A good week for Aberdeen had the potential to turn into a great one, having not lost at Rugby Park since December 2011, as they faced a Kilmarnock side that had already beaten them this season up at Pittodrie.
Both goalscorers that day for Kilmarnock missed out with Kris Boyd starting up front in place of the injured Eamonn Brophy, who also missed the draw at Ibrox. Greg Stewart was suspended so he was unable to face the club he was on loan at last campaign.
Derek McInnes seems to have found a winning formula in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Their only change being Scott Wright dropping out for Dominic Ball, allowing Lewis Ferguson to push up as part of the trio supporting James Wilson alongside Gary Mackay-Steven and Niall McGinn.
Familiar foes for Aberdeen
Kris Boyd had a penalty claim turned away before a storming run from Greg Taylor, on his 100th Killie appearance, searched again for the old Scottish Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer. His cross eventually fell to Stephen O’Donnell on the other flank who this time found Boyd, the veteran heading just wide from six yards.
It was the right back himself who was next to have a bash for Killie. His throw was passed back to him and after a one-two with Aaron Tshibola, flashed wide from a tight angle. The former Dons youth player nearly showing them what they could have had.
He would also be instrumental in Killies being given a golden chance to go ahead. Jordan Jones, after a phenomenal first touch, sprinted down the left hand side up against Scott McKenna. The Northern Irish winger cut inside before spreading to the other flank and finding O’Donnell, who sent an effort goalward at the first time of asking.
Joe Lewis responded with a great save before the shot was parried. Chris Burke on the follow up looked to take it past Shay Logan and the right back stupidly tripped him after Burke was forced wide. A needless foul after a challenge he could’ve easily avoided. Killie given a golden opportunity to break the deadlock.
And who better to do so than Kris Boyd? SPL’s top goalscorer with 164 playing for Killie and Rangers between 2001 and 2010. He slid the ball into Lewis’ bottom right hand corner, the keeper went the right way but was powerless to stop him. Boyd followed his spot kick up with a hilarious celebration as last season’s top league goalscorer got off the mark this campaign.
A game of two halves
After Killie had spurned further opportunities through Kirk Broadfoot’s header at a corner and Chris Burke’s wayward effort, they would be made to pay as Aberdeen would equalise through Bruce Anderson off the bench.
Stevie May played back to Niall McGinn and as the former Celtic winger sent an effort goalward, the 20 year-old got a nick on it to take away from MacDonald and divert it home to put Aberdeen back on level terms. An instinctive finish from Anderson with his second goal for the Dons, his first being the equaliser against Rangers way back in August. All to play for with 15 minutes remaining.
Kilmarnock never do things the easy way
The home side were close to retaking the lead when Michael Ndjoli, the substitute, full of pace and trickery slipped inside to Alan Power. Having scored a rocket against St Mirren in Paisley, the Irishman went close here but his effort bounced off the top of the net as Killie looked to retake the lead.
Aberdeen would then ‘pull a Kilmarnock’
Killie, the masters in coming from behind, would get a taste of their own medicine three minutes from time. Fail to take your chances and you will get punished.
Stevie May may have found goals hard to come by since joining Aberdeen but he was instrumental in both goals against Kilmarnock, this time chipping forward for Graeme Shinnie. The club captain hit the deck under the challenge of Kirk Broadfoot, a free kick awarded in a dangerous position.
On the edge of the box, Gary Mackay-Steven and Lewis Ferguson stood over said free kick. Score and they would surely win the game for Aberdeen. The latter would take, and after netting the winner against Rangers in the Betfred Cup semi-final, would do so here too.
A lovely strike which avoided the wall, bending and dipping to Jamie MacDonald’s left into the bottom right hand corner, no chance for the goalkeeper in front of the travelling fans, sent wild by the teenager for the second time in all of seven days.
Kilmarnock had only lost five games at Rugby Park under Steve Clarke heading into this fixture. Now having lost six, half of them have come against Aberdeen. They travel to the capital to take on league leaders Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday afternoon, having coincidentally lost to the Jambos already at home this season in the league.
Aberdeen, under Derek McInnes, continue their fine record at Rugby Park making it ten wins from a potential ten. They next host Hibernian at Pittodrie on Friday night under the lights having really picked up their form of late.