The manager was forced into yet more changes with Lewis Ferguson suspended and Greg Stewart joining the long injury list. Michael Devlin and skipper Graeme Shinnie came back into the side and Stephen Gleeson also replaced Dean Campbell. Andrew Considine moved over to left back with Max Lowe playing further forward.
On a very warm afternoon in Ayrshire, there was a very good atmosphere inside the stadium on kick off with a big home support clearly enthused by the prospect of a European place.
Inside the first minute Shinnie laid the ball off for May but his low shot was blocked by the legs of Gary Dicker, then the whistle went when a ball was swung in from the left looking for McLennan. Plenty of physical exchanges early on, and not much football.
In the 8th minute a ball over the top saw Eamonn Brophy turn Delvin and the defender was booked when the Killie striker went to ground near the half way line. The home fans were screaming for a red card but Aberdeen had players covering. From the free kick Kirk Broadfoot had a free header inside the area when he was too strong for his marker but the effort was knocked down to a red jersey.
A few minutes later Shinnie won a free kick midway inside the Kilmarnock half. Shinnie took it short to May and his ball in was was met by McKenna who got up really well but the central defender pushed his effort just wide.
In the 17th minute a Shinnie free kick curled in from the right saw Considine go to ground but the flag went up for offside.
20 minutes in, a flick on found Brophy and his turn and shot forced Lewis into a save at his near post. There was still not much football being played but the Dons were more than holding their own in the physical battle that continued to ensue.
After 26 minutes Gleeson did well to pick the pocket of Mulumbu and played a neat past down the line for Lowe. Max had space and his dangerous cross had to be cleared at the back post. Then from the resulting throw-in a chance for Cosgrove inside the area but the ball would just not come down quick enough for the striker and he was eventually crowded out. Shinnie then looked for May inside the area but his ball was too strong.
Just after the half-hour mark Cosgrove was booked for a foul on Findlay. There had been so much going on all over the pitch and there did not seem much in the challenge from Sam. The big striker was then involved in another foul and the home support screamed for a red card.
The game had by now completely boiled over and Findlay was booked for an off the ball incident on Cosgrove as both players waited for a free kick to be played in. Then when the set peice was taken Broadfoot had a great chance inside the six yard box but took a heavy touch which allowed Joe Lewis to spread himself and make the save. The Kilmarnock player then followed through and appeared to catch the keeper in the face. Referee Steven McLean instantly produced a red card.
As the Kilmarnock captain came off the pitch he reacted angrily as he walked past the Aberdeen dugout. The game for the next five or ten minutes had completely gone as the referee struggled to keep control. Credit to the Aberdeen players who kept their discipline.
In the two minutes of added time the Dons forced a couple of corners but could not work an opening.
During the interval Sam Cosgrove was replaced by James Wilson. It looked like an astute change as Cosgrove looked to already be on his final warning from the referee.
It did not take long for second half to go the same way as the first. Scott McKenna and Greg Taylor were both yellow carded for an off the ball incident after May and Mulumbu had collided inside the Killie box.
With the extra man Aberdeen were now enjoying more possession but the home side were still very organised at the back. On 52 minutes Dom Ball put over a couple of crosses, the second of which Wilson headed over the bar. Shinnie then produced a low pass to find May, and it looked like Lowe might get in behind but he eventually just ran the ball out of play.
In the 65th minute, a second change for Aberdeen as Devlin was replaced by Ethan Ross. The Dons then got the break of the ball on the half way line and for the first time James Wilson was able to get a run at the defence from which he won a corner. Shinnie played the ball over and McKenna planted a header past Bachmann and Mulumbu on the line. The Dons had the lead in the 66th minute.
A few minutes later a ball over the top left Ethan Ross one on one with Stephen O?Donnell. The ex Don looked certain to score but Ethan did really well to get in a block which diverted the ball past the post. A real let off for the Dons.
With 15 minutes to go Shinnie picked up a yellow card, not clear what for. A minute later Brophy produced a nice touch inside the area and his shot just went over the bar.
Kilmarnock then brought on Miller and Boyd as the home side went for it. Boyd was booked after about 10 seconds of coming on for a foul on McKenna. On 79 minutes Considine was almost caught out for taking an extra touch but Miller ran the ball out of play.
In the 82nd minute Connor McLennan was replaced by Greg Halford, who was making his Aberdeen debut. Greg straight away was in the middle of the action and did well to head a dangerous free kick clear.
On 83 minutes the home side were down to nine men when Stuart Findlay received a second yellow card after Shinnie had nipped in to win a lose ball in the middle of the park. The captain took a sore one and was clearly struggling but bravely continued as Aberdeen had made three changes. The Dons were essentially down to ten men though down to Shinnie?s lack of mobility.
In the 89th minute O?Donnell got round May and his cross was met by Boyd but his header was easily saved by Lewis. At the other end Wilson had a chance to seal it but his low shot was parried by Bachmann and May?s rebound was blocked.
There was then to be four minutes of added time. In the final minute Rory McKenzie was given a straight red for an off the ball incident with Dom Ball. The home side had completely lost their discipline and it was Aberdeen who would win a vital three points.
A support effort from every man in a red shirt this afternoon. They kept their discipline and composure and deserved the victory. A real battling performance.