There was no sign of a flood warning at Aberdeen until the final moments of this pulsating game, as the home side pulled another late goal out of the hat to sink Hibernian at Pittodrie.

Willo Flood's swerving 25-yard strike came with just three minutes to go and left the visitors floundering helplessly.

"Tony Docherty [the Aberdeen assistant manager] is always on my case about not scoring enough goals," said the Aberdeen midfielder. "So I had him in my head when I was going to shoot and hopefully that shuts him up. That should keep him quiet for a week or two.

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"The manager had said not to shoot from distance but it opened up for me and I just felt like going for it. It's great to score another late goal and shows the spirit the boys have to keep going because we knew the clock was running down."

Russell Anderson, the Aberdeen captain, was rested as Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, gave a debut to Alan Tate, a towering centre-back brought in on loan from Swansea City last week until the end of the season. The Easter Road side, meanwhile, had 18-year-old winger Alex Harris on the bench, with the youngster inching closer to his first start since he suffered a broken bone in his foot in the opening game of the season.

Aberdeen have proven far harder to crack; expectations had been high going into the match, since the home side had registered six wins in their last seven matches. Hibs, proving a revelation under recently appointed manager Terry Butcher, were on their own, five-match unbeaten run.

Their aggression was certainly on show in the early stages and when Paul Heffernan put Jamie Langfield under pressure after a Mark Reynolds pass-back fell short, the Hibs striker went down under the goalkeeper's challenge looking for a penalty. All he saw was his appeals being waved away as Pittodrie breathed a sigh of relief.

The home side were dangerous down the left, with Niall McGinn proving problematic for the opposition defenders, though his final ball was less of a threat. McInnes might also have been concerned that his midfielders were prevented from producing the creativity of which they are capable.

A swift break by Ryan Jack after 26 minutes was one occasion when the Hibs rearguard were cut open, with the midfielder feeding Peter Pawlett to chip the ball neatly across goal. It appeared to be handled by Michael Nelson, the Hibs defender, although referee Craig Thomson declined to point to the penalty spot once more.

Moments later, Mark Reynolds forced an acrobatic save from Ben Williams, the Hibs goalkeeper, when he sent a header at goal. Aberdeen were increasing the tempo then and had found their rhythm, dictating play towards the end of the first half and pummelling the Edinburgh side.

Hibs seemed constricted, but broke free early in the second half only to be repelled belatedly by some stoic defending from the home side. It was a challenging introduction to Scottish football for Tate.

However, when Aberdeen managed to find McGinn and Pawlett, they looked more dangerous and Paul Hanlon and Nelson were kept busy dealing with a stream of crosses from the forward pair. The set-piece balls from Robson, too, provided several difficult moments for the Hibs defence and McInnes must grown frustrated that his strikers were unable to profit. The manager would send on Calvin Zola as a replacement for Scott Vernon to try and force a breakthrough, but in the end it was Flood who inflicted the damage with his stunning strike.

Butcher may have been pleased with his side's defensive qualities - at least until the final three minutes - but Hibs' lack of creativity will surely have him seeking such an input during the transfer window.

"When we defended well, however, we gave it away pretty quickly," he said. "We didn't seem able to retain it. Aberdeen kept going and they have players hungry to build on the success they've had and they've hit an unbelievable goal right at the end from Flood and we're disappointed we didn't get men close enough to block his strike."