No. of Shots
Shots on Target
|Goals||None||Stewart (34, 78)
Loy (45, 47)
21: Jamie MacDonald (Debut), 12: Darryl Westlake, 06: Mark Connolly,
05: Stuart Findlay (Debut), 03: Steven Smith (Debut),
10: Chris Johnston (07: Rory McKenzie 45mins),
04: Jamie Hamill (20: Dale Carrick 45mins [Debut]), 08: Scott Robinson (Debut),
11: Kallum Higginbotham (Debut), 09: Kris Boyd (Re-Debut),
28: Josh Magennis (14: Mark OHara 45mins ).
Match Facts: Most ever Killie debutants since inaugural game in 1869. First time ever club has lost 5 straight home league fixtures.
Allan Wilson @ Rugby Park
It was the first day of August and the first game of the new season. Rugby Park was bathed in sunshine as we took our seats in the Frank Beattie Stand.
There is nothing quite like the first game of a new season. Nervous excitement causes our hearts to race. We close our eyes and offer a silent prayer. “Please let it be our day.” What would the next 90 minutes bring? Would it be a celebration of a great victory or will we be drowning our sorrows and staring into the pit of despair?
Gary Locke had performed major surgery on the team during the offseason. Manuel Pascali, who had been the heart and sole of the team in past seasons, was cut and returned to Italy. Alexei Eremenko the source of most creativity and guile was also removed and was languishing somewhere in Finland. When vital organs are removed, it is important that they be replaced and given time for recovery. In the SPL supporters do not have much patience and time is a luxury not often afforded.
The game kicked off and it was obvious in the first few minutes that it might be a long day and that our prayers may go unanswered. Paul Hartley had sent out Dundee with a solid game plan. They ran at the Kilmarnock defense with pace. Their passing was crisp and their movement off the ball executed with precision. Killie on the other hand looked disorganized and nervous. Tackles were missed and passes went astray. The midfield was being overrun. The ball was booted forward with the hope that Boyd and Magennis might be able to hold it up and relieve the pressure. It didn’t work.
It could have been 3-0 Dundee in the first twenty minutes. The dark blue tide rolled forward and fired shot after shot on the Killie goal. Jamie MacDonald stemmed the tide with a series of fine saves, but the writing was on the wall. In the 34th minute, Greg Stuart was rewarded for his powerful running as the engine of the Dundee midfield, when he curled a shot into the top corner.
Could they hold out to half time? Alas not and Rory Loy added a second on the stroke of half time.
The off-season surgery had not had the desired effect. Major changes would need to be made. There had been little organization and leadership. Jamie Hamill was completely ineffective in the holding midfielder role. The wide players were not able to get round the back of the Dundee defence and provide the service for Boyd to be effective. There was no creativity and no control in the middle of the park.
To his credit Gary Locke realized that he had possibly been wrong with the team selection and tactics. He made three changes at half time. The new formation hadn’t even strung two passes together when they found themselves 3-0 down. Gary Harkins, who hadn’t even broken a sweat in the first half, strode through the Killie defence like Xabi Alonso and chipped the ball over Jamie MacDonald.
Killie did play better in the second half, but the game was already over and Greg Stewart added a fourth for Dundee in the 78th minute.
It’s not the end of the world and just the first game of the season, however with several tough games coming up there may be little time afforded Gary Locke to get things fixed. The midfield is a real problem. The holding midfield position in front of the back four must be fixed. There also needs to be someone to take control and put their foot on the ball and make passes into the channels to allow the wide players to get the service into the strikers. Adjustments are needed not wholesale changes. It’s not yet time to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I won’t be slitting my wrists quite yet, but I will be making sure that the knife is within easy reach.
All images © Sandy Ferguson and should not be reproduced without his permission