The Story of '97
by Craig Benson
by Craig Benson
Going in to the final round of fixtures Kilmarnock were sitting precariously in 7th, on 38 points, and going into a final game versus 6th placed Aberdeen at Rugby Park.
Motherwell were Killie's nearest rival in 8th on 37 points, and playing 5th placed Dunfermline at home. Hibs were 9th, also on 37 points but, were in the play-off spot on goal difference, and playing the already doomed Raith Rovers away.
As the afternoon moved along, at one point or another, all three clubs trailed in their respective games, and were in the relegation play off spot. All three clubs hit equalisers to pull themselves out of it.
Our own particular escape route took the form of going one down to a Billy Dodds header from a Joe Miller cross (is there a more underwhelming sentence in Scottish football?). Just a few moments previously, the same players carved us open, but on that occasion Dragoje Lekovic pulled off a magnificent reaction save.
We weren't so fortunate second time around.
HALF TIME: Kilmarnock 0 - 1 Aberdeen
Bobby's boys were staring a two legged play-off against Airdrie in the face.
Just under half an hour into the second half though, and step forward the hero of the hour.
Step forward Gary James Holt.
As you'll recall from earlier episodes, we charted the progress of Holt's headers almost leading to goals... this time he found the back of the net. Jim McIntyre forced his way into the box, and chipped a beaut of a ball for anyone willing to go up with the head. With Dons defenders in close proximity Holt jumped higher than the moon and stars themselves to blast the ball home with a stunning header.
Scenes! As I believe the youngsters of today would say.
What a time to score your first goal. What a way to save the club from the ignominy (see? I know a word or three) of the play-offs.
FULL TIME: Kilmarnock 1 - 1 Aberdeen
The final score at Rugby Park could still have condemned Killie but, rather extraordinarily, the other matches that mattered also ended up in draws. 2-2 between Well & the Pars. 1-1 between doomed Raith and Hibs.
We ended the day as we started. Killie safe in 7th, Well 8th, and Hibs going to the relegation play-off on goal difference.
Next stop for Killie? The little matter of a Scottish Cup final, against Falkirk. And the manager we had sacked in December. Of course, that couldn't possibly come back to haunt us... could it?
Lekovic, MacPherson, Kerr, Monty, McGowne, Reilly, Bagan, Mitchell, McIntyre, Holt, Burke
Subs: Brown & Roberts for Bagan & McIntyre
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