Aberdeen 3 - 0 Kilmarnock: Concern for Dons despite comfortable win

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One week on from a humiliating 4-0 home defeat against Celtic things are looking brighter on and off the field for Aberdeen, culminating in back-to-back league victories for the first time this season.

Not that following up midweek success at Hamilton was exactly a surprise as the Dons were playing the team they seem to relish facing more than any other since Derek McInnes replaced Craig Brown in March 2013.

Sam Cosgrove was forced off through injury for Aberdeen. Picture: SNS

Sam Cosgrove was forced off through injury for Aberdeen. Picture: SNS

This latest success makes it sixty points gathered from 23 league meetings between the clubs since then with just one defeat, and even that solitary setback came in a match where they played for 85 minutes with just ten men.

It also leaves them on identical points as the same stage last season, although that’s unlikely to silence the section of supporters who have become disenchanted with the manager after poor performances against Rangers and Celtic recently.

Of course the backing that really matters is chairman Stewart Milne’s who made it clear at Thursday’s opening of the club’s long delayed training complex that they were designed with the aim of McInnes exploiting them for the long term.

In the short term he ensured they ruthlessly exploited Kilmarnock’s weakness at Pittodrie where opposing manager Angelo Alessio was denied the services of four central defenders through injury and suspension.

That left the Italian, who has built the side around an ability to be difficult to breakdown, relying on Gary Dicker and Scotland under-21 international Iain Wilson to stem the flow of goals from Sam Cosgrove in particular.

It was a thankless task as Cosgrove effectively put the result beyond all reasonable doubt before half time and the only surprise was the Englishman left the field with just his 16th goal in 19 appearances this season given the havoc he caused.

A post and some negative reactions from referee Kevin Clancy to a couple of debatable penalty decisions restricted that tally to just an additional one, scored in 27 minutes which reinforced Alessio’s fears. The bad news for Ross County is the injury that forced the player off in 66 minutes won’t mean missing the trip to Dingwall next week.

His solitary goal came from a short corner eventually played into the box by Niall McGinn, allowing Cosgrove to rise above Dicker to head home, something Curtis Main had already done just ten minutes into what was a torrid day for the Kilmarnock captain especially.

Lewis Ferguson provided the delightful cross that just cleared the Irishman’s head allowing Main to send a diving header flashing into the net for his first goal for Aberdeen and first for anyone since scoring for Motherwell back in February.

Scott McKenna contributed his first of the season with a simple back post finish once Greg Leigh had helped on substitute Connor McLennan’s corner nine minutes from the end but it was the form of Ferguson that most pleased his manager.

So much so that McInnes claimed Celtic’s winning margin would not have been so generous had the 20-year-old not been suspended last Sunday as he said: “When we went 4-3-3 you could see his power, drive and tenacity which is key for me and the team.

“You forget his age at times but he keeps getting better and better.I don’t think we lose in the manner we did to Celtic if he is in the team.

“He is aggressive, cares and makes tackles but we try to get the balance right between his work with the Scotland under-21s. He plays every game when available for me as I can’t leave him out and I don’t intend to.”

By contrast there was little for Kilmarnock to enthuse over after their heaviest defeat of the season and for all their defensive problems they still struggle more regularly at the other end of the field.

Joe Lewis had one serious save to make, an instinctive stop when Alan Power’s shot from distance took a wicked deflection but they have now only scored more than one goal away from home in the league once in the last calendar year.

It all explains why Dicker was as downbeat as he has ever been after a the many setbacks against Aberdeen and why he was candid enough to say collectively they weren’t good enough on the day or good enough to repeat last season’s third place finish.

“Aberdeen played all right but that is probably the easiest result they have had against us since I’ve been up here,” he said. “May be it shows that we are not ready to be challenging up where we were the last few years.

“Probably we are a few players short at the moment and it is the smack of reality that we needed. We went down to ten men the other night and gave away a goal while if we got a point it would have been something to build on.

“That’s two games in a week we’ve lost to teams just above us in the league and we shouldn’t be happy about it.”