Kilmarnock 0 - 4 Aberdeen: Dons pile pressure on Celtic

Aberdeen's Niall McGinn celebrates after heading home his sides opening goal. Picture: SNS

Aberdeen's Niall McGinn celebrates after heading home his sides opening goal. Picture: SNS

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THIS was a result which had ramifications at both ends of the Premiership table, with Aberdeen moving just one point behind leaders Celtic while Kilmarnock slide further into the relegation mire.

Kilmarnock - 0

Aberdeen - 4

McGinn 9; Rooney 35; Hayes 46; Logan 80

Aberdeen were certainly impressive but the hosts were so abject that divining just how good their performance was is difficult.

Not for the first time this season, Killie’s players were jeered from the field at the end, and it is difficult to see how manager Gary Locke can survive this latest drubbing.

Seven games without a victory have left them isolated in the play-off position and just four home league victories in the calendar year tells its own story.

For visiting manager Derek McInnes, though, it was the perfect way to celebrate his 100th league game in charge.

“Kilmarnock are on a difficult run and we couldn’t give them any encouragement,” he said. “They had to see a strong Aberdeen team coming out the traps and I thought we had that. To go two goals up at half-time – and we probably could have had a couple more – was pleasing.

“The quality of goals got better and better and that pleases me because I think you saw the competitive side of us, the pressing of the ball, relentlessly putting them under pressure and we also had some moments of real quality.

“Our players are playing with that confidence that allows them to be the players they are. They have worked hard for that and deserve a lot of credit.”

Perhaps the most depressing aspect of Aberdeen’s ninth-minute opener, from Kilmarnock’s point of view, is that it was long overdue.

While Josh Magennis had also gone close with a header, the traffic was mainly in the direction of Jamie MacDonald’s goal, Adam Rooney, Shay Logan and Kenny McLean had each passed up opportunities before Niall McGinn broke the deadlock.

Johnny Hayes had spotted his run through the middle long before the home defence reacted to it and McGinn reached the former’s cross ahead of MacDonald and headed into the unguarded net.

The visitors were utterly dominant and they struck the woodwork when McLean, at full stretch, connected with Graeme Shinnie’s cross only to see his effort rebound to safety from the crossbar.

However, further damage was soon inflicted when Hayes crossed for Rooney, whose powerful header from on the penalty spot took the goalkeeper out of the equation.

Rooney nearly added a third before the break when he raced on to Ryan Jack’s through ball and rounded MacDonald. Unfortunately for the striker, Conrad Balatoni got back to clear his netbound shot.

Former Hearts midfielder Jamie Hamill endured a torrid time chasing shadows and he was put out of his misery when he was replaced by Craig Slater after only 38 minutes.

Things continued to get worse for the hosts when the Dons increased their advantage in their first attack of the second half. McLean claimed the assist on this occasion, laying it on a plate for the industrious Hayes to tap in at the far post.

Kilmarnock’s supporters had begun chanting for manager Locke to step down during the opening 45 minutes and their mood darkened further the longer the game lasted and the more their team’s failings were exposed.

They could and should have added even more goals but they settled for four in the end, Shay Logan driving emphatically home after substitutes Cammy Smith and Peter Pawlett had combined to engineer the opening.

This was another bad day at the office for Locke, who admitted that he is now one of the front runners in the sack race.

“I’m well aware I can’t have too many days like that and we’ve had too many of them already at Rugby Park,” he said.

“Can I turn this around? You’ve got to have confidence in yourself. It’s disappointing but you’re well aware that if you put in performances like that then that is the reaction you are going to get from the fans.

“That was very sore. Most times in a season you can come in and try to protect the players or stick up for them. But we need more than that from them.”

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