No. of Shots
Shots on Target
Boyce (2, 29)
21: Jamie MacDonald, 12: Darryl Westlake (02: Ross Barbour 25)
06: Mark Connolly (05: Stuart Findlay 11), 18: Lee Ashcroft,
03: Steven Smith , 28: Josh Magennis,
14: Mark OHara, 15: Lee McCulloch (17: Aaron Splaine 41),
11: Kallum Higginbotham, 07: Rory McKenzie,
09: Kris Boyd.
David Shaw @ Rugby Park
It was with great pleasure and admiration that we welcomed Ross County FC and their 130 far-travelling supporters to Rugby Park for this summer-‘ish’ footballing extravaganza on week 4 of the awe-inspiring SPL.
County, of course, are based in Dingwall, which is just north of… well, everywhere really! It’s a lovely little town that sits highly on many people’s ‘bucket-list’ of places to visit before you die – but mainly sadomasochists! In fact, one intrepid traveller recently left a glowing review of the town on TripAdvisor. He stated that the town was about as exciting as Belgium – except that Belgium gave him Internet, running water, and a reason to live! An even nicer review commented that Dingwall was somewhere that you could truly lose yourself, then find yourself again… in the 1970’s! From a personal point of view, I’ve always found the locals to be heart-warmingly welcoming and always keen to share their cultural lifestyle. In fact, the last time I went to County’s ground, a good friend of mine was advised to try one of Aunty Senga’s legendary pies.
“Did she make them?” he asked cordially.
“No, but she’s in them!” was the reply he didn’t expect, nor want to hear.
Mercifully, he was later assured that Aunty Senga was in fact a sheep, though just why she was called ‘Aunty’ Senga remains confidential. Nevertheless, we weren’t here to compare cultural differences, but to lock horns in a battle of steel, grit, determination and sheer will to win – virtues that had long been instilled in County by their steely-eyed gaffers, Jim McIntyre - a former Killie legend of the turf, and Billy Dodds - a bloke with big ears from New Cumnock! On paper, the prospect of a Killie win looked more daunting than E.T’s phone bill. Yet, whatever we lacked in guile, we surely made up for in expectation. After all, we were just playing a ‘diddy’ team. Right?
It would be nearly 2.30 before GL announced his team for the day, presumably so that young kids could be safely tucked up in bed beforehand. Was he really playing a 38-year old in the centre of midfield? Surely he wasn’t playing Magennis on the left wing again after the Dundee fiasco? Oh yes he was! Killie fans feared the worst and it didn’t take too long for those fears to manifest into a horror-fest.
Only 90 seconds on the clock and two of our old boys came back to haunt us - Gardyne and Irvine linking perfectly to set up the impressive Boyce with the opener from 12 yards, albeit from a deflection. It would be a three way combination that would destroy us in a first half not seen since, well, our last home game.
Two minutes later and Connolly was robbed by Gardyne, who fed Irvine, who fed Boyce. This time, MacDonald brilliantly saved Boyce’s effort but Franks was on hand to blast home the rebound and his diary left grim reading for the watching home faithful.
Killie fans screamed in horror at the (lack of) defence but in truth it was the Staggies midfield that was causing all the damage as they just skipped past Big Lee and Scarlett. Curran had a few attempts saved by MacDonald, who was keeping Killie in the match single handedly – again! After ten minutes, our captain courageous limped off and was replaced by Finlay, but the onslaught continued - Gardyne, Boyce and Curran having further efforts saved by MacDonald as Killie vainly tried to hang on.
Then, after 30 minutes, a 3rd Staggies goal brought howls of derision from the home fans. Left-back, Reckord, completely unchallenged on the left wing, blasted a cross-cum-shot towards the far post and Boyce tapped in. He looked a mile offside but the defending was so bad that neither players nor fans seemed to care – so the linesman’s flag stayed down and referee Robertson awarded the goal. Westlake then went off injured to be replaced by Barbour. The fat lady was now taking requests!
Six minutes later and the song was ‘Goodnight Vienna’ as centre-half Davies hooked in a shot from a Gardyne corner. Unbelievably, it was now 4-0 and Killie were completely on the rack. Big Lee, who was either injured, knackered or just shell-shocked, was then replaced by young Splaine and suddenly the Killie midfield had someone capable of running with the ball. A Boyd free kick struck the post just before the first half ended and Killie trooped off for a half-time Valium.
Thankfully, the second half didn’t produce any more kicks in the teeth for the home fans as Killie began taking the game to the visitors. Splaine and McKenzie ran their hearts out for their club, but to no avail. Boyd did have the ball in the net but was wrongly ruled offside by the same linesman who awarded Boyce’s second goal. McDonald again produced excellent stops from substitutes Graham and Murdoch to keep bums on seats for just a little while longer.
But, by the time the final whistle sounded, the jeers that surrounded Rugby Park were firmly directed at only one man. GL has a huge problem to solve here, and with an upcoming League Cup match against Berwick looming then it could be ‘shoogly-bum’ time for the Killie manager. But then again, Berwick are just a ‘diddy’ team. Right?"
Gary Locke: "We're not giving ourselves a chance in games with the way we've started, the first half was embarrassing. It's maybe a lack of confidence but we're going to have to stick together. The last couple of games I thought we were getting there and improving. We've got to play better than that, that's unacceptable. We showed a bit of character in the second half but it's easy to play when you're 4-0 down, we've got to make sure we give ourselves a chance in games by doing our jobs. [Need new recruits?] Without a doubt. It's difficult because the budget's spent, but the transfer window isn't closed. I think it's pretty evident after today that we need to strengthen at the back."
All images © Sandy Ferguson and should not be reproduced without his permission