to 12 game in all competitions.
GOAL! Aberdeen 0-1 Celtic (Furuhashi, 11)
Kyogo Furuhashi scores his eighth goal in ten matches to put Celtic in the lead!
📺 Watch live on Sky Sports Football! pic.twitter.com/H0QRkqYIQj
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) October 3, 2021
Aberdeen had a penalty shout turned down by referee Bobby Madden when Christian Ramirez appeared to go down following a clumsy challenge and tug from Cameron Carter-Vickers near the back post when trying to reach a Jonny Hayes cross.
The woodwork denied Celtic in the 40th minute when Jota stepped inside Ramsay on the Hoops’ left flank to open up the space for a bending 25 yard shot that crashed off the top of the crossbar and behind for a goal-kick.
Moments later Ramirez met a Ramsay corner kick 15 yards out and unleashed a right footed volley that slammed into the pitch and spun up, forcing keeper Joe Hart to punch over onto the roof of the net.
From the resultant corner there was a scramble in the box with Celtic struggling to clear. The ball fell to Ferguson but his shot from the edge of the box flew wide.
Aberdeen finished the first half strongly but could not make the breakthrough.
Half-time: Aberdeen 0 Celtic 1
In the second half Jonny Hayes, who had operated on the right of an attacking three, switched to the left.
Celtic had looked dangerous down that flank with left-back MacKenzie, who did well to cope, often left exposed.
Hayes moved across to help out the full-back.
Following strong build up play Aberdeen threatened when Austin Samuels fired a shot over the bar in the 50th minute.
Having started the second half well the Dons deservedly levelled in the 56th minute when Scotland international Ferguson outmuscled Nir Bitton to meet a Ramsay corner and headed home from the centre of the box into the top right hand corner.
GOAL! Aberdeen 1-1 Celtic (Ferguson, 56)
Lewis Ferguson equalises for Aberdeen – game on! ⚽
📺 Watch live on Sky Sports Football! pic.twitter.com/cLsiDeVlPW
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) October 3, 2021
In the 65th minute Brown met a Ramsay corner and unleashed a powerful header that keeper Hart did well to block.
Aberdeen were in the ascendancy and Celtic were looking increasingly rattled.
Brown was substituted in the 72nd minute following an impressive shift and received an ovation from the Dons fans for his shift against his former club.
In the 82nd minute Hayes fired a vicious 25 yard shot from the right after superbly taking a cross-field ball from Bates with a first touch.
Hart saved and Carter-Vickers got in to clear as Ramirez was waiting to pounce.
Celtic went ahead in the 85th minute when Adam Montgomery burst down the left flank and crossed along the face of goal to find Jota’s run into the box and he slid in from eight yards.
It was a hammer blow for Aberdeen who had looked the more likely to get the win.
Full-time: Aberdeen 1 Celtic 2
ABERDEEN (4-1-2-3): Woods 6, Ramsay 7, Bates 6, McCrorie 6, MacKenzie 6, Brown 7 (McGeouch 72), Ferguson 7, Longstaff 6 (Campbell 88), Hayes 6, Ramirez 6, Samuels 7 (McLennan 78).
Subs: Lewis, Gallagher, Emmanuel-Thomas, Gurr.
CELTIC (4-1-2-3): Hart 6; Ralston 7, Carter-Vickers 6, Starfelt 6, Montgomery 6, McGregor 7, Biton 6 (Rogic 72), Turnbull 7, Abada 6 (Ajeti 72), Furuhashi 7, Jota 7.
Subs: Bain, Scales, Giakoumakis, McCarthy, Welsh.
REFEREE: Bobby Madden
MAN OF THE MATCH: Furuhashi (Celtic)