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Aberdeen left stunned by late Kilmarnock winner at Pittodrie

Dons suffer defeat following injury time goal from Killie's David Watson.

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson.
Aberdeen manager Barry Robson felt the wrath of the Dons support following their defeat to Kilmarnock. Image: SNS.

The comforts of home were nowhere to be found as Aberdeen slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Kilmarnock on their return to Pittodrie.

Derek McInnes competed a smash and grab against his old club as David Watson’s injury time goal consigned the Dons to defeat.

Patience is wearing painfully thin at Pittodrie these days and the Aberdeen fans turned their ire towards their manager from the moment Watson’s goal hit the back of the net.

Their dismay at watching their side labour for long periods before being caught by the latest of sucker punches was understandable.

Rubezic dropped for visit of Killie

Robson made three changes from the side which lost 2-0 at Hibernian on Sunday.

Slobodan Rubezic lost his record of being the only outfield player to start every game for the club this season when he dropped to the bench as Angus MacDonald took his place in the starting line-up.

James McGarry and Ester Sokler also dropped out with Jonny Hayes and Duk taking their places in the side.

Former Aberdeen manager McInnes named an unchanged side from the team beaten by Hearts at the weekend. New signing, former Don Gary Mackay-Steven, was named among the substitutes 24 hours after joining Killie on a short-term deal until January.

The visit of Killie, on paper at least, suited the Dons. McInnes’ side had managed just two wins in 26 away league matches and arrived at Pittodrie still in search of their first win on the road this season.

Aberdeen’s home record was marginally better with the Dons having mustered one win from their five Premiership games at Pittodrie.

Both teams committed to attack in the first half

Aberdeen’s Graeme Shinnie (centre) has an attempt on goal against Kilmarnock. Image: SNS

It’s fair to say the first goal was going to be crucial in this one and both teams started the game as if they knew it.

The first chance fell to Dons captain Graeme Shinnie but the midfielder’s effort was blocked.

Killie responded with a Kyle Vassell effort which drifted wide of Kelle Roos’ goal.

MacDonald then did brilliantly to time a tackle to perfection to deny former Don Marley Watkins from getting a shot away as Killie settled into the game.

Aberdeen finally tested Will Dennis in the Kilmarnock goal in the 20th minute as Duk met Jamie McGrath’s cross but the goalkeeper did well to parry the ball on the line before the visitors scrambled it clear.

Killie responded immediately with a corner and Roos made a terrific save to tip Liam Donnelly’s header over the crossbar.

Kelle Roos saved Liam Donnelly’s header. Image: SNS

It was end to end and Duk crossed for Miovski who fired just past the post. The North Macedonian headed home Leighton Clarkson’s free kick in the 39th minute but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Dons try to up the tempo after the break

Aberdeen needed to move up a gear and they came out with more intent for the second half.

Clarkson fired wide with an audacious 30-yard volley before a game of pinball resulted in Miovski having a shot blocked before McGrath fired in a shot which was blocked by the Killie defence.

As the minutes ticked away the unrest among the home support grew and jeers at fruitless chases from Miovski and Duk after long balls forward summed up the frustration of the Red Army.

When the Dons found a tempo to their play their threat looked far greater but they struggled to produce it often enough in the cold conditions.

A rapid break featuring one-touch football between Shinnie, Hayes, Clarkson and Nicky Devlin gave the Dons full back a chance to deliver a cross but he overhit his effort and the ball sailed over the heads of three Aberdeen players in the penalty area.

Killie, sensing the unrest inside the stadium, happily took their time with set pieces and throw-ins to add to the frustration.

Aberdeen hit by late sucker punch

Richard Jensen missed a late chance for the Dons. Image: SNS

Robson had seen enough and with 15 minutes remaining he switched to a back four after sending on Shayden Morris and James McGarry.

Morris almost made an instant impact, driving into the Kilmarnock box only to see his shot blocked by Stuart Findlay.

With Morris, McGrath and Hayes supporting Miovski, Aberdeen had a renewed sense of urgency. What they lacked, however, was a measure of composure.

Killie, having protected their goalkeeper so well, almost claimed all three points with Findlay’s late header flashing just wide of the post.

Richard Jensen then had a great chance to win it when he met Hayes’ corner but from six yards he headed straight at the Kilmarnock goalkeeper.

That miss proved crucial in stoppage time as Watson took a touch before smashing the ball home.

The stands began to empty immediately. Those who stayed booed long and loud at the sound of the final whistle.

Aberdeen (3-5-2) – Roos 7, Gartenmann 6, MacDonald (McGarry 76) 6, Jensen 6, Devlin 6, Clarkson 6, Shinnie 7, McGrath 7, Hayes 6, Duk (Morris 76) 6, Miovski 6. Subs not used – Doohan, Barron, Sokler, Polvara, Duncan, Milne, Rubezic.

Kilmarnock (3-5-2) – Dennis 6, Deas 6, Findlay 7, Mayo 6, Ndaba 7, Lyons (McKenzie 60) 6, Donnelly (Polworth 73) 6, Watson 7, Armstrong 7, Vassell 6, Watkins (Kennedy 82) 6. Subs not used – O’Hara, Sanders, Murray, Davies, Dallas, Mackay-Steven.

Referee – Matthew MacDermid 5

Attendance – 13,668.

Man of the match – David Watson