Kilmarnock 1 - 3 Aberdeen: Aberdeen come from behind for win
Kilmarnock blew the chance to go top of the SPL, however briefly, when a pale shadow of the team that bested Hearts last week turned up at Rugby Park and were comprehensively outplayed by a lively Aberdeen.
Scorers: Kilmarnock - O’Leary (3); Aberdeen - Rae (46), McGinn (55), Vernon (90)
Not for the first time this season, we saw an exhibition of what can only be described as anti-football aimed at Ryan Fraser. For the second week running, two opponents were booked for clugging him, and a red card might well have been shown for one particular tackle in the second half by Liam Kelly – by no means a dirty player – which was eye-watering in its clodhopping clumsiness. That time Fraser writhed on the ground, though referee Steven McLean needed no further incentive and was already reaching for the yellow card – it could and perhaps should have been red.
When Fraser went off after 77 minutes, some misguided Killie fans tried to start a chant of “cheat, cheat”. Their wiser colleagues who appreciate good footballers – the majority at Rugby Park – merely laughed at those idiots. According to Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels, his own talented winger James
Dayton got worse treatment.
Shiels said: “The media attention is all on Ryan and he’s a really good player, a fantastic player, but I winced quite a few times today. I could talk about six, seven challenges on James Dayton that were worse than that.
“Two of our players were booked for fouls on young Fraser today, which was disappointing. I don’t think they warranted bookings.
“The oldest trick in the book is to knock the ball too far in front of yourself, you go straight into the defender and Ryan (O’Leary) got booked in the first half for that, which was just an error of judgement by Steven McLean.
“To bring that point up, I don’t think it is relevant in talking about the game.” But then Shiels also thought “there was nothing in the game” and the score “wasn’t a true reflection” – Aberdeen manager Craig Brown, avuncular as ever, replied: “With respect, I must diagree.”
No one condones any bad foul on any player, but when you have unearthed talents as special as Fraser, and James Dayton, it is surely only right that they get protected by the proper application of the laws of football.
To be fair, Brown said: “I didn’t think the tackles were that bad today. Ryan has been subjected to far worse treatment in other games.” In which case, Scottish football really needs to take a long look at itself.
In the crowd was a contingent of fans who had travelled from Milan to cheer on their favourite player, Manuel Pascali. In Italian they sang “there’s only one capitano” – yes, they don’t miss a trick, those Milanese.
Both sides were unchanged and it was Aberdeen who raced into action first, Niall McGinn finding himself under pressure in the Kilmarnock box so that he was only able to shoot high. Dayton was looking lively and set up Gary Harkins for a shot which was deflected wide. Dayton tried again from the corner and put Harkins into a good position. This time the striker’s fierce effort was battered away by Jamie Langfield but only as far as Ryan O’Leary who was up in support and stuck out a knee, so that the ball described a looping parabola up and over Langfield and into the net.
A bizarre goal but Kilmarnock were glad of it as they had precious few real opportunities thereafter. After the opening 20 minutes, it was Aberdeen who slowly but surely took charge of the match, though maddeningly for their fans they just could not create clear cut chances.
After ten minutes Scott Vernon should have done much better with Fraser’s cross than head tamely into Kyle Letheren’s arms, before goal-scorer O’Leary was booked for felling Fraser.
Either side of a Dayton solo effort that came to nothing for lack of support, McGinn flashed a shot wide from a Gavin Rae through ball, before the Northern Irishman returned the compliment, setting up the veteran midfielder for a shot that went just wide.
The crowd had barely resumed their seats before Rae pounced on defensive slackness and went through to shoot low past Letheren.
Just before and after the break, Hughes and Jack were booked for fouls on Rory McKeown and Cillian Sheridan respectively, and Dayton might have had an equaliser except for Langfield’s fine save, but the tide was now in Aberdeen’s favour and Fraser set up their second, collecting a long clearance and sending in a pinpoint cross that McGinn leapt to head home.
Kilmarnock tried very hard to get back into the game, and Michael Nelson’s volley went just wide.
Yet they could not manufacture enough chances and the points finally went north in the last minute when Vernon
and substitute Hayes and McGinn played some lovely one-touch stuff to put the former clear in the box so that he could curl a lovely shot past Letheren.
Kilmarnock: Letheren, O’Leary, Pascali, Nelson, McKeown, Racchi, Fowler, Kelly, Dayton, Harkins, Sheridan. Subs: Jaakkola, Gros, Perez, Johnson, McKenzie, Pursehouse, Johnston.
Aberdeen: Langfield, Jack, Anderson, Reynolds, Considine, Hughes, Osbourne, Rae, Fraser, McGinn, Vernon. Subs: Jason Brown, Robertson, Clark, Hayes, Magennis, Jordon Brown, Smith.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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