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Ethan Ross double helps Aberdeen see off Kilmarnock in SFA Youth Cup quarter-final tie

Aberdeen U18 2

Ross 16, 57

Kilmarnock U18 1

Monk 43

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.

After seeing their opponents dominate the majority of the first half, Kilmarnock came flying out the traps after the interval and enjoyed the better of the fortunes for the opening ten minutes.

A long searching ball forward found Brindley in a good area, but after being crowded out by Aberdeen defenders, the winger could only shoot directly at his opposition goalkeeper.

Monk could have had his second of the game minutes later, but an excellent save from Aberdeen’s keeper Mair prevented his side falling behind. Monk had latched on to a scuffed clearance by Dalling, but Mair rushed off of his line to meet the Kilmarnock striker and block his shot.

For a period of time the Aberdeen centre backs, Dalling and his partner Connor Power struggled with the pace of the Killie front line, as their opponents kept finding themselves in behind the Aberdeen defence, with Mair having to leave his box acting to act as a sweeper keeper on one occasion.

The game was turned on its head just after a period of Kilmarnock dominance however. Shanks, who had shown quick feet and good movement all afternoon drifted inside to pick up the ball, playing a smart reverse pass to his captain Ross. As the number ten attempted to turn back on himself within the box, the Kilmarnock defender couldn’t keep up, pulling Ross to the ground.

Aberdeen’s captain dusted himself off and slotted his penalty to the right hand side of Walker’s goal to regain Aberdeen’s lead. Walker went the right way but Ross’s penalty was too hard and well placed to give him a chance.

With 25 minutes to go, Aberdeen could have had the game finished off. Dalling had proven to be a menace in the box all game, as shown by his earlier miss, and he bundled in Connor Barron’s corner. However, the referee ruled it out as Dalling had pushed aside a Kilmarnock defender to get to the ball.

Almost identically to an Aberdeen sequence in the first half, Killie fed in Monk on the right hand side of Aberdeen’s goal. He was too wide to attempt a shot and his cross was fired across Mair’s goal line, but no Kilmarnock player managed to meet the cross.

Josh Rennie did well to challenge for a higher ball towards the Aberdeen area, muscling his way past Power – but his shot went just wide of the post.

The last 10-15 minutes of the game seemed to drift away without much of notice. Aberdeen did well to contain a Kilmarnock side which certainly posed plenty of threat going forward, but the Don’s defended as a unit and made it difficult for Killie to create.

Ethan Ross was unable to use the final few moments of the game to find a chance for a hat-trick, he was substituted after going down with cramp, but as the final whistle went, the Don’s captain will be aware he played a massive part in getting Aberdeen through to another SFA Youth Cup Semi-Final.

Queen’s Park, who knocked out the champions Hibs, Rangers and Celtic or Dundee could await Aberdeen in the semi-final, with last years defeated finalists surely aiming to lift the trophy this season.

Lineups

Aberdeen U18
Kilmarnock U18
1. Archie Mair (GK)
2. Lloyd Robertson
3. Tyler Mykyta
4. Dean Campbell
5. Kyle Dalling
6. Connor Power
7. Lewis Duncan
8. Connor Barron
9. Kieran Shanks
10. Ethan Ross
11. Kevin Hanratty
12. Michael Dagana
14. Danny Strachan
15. Mark McLauchlan
16. Calvin Ramsay
17. Jack Milne
18. Lyall Booth
19. Rhys Leiper (GK)
1. Jamie Walker
2. Robbie McCracken
3. Eddie Campbell
4. Callum Shields
5. Craig Ross
6. Justin Devenny
7. Josh Walker
8. Ally Taylor
9. Josh Rennie
10. Andy Monk
11. Tomas Brindley
12. Harry Broun
14. Liam Smith
15. Craig Renicks
16. Ross Smith
17. Aidan Murphy
18. Sam McKee
19. Josn Bruin
Star Player
Aberdeen U18
Kilmarnock U18
Ethan Ross - The Don's captain led by example, striking twice and being the sides main threat going forward, plus doing his bit defensively too.
Andy Monk - Killie's goal scorer, on another day, against another goalkeeper, Monk could have also had a brace. A threat all match long, Monk's workrate gave the Aberdeen back line something to think about.
Magic Moment
Aberdeen U18
Kilmarnock U18
The opening goal from Ethan Ross.
Monk's equaliser.

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