Matchzone: Aberdeen (H)
Kilmarnock earned back-to-back wins at Rugby Park with an assured 2-0 victory against Aberdeen on Sunday 29th October.
Strikes from Kyle Vassell and Marley Watkins secured the points as Killie rose up to fourth place in the cinch premiership table with an impressive win in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Coming up against his former club, Derek McInnes made one change from the side that won against Livingston the previous week. Corrie Ndaba dropped out through injury, with Matty Kennedy returning to the starting XI in his place.
A minute’s applause preceded kick-off as both sets of supporters paid tribute to Laurel Chadwick; Scottish football’s first female club Director and a transformative figure during the redevelopment years of Rugby Park.
Aberdeen travelled to Ayrshire off the back of late midweek disappointment in Europe, and Killie appeared keen to inflict pain of their own from the first whistle. The hosts were first to swing a ball into the box, before Matty Kennedy forced a first comfortable save of the afternoon from his former teammate Kelle Roos.
Both sides gained half-glimpses of goal in the 15 minutes that followed, with the visitors also showing their attacking capabilities. Connor Barron whipped a dangerous cross into the box but evaded red shirts in the middle.
Killie came closest to breaking the deadlock after quarter of an hour. A pinpoint cutback from Marley Watkins picked out David Watson, whose strike from just inside the penalty area was deflected over the bar. A half-chance fell to Joe Wright from the resulting corner; the centre-back headed over while under strong defensive pressure.
The Ayrshire side continued to dictate play, but with their Highland opponents showing signs of promise on the counter. Matty Kennedy again came close as he sent a well connected half-volley rising over the bar from 20 yards.
At the opposite end, Joe Wright combined with his goalkeeper to halt the ever-threatening Duk who attempted to break through on goal. Stuart Findlay denied Bojan Miovski moments later following a similar ball over the top.
Brad Lyons was next to find the target, connecting with Stuart Findlay’s flick-on from a long-throw and forcing Roos to gather at his bottom corner as Killie upped the tempo with 35 minutes on the clock.
The home side’s pressure paid off on the stroke of half-time. Captain Kyle Vassell showed strength in his hold up play before sending a precision strike into Kelle Roos’ bottom left corner (1-0).
Will Dennis was quickly called upon after the restart, parrying away a dangerous ball driven into the six-yard box. The Killie keeper also had to deal with a change to his backline early in the second period, with Robbie Deas replacing Joe Wright who struggled to play through a knock suffered in the first half.
Approaching the final half-hour, Killie enjoyed a positive spell in their search for an all-important second goal. Matty Kennedy remained in the midst of his former team’s worries, cutting in from the left wing in support of the front two. The winger again came close as a 30-yard attempt fizzed over the bar after taking a deflection. It was another former Dons attacker who would come back to haunt his former club on Halloween weekend.
Pressure from Marley Watkins resulted in a recovery of possession deep inside the Aberdeen half, before the Welsh forward calmly slotted home with just under 30 minutes remaining (2-0).
Aberdeen grew into the game in the final 20 minutes, but without truly troubling Will Dennis. Killie reverted to a traditional back four in the final stages: Brad Lyons dropped into a full-back position, with Liam Donnelly and Rory McKenzie bolstering the midfield.
A professional performance in the final 10 minutes saw chances limited in front of the Chadwick Stand, with Killie seeing out the match to rise up to fourth place.
Speaking at full-time, Derek McInnes emphasised the importance of maintaining the team’s unbeaten run. You can listen to the full interview – HERE.
Result: Kilmarnock 2-0 Aberdeen
Kilmarnock lineup: Dennis, Mayo, Findlay, Wright (Deas 51), Armstrong (Dallas 90), Lyons, Watson, Polworth (McKenzie 65), Kennedy (Davies 90), Watkins (Donnelly 65), Vassell
Aberdeen lineup: Roos, Devlin, MacKenzie (Duncan 45), Shinnie (Polvara 56), Jensen, Gartenmann, Mcgrath (Sokler 71), Barron (Clarkson 56), Miovksi, Duk, Rubežić
James Frew Man of the Match: Kyle Vassell