No. of Shots
Shots on Target
Freddie Woodman, Kristoffer Ajer, Karleigh Osborne (Iain Wilson 33), Greg Taylor, Luke Hendrie, Rory McKenzie , Steven Smith, Gary Dicker, Sean Longstaff, Callum Roberts (Jordan Jones 54), Kris Boyd (Nathan Tyson 82).
Subs Not Used: Jamie MacDonald, Innes Cameron, Dean Hawkshaw, Adam Frizzell.
David Shaw @ Rugby Park
Killie welcomed County to Rugby Park hoping to end a run of four games without a goal and also six consecutive losses to their opponents.
The odds on paper didn’t look good as County had hammered Dundee United at home last week whilst Killie produced a miserable performance against Accies. However, after only 10 seconds* on the clock, recalled talisman Kris Boyd ran onto a Gary Dicker header and lobbed Scott Fox to put Killie into an early lead. It was Killie’s first goal since the Boer War but what a way to start the game - even before any “Johnston must go” chants had begun.
Not to worry though, as normal service resumed only 10 minutes later when County scored twice through Routis and then Schalk. The first of which was a nicely placed right-footed strike into the corner of the net, although Routis was given acres of space in the box to pick his spot.
The second wasn’t much better for Killie as a corner was met by Van der Weg and as his header rebounded off the crossbar, Boyce headed the ball back towards goal and Schalk deflected it home as the Killie defence stood static. Cue the anti-MJ chants!
At this point it looked as if County would score at will. Osbourne was struggling to cope with County’s midfielders running at him and he was booked after the half hour for a late challenge. Four minutes later and Osbourne was hooked for Ian Wilson, but surprisingly Wilson was drafted into the middle and Dicker was sent back to partner Ajer in defence. It seemed a strange decision by Clark but it changed the game instantly as Wilson coped better with everything that was coming through the middle. Likewise, Dicker seemed much more comfortable in defence than midfield.
Killie forced several corners before the break as they pressured the County defence but only a Longstaff effort would trouble Fox in goals.
As the second 45 began, Killie forced the play and Callum Roberts was unfortunate to see a curling left-foot effort sail over the bar. It would be his last effort on goal as Jones replaced him just before the hour.
A McKenzie shot and a Boyd header kept the pressure on the visitors but it would be an unlikely name on the scoresheet that would bring Killie level. Jones swung in a corner that was knocked down by Boyd and like Routis earlier, Dicker found himself totally unmarked in the box and he hooked the ball into the corner of the net.
The game then swung from end to end with a Boyce header that drifted over the bar the best effort from the visitors, whilst another McKenzie drive was saved by Fox. Tyson then replaced Boyd with ten minutes left as Killie tried to find a late winner.
Then, with only seconds left in normal time, Jones picked up a slack pass thirty yards from goal and drove forward. After a neat one two with Tyson he was brought down just outside the box, but fortunately the ref waved play on and Longstaff side-footed the loose ball into the back of the slammer.
Killie players and fans celebrated as if MJ had just announced that he was joining the Foreign Legion. A wayward effort from Gardyne was all that County could muster in injury time and Killie deservedly bagged all three precious points to leave them six points clear of the bottom two.
Best for Killie were Ajer, Longstaff, and dare I say it, Jordan Jones - finally an end product from all his promising lead up play. Best for County was the East Stand linesman – three times he ignored the ball going out from their players. Next week it’s Hamilton away – bet you just can’t wait for that one!
*Kris Boyd sets another record as the scorer of the fastest ever goal in the SPFL.
Lee McCulloch: “The second half today is the best we’ve played all season. We got off to a great start and were then all over the place for 15 minutes; but we regained our composure and we were brilliant in the second half. It was hard for the boys at 2-1 down and the fans were on their back. But it’s a learning curve for them. They need to deal with it if they want to play for a big club. Ajer was different class for us. At 18, he’s a pleasure to work with. If he keeps going the way he is now, I see no reason why he won’t go on to play for Celtic in the future. His attitude is terrific and that’s great for the young boys at this club to see. He’s given everyone here a lift.”
Kris Boyd on Karleigh Osborne: “It’s difficult sometimes when you move leagues. I know people write off the standard of the Scottish game but it’s not until you are here you realise there’s a work ethic that’s second to none up here. Nobody gives you a moment on the ball, and you will get harassed and closed down from the first minute to the last. There are challenges for every ball and it can be difficult to adapt. But players have had setbacks before and come back and Karleigh has shown in training he can play. I don’t think it was his performance as such against Ross County. He’s been booked early doors then made a couple of rash tackles. The last thing we wanted was to be down to ten men so the decision to take him off was not based on his performance. We’ve all been there when we have not started games well. And I thought big "Shug" Wilson was great when he came on. Again, he’s someone who doesn’t get a lot of credit because he’s not a goalscoring midfielder. But in terms of Karleigh, we win together, we lose together and we will stick together. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are. You are going to get pelters. Fans pay money and you need to develop a thick skin if you are a footballer. It’s not great hearing that stuff but when people pay money they are entitled to voicing their opinions. Can he come back from this? He’s 28 years old. He’s not a kid, who is coming in for his debut. It’s difficult to make a switch to a new type of football and he’s not played a lot of minutes lately as well. It’s time to bed him in. We all want to play excellently every week but sometimes you need your teammates to bail you out. That was the case against Ross County, but next week it might be the case that he bails us out. Yes, Karleigh will be disappointed, but we got the three points and that’s all that matters because the most important thing is the team. It’s one of those days when we have answered a lot of questions. You need to stake a claim to stay in the team and a lot of the guys have done. It’s a great three points and it sets us up for Hamilton next week. We want another three points there. We’ve been in this position before and not kicked on but we need to build on this by getting the win at Hamilton.”
All images © Sandy Ferguson and should not be reproduced without his permission
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