ABERDEEN still have work to do when they visit Bosnia next week after being pegged back by NK Siroki Brijeg in their Europa League Second Qualifying Round First Leg tie.

Ryan Christie curled in a strike in the 18th minute but the visitors levelled through Stipo Markovic’s angled 20-yard shot midway through the second half.

The Dons handed an immediate debut to wildcard signing Gary Mackay-Steven who put pen to paper just ahead of the Uefa deadline to be included in the squad, and fellow summer recruits Greg Tansey and Christie were also in the starting XI.

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And on the early evidence this should have been a walk in the park for the home side, the visitors looking ill at ease in the face of some early pressing from Aberdeen.

Indeed, Christie saw goalkeeper Luka Bilobrk parry his free-kick in the 13th minute, before a secondary cross saw Andrew Considine’s flick just evade Adam Rooney.

The deadlock was broken after 17 minutes as Joe Lewis plucked a cross out of the air, and picked out the lively Christie, now in a second loan spell at Pittodrie from Celtic, with his clearance. The former Inverness midfielder strode forward confidently, and unleashed from 22-yards, his left footed effort leaving Bilobrk grasping at air as the ball found the net low to the keeper’s right.

But with the Dons still in the midst of their pre-season preparations, some slack play quickly crept in, and there was a scare as Dino Coric cut back for Luka Begonja, the midfielder striking narrowly wide.

It should have been 2-0 10 minutes before the break as Mackay-Steven was slipped in and rounded the goalkeeper, but a perfectly-timed block from Bernardo Matic, on loan from the Dons’ one-time European opponents HNK Rijeka, saw the ball turned behind for a corner.

And the visitors could have drawn level on the stroke of half-time, as Luka Menalo headed just inches wide of Lewis’ post.

The longer the game went on, the more the visitors came into proceedings, and on the hour mark, a Coric cross found Dejan Cabraja, but his header was off-target.

The home side responded with a Graeme Shinnie cross finding fellow full-back Shay Logan, but his header was turned round the post by Bilobrk.

And two minutes later came the sucker punch the Dons had feared. Cabraja found space on the right flank and pulled back for Markovic, who angled a 20-yard shot beyond Lewis and into the corner of the net.

Substitute Nicky Maynard came close to restoring the Dons’ lead as he sent a Christie cross narrowly wide, but with the play raging from end to end, the scores remain level ahead of next week’s return leg.

Failure to see off the Bosnians next week would be a huge blow to the Pittodrie club – and another nail in the coffin for Scotland’s footballing credibility.

With St Johnstone and Rangers already out at the first qualifying stage – the latter to a side which had never scored a European goal never mind won a tie prior to their meeting with the Glasgow giants – Scotland’s co-efficient is in danger of collapsing further.

Celtic’s Champions League showings of last season have so far been the only bright spot for Scottish clubs’ hopes of future European places. The champions face Linfield in Belfast tonight in their first Champions League qualifier.

However, manager Derek McInnes will not be giving up hope and, with another few days’ pre-season training under their belts, Aberdeen remain in with a chance of going through to the next stage.

They will, however, need to be more clinical than they were last night at Pittodrie.