Killie Notch Their SPL Best Result!
Dunfermline 0 Kilmarnock 6
(SPL Match No.31 Apr 17th 1999 - East End Park)
HOW LONG can we carry on with results like this? Kilmarnock will have to find a bigger league to play in.
Well, maybe not, but the side from Ayrshire did confirm that their reasonable proximity to the Old Firm in the Premier League is not an optical illusion. Apart from a blip after the turn of the year, the team constructed by Bobby Williamson has had a tremendous season, as some statistics confirm.
They have lost fewer goals (24) than any other side in the country, have scored more than any in the top league bar the Old Firm, and have been beaten only six times in 31 games.
Looking at that record, perhaps the scoreline above is not quite as startling as it seems, bearing in mind they were playing a team that had lost nearly twice as many goals, has now been beaten twice as many times, and before Saturday was 23 points behind them.
However, do not try telling a Dunfermline fan this. They were gathered at East End Park confident they would see another rousing Great Escape performance from their team, especially after their good efforts in holding Rangers to a 1-0 score on Wednesday at Ibrox.
Maybe they took too much out of themselves there, although manager Dick Campbell refused to allow that as an excuse for what he called "appalling" defending.
It was, too, but maybe naive would be a better word to describe the poverty of the marking and positional play of the Fife players but, to be fair, much of that was due to the fact that they had gone two down early in the second half and decided to go for broke. That was how they ended up, broke.
Killie, as much and maybe more than any team in the country, thrive on the counter-attack game, which might also explain why they beat Dunfermline 3-0 the last time they made the trip to East End Park.
With Ian Durrant revelling in the space ahead of him, and propelling precision passes into the path of his mates, John Henry having maybe his finest game for the side, and Jerome Vareille (left) back as smart and willing as ever after injury, the one good thing for Dunfermline was the final whistle. It could have got much worse.
Killie always looked likely winners but a six-goal demolition did not seem a possibility in the first half when they contained the Fifers well enough, apart from a good header by Andy Tod which Gordon Marshall brilliantly touched away.
John Henry had put Killie in front when he hammered home a pass from Alan Mahood to begin a day during which he scored twice and was involved in two more.
The Fife side changed their line-up at half time, taking a real gamble by bringing on striker Andy Smith and taking off defender Richard Huxford. Like some of my own efforts at the races, it was a gamble that went spectacularly wrong.
Killie exploited the spaces created by some slack discipline in the rear ranks and as the sun shone the goals poured down on the unfortunate Lee Butler.
First up was Ally Mitchell after Henry's close-in shot was blocked Bully converted the rebound, then Captain Ian Durrant joined in with a brilliantly judged lofted ball over the keeper after Marc Millar lost the ball.
Dunfermline did try to get their own attack going but the Killie defence coped comfortably and then took advantage of the desperation in the other side with another goal, this time by Jerome Vareille, who beat Butler from an awkward angle.
Henry then made it five, but there is always room for an Ally McCoist (right) contribution, especially if goals are readily available. On he came, Henry magnificently chipped the ball into Coisty's path and the keeper was left to pick it out of the net for the sixth time.
Kilmarnock: Marshall; MacPherson, Innes, Lauchlan, Kerr; Mahood, Reilly, Durrant (Wright 75min), Henry; Vareille (McCutcheon 73min), Mitchell (McCoist 77min).
Scorers: Kilmarnock: Henry 26, 75, Mitchell 55, Durrant 57, Vareille 68, McCoist 90.
Referee: S Dougal (Burnside).
Bobby Williamson's Comments..."All our goals were of the top draw, I am delighted with John Henry's two and with Jerome Vareille's comeback after so long being off with injury, with a goal. We have so many talented players now that many of them can't get in the team.''