SPFL Match 21 - December 29th 2015 - Victoria Park
SPFL Match 21 - December 29th 2015 - Victoria Park
No. of Shots
Shots on Target
Jamie MacDonald, Mark O’Hara (Syme 59), Conrad Balatoni, Stuart Findlay, Kevin McHattie , Craig Slater, Stevie Smith, Greg Kiltie (Kris Boyd 70), Adam Frizzell (Dale Carrick 84), Tope Obadeyi, Josh Magennis.
Subs Not Used: Mark Ridgers, Aaron Splaine, Lee Ashcroft.
Alan Walker @ Global Energy Stadium
Whatever you want to call them, around 170 brave/foolish/stupid/stark raving mental (delete as appropriate) Killie fans made the eight hour, 400 mile round trip to the woolly delights of the Global Energy Stadium of Ross County F.C. I won't speculate as to why they were there, I only know that I considered this my last chance to visit Dingwall for a while, as Killie will almost certainly be in a different division from the Highlanders next season.
Perpetually under-fire Killie manager Locke fielded the same first eleven as he had in the previous win over fellow relegation contenders Hamilton. Ex-Killie favourite McIntyre brought in Scott Boyd for Robertson and Irvine for Murdoch. With Rocco Quinn on the bench, it was a familiar County team as he was joined with two other ex-Killie players in Michael Gardyne and Jackson Irvine. None of the aforementioned set the heather alight in Ayrshire, for various reasons, although all are doing very well in what is a tight-knit, happy Ross County squad.
The game started as everyone expected: with Killie on the back foot and Ross County exerting plenty of pressure on the Killie defence. In the first ten minutes, Gardyne had a shot blocked, Davies put his header from a corner just wide, Reckford shot wide from the edge of the box, last week's hat-trick hero Boyce put a shot wide and Craig Curren had a shot saved. Killie were camped in their own half with no out ball and a County midfield and strike force running rampant.
The first goal 'finally' came on the twelfth minute. Irvine Jackson, who was abhorrently mis-used during his time at Rugby Park, picked up the ball in midfield. As he strode forward to the left wing, with Kiltie jogging behind him, the whole world could see the space he wanted Gardyne to run into. Gardyne, naturally, ran in behind O'Hara to collect the perfectly weighted pass and fired the ball across the face of the goal. Findlay stopped, McHattie wasn't near his man, and Curran had the easiest of tap-ins to start the proceedings.
The game was pretty scrappy, with County happy to fire long balls into the channels to test to two failing Killie full-backs, and Killie seemingly happy to give the ball away at any opportunity. Martin Woods shot just wide inside twenty minutes and last week's enigma Obadeyi pulled a shot wide on the 25th minute. He did the same on the 30th minute after some neat trickery on the wing, but his shot was so far wide that it went out for a throw-in. Nevertheless, from the resultant throw-in, Magennis regained possession and crossed for Obadeyi. The cross wasn't great but Obadeyi was able to retrieve the ball, slip past Reckford and then fire a shot in at Fox's near post for the second most undeserved goal in two weeks.
After that moment, Killie's heads went up a little and both Slater and Frizzell had shots off target before going in for the break and another inspirational team-talk. It then got even weirder. Magennis was fouled in the middle of the pitch and while the up-to-then non-existent Steve Smith shanked his free-kick, a corner was awarded. Smith took the corner, Balatoni held off his own man and Magennis', allowing Magennis to flit from the back post to the centre spot to fire Smith's low corner kick into the bottom left hand side of the goal, just inside the post. It was a well worked goal, clearly straight off the training ground where the boys had clearly been working very, very hard.
Killie were getting to see a little bit more of the ball in the early stages of the second half and a nice ball for Magennis to run onto forced Scott Boyd to foul Magennis before he could even get to the ball. Yellow card for Boyd and a free-kick for Slater which he put wide. County, however, were still by far the better team and that showed just a couple of minutes later. Foster drove down the right wing and played the ball to Curran on the edge of the box. He laid it off to Irvine who fired it over to Gardyne on the right, past the despairing O'Hara. Gardyne took a touch a shot low past MacDonald. Parity restored, and two minutes later the world was set to rights.
McHattie went an a trademark wander up the pitch leaving the left back slot empty. County noticed this and fired a ball into that area meaning that the Killie defence had to shift to their left as it was cleared. The clearance only went as far as Curran who switch the ball over to the Gardyne on County's left who now had acres of space due to the defence reorganisation. Gardyne sprinted into the box and first another shot past MacDonald. Congratulations to Michael Gardyne who is now County's all-time leading goalscorer on 60 goals.
Naturally, Locke's response was to take off O'Hara and replace him with Syme. That is: not a right-back for not a right-back. Genius. Liam Boyce then had a shot saved before Obadeyi put a header over the top after a good Magennis cross. The game continued with a slew of petty free-kicks and 'tactical' substitutions. Boyd replaced Kiltie and Carrick replaced Frizzell for Killie. Murdoch replaced Woods, Quinn replaced Francks and Graham replaced Boyce who had just come close with another low drive which was saved by MacDonald.
Kris Boyd was awarded one decent chance but his header was just high. Other than that it was a scrappy, foul-ridden, last 20 minutes where County held out comfortably. So, to the league table. Killie, sitting in eleventh on 20 points from 21 games, are ten points from fifth, and ten points from twelfth. However, Ross County aside, every team in the league has at least one game on hand on us, and in some cases, three. Killie can't rely on Dundee United not improving, nor can they rely on Hamilton remaining god-awful. Changes are required.
Gary Locke: "To Follow"
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