SPFL Play-Off Final (1st Leg) - Falkirk Stadium - May 19th 2016
SPFL Play-Off Final (1st Leg) - Falkirk Stadium - May 19th 2016
No. of Shots
Shots on Target
Jamie MacDonald, Mark O'Hara, Lee Ashcroft, Miles Addison, Lee Hodson, Craig Slater, Rory McKenzie, Gary Dicker, Greg Kiltie, Tope Obadeyi , Kris Boyd.
Subs (None Used): Conor Brennan, Jack Whittaker, Greg Taylor, Conrad Balatoni, Stuart Findlay, Adam Frizzell, Kallum Higginbotham.
James Morrison @ The Falkirk Stadium
Killie and Falkirk have been involved in a number of important games in the last twenty years :
1997 – the Cup Final in Govan where Killie edged it 1-0 thanks to a Paul Wright sclaff.
2007 – CIS Cup semi at Fir Park and the famous Naisy hat-trick when Falkirk had Kasper Schmeichel in goals.
2010- the last day drama when a score-less draw at Rugby Park saw Jimmy Calderwood’s side relegate Steven Pressley’s team.
I’ve always believed in fate...and karma...even before watching the gut wrenching game at Falkirk Stadium tonight.
The weather at the start of the game was truly awful and the Falkirk lack of organisation meant many Killie fans were still outside when the game kicked off at 7.45pm. Why were more turnstiles not open when they knew how many fans Killie would be turning up ?
Lee Clark had surprised the Killie faithful by dropping Conrad Balatoni in favour of Lee Ashcroft and also bringing in the enigmatic Tope Obadeyi for the injured Josh Magennis.
A team huddle in front of the fans who had been able to get into the away end completed the Killie warm up just like the Accies game a few weeks ago – would that be a good omen ?
Killie started brightly and penned back the Bairns early on apart from a half hearted claim for a penalty when O’Hara challenged the shaven headed Sibbald in the Killie box.
Bairns keeper Danny Rogers had looked alert when a Gary Dicker cross was deflected, sending the ball in an arc towards the top corner. The Falkirk goalkeeper reached up to claw the ball away from underneath the bar. It broke to Kris Boyd on an awkward angle and his effort was scrambled away.
Both sides lacked a creative spark and were giving the ball away too easily; Tope Obadeyi (who has to be the most frustrating player I’ve seen in Killie stripes !) was causing some problems to Falkirk full back Leahy with his pace and that duel was to prove pivotal just before the break.
Falkirk gradually came in to the game and had their first chance when a nervy looking Jamie MacDonald spilled Bob McHugh's shot; fortunately, the rebound flew towards Baird at an awkward height and he had twist his body to make contact, before sending his effort over the bar to the relief of the Killie fans behind that goal.
The Killie choir were in fine voice despite the rain pouring down at times – former Chairman Michael Johnston’s clear unpopularity was sung about as well as their dislike for their county rivals.
A rainbow appeared just before dopey Tope found himself one on one with Luke Leahy – his pace and power took him past the despairing lunge of the Bairns full back who clearly caught both the Killie player’s legs especially the right knee. Falkirk boss Houston later doubted there had been any contact and claimed to have had a good view of the incident – dark blue tinted contact lenses must have been worn- and only Obadeyi will know why he did not go down in the penalty box when he felt the contact. Did he think he could have been booked for diving ?
0-0 at half time and the game did have the look of a scoreless draw. Would fate intervene though ?
With Killie shooting towards the packed away end the Killie fans were ever hopeful but had to watch Player of the Year MacDonald flap unconvincingly at a cross ball before the away side started to actually create chances.
In 52 minutes a well worked corner found Boyd who swivelled and shot into the goalie’s top right hand corner beyond the despairing dive of Rodgers – it looked a goal all the way until Sibbald popped up on the line to head it clear. (Right) Why was he even still on the line as the home defence had pushed out ?
A few minutes later and Boyd turned provider as he released Obadeyi with an excellent through ball. Tope had finished coolly in similar circumstances on Saturday but this time he fluffed his lines....took a poor touch...and shot into the side netting when he should have done better.....arrrgghh.
MacDonald was a virtual spectator for most of the second half but more frustration was to follow for the Killie faithful when the usually lethal Boyd headed straight at Rodgers with a free header in the six yard box.
Much had been written and said about this Falkirk side competing for the entire game and the Killie team should have been well aware of that fact.
In the one minute of added time Greg Kiltie gave away a silly, unnecessary foul and someone then switched off most of the Killie team. With Tope pointing at Vaulks the ball was eventually passed to him in acres of space from Sibbald who had also not been closed down.
Just as Falkirk had done against Hibs....wham...Vaulks thrashed in a low effort which went through the legs of a Killie defender and then the yellow clad legs of MacDonald.
Simply sickening – Falkirk 1 Killie 0 – with the last kick of the ball. Killie had somehow Hibsed it.
The game perhaps summed up our season as Falkirk had posed little or no threat from open play. Somehow we’d managed to lose a game when at worst it should have been a draw.
Best for Killie was Lee Ashcroft who suffered a bloody mouth for his efforts; he more than justified his selection.
The tie is now at half time and Killie supporters need to turn out and back the boys at Rugby Park just like the loyal away fans have done .
Has fate dealt us a cruel hand ? Was tonight some kind of karma ?
Sunday is another day and our club needs heroes and fans to back the team until the very end.
Lee Clark: "It's an absolutely woeful goal at any level. You'd be disappointed if it happened at any level of football - schoolboy, junior, whatever. If your team conceded in that manner you would be devastated.
"We had the most chances, the best of the chances, we have dominated for long periods. But the game is about putting the ball in the net and doing the basics right. We stopped doing the basics right in the last part of the game.
"You get in a shape from the goalkeeper's kick, you don't commit a cheap foul, and when the foul happens you defend it properly, everybody back.
"I was trying to get certain players back in the penalty area just to see the free-kick out.
"But the tie's not over. We have been the dominant team and we've got to give absolutely every ounce we've got on Sunday to get the result.
All images © Sandy Ferguson and should not be reproduced without his permission
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