Captain Joe Lewis apologised to his Aberdeen team-mates in the dressing room immediately after his Betfred Cup blunder against St Mirren, according to Derek McInnes.
Dons boss McInnes accepts there can be no hiding place after such a costly error, however, he refuses to hang Lewis out to dry for the uncharacteristic mistake which gifted St Mirren the winner.
Jamie McGrath’s 20-yard shot was straight at the 33-year-old’s hands, but somehow he fumbled the ball.
It then spun into the net to secure St Mirren a quarter-final slot they deserved.
McInnes said: “Joe came in and apologised. It is a lonely place that for a goalkeeper and there is no hiding place. It is uncharacteristic from Joe and cost us.
“However, I am not hanging him out to dry for losing the game. Joe has been outstanding for me.
“Mistakes happen and it is just unfortunate that mistake has put us out of the cup. Anyone who has watched us consistently over the years will have seen since Joe signed he has saved us far more than he has cost us.”
Just three days earlier, Lewis had produced a superb injury-time save in the 1-1 draw at Hamilton to salvage a point.
McInnes was furious at the lack of aggression from his side in the first half and admits they were fortunate to go into the break at 1-1.
He said: “I am disappointed we did not start the game with the aggression that is required.
“It is a cup tie and we should have treated it far better.
“We didn’t start the game right and gave St Mirren the initiative.
“Technically their early goal was very good, but we were dithering in the middle of the park and were slow to react.
“We didn’t turn over the ball and then from there we were playing catch-up.
“That resulted in a challenge at the edge of the box that St Mirren took full advantage of with a fantastic goal from their point of view.
“It probably epitomised that passage of play, that uncertainty in the middle of the park.
“Just a bit unsure rather than just dealing with the situation and being more aggressive and on to the ball quicker.
“Despite the equaliser, let’s not kid ourselves. We were second-best throughout the first half.”
It was the third away game in six days for Aberdeen following trips to Rangers (4-0 loss) and Hamilton last Wednesday (1-1 draw).
Although Jonny Hayes returned to action at St Mirren after a month out with a groin injury, McInnes still had six players absent.
Out injured were Dylan McGeouch, Marley Watkins and Scott Wright, who will undergo surgery on a double hernia this week.
Lewis Ferguson, Ross McCrorie and Connor McLennan were also unavailable as they were self-isolating following a Covid-19 outbreak in the Scotland U21 camp.
Ash Taylor was also carrying a calf problem which dropped him to the bench.
Despite those factors, McInnes insists fatigue could not be an excuse.
He said: “The better team won, but we have had a tough hand in the last week or so with three away games.
“There have been loads of injuries and issues.
“A lot of what has been our identity this season has not been there for us the last three games.
“We had key players missing, but still had a good enough team to start the game better and be far more competitive.”