Aberdeen claimed victory in Derek McInnes' first game in charge at Pittodrie as Niall McGinn scored his 20th goal of the season with a curling effort just 4 minutes in. In truth the Dons should have had added more goals after a vibrant second half display.
McInnes made four changes to the side that drew 0-0 at Easter Road the previous Monday. Out went captain Russell Anderson (injured), Gavin Rae, Rob Milsom and Josh Magennis. In came Stephen Hughes, Isaac Osbourne and Scott Vernon, while youngster Craig Storie made his first team debut after some impressive displays for the U20's.
The Dons started well and on 4 minutes were rewarded when SPFA Player of the Year contender, Niall McGinn, evaded Kilmarnock full back Ross Barbour cut into the box then curleda great shot into the far corner of the net- the perfect start for the home side and new boss McInnes in particular.
Jonny Hayes looked lively in the opening stages and was making a few decent runs down the left side of midfield- putting the Killie fullback under pressure. On 25 minutes Hayes made another of these darting runs and crossed into the box, however, Scott Vernon miss timed his attempt to connect and McGinn couldn't get near to it.
Killie got themselves more into the game as the half wore on and began dominating possession although this rarely resulted in any meaningful chances. They did create a decent opportunity on 35 minutes though when Chris Johnston had an effort which Langfield parried before Clark Robertson cleared to avert the danger.
A lofted ball over the Killie defence was sublimely taken down by Scott Vernon who then crossed towards Stephen Hughes but the ball bounced off him and out of play. Bizarrely, referee Craig Charleston awarded the Dons a corner.
Stephen Hughes was then booked on 37 minutes as the Dons continued to play some good possession football without producing much in the way of decent efforts on goal as the first half fizzed out.
The Dons made one change at half time- Gavin Rae replaced Craig Storie to give more experience in the centre of the park. The second period started at a much higher pace and the Dons began to exert some intense pressure on the visitors which led to a series of corner kicks in close succession.
From one of the corners, the ball fell to Joe Shaughnessy, who evaded a couple of challenges and ran into the box. A slight touch from a Killie defender landed the ball at the feet of McGinn, who got a shot away, but Cammy Bell saved it to deny the Northern Irishman a 21st goal of the season.
Aberdeen were playing some attractive stuff at this point and came close to a second goal just short of the hour mark. Mark Reynolds was tackled unfairly by Mark O'Hara, who was booked, and McGinn stepped up to take the free kick. He hit a low curling effort which was heading in until Bell got down well to his left to deny the home side.
Stephen Hughes was replaced by Josh Magennis on 65 minute while Killie also made a change when former Scotland international Kris Boyd came on for them. And Boyd could have got the visitors level almost immediately when Ross Barbour swung in a good cross and Boyd flicked the ball towards the goal. Luckily for the Dons, the ball sailed over the cross bar.
That was to be Kilmarnock's best chance in the game while at the other end the Dons went on to create numerous other chances. Johnny Hayes tried his luck but the effort was blocked however the rebound fell to Magennis who with the goal gaping shot straight at Cammy Bell. On 73 minutes McGinn went close again and missed by the narrowest of margins. The home side should have been at least 3 or 4 ahead by this point but to their credit continued to persevere and minutes later, Hayes hit another rasping drive at goal which Bell had to hold on to with several Dons players in close attendance.
Ryan Jack intercepted an attempted pass in midfield and made a superb run through the Killie defence before unleashing a shot. Bell parried the effort and Magennis collected the loose ball but could only loop the ball in the air and Bell recovered to clutch gratefully.
The Dons made their 3rd change of the afternoon when Rob Milsom replaced Scott Vernon on 78 minutes but despite a few brief glimmers of attack from Killie, the Dons recorded the clean sheet which gave them the three points to move them above the Ayrshire side into 7th place in the SPL.