Gary Kirkpatrick @ Rugby Park
Kilmarnock hung on to take a fortuitous point after a poor display against St Mirren at Rugby Park in the SPFL Development League.
Killie’s young lads lacked quality, struggling to pass the ball between each other throughout the game. The Rugby Park outfit were in-fact lucky in keeping the score level at full-time. St Mirren started slowly but gradually grew in confidence during the second period. However, they lacked a clinical edge in front of goal and striker Lawrence Shankland could’ve had a hat-trick.
Going into the encounter, both sides had lost their previous matches in the league and were looking to bounce back with a positive result. The game began at a pedestrian pace and chances were at a premium for each side throughout the first 10 minutes of the match.
The Buddies momentarily came to life and went close through Shankland’s long range effort and Kalvin Orsi’s ambitious strike, also from distance. However, their brief spark of good play faded quickly.
Killie’s Scott McLean should really have put his team in front after some lovely build-up play on 18 minutes. However, his resulting shot lacked conviction and was easily saved by Saints’ Reece Willison in goals.
Killie began to press the Paisley side high up the pitch as coach Paul Stephenson demanded more urgency from his team, who have only won once this season. Jack Whittaker saw a 25 yard shot fly just over the woodwork on 35 minutes and McLean watched in frustration as his lovely curling effort was save superbly by Willison just before the interval.
The second period was exciting and much livelier than the first 45 minutes. It wasn’t to be as entertaining for a Killie supporter however, with the team under the cosh for the most part.
St Mirren began their dominance with a free header but Shankland misjudged the flight of the ball and failed to convert. Orsi then showed a moment of class with a deft piece of skill on the edge of the box before smashing the post with the eventual shot.
Saints made a double substitution on 58 minutes and one of their replacements, Conor O’Keefe, almost made an instant impact when his low cross found Orsi in the box, but the midfielder failed to finish.
On 70 minutes, McLean had a fierce free-kick parried by goalkeeper Willison as Killie looked to open the scoring despite an uninspiring second half showing. The resulting corner was met by young Cameron Innes, whose header went well wide.
The last 15 minutes saw the match increase in intensity as St Mirren seemed the more likely to score. However, in undeserved fashion, Kilmarnock broke the deadlock. Winger Jack Whittaker cut inside from the left and passed to Lewis Morrison, who had plenty of time to pick his spot and rifle home.
The Buddies were searching for the goal which had eluded them all game as Shankland twice went close in quick succession. Eventually, in the 84th minute, they equalised via substitute Kyle McAllister’s superb left-footed drive from distance, as Killie’s lead lasted just 6 minutes.
The away side still had time to find a winner but Killie managed to hold on and take a fortunate point at home. Killie currently sit second bottom in the Development League with 4 points while St Mirren move above Aberdeen and Dunfermline into 8th position.
Killie’s next opponents are Falkirk and that game will be played on 10th October away from home.
All images © Gary Kirkpatrick and should not be reproduced without his permission