The Scottish Cup quarter final against Celtic next month looks to be the last chance for European football next season as Aberdeen crashed and burned at Rugby Park. Defensive frailties were once again on show as Kilmarnock raced into a two-goal lead before the break with goals from Bryson and Wright. Aberdeen reverted to a 2-4-4 formation after the break but they failed to produce anything of note and when Bryson added a third in the 75th minute it concluded a miserable afternoon for the Dons. Alan Combe gifted Aberdeen a consolation goal four minutes from time when he bundled a cross into the net with Mackie in close attendance.
Aberdeen kicked off in front of a poor crowd and lined up with Scott Severin in a back three. Kilmarnock threatened first when Severin was forced to concede a corner to Johnston in the 2nd minute. Soutar made a nervous start when he dropped the ball from the corner while appealing for a free kick. Two minutes later Miller set up Mackie and Combe was forced into a fine save to concede a corner. The corner came to nothing and play raged to the other end where the home side won their second corner, which ended with an infringement from Lilley.
Kilmarnock went close in the 8th minute as the ball was whipped in and Mair and Diamond went for the same ball and missed it leaving Invincible in splendid isolation. Fortunately for Aberdeen the Killie man sent the ball wide of the target. In the 11th minute Miller had a dig from 35 yards, but it was well off target then Mackie failed to collect a decent through ball from Duff. The home side went ahead in the 14th minute when Josh Walker was dispossessed in the middle of the park. The defence then went to sleep as a ball over the top was fired in at the far post by Bryson. Soutar got a hand to the ball but couldn't keep it out of the net.
Aberdeen tried to hit back but the final ball was disappointing with Foster guilty of a particularly poor effort in the 19th minute. Walker tried to make amends for his error in the 23rd minute as he drove forward, but then attempted a shot from distance when a lay off might have been a better option. Aberdeen looked lethargic but won another corner in the 26th minute, which they failed to get past the first defender. Kilmarnock on the other hand were battling for every ball after taking confidence from the goal. Jimmy changed to a back four in the 28th minute when he replaced Josh Walker with Sone Aluko. Severin moved back into the midfield with Diamond and Mair playing in the centre of defence.
Kilmarnock continued to get forward at ease as the back four looked as shaky as the earlier back three did. Miller got on to the end of an Aluko cross in the 35th minute but the effort was blocked by Mackie and was cleared by the home defence. Two minutes later Aluko lost possession as he burst forward and Diamond had to step in to deny Taouil. Seconds later Miller won a free kick 30 yards out but the ball was only half cleared and Mair and Severin both had chances but the first shot was blocked before the captain sent the ball wide.
Kilmarnock then raced up to the other end and won a corner, which produced a second goal. As the corner came across Soutar flapped at it, but redeemed himself with a fine block. A cross was swung back into the area and the defence failed to attack the ball allowing Wright to head home. Another corner two minutes later was defended better by Aberdeen, but the back four still looked shaky. The dons will need to show a massive improvement after the break if they are to take anything from this.
Chris Maguire replaced Alan Maybury at the interval as Jimmy reverted to a 2-4-4 formation, but Soutar was the first keeper to touch the ball in the second half when he made a comfortable early save. Kilmarnock continued to dominate possession and Aluko had to block a shot in the 49th minute and seconds later Hamill fired wide of the target. Aberdeen had a strong penalty claim a minute later as a Diamond free kick was played into the box and Lilley pushed Aluko to the ground but the referee ignored the incident.
Aluko won a corner in the 55th minute and Mair should have scored when he had a free header but steered the Nicholson cross over the bar. At the other end the Dons defence was all over the place again as the home side won a couple of corners before Aberdeen eventually scrambled the ball clear. Combe had a comfortable save from Maguire on the hour mark and seconds later Johnston fired inches wide at the other end. In the 64th minute Aluko nutmegged the full back and was then clearly pushed as he went for the ball but a goal kick was awarded as the game drifted towards an inevitable conclusion.
Aberdeen carved out a chance in the 66th minute but Maguire was unable to control the ball and Kilmarnock easily cleared. Aberdeen were showing little urgency as they tried to attack and the home side looked comfortable with their two goal lead. Lee Miller was replaced by de Visscher in the 71st minute as Jimmy played his last roll of the dice. Kilmarnock sealed the win, if it wasn't already sealed, in the 75th minute when once again the defence failed to deal with another cross and Bryson had a free run at the back post to fire in the third.
Aberdeen were gifted a consolation goal in the 86th minute when Combe in the Kilmarnock goal made a complete hash of a de Visscher cross and managed to fumble the ball into the net with Mackie in close attendance. Substitutes Fernandez and Dalglish combined well in the 90th minute but they couldn't produce a fourth goal for the home side. Severin had a crack at goal seconds later but the ball went wide of the target and the referee finally put Aberdeen out of their misery by adding only a minute of injury time.