Kilmarnock picked up their first point under manager Angelo Alessio after holding Aberdeen to a goalless draw in the Scottish Premiership.
The hosts’ Chris Burke had the best opportunity of a turgid affair as he rounded Joe Lewis but fired wide.
There was concern for Aberdeen as defender Scott McKenna was forced off early on, and he could be a doubt for Scotland’s Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Of more concern will be a failure to score in four of their last five matches.
As for Kilmarnock, the draw adds to the League Cup victory over Hamilton last week, as Alessio attempts to recover from a difficult start as manager.
Toothless sides toil in Ayrshire heat
This fixture at the end of last season between these sides had been an ugly battle. Three men were sent off for Kilmarnock and there was a blistering tirade from then Killie boss Steve Clarke aimed at referee Steven McLean at the final whistle, which earned the now Scotland manager a two-match ban.
If that game had been almost open warfare, this latest episode was more of a slumber party, especially in the opening period. The searing Ayrshire sunshine created a stifling, stuffy heat on the plastic Rugby Park surface. It perhaps partly explained the stuffy, stifling football.
Aberdeen were marginally the brighter, with more shots on target. Sam Cosgrove’s early toe-poke went over the bar and James Wilson’s shot from the edge of the area was comfortably saved by Larry Branescu. But, truth be told, it was all fairly tepid stuff.
Kilmarnock were virtually toothless, happy to sit back and look for opportunities to counter – which scarcely came. An Eamonn Brophy foray was well snuffed out by Zak Vyner, and it took until half time before they had a shot on target.
Battle? This felt more like a ceasefire with slow build-up and not enough invention. But things looked up in the early stages of the second half.
Niko Hamalainen – in for the injured and much speculated about Greg Taylor – was played into a shooting position at the edge of the box by Brophy. He shaped to angle a shot into the top corner, but the ball flew high over the bar.
There were signs of a potential battle as the home fans roared for a red for Vyner as be brought down Brophy but referee Alan Muir was having none of it. Then, with a skirmish in the middle, LeWIS Ferguson was shown a yellow card for a challenge on Alan Power despite calls for greater punishment by the home team and their fans.
Burke had the best opportunity as he ventured beyond enemy lines, rounding LeWIS. But the former Scotland international was just unable to get his shot on target. Aberdeen made the big push for something in the closing stages but no breakthrough came as the Kilmarnock defence held firm.
Man of the Match – Niko Hamalainen
There were very few moments of inspiration from any one individual, so it is right that a defender should get the nod. On a season-long loan from QPR, Hamalainen was excellent standing in for Taylor, and did not put a foot wrong. He was also a threat down the left-hand side for Kilmarnock, especially in the second half.
‘It’s not a good point’ – reaction
Kilmarnock manager Angelo Alessio: “We deserved the win. We had three or four opportunities to score the goal. Burkey dribbles round the goalkeeper and misses the goal, but that’s football. But I saw a good performance.
“It’s a good step, I am happy, but we have to continue this way.
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes: “For long spells, it was quite predictable. We’re looking for that individual play to try to make the difference. We need a bit more from others.
“That’s not a good point for us and we need to grasp that sooner rather than later.”
- 5BroadfootSubstituted forBruceat 36′minutesBooked at 89mins
- 15El MakriniBooked at 29mins
- 29BurkeBooked at 61mins
- 9BrophySubstituted forThomasat 86′minutes
- 11MillarSubstituted forMcKenzieat 70′minutes
- 5McKennaSubstituted forVynerat 27′minutes
- 7BrysonSubstituted forMcGinnat 73′minutes
- 19FergusonBooked at 61mins
- 28WilsonSubstituted forMcLennanat 69′minutes
- Alan Muir
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Kilmarnock 0, Aberdeen 0.
Second Half ends, Kilmarnock 0, Aberdeen 0.
Rory McKenzie (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jon Gallagher (Aberdeen).
Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Alex Bruce.
Alex Bruce (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Alex Bruce (Kilmarnock).
Substitution, Kilmarnock. Dom Thomas replaces Eamonn Brophy.
Foul by Gary Dicker (Kilmarnock).
Foul by Stephen O’Donnell (Kilmarnock).
Curtis Main (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Mohamed El Makrini (Kilmarnock).
Substitution, Aberdeen. Niall McGinn replaces Craig Bryson.
Attempt blocked. Eamonn Brophy (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Foul by Zak Vyner (Aberdeen).
Niko Hämäläinen (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Kilmarnock. Rory McKenzie replaces Liam Millar.
Attempt missed. Chris Burke (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is close, but misses to the left.
Substitution, Aberdeen. Connor McLennan replaces James Wilson.
Hand ball by Funso Ojo (Aberdeen).
Foul by Alan Power (Kilmarnock).
Foul by Andrew Considine (Aberdeen).
Alan Power (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Hand ball by Jon Gallagher (Aberdeen).
Chris Burke (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card.
Alan Power (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Shaleum Logan (Aberdeen).
Stuart Findlay (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Stuart Findlay.
Attempt saved. James Wilson (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Attempt missed. Liam Millar (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.
Foul by Zak Vyner (Aberdeen).