Aberdeen moved to within five points of Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic after beating Kilmarnock – but Dons boss Derek McInnes has written off his side’s chances of catching the Hoops.
The Pittodrie side’s 2-1 Rugby Park victory means they have now claimed 68 points for the season – equalling last year’s tally with six matches of the current campaign still to play.
The win was confirmed thanks to Adam Rooney’s 26th goal of the season and a second-half winner from youngster Cammy Smith.
It moved them 13 clear of third-place Inverness after the Highlanders held Celtic to a 1-1 draw on Sunday and also took them a couple nearer to Ronny Deila’s team.
But McInnes said: “We did not even mention the Celtic result before the game.
“Okay we have gained a couple of points on the two teams closest to us but Celtic are not going to lose the league now.
“They are very strong and have never showed any form that would suggest they will throw it away.
“We have been very good since the back end of October and are just delighted we have got to 68 points, the same tally as we had in last season.
“To have reached that with six games to go is testament to how well and how hard the players have worked.
“We are getting better and stronger as we go along and getting further away from the rest. That pleases me no end.”
Aberdeen killed off Killie’s faint hopes of reaching the top six and now leave them looking over their shoulder at the battle to avoid the relegation play-off spot.
Rooney nodded his team in front after 40 minutes when Donervon Daniels knocked down Niall McGinn’s free-kick.
Killie’s Craig Slater levelled just after half-time with a stunning 25-yard strike but the visitors made the most of referee John Beaton’s decision to wave play on after Josh Magennis went down under a Mark Reynolds tackle. They darted up field to see Smith head home the second with 20 minutes remaining after McGinn did the damage with another fine cross.
The hosts, who were incensed to see Tope Obadeyi penalised for a foul on Willo Flood just as he prepared himself to tap into an empty net during the first half, did get a penalty in stoppage time when Dons keeper Scott Brown barged into Lee Miller. However, Brown made amends as he saved Slater’s weak spot-kick.
Killie boss Gary Locke said: “I’m not really a manager who tends to moan too much about referees because I think it’s unfair but I certainly felt it was a foul on Josh in the build-up to their winner.
“You could tell by the reaction of our supporters that they felt the same way but we didn’t get it and we should have defended the cross better.
“Penalising Tope in the first half was another baffling decision. There were one or two like it today and I was obviously disappointed by them but, as a manager, you need to keep your opinions to yourself.”