Johnston confident of beating Dons
Kilmarnock boss Allan Johnston expects Aberdeen to be fighting it out for a European slot come the end of the season - but reckons his on-form side can beat them on Sunday.
Both teams started 2014 with last-gasp victories after Dons midfielder Peter Pawlett struck in stoppage time on New Year's Day against Dundee United, while Kris Boyd's sixth goal in six games killed off St Mirren 24 hours later.
The Rugby Park outfit's 2-1 win over Danny Lennon's side mean they end the festive period having collected nine points from a possible 12.
They now sit eighth in the Scottish Premiership but are still 17 points behind the third-placed Pittodrie side, who visit Ayrshire next.
Johnston reckons the side bossed by Derek McInnes will not drop any lower than their current slot by the time the Europa League places are decided in May.
But he has backed his players to take another big scalp after recovering from their slow start to the campaign.
The Killie manager said: "I was at Aberdeen's game against Dundee United the other day and they are a top team. You have seen that from the start of the season.
'They are going to be up there in second or third with the quality of squad they have got.
"We know how much of a challenge it will be and we'll have to be at our very best. But we can take a lot of credit for our performance against St Mirren and we will welcome them here believing we can beat them."
Aberdeen captain Russell Anderson has revealed the players are enjoying the expectation levels at the club rather than viewing them as a burden.
With Motherwell's game against Inverness postponed because of a waterlogged Fir Park pitch, the Dons will move into second place.
Anderson is comfortable with the pressure that brings - and he pointed to their late comeback victory over Dundee United at a sold-out Tannadice on New Year's Day as evidence of how they are handling the fans' demands.
The defender said: "I think (Wednesday) would have been an ideal example if we wouldn't have been able to handle it - we could well have buckled after going a goal down.
"I don't think the players really feel that pressure.
"If there is a pressure I'd rather it was that kind of pressure than the pressure you face when you are down the bottom end of the league and trying to make the top six or you are struggling from game to game trying to get a victory here and there.
"At this moment in time we can't wait for the games to come around quick enough and you'd much rather be in that camp than the other one."
Aberdeen look destined to end a four-year run of finishing in the bottom six, but they fell away after a promising start last season and Anderson knows they cannot rest on their laurels.
He said: "It's about consistency now - it's about doing it again. Over the course of the season I think we have been consistent but we are only halfway through it.
"You don't get anything for how the league looks at this moment in time. It's what happens when the season finishes in May.
"So we have to be consistent, we have to go to the next game and try and win that one which will be equally as hard, a game against Kilmarnock down there."