The Dons travelled to Rugby Park for round 37 of the SPL season and put in a much improved performance from the previous two games but it yielded only a point. Jamie Masson scored his first goal in only his second start for the club before Dean Shiels equalised not long into the second half. Despite a host of chances the Dons couldn't find a deserved winner.
There were three changes to the side who were beaten 2-1 by Hibernian on Wednesday evening for the penultimate game of the season. Jason Brown returned in goal in place of Jamie Langfield. Fraser Fyvie missed out through injury and Russell Anderson was left out having played 2 full games already this week after just recovering from injury. Rory Fallon and Rory McArdle came into into the side.
There were early claims for a penalty from Kilmarnock when Mark Reynolds appeared to tangle with a Kilmarnock attacker inside the box and the Killie player went down. Referee Brian Colvin waived away the appeals to the relief of the Dons players.
Despite this opening flurry from the home side, it was Aberdeen who began to take a grip of the game. Killie were slack in possession at times and when Scott Vernon picked a loose ball up and passed to Gavin Rae, he tried to force his way through the defence but ran the ball out of play.
Jason Brown was restored to the Dons goal for this encounter and he was lucky to see a Dean Shiels volley miss the target after a poor kick out. Up the other end, Kari Arnason struck a fine shot that went just wide of the target on 12 minutes.
The Dons began to pile pressure on the home rearguard- Masson produced a sublime cross- field pass to Ryan Jack who in turn sent in a fantastic ball into the box but no one was there to finish the move off. The visitors continued in the same vein, and Arnason then had another shot at goal after being set up by Josh Magennis on 15 minutes. Soon after Masson had the vision to pick out Vernon breaking through the Kilmarnock defence but the pass was slightly too heavy and Cammy Bell raced out to collect. Another mistake from the Rugby Park side allowed Rory Fallon an effort on goal moments later but the New Zealander couldn't capitalise on it.
While Aberdeen continued to press the home side at one end, they did look vulnerable on the odd counter attack particularly when Ben Gordon sent in a sublime cross for James Fowler. Luckily for the Dons Fowler placed the ball straight into the grateful clutches of Jason Brown.
Soon after the Dons were celebrating when they took the lead. Rory Fallon and Scott Vernon both attempted to send a super cross into the net but when they failed, youngster Masson stepped up at the back post to hammer the ball beyond Cammy Bell on 29 minutes. It was a just reward for an excellent start to the game.
As Kilmarnock tried to respond Dean Shiels found himself through on goal and but for a superb recovery tackle from Mark Reynolds would have slotted the ball past Brown.
Despite playing at right back once again, Josh Magennis continued to make surging runs towards the Kilmarnock goal throughout this game and on 35 minutes he collected the ball just outside the box and smashed a rasping effort off the bottom of the right hand post. Killie were able to clear the rebound.
On 42 minutes, a Jack corner was headed into the arms of Cammy Bell by Rory Fallon after McArdle had made a dummy run at the near post. Either side of the keeper and Fallon would have scored on his return to the starting XI.
The second period began in much the same way as the first ended, with the Dons surging forward at every opportunity. Magennis picked the ball up on the half way line and headed for the Killie box. He was brought down but referee Colvin waived play on and the Ayrshire side broke up the park and scored an equaliser. Dean Shiels took advantage of Magennis being out of position to fire past Brown from a tight angle.
Another surging run from a defender nearly resulted in the Dons going back in front on 59 minutes. Andrew Considine's foray into the Kilmarnock half set Fallon up once more but he headed over. Referee Colvin adjudged Fallon to have committed a foul when jumping for the ball in any case. Aberdeen should have scored seconds later though- Arnason's through ball was dummied by Jack but Vernon couldn't gather the ball properly and hit a weak shot that was saved by bell.
On 63 minutes the Dons were harshly stopped from going in front by what looked like an incorrect decision by the linesman. Scott Vernon was flagged offside when it appeared that he was in line with the defence but when Scott hammered the ball into the net he turned round to realise that the goal wouldn't stand. Not long after a Jack corner was again headed straight into the grateful clutches of Bell by Fallon. That was Fallon's last piece of action for the afternoon- he was replaced by Declan McManus on 69 minutes.
Despite showing very little in the way of a threat to the Dons goal since they got level, a shot from Gros wasn't held by Jason Brown- luckily for brown there wasn't anyone sharp enough in blue and white to react and the Dons scrambled the ball clear.
Craig Brown then made a second change of the afternoon when Masson had to be replaced by Ryan Fraser on 76 minutes. And the Dons mounted yet another attack, Arnason hitting a rasping drive that Bell could only parry away having been set up by Vernon while Bell also had to look sharp to save a dipping volley from Ryan Jack that was heading in to the back of the net.
The Dons created two final chances both of which should have won them the three points. A Jack corner was headed wide by Andy Considine who had found himself in acres of space in the box before a superb cross from Ryan Fraser gave McManus that chance to win the game in added time. Unfortunately for Aberdeen he shot over but this was a much improved performance and one from which they should have taken all three points.