Aird (28, 43)
Curtis Lyle, Taylor Queen, Sam Lidington, Dean Hawkshaw (Aiden Wilson 31), Lewis Clark, Adam Frizzell, Jack Whittaker, Lewis Morrison (Darren Curtis 45), Nathan Tyson, Jack Paterson (Will Graham 57), Scott McLean.
Subs Not Used: Thomas Dempsie.
Robbie Thomson, Lewis Kidd (Marky Munro 68), Mark Finlayson, Cameron Eadie, Luca Gasparotto, Reis Peggie, Fraser Aird, Jonny Mitchell , Scott Shepherd, Conor Langton (Connor McBride 87), Mark Stowe.
Subs: Lewis McMinn, Kyle Johnson.
Gary Kirkpatrick @ Rugby Park
A sluggish Killie side fell victim to a superb Falkirk team as Fraser Aird inspired his teammates to all three points at a wet and miserable evening at Rugby Park. Falkirk were very comfortable throughout and showcased a number of exciting prospects who all seem set to enjoy big futures in the game. 20 year-old Scott Shepherd and two-goal former Rangers winger Fraser Aird were standout performers on the night. Killie simply did not turn up and lacked imagination and direction - perhaps distracted by the departure of the U20 coach Paul Stephenson following first team manager Lee Clark’s move to Bury last week. Thus control has been handed over to Academy Director Paul McDonald and senior squad striker Kris Boyd for the time being but their first night in the dugout ended in bitter disappointment.
The opening stages saw Falkirk assert their control and could’ve scored after 5 minutes through forward Shepherd but in the end, he dragged his shot across goal and wide. Striker Nathan Tyson returned to action and was provided the chance to regain his match fitness and get on the scoresheet. He did well on 10 minutes to cut inside and get a shot away but keeper Robbie Thomson denied him. Tyson was prevented again moments later but after a defensive mishap on Falkirk’s part and being put through on goal as a result, he lacked confidence and failed to beat Thomson. Soon after, Dean Hawkshaw was involved in a nasty head collision with his midfield counterpart and was briefly escorted off the pitch. He returned but still seemed a little dazed so was forced off after half an hour - defender Aidan Wilson took his place. Falkirk’s quality on the break was frightening and they managed to get in front against the run of play. They patiently worked the ball around the box before Aird picked up possession and finished brilliantly from 20 yards. At the time, it seemed harsh on Killie but from thereon in, it was all Falkirk. Shepherd cannoned a fierce strike off the crossbar before the neat and tidy Aird scored his and Falkirk’s second minutes before the interval with an angled finish inside the box.
It didn’t get much better for Killie throughout the second phase as Falkirk settled into a rhythm and played some neat and attractive football. Adam Frizzell and Scott McLean were uncharacteristically guilty of relinquishing possession numerously. The Bairns looked hungry and efforts from Reis Peggie and a glaring miss by Shepherd from six yards out should’ve have increased their goal tally for the night. They then had a goal chopped off for offside which could’ve made it three. The Ayrshiremen upped the tempo for the remaining 15 minutes and managed to pull one back and and suddenly, all did not seem lost. Frizzell collected the ball and put it on a plate for the onrushing Jack Whittaker, who directed his shot into the bottom corner. Sam Lidington saw a piledriver well saved by Thomson and sub Wilson’s header flew just wide as Killie searched for an unlikely leveller. However, despite a nervy ending for Falkirk, they got over the line just in time as Killie fell to a narrow but deserved defeat.
As a result of the loss, Killie drop one place to 13th in the Development League table, with St Mirren taking our previous place in 12th. The lads face Rangers next Monday evening. Rangers are also Killie’s opponents in the SFA Youth Cup Semi-Final - a date has not been set for that tie as of yet.
All images © Gary Kirkpatrick and should not be reproduced without his permission