Kilmarnock and Aberdeen played out a dreadful goalless draw in a physical Ladbrokes Premiership clash at Rugby Park.
Both sides have suffered disappointing starts to the season with exits from the Europa League – and this game will have failed to provide encouragement to even the most optimistic supporter.
Chances were at a premium in a game that failed to flow due to niggly fouls which referee Alan Muir struggled to control.
The one moment of quality came courtesy of Gary Dicker in the 70th minute. The Kilmarnock captain played a majestic through-pass to Chris Burke, who rounded Joe Lewis with ease but could only direct his shot into the side-netting, to the frustration of an agitated home support.
Aberdeen were toothless throughout and despite dominating proceedings in the first half they failed to truly test Laurentiu Branescu in the Kilmarnock goal.
The major news before kick-off was the absence of Greg Taylor from the Kilmarnock line-up. The Scotland international has been heavily linked with a £3million move to Celtic, although Angelo Alessio citied a hamstring injury as the reason for the left-back’s mysterious omission.
Lewis Ferguson returned to the fold for Aberdeen after missing the Betfred Cup tie against Dundee and he showed his importance to the visitors in the fifth minute, ghosting in behind the Killie defence and laying off for Sam Cosgrove to poke over.
Shay Logan played up to his role as pantomime villain during the opening exchanges. After exaggerating an injury, the Killie faithful were screaming for a penalty after Logan made the slightest of contact with Kirk Broadfoot but the defender went down far too easily.
Aberdeen started well with James Wilson increasingly prominent and the former Manchester United striker forced Branescu into the first save of the afternoon from his powerful strike from the corner of the box on 14 minutes.
Scotland’s former Killie manager Steve Clarke will face an anxious wait to find out the extent of an injury to Scott McKenna, who limped off with an important double header, ahead of the games gainst Russia and Belgium next month.
Kilmarnock upped the tempo immediately after the restart and Niko Hamalainen, making his debut after joining on loan from QPR, smashed a powerful 47th-minute effort just over the bar.
The game became increasingly physical as both sides grew frustrated and Ferguson was fortunate to escape with a booking when he led with his elbow in an aerial duel with Alan Power that left the Kilmarnock man stricken on the floor in the 62nd minute.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.