Aberdeen 1-0 Kilmarnock: Ross McCrorie on target as 300 Dons fans enjoy victory
Pittodrie winger Scott Wright puts in a man-of-the-match performance for returning supporters
Aberdeen earned the sustained applause of their supporters at the end of this hard-fought victory over a Kilmarnock side who never made it easy for the hosts.
Applause was the only way those 300 home fans seated the required distance from each other in sections S, T and V of the south stand were permitted to express themselves.
By the end of the afternoon, one complaint following what looked like a successful test event on the pitch and off it for Aberdeen might have been the number of supporters in need of treatment for red raw palms.
No singing, no shouting, no getting up and down from their seats. Clapping was, however, deemed acceptable. The football-starved attendees, selected following a ballot of season ticket holders, seemed to like what they saw.
They certainly enjoyed the novelty of being at a game – Aberdeen have not played in front of fans at home since 7 March – to the extent that they offered stout backing from the off. In fact, they were even finding reason to applaud during the warm-up.
Derek McInnes later acknowledged this outpouring of positivity from those who are simply delighted to be there.
“They really applauded the team’s every effort whether going forward or when we had to defend,” noted the Aberdeen manager. “That 300 can come every week if that’s the backing we are going to get!”
“It’s great they could go away happy with the three points. I can promise them that there’s more to come from us.”
The score might not reflect the dawning of a new era of attacking intent at Aberdeen, but they are certainly easier on the eye than they have been for some time. Man-of-the-match Scott Wright epitomises this new-found sense of style and forward purpose.
Deployed in a roaming role behind Marley Watkins, he played a pivotal part in much of Aberdeen’s good work, including the move after 16 minutes from which the home side sourced what proved the winning goal from Ross McCrorie. Watkins, too, deserves praise since it was his expertly cushioned pass that set Wright on his way down the left. Wright cut the ball back from the byline and McCrorie swept in his first goal for Aberdeen from just inside the box.
An exquisite move, it fully deserved the ovation that sounded more like the response of an opera audience following a poignantly rendered aria.
Wright should have made the game safe for his side after 72 minutes after he was put through on goal by Watkins. However, in a reminder of one of his flaws, he rolled the ball wide of Danny Rogers’ left-hand post. Finishing is certainly something he can work on.
But he has certainly added industry to his game. While he did not manage to kill the opponents off, Wright had already ensured they did not draw level before half-time when heading clear from under his own bar.
Few knew what he was doing in that position, but it was a pivotal intervention which proved significant in helping Aberdeen gain all three points.
Kilmarnock always looked threatening. Greg Kiltie saw a shot saved by Joe Lewis low down at the keeper’s near post. The visitors forced a number of corners prior to the interval as they sought to draw level.
Aberdeen very nearly paid for Wright’s failure to put the game beyond Kilmarnock. Just two minutes later substitute Rory McKenzie was presented with a chance to equalise from nearly the same spot as McCrorie was when he scored in the first half. Nicke Kabamba’s cutback found McKenzie, who had replaced Eamonn Brophy nine minutes earlier. Scott McKenna’s despairing dive in front of the shot managed to deflect the ball out for a corner.
McCrorie was taken off shortly afterwards, a crunching tackle from Kirk Broadfoot having caught up with him – the Kilmarnock defender was replaced at half-time by Clevid Dikamona having been injured in the same collision. McCrorie is expected to recover in time for Thursday’s Europa League second qualifying round clash against Viking Stavanger.
“I should have taken him off earlier as he was suffering from a knee knock but I’m confident he’ll be fine for Norway,” said McInnes.
“It was a great finish - and with his left foot at that - to finish off what was a great move from the team.”
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