Kilmarnock remain unable to win at home in the Scottish Premiership this season after Sunday’s 3-1 defeat at Rugby Park to Aberdeen. Steve Clarke’s side have only picked up two of their 12 league points in front of their own supporters this campaign, a stat the former West Brom boss has been reminded of consistently since he took over the reigns from Lee McCulloch just a few weeks ago.
It was a blistering start from the visitors, with Kenny McLean firing the Dons ahead within a minute after receiving the ball inside the area from Graeme Shinnie. The Scotland international took a touch before firing past Jamie MacDonald.
Greg Tansey fired a shot over before Stevie May forced MacDonald into action but Derek McInnes’ men weren’t to be denied for long.
Gary Mackay-Steven won a free-kick on the visitors left-hand side; after being cautioned by referee Steven MacLean, Kirk Broadfoot was to get further punishment for his foul on the former Celtic player as he got the final touch to the set-piece which landed in the back of the net to double Aberdeen’s lead with only 12 minutes gone.
Killie began to work their way into the game. Stephen O’Donnell played a nice one-two on the right before firing well wide of target from a tight angle inside the penalty area. Similarly, on the half-hour mark, Jordan Jones attempted a shot from a difficult angle which didn’t trouble Joe Lewis at all.
Ryan Christie had a dig at goal but couldn’t find the third which would likely kill of the game as a contest, as the teams went in at the break. Steve Clarke wasn’t for messing about, however, as he made a double substitution at the interval.
Kris Boyd and Gary Dicker came on to replace Rory McKenzie and Adam Frizzell, as the hosts changed formation to try get the next goal to give their side the best chance of picking up any points.
It looked as though the Kilmarnock players had never been inside, at the beginning of the second-half, as Aberdeen found the net just 26 seconds into the final period. Stevie May struck home a Mackay-Steven cross but the offside flag was up to deny the former Preston striker before MacDonald made a terrific one-handed stop to deny McLean a second..
Alan Power had an effort from range before Kris Boyd almost found the net. Greg Taylor cut the ball back and it looked a certain goal but the experienced striker saw his effort graze the outside of the post as it flashed behind Lewis’ net for a goal-kick only.
Eamonn Brophy was then brought on up-front in place of Lee Erwin to try to give some fresh legs and renewed energy as the home side grew more and more into the match. They were to pull a goal back, just moments later, as Jones managed to smuggle a shot home, under the body of the diving Lewis. It looked as though the goalkeeper should have done better but Killie weren’t complaining.
McInnes was quick to try to swing the momentum back into his sides path by making the Dons’ first switch of the afternoon. Mackay-Steven was to make way for defender Mark Reynolds as the ex-Bristol City gaffer shuffled his pack.
Shay Logan nodded wide before Adam Rooney came on to partner May up-front. It was the 25-year-old who found the back of the net just moments later, however. A long-ball forward by Mark Reynolds found May who managed to get into the area and fire a shot past MacDonald to seal the three points for the visitors.
Eamonn Brophy forced a save from Lewis as Clarke’s men continued to push forward. Then, there was three chances in quick succession with Boyd, Taylor and then Jones all failing to hit the target.
Brophy and then Findlay both had digs at goal from 18-yards-out late on but again the Dons shot-stopper, Lewis, wasn’t tested and that must be the most frustrating aspect of it all for the Killie faithful.
Despite Englishman Nicky Maynard coming on for the final 10 minutes, Aberdeen weren’t to create any more chances as they held out for the victory. The day was to get worse for Kilmarnock however as Jordan Jones was sent-off for a second bookable offence. After being cautioned for dissent earlier in the match, a second yellow card was shown by MacLean after the Northern Irish winger tackled Logan on the half-way line to compound matters further for the Ayrshire club, who ended the match a man light.
Overall, a poor afternoon for Clarke’s men who are still searching for their first home league win of this term. His side battled right to the end with an improved performance in the second half but it wasn’t enough to displace the Dons who remain in second, just three points behind leaders Celtic, heading into their new two matches – both against Rangers..
FULL-TIME: Kilmarnock 1-3 Aberdeen
1. Jamie MacDonald
2. Stephen O’Donnell
3. Gordan Greer
4. Kirk Broadfoot
17. Stuart Findlay
7. Rory McKenzie (Kris Boyd 45’)
6. Alan Power
21. Adam Frizzell (Gary Dicker 45’)
12. Greg Taylor
11. Jordan Jones
22. Lee Erwin (Eamonn Brophy 63’)
26. Cammy Bell (GK)
8. Gary Dicker
9. Kris Boyd
15. Dom Thomas
16. Scott Boyd
23. Dean Hawkshaw
25. Eamonn Brophy
1. Joe Lewis
2. Shay Logan
5. Anthony O’Connor
19. Scott McKenna
4. Andy Considine
16. Greg Tansey
3. Graeme Shinnie
22. Ryan Christie (Adam Rooney 72’)
7. Kenny McLean
11. Gary Mackay-Steven (Mark Reynolds 68’)
83. Stevie May (Nicky Maynard 80’)
20. Danny Rogers (GK)
6. Mark Reynolds
8. Greg Stewart
9. Adam Rooney
10. Nicky Maynard
14. Kari Arnason
15. Scott Wright
Referee: Steven MacLean