Matchzone | Aberdeen (A)
Derek McInnes hailed David Watson for a moment of “sheer instinct” which topped off a match-winning performance and ended Kilmarnock’s hunt for an away victory at Pittodrie on Wednesday 6th December 2023.
A sublime last-minute winner from the 18-year-old was the just reward for a dedicated band of travelling supporters who endured the winter weather and a 300-mile midweek trip, which will live long in the memory.
Returning to Pittodrie with 700 competitive matches under his belt, Derek McInnes made the bold decision to name an unchanged side from the weekend defeat against Heart of Midlothian. One change was made to the bench, with new signing Gary Mackay-Steven called straight into the squad.
Both sides showed intent in the opening quarter of an hour. Commencing a solid performance, Corrie Ndaba and Robbie Deas combined to halt an early Aberdeen box entry.
At the shed end, Danny Armstrong led his side’s first threatening attack when he drove in from the right wing, seeing his attempted cutback diverted away from Marley Watkins inside the six-yard box.
On a bitterly cold evening under the lights, both keepers would warm their hands inside the opening half-hour. Will Dennis was first called upon, getting down quickly to parry Duk’s close-range header away from his bottom right corner. His opposing No.1 would make the save of the game a few minutes later. Liam Donnelly rose highest to meet a Danny Armstrong corner, forcing Kelle Roos to impressively turn the ball over his bar.
A route past a keeper would be found before the break, only to be denied by the linesman’s offside flag. Bojan Miovski thought he had opened the scoring after meeting a wide free-kick swung deep into the box; a VAR check cleared the on-field decision to keep the scores level at half-time.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first, with both team’s carving half-glimpses at goal. The relentless Danny Armstrong was first to threaten after being unleashed by a quick free-kick, but saw his powerful 20-yard effort blocked inside the box.
Leighton Clarkson also had an early sighter after the restart, sending an ambitious first-time effort wide of the target from 30-yards.
Killie’s back four remained unbreakable as the game progressed into the final 20 minutes. Lewis Mayo was called upon to make a vital block amongst some last-ditch defending as Aberdeen pressed forward.
On the counter-attack, the visitors continued to cause problems. Aberdeen were very fortunate to maintain 11 men on the park when Jonny Hayes ended a promising break, but the Irishman escaped a second booking.
The away side were forced to withdraw a couple of bodies of their own: midfielders Brad Lyons and Liam Donnelly hobbled off with injuries before being replaced by Rory McKenzie and Liam Polworth.
The two biggest flashpoints of the match would come in stoppage time. Bojan Miovski looked certain to secure the points for Aberdeen as he burst through one-on-one, but a tremendous recovery slide tackle from Stuart Findlay safeguarded the clean sheet.
Moments later, David Watson would win the match with an incredible piece of individual brilliance – and almost the last kick of the ball. Killie’s academy graduate plucked Matty Kennedy’s cross out of the air with the “best first touch of his life”. His second wasn’t bad either; a right footed arrow into the far top corner.
Result: Aberdeen 0-1 Kilmarnock
Aberdeen lineup: Roos, Gartenmann, MacDonald (McGarry 76), Jensen, Devlin, McGrath, Clarkson, Shinnie, Hayes, Miovski, Duk (Morris 76)
Kilmarnock lineup: Dennis, Mayo, Findlay, Deas, Ndaba, Armstrong, Watson, Donnelly (Polwoth 73), Lyons (McKenzie 60), Watkins (Kennedy 82), Vassell.