SPFL Match 35 - April 30th 2016 - New Douglas Park
SPFL Match 35 - April 30th 2016 - New Douglas Park
No. of Shots
Shots on Target
Kiltie 11, 32
Conor Brennan, Mark O'Hara , Conrad Balatoni, Miles Addison, Craig Slater, Lee Hodson, Gary Dicker, Rory McKenzie Greg Kiltie, Josh Magennis (Tope Obadey 81), Kris Boyd.
Subs Not Used: Devlin MacKay, Stuart Findlay, Alex Henshall, Kallum Higginbotham, Tope Obadyi, Julien Faubert, Adam Frizzell.
James Morrison @ New Douglas Park
After an eventful week of off-field activities including the unsuccessful appeal of the red card for our best player, the Killie Trust agreeing Heads of Terms for funding a seat on the board and shareholders, and some so-called 'laptop loonies' giving a certain former Chairman a tough time at the club AGM, it was time for the Killie faithful to watch a game again and head to the footballing mecca of Hamilton for what truly was a "must win" match.
As I entered the ground I noticed League Cup winning skipper James Fowler politely agreeing to be photographed with the renowned Gordon Sawers - I did wonder if that fan's blood pressure could cope with an inept Killie performance?!?
There was one enforced change with Conor Brennan replacing the suspended MacDonald but Lee Clark sprang some surprises, bringing back Craig Slater for Julien Faubert, benching Higgy for fit again Josh Magennis, and playing Rory McKenzie as the "number 10" with a free role but mainly through the middle. I've always thought he is more effective in that role and he was to show it again with excellent link up play.
It was clear from before kick off that both the fans and the Killie players were well up for the game - the players doing a huddle and the Killie choir in fine voice.
The black shirted away side started brightly and should have scored in the first minute when Accies enforcer (in a team of enforcers) Darian MacKinnon headed a Slater effort over his keeper onto the bar with the rebound falling to the inrushing Kiltie whose point blank shot was expertly blocked by Accies skipper and Northern Ireland stopper Michael McGovern.
Killie did not have to wait long for the opener though: after 11 minutes McKenzie's persistence on the left of the Accies box proved worthwhile as he cut through two Accies defenders and laid the ball back to Kiltie who lashed it past McGovern into the top right hand corner from 15 yards.
MacKinnon then went ballistic claiming the ball had gone out before Rory cut it back: he grabbed McKenzie, argued with ref Thomson and sprinted over to assistant referee Kylie McMullan along with his manager Martin Canning and a few of his team mates.
MacKinnon was duly rewarded for his efforts - with a yellow card. That was to be the first of SIX shown to an Accies side destined to lose their discipline as the game progressed.
Almost 1,400 travelling Killie fans were now giving the side tremendous vocal backing - and also expressing their unhappiness with former chairman Michael Johnston.
Accies were creating little from open play but were threatening from set pieces especially from free kicks awarded by the ever fussy and whistle-happy match referee Craig Thomson.
After 32 minutes Killie struck again with BBC pundits questioning the possibility of Kiltie being offside when he received an excellent reverse pass from skipper Boyd. Kiltie supplied a sublime finish; not one Accies player complained about assistant referee McMullan's decision and it was 2-0 to the mighty Killie.
Killie right back O'Hara was possibly then relieved to see Mr Thomson only show him a yellow card for what could have been considered a straight legged challenge on Kurakins. Two weeks in a row where the youngster could consider himself lucky not to have seen red.
Young stand-in keeper Conor Brennan looked confident clutching a cross ball, then punching clear under pressure and also diving at the feet of pantomime villain Imrie. He was really needed in first half injury time - his excellent one handed stop from the dangerous Ali Crawford preventing Accies getting on the score sheet at an important time. That save was to prove pivotal.
A satisfactory first half and I'm sure most Killie fans would have even settled for a 2-0 scoreline after 90 minutes but as the second half started Accies continued to try and stretch the Killie defence pushing players wide when they were in possession. The Killie defence were resolute though, with all four players in the unit performing well. Special mention to Balatoni who was back to his calm, assured self after an out of character display at Inverness.
Gary Dicker - head bandaged following a clash with the annoying Imrie - also covered every blade of the artificial pitch. At long last we've found a replacement for that man Fowler who was treated so poorly in his final season with us by former manager Allan Johnston.
Up stepped Killie skipper and goal machine Boyd - only to be told by the pernickety whistler to place the ball properly on the spot. With a smile, Boyd calmly slotted the ball into the bottom left of McGovern's goal as the Accies keeper flung himself to his right.
The crucial third goal was Killie's and it was time for many Accies fans to leave - even though there were 30 minutes left to play and many of them hadn't even paid to watch the game!
Killie moved the ball about superbly with new found confidence and the impressive McKenzie nearly added a fourth chipping just over. Magennis then finished well but was flagged for offside.
On 77 minutes man of the match Greg Kiltie got to by-line, provided an excellent cut back and Josh Magennis applied the finish via his international team-mate McGovern and hapless Accies substitute Danny Redmond.
In the final minutes Accies were rewarded for their "efforts" with a flurry of yellow cards from Mr Thomson. One tackle by Ziggy Gordon on Slater seemed worse than the earlier O'Hara effort but the Accies announcer was to have the final say on his side's performance - telling everyone that there would be no Accies man of the match award as no one deserved it. I could not argue with that and admired their honesty!
The Killie team and fans were fantastic - the fans even cheekily chanting "Johnston Johnston gie us a wave" towards the under fire director.
It was a vital win and goal difference swing of eight... yes eight... which could yet prove crucial. Lee Clark has made such a difference and I truly hope he gets the chance to manage the side in the top flight next season.
It's now time for the fans to give the team more terrific backing on Saturday against the Jags. Together we can do this!
Oh... and... Hamilton Accies we're coming for you!
Lee Clark: "The level of performance has been high, we have just had a little bit of luck to go with our good play and we took a high percentage of our chances. I asked them, when you perform like that, it makes you wonder what's gone wrong before and why we are in this predicament. We had very clear opportunities to win by more.
That would be nit-picking but we knew, not just the points, but goal difference could be an issue. That swung it by eight so that's helped us a hell of a lot.
But we still have it all to do. We are not getting excited. We are four points behind Hamilton so they are still in charge. But if we continue to perform like that, and if we can get three from three, which is a big ask, but we can certainly do it if we play to that type of level, we give ourselves a great opportunity to get out of where we are."
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