Clydesdale Bank Youth League | Kilmarnock U20s 3 Aberdeen U20s 0
RedWeb Match Report | by Gabriel Mackay
Aberdeen's grip on first place in the U20 league was weakened by defeat to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park this afternoon. The 3-0 scoreline though was harsh on Neil Cooper's young side, who on another day would have taken their chances and grabbed at least a point.
With last Tuesday's 6-0 win over St Johnstone the Dons had made it two victories in their first two games, and in the first ten minutes it seemed as though this game would go have a similar pattern to it, with Aberdeen forcing a number of corners and Jordan Brown unlucky not to get on the end of a Matthew McMahon cross.
However Kilmarnock - in front of first-team manager Kenny Shiels - began to grow into the game. New signing Borja Perez in particular, one of the allowed overage players was a constant menace, and it was his through ball which broke the deadlock in the 20th minute. Picking the ball up on the edge of the box, the Spaniard threaded the ball to William Gros, whose low right-footed shot beat Danny Rogers at his near post.
Just three minutes later Killie doubled their lead, Jude Winchester's lay-off found the effervescent Perez and the attacking midfielder - who has six career goals against Real Madrid, including two in Alorcon's shock 4-0 Copa Del Rey victory in 2009 - had no trouble in stroking the ball through a mass of bodies and into the far corner.
The second goal seemed to rouse Aberdeen, with the impressive Nicky Low combining with Cameron Smith to set up Stephen O'Neill, but the winger was unable to beat Finnish international Jaakkola at his near post.
Five minutes later another Smith-Low combination resulted in the former having a sight of goal from the edge of the Kilmarnock box, but again Jaakkola made the stop, the ball careering off his knee and out for a throw-in. Aberdeen's good work was almost undone however, when hesitation from Shaughnessy allowed Gros a sight of goal on the stroke of half-time. The Aberdeen defender failed to clear an aerial ball, and the man from Réunion should have done better than hitting the inside of Rogers' far post.
Dons manager Neil Cooper was clearly unhappy with the way things were going, making two changes at the interval; Michael Rose and Jamie Hamilton replacing Scott Ruiasby and Matthew McMahon. Cooper's tinkering, coupled with the withdrawal of Perez, saw Aberdeen come into the game far more than they had in the second half.
Brown was played through one-on-one and would have been disappointed to see his weak shot smothered by the advancing Jaakkola. Brown was again denied in the 55th minute, a low right-footed shot from the edge of the box being well saved by his Finnish nemesis.
The quality of the playing surface and the philosophies of both teams meant that this was an attractive game, with the seagulls circling overhead untroubled by long punts up the park. It was ironic then, that Aberdeen's best chance came not from one of their many nice passing moves but from a good old fashioned penalty box scramble. A slack pass from Kilmarnock's Slater allowed Aberdeen a chance in the penalty area. Kilmarnock should have managed to get the ball clear, but some panicky defending saw the ball fall at the feet of Smith. The striker's right-footed effort left Jaakkola stranded, but cannoned off the crossbar, and Killie eventually managed to scramble the ball clear in the ensuing melee.
That misfortune seemed to deflate Aberdeen, with Kilmarnock suddenly carving the Dons open at the other end. Winger Mark Thomson found himself free 10 yards out, but attempted a shot when the lay-off to Gros seemed the wiser option. Kilmarnock left-back Rory McKeown found himself staring at the whites of Rogers eyes in the 84th minute, but his attempted lob was beaten away well by the Dons keeper.
With three minutes remaining on the clock, Winchester picked up the ball 20 yards from the Aberdeen goal. After a surging run the Northern Irishman played a one-two with Gros before firing high into the far corner.
Kilmarnock: Jaakkola, Pursehouse, McKeown, Slater, Ashcroft, O'Hara, Winchester, Davidson, Gros, Perez, Thomson.
Subs: Fisher, Hainey, McNeil.
Aberdeen: Rogers, Murray, Dugald, Gibbons, Shaughnessy, Ruiasby, McMahon, Brown, Smith, O'Neill, Low.
Subs: MacAulay, Rose, Hamilton, Campanile, Szemis.
Referee: David Lowe.
Neil Cooper after the game spoke to RedWeb | "We have not started the previous league games terribly well but have gotten away with it. Today we again started slowly and Kilmarnock made us pay. The goals we lost were very disappointing as we were not under any sustained pressure, we just made basic mistakes.
"We were playing against a much older team but that is something our players are going to have to get used to this season. A lack of concentration will lead to the team being punished and that is what happened today.
"I was far happier with the second half performance. We control most of the game after the break and enjoyed lot's of good possession. We passed the ball about well and created more than enough chances to get ourselves back into the game. Unfortunately we did not take our chances although on a number of occasions we were very unlucky in front of goal.