Devlin McKay, Taylor Queen, Sam Lidington (Scott McLean 61), Martin Smith, Josh Webb, Scott Boyd, Adam Frizzell, Iain Wilson, Trialist (Innes Cameron 71), Dean Hawkshaw (William Graham 70), Callum McFadzean.
Subs Not Used: Lewis Clark, Curtis Lyle, Thomas Dempsie.
Kelby Mason, Jamie Brandon (Aaron Reid 60), Marcus Godinho, Chris Hamilton, Leon Jones, Harry Cochrane (Marc Leonard 26), Zidane Akers (Jay Sandison 60), Alex Petkov, Robbie Buchanan, Andy Irving, Dale Baxter.
Subs Not Used: Wojciech Gajda, Kyle Smith, Dean Ritchie.
Gary Kirkpatrick @ Rugby Park
An unnamed trialist, believed to be journeyman English striker Hakeem Araba, scored the only goal as Killie defeated Hearts in a dull league encounter at Rugby Park.
Araba, who was previously with recently relegated Falkenbergs FF in the Swedish top flight, broke the deadlock after 33 minutes when he took advantage of a slack back pass and finished confidently from an angle.
Tall, pacey and incredibly strong, the forward put in a decent performance albeit against an inferior Hearts side. Does Lee Clark, who was in attendance, wish to see more of Araba or is he convinced already the 6ft 3in brute can do a job for the first team?
On the back of a thrilling SFA Youth Cup victory over Ayr United, Killie’s young guns were looking to get back to winning ways in the league after a humbling 5-0 trouncing by Partick Thistle one week earlier.
It was such a poor game and neither side looked like winning it. Hearts fielded a very young side and failed to test Killie keeper Devlin Mackay as much as they would have wanted to. Killie, who made five changes from the Ayr game, seemed a bit tired and lacked urgency.
It took almost half an hour for the first genuine opportunity of the match to arrive, with Adam Frizzell’s turn of pace inside from the right and low shot going just wide of the left post.
But the big man Araba, with his first attempt on goal, showed young Frizz how it was done. A short backpass from a Jambos defender was latched upon by the trialist and he finished well into the left corner of the net. Out of nowhere, the home side were in front.
His evening almost got better when he fired a near post header from a corner inches past the target - it really should’ve been 2-0.
He won almost every aerial battle he challenged and caused the young Hearts backline real problems with his sheer strength and determination to impress. The Englishman was subbed after 71 minutes but can be happy with his display under the Rugby Park lights.
To play two days after a gruelling 120 minute-long cup match was always going to be tough for the boys that were in the starting eleven for the Hearts encounter - and it definitely showed throughout the match.
Killie failed to find their rhythm and put Hearts to bed earlier than they did - the away side offered next to nothing all evening. Their only real chance was when Dale Baxter was sent through on goal and tried to chip keeper Mackay - his shot however, hit the side netting.
They appealed for a penalty with just over 10 minutes to play when one of Hearts’ midfielders threw himself to the ground with little or no contact from Martin Smith. The referee was having none of it and play continued.
On another day, this Killie team would have blown the Edinburgh kids back to Gorgie but three points is three points and Paul Stephenson will be relieved and delighted to get that game out of the way after the demanding cup fixture on Sunday.
Killie face a league trip to Links Park where they’ll play Dundee on Monday 30th January. Kick-off is at 6pm.
All images © Gary Kirkpatrick and should not be reproduced without his permission