A must win match for Aberdeen if they are to keep Hearts from snatching their Euro place as the games just keep getting harder and harder from here on in.
Jimmy Calderwood:- ‘ This weekend we face Jim Jeffries and his Kilmarnock squad and I am well aware how lucky we were to take anything from the game down at Rugby Park a few weeks ago. In contrast, when Killie were up here on Boxing Day, we put on one of our best performances of the season and, while I know Jim wasn’t happy with the way his troops performed that day, a similar showing from us on Saturday would obviously be welcome.
‘ Kilmarnock will be coming here determined to overtake Hibs for fifth place and with not too much pressure on them, we’ll have to be very wary. I watched them against Celtic last Sunday and I felt they were unlucky in the extreme not to get a result. In Stevie Naismith they have a real talent and a player who deservedly picked up the SPFA Young Player Award and he’ll need to be watched closely.
‘Ironically, despite sharing the spoils seven days ago, we actually improved our position and our goal difference due to Hearts going down at Ibrox. I have always stated that it will be down to how we perform at home in determining whether we qualify for Europe or not but you have to earn the right to win games and recently we’ve been our own worst enemies. This week will be another tricky one but if we play to our capabilities, there is no reason why we cannot open up a seven point gap on Hearts ahead of their trip to Celtic on Sunday.
‘We are still in the best position to clinch the UEFA Cup spot that it is up for grabs and hopefully we can get ourselves over that line sooner rather than later. We know that if we win our next two games, we’ve done it and that has to be our target.’
Zander Diamond:- ‘ This is a massive game for us. Kilmarnock are a good side and it was tough at Rugby Park a few weeks back. We managed to get to half time at 0-0 and then change things, got a couple of goals against the run of play, but you take it at this stage of the season, I think if you ask any fan it does not matter if it is a scrappy performance as long as you get the three points. They got a late goal back but then we dug in well and defended the lead superbly. It’s a very hard ground to go to and get three points. I think we took them in a swag bag, but there you go!’
Russell Anderson:- ‘ Like every game in this division, this will be a hard one because there’s not a huge amount between the two teams, as recent games have tended to show. It’s not long since we went and won at Rugby Park so they’ll want to make up for that I’m sure. They’ve got good players, Steven Naismith was a deserving winner of the Young Player of the Year award again, so there’s not going to be any let up from them this weekend’.
Kilmarnock Assistant Manager
illy Brown:- ‘Getting above fifth place is going to be difficult but the lads we have are motivated anyway. If you’re not up for these games, you’ll get hammered.
‘As people saw last Sunday against Celtic, we don’t want the season to tail off and we want to finish on a high.
‘Going to Aberdeen with them trying to seal third place is a big game and it is a tough period coming up.
‘Except for our last game there on Boxing Day, when we played poorly, we’ve done okay at Aberdeen.
‘The boys are looking fresh and it should be a good game for us.’
Aberdeen FC Team News:
The Dons will be without Richie Byrne as usual and Yeovil bound Gary Dempsey joins him in the treatment room.
Player to watch: Ricky Foster
Ricky has been the Dons match winner recently as he belts down the left wing from the full back position. He scored a good goal at Falkirk which ended up being the difference between the sides and two stunners from serious distance to net vital goals in the recent matches against Motherwell and Hibs.
Kilmarnock FC Team News:
33 year old Allan Johnston has signed a new 2 year deal to stay at Rugby Park and South African keeper Chad Harpur has agreed to a one year contract after sub keeper Graeme Smith rejected a new deal.
Player to watch: Steven Naismith
As much as I tried to not to be obvious by Saying Naismith will be Killie’s biggest threat, he obviously will be. With Premiership clubs such as Arsenal watching the little forward, he’s clearly a dangerous player and will need to be shackled.
Match Facts & Stats
Killie won the first contest between the clubs 1-0 this season but the Dons have bounced back and won the next two matches 3-0 and then 2-1 at Rugnt Park.
Geologist & University Professor John Underhill will be the man in black for this vital clash.
Aberdeen travel to Tynecastle for what should be their own cup final next Sunday, the 6th of May.