ANOTHER Saturday, another bucketful of angst for Kilmarnock. As in the previous week against Celtic they got a bit of a hammering, but on this occasion they had reason to feel sorely aggrieved about the goal that set Aberdeen on their way, with match referee Willie Collum awarding a penalty that will be subject to plenty of analysis in the coming days. A collision between James Maddison and Killie goalkeeper Jamie McDonald seemed as likely to result in a foul for the home side, but Mr Collum, who rarely shies from controversial calls, pointed to the spot. Adam Rooney stroked it into the net and Lee Clark’s side proceeded to slide out of game with barely a whimper.
Hovering close to the basement of the Premiership and with vocal disquiet among supporters groups about the role of club secretary Michael Johnson surfacing again last week these are far from happy days at Rugby Park. Knowing what could happen if he really vented his spleen about the penalty incident, Clark chose his words carefully. “First goals are always important”, he sighed, “but what’s the point in having a go, I’ll probably end up losing a few quid. I’m not going to change my mind – it was a strange one. But in the second half, we’ve never performed and I take full responsibility for that”.
The contrast with Derek McInnes could hardly have been more painfully acute. The Aberdeen manager’s side are simply purring along at the moment. “With the movement, goals, tenacity to get at them from the beginning and willingness to adapt to the conditions – I thought for me it was almost the perfect performance”, glowed McInnes. On the disputed penalty he maintained there had been foul on Maddison – “the goalkeeper pulls James down, whether he (Maddison) was going to get the ball, I don’t know”.
It seemed like another lifetime come the full time whistle but Killie actually opened this game pretty brightly. Kris Boyd fizzed in a low cross that was just snatched off the toes of Souleymane Coulibaly while at the other end there was lots of admire about some of the visitors fluid passing and movement. There were plenty of signs of life then, but Mr Collum’s intervention in the 24th minute was akin administering a high voltage jolt.
A through ball saw Maddison dart into the box, but McDonald got to it first and the Aberdeen player seemed to merely fall over his trailing arm. How the home fans howled their displeasure when a spot kick and yellow card for McDonald was the verdict but it mattered not a jot to Rooney who, after a lengthy pause, calmly put it away to put the Dons ahead.
From then on, with every decision by Collum brought a thunderous reaction from the home support. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to do much for Killie’s focus or composure and a couple of poorly defended corners early in the 2nd half were enough to put the game completely out of their reach. Andy Considine and then Ash Taylor could hardly believe their luck as the ball made its way to them and they each fired powerful volleys into the net for the visitors’ second and third.
All that remained to be settled was just how many the Dons would help themselves to. Killie’s will to fight had disintegrated and so had their defence. Rooney missed a sitter when clean through, but it hardly mattered as a couple of minutes later he was in almost exactly the same position and this time slotted it past McDonald to round off a fine day’s work for McInnes’ side.