Arabs 0-3 Killie
Premiership Match 37, Tannadice, May 24th 2023
Premiership Match 37, Tannadice, May 24th 2023
No. of Shots
Shots on Target
|Goals||None||Vassell 14, 44|
Killie: Walker, Mayo, Stokes, Taylor, Chambers, Armstrong, (Alston 71), Lyons , (McInroy 87), Polworth, (Sanders 71), McKenzie, Vassell, (Cameron 66), Doidge, (Robinson 86).
Subs Not Used: Hemming, Murray, Jones, (Power injured in the warmup and was replaced by McInroy).
Attendance: 10,406 (1,129 Killie) Man of the Match Vote
Killie were clinical and dominant in just their second away win of the league season, and now need only avoid defeat at home to County in their final fixture to ensure survival.
The Rugby Park side have the worst away record in the Premiership but were clinical and composed as United capitulated.
With his side teetering on the precipice, Tannadice manager Jim Goodwin had decided drastic action was required. He benched error-prone goalkeeper Mark Birighitti, with Jack Newman handed the gloves for just his second start, while 36-year-old Steven Fletcher was patched up and rushed back from a muscle injury despite being 70% fit at best.
It reeked of desperation and the calculated gamble had little effect as United were again undone by defensive lapses that have been a hallmark of their calamitous season.
Killie had begun warming to their task before being presented with a gift. Loick Ayina decided to try to dribble his way out of defence, only to clatter into a challenge and cough up possession.
Rory McKenzie picked up the pieces and his effort was blocked but not cleared by United, with Vassell pouncing to hammer a shot into the far corner.
The striker might have had a specular second - his 40-yard volley was tipped over by a backtracking Newman - before settling for a more mundane finish.
Again, United were a defensive shambles. Ilmari Niskanen played a risky backpass to Ayina on the edge of the box and Christian Doidge nipped in. The striker bore down on goal and was cleaned out by Newman, but nimbly prodded the ball to Vassell to double United's deficit on the stroke of half-time.
The hosts had offered precious little save for a Fletcher snap-shot that sailed over and a wayward Peter Pawlett overhead kick.
Goodwin made a double change at the break, with Niskanen and Ian Harkes replaced by Dylan Levitt and Glenn Middleton, yet the visitors continued to hold the upper hand.
United eventually fashioned a chance as Fletcher glanced a header wide, but Kilmarnock made sure of the win with a swift counter as McKenzie galloped from his own half and squared for Cameron to dispatch a first-time strike.
United substitute Rory MacLeod hit the post in the dying embers as boos rang out at Tannadice with the club's three-year stay in the top flight effectively over.
Derek McInnes: "We have taken a big step tonight but there's still work to be done. Really pleased with how the players dealt with the game. We were very aggressive from the outset, we turned the ball over a few times with our press and caused a few issues for them early on. The biggest thing was getting that all-important first goal, particularly as the away team. There was so much on the game for United as well and that pressure became even more. We scored a good second goal and managed the game really well. We never really felt pinned in, and the substitutes helped negate everything United tried to throw at us. A good night's work, we're pleased but not over-celebrating. Delighted for the supporters to go down the road happy and a bit more confident for Sunday."
Hotshots | Squad | Fixtures | Managers Comments | Season Diary
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