Cove Rangers' Balmoral Stadium played host as Aberdeen met in Kilmarnock in the Quarter-Finals of the SFA Youth Cup – a round earlier than last season’s clash in the semi-final where a Bruce Anderson hat-trick downed Killie.
Aberdeen recorded results against Inverurie Loco Works and Motherwell to reach this round. Meanwhile, their opponents knocked out Camelon Juniors and Dundee United in previous rounds.
The conditions were near perfect in Aberdeen for this match, with Aberdeen aiming to beat Kilmarnock once again in this competition, as they look to go one better than last season, when they were defeated in the final by Hibernian. While Killie had aspirations of gaining revenge on the Dons.
The match started off fairly equally, with both sides showing no fear of attacking – Kilmarnock’s high line was a clear potential opening for Aberdeen, while the visitors forward line were more often seen engaging their hosts defenders physically in the early stages.
Aberdeen’s Captain Ethan Ross – who has appeared on the bench for the senior side, as well as recently jetting away to Dubai with the first team – was the key man for the start and his jinking run from the right side just after the five minute mark got him past two Killie defenders. However, Ross’s cross flashed across Jamie Walker’s goal front.
Just a minute later a dangerous corner from Kilmarnock on the right hand side was met by the head of Josh Walker, but the wingers stooping header on the penalty spot just went over Archie Mair’s crossbar.
It was once again Walker almost giving his side the lead a moment later. Tomas Brindley delivered a cross from the left wing towards the back post and Walker’s volley into the turf bounced over the Aberdeen goal again.
Killie were made to regret those misses as on the quarter hour mark, Ethan Ross latched onto a through ball from his striker Kevin Hanratty after some neat link-up play in the middle of the park. The attacking midfielder made no mistake as he slotted past Jamie Walker to give the hosts the lead.
Dean Campbell and Connor Barron were beginning to take control in the centre of the pitch for the home side. Barron’s excellent ball to his midfield partner drew in the Killie defender who fouled Campbell, resulting in a free-kick right on the edge of the area. Campbell’s cheeky low free kick deflected wide of the mark.
The chances kept falling for Aberdeen in the following 15 minutes, Tyler Mykyta’s runs from left back were causing issues as he combined well with Kieran Shanks further down the line. Mykyta’s ball in from a free kick was headed wide by centre back Kyle Dalling. The big man may have felt he could have done better, the Kilmarnock defenders had stopped tracking, believing Dalling was offside, but the flag never went up.
Aberdeen had chances before the close of the first half to double their lead, Lewis Duncan saw a shot just go over and a mix up following a back pass almost allowed Kieran Shanks in for a tap-in. However, the Don’s looked like they would see themselves into the break with a lead.
Kilmarnock had other plans however and a cross from the left hand side from Killie winger Brindley met the head of striker Andy Monk at Mair’s back post and the forward nodded Kilmarnock back into the game. The scores were level at half time.