SPFL Match 11 - October 17th 2015 - Rugby Park
No. of Shots
Shots on Target
Jamie MacDonald, Mark O'Hara, Conrad Balatoni, Stuart Findlay, Steven Smith, Craig Slater, Kevin McHattie, Rory McKenzie (Adam Frizzell 90), Greg Kiltie (Tope Obadeyi 83), Kalum Higginbotham, Josh Magennis (Kris Boyd 86)
Subs Not Used: Mark Ridgers, Jamie Hamill, Mark Connolly, Lee Ashcroft
Alan Walker @ Rugby Park
Killie welcomed Inverness Caledonian Thistle today for the last game in the first round of fixtures. ICT had started the season well but a win for Killie would draw us within one point of the visitors, and only six points off Ross County away up in the higher echelons of the league. Most of the team were not on international duty, which allows for some rest and recovery. It was pleasing to see fans favourite Mark Connelly back on the bench, although he might have a hard time getting back into the team due to the excellent from of Balatoni and Findlay. Jamie Hammill dropped to the bench, with Stevie Smith replacing him in the centre of midfield.
Killie were without a clean sheet so far this season and that trend looked to continue in the first quarter of the game. The defence was a little shaky; Mark O’Hara in particular having some uncharacteristically poor moments at right-back. Inverness twice had great chances to open the scoring from free headers in the box. Luckily for Killie, both headers from Devine and Draper went wide of the target.
It is of no surprise that Killie’s upturn in fortunes has coincided with Craig Slater’s return to the team. As usual, he was instrumental in midfield and it was he who created Killie’s first chance deep into the first half. After collecting the ball in midfield, he skipped past a couple of players and set himself for a shot from about 22 yards. His shot, however, was not as neat as his build up play and went over the bar.
Headers seemed to be the order of the day for ICT as Meekings tried again with one. While this one was on target, it was an easy save for MacDonald. Meekings did well at the other end of the pitch though, blocking a goal-bound shot after some nice build up play from Higginbotham and man of the moment Josh Magennis.
Nevertheless, Magennis wasn’t to be denied in creating Killie’s first goal on the stroke of half time. A chipped ball in from Smith allowed Magennis to forcefully chest the ball out to Greg Kiltie at the edge of the box. Kiltie showed great composure to drill the ball past a couple of defenders and Inverness ‘keeper Williams. Some intelligent play from the Northern Irish striker and the Scottish U21 striker, who will both be buoyant after some great results during the international break.
Inverness were forced into a substitution at half time, with Vigurs replacing Draper due to injury, and as they chased the game they brought on Mbuyi-Mutombo for Williams. Mbuyi-Mutombo looked dangerous for ICT, but was shepherded will by Balatoni and Findlay who were both solid at the back. Jamie MacDonald was called into action again producing a fine fingertip save from a Christie shot from about 30 yards.
McHattie was playing his usual game of attacking where possible, knowing that Smith would drop back to left-back when required. It was on one such attack that a pass from Magennis would have resulted in a tap-in opportunity for McHattie. However, Magennis showed his striker’s attitude and shot wide instead.
Magennis was looking for a goal and it came moments later via little piece of fortune. Higginbotham sent Magennis into the box with a neat pass and while the strikers shot wasn’t perfect, it took a wicked deflection off the onrushing defender to loop past Fon Williams.
Macdonald has another save to make at the other end of the pitch, as Mbuyi-Mutombo tried to beat him at the near post, but it was Killie who had the last attempt at goal. A neat back-heel from Magennis put Slater in plenty of space. While he could have taken the ball into the box, he resorted to shot from distance and was unlucky to see the ball drift just wide.
There were standing ovations for goal-scorers Magennis and Kiltie as they were replaced by Boyd and Obadeyi respectively. Likewise, captain McKenzie was warmly applauded as he was replaced by Killie youngster Adam Frizzell.
All in all, it was a pleasing performance from Killie, with positive performances across the pitch, the first clean sheet of the season and some creative attacking play with will cause many teams some trouble in the second quarter of the season.
On a final note, it was great to see so many youngsters in the team and if they can be convinced to sign contract extensions then the future could be bright for Killie.
Gary Locke: "Josh has been a regular run of games and is playing with confidence. Players are completely different with confidence. The international recognition he got, getting a goal for Northern Ireland, has really kicked him on. He played well today. [Smith in Midfield] It's a position I've seen Steven in before and I just felt he's got a great work ethic and attitude, so we changed it up a bit. He did the stuff a lot of people don't see - getting the ball back and shutting off spaces. Overall his performance was very good."
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