Aberdeen edged into the fourth round of the Scottish Cup with a 1-0 defeat of League One Dumbarton.
It took a goal with six minutes remaining by substitute Callum Hendry to secure the Dons’ route into the next round draw.
Aberdeen had spurned a succession of chances against a Dumbarton side playing a fourth game in the last week.
With just one goal in the previous 10 games Aberdeen’s woes in front of goal looked set to continue until, with extra-time looming, on-loan striker Hendry fired home.
Interim boss Paul Sheerin made three changes to the starting XI that lost 1-0 at Dundee United before the international break.
Jack MacKenzie, who recently penned a contract extension, was cup tied having appeared in the competition whilst on loan at Forfar Athletic earlier this season.
Connor McLennan and Ash Taylor both dropped to the bench with Ethan Ross, Calvin Ramsay and Niall McGinn coming into the starting line-up.
Teenage right-back Calvin Ramsay, 17, was handed his first start.
It was to be a bitter sweet first start for Ramsay as the teen was very impressive until suffering an injury set-back in the 63rd minute.
Ramsay limped off to be replaced by Matty Kennedy.
Reserve team coach Sheerin will also be in interim charge for the game away to St Johnstone next Saturday
Aberdeen threatened in the eighth minute when Niall McGinn’s 22 yard free-kick smashed off the five-man defensive wall.
The Dumbarton defence failed to clear and the ball was knocked back in to Florian Kamberi who shot wide from eight yards, but the striker was ruled offside anyway.
Dumbarton keeper Sam Ramsbottom produced a diving save moments later to block a curling 20-yard shot from Ross.
The lower league outfit, sitting second bottom of League One, threatened on the quarter hour mark when Adam Frizzell was played in on goal, controlled it on his chest, and lobbed it over advancing keeper Joe Lewis from 12 yards.
The home side appealed for a penalty after Lewis and Frizzell collided but referee Don Robertson waved play on.
Moments later a curling shot from Niall McGinn from just inside the penalty area flew inches wide of the far post.
In the 28th minute keeper Ramsbottom was again called into action when he saved a 12-yard drive from Lewis Ferguson.
Moments later Andy Considine met an inswinging McGinn corner kick but his 12-yard header flew wide.
Keeper Ramsbottom again denied Aberdeen when Ferguson lost marker Robert Jones and raced in unchecked to meet a McGinn corner delivery.
His powerful downward header from 12 yards was denied via an excellent block by the keeper.
Aberdeen’s frustrations in front of goal continued as Considine unleashed a vicious drive from six yards out but Nat Wedderburn blocked just yards out and the ball spun across the open goal and inches wide.
There were three clear opportunities within the space of 90 seconds – all wasted.
The story of 2020 so far for misfiring Aberdeen.
Dumbarton spurned a clear chance in the 38th minute when Ryan McGeever was presented with a shooting opportunity seven yards out.
If he had put his foot through it McGeever would surely have scored, but he meekly hit the shot which trundled into the grasp of a grateful Joe Lewis.
Half-time: Dumbarton 0 Aberdeen 0
Substitute Rabin Omar, who had only been on the pitch for two minutes after being introduced at the break, nearly broke the deadlock.
His curling 10-yard drive needed a vital diving save from Lewis who pushed it wide.
In the 59th minute McGinn burst down the right flank and unleashed an inviting cross deep into the box that found McCrorie.
The midfielder’s volley on the turn from 15 yards had the keeper beaten but flashed inches wide of the top corner.
It was fantastic technique from McCrorie – but still that goal didn’t come.
Aberdeen were hit by a set-back when teenager Ramsay, who had been their top performer, suffered an injury and limped off the pitch to be replaced by Matty Kennedy.
Moments later Jonny Hayes shot over the bar as Aberdeen’s frustrations in front of goal continued.
Keeper Ramsbottom again denied the Dons when he dived to block a powerful McGinn drive fired in from 15 yards in the 82nd minute.
Aberdeen went ahead in the 84th minute when substitute HENDRY stepped wide of a defender and unleashed a low left-footed drive beyond diving keeper Ramsbottom from the edge of the box.
It was Aberdeen’s first goal from open play since January 10th – when Matty Kennedy netted in a 2-1 loss to Rangers at Pittodrie.
Full-time: Dumbarton 0 Aberdeen 1
ABERDEEN: Joe Lewis, Tommie Hoban, Andy Considine, Niall McGinn, Jonny Hayes, Lewis Ferguson, Florian Kamberi, Ethan Ross, Dean Campbell, Ross McCrorie, Calvin Ramsay.
Subs: Callum Hendry (for Kamberi 55), Matty Kennedy (for Ramsay 63), Connor McLennan (for Ross 79)
Subs not used: Gary Woods, Ash Taylor, Dylan McGeouch, Miko Virtanen, Michael Ruth, Ryan Duncan.
DUMBARTON: Sam Ramsbottom, Sam Wardrop, Ryan McGeever, Morgyn Neil, Nick McAllister, Stuart Carswell, Nat Wedderburn, Tomas Brindley, Adam Frizzell, Jaime Wilson, Robert Jones.
Subs: Ramin Omar (for Brindley 46)
Subs not used: Chris Smith, Ruaridh Langan, Rico Quitongo, PJ Crossan, James Wallace, Conner Duthie.
Referee: Don Robertson