Killie 2-1 Arbroath
Scottish Championship Match 35, BBSP Rugby Park, April 22nd 2022
"Alston Won The League"
Scottish Championship Match 35, BBSP Rugby Park, April 22nd 2022
No. of Shots
Shots on Target
|Goals||Taylor 73, Alston 89||Craigen 9|
Killie: Hemming, E Murray, (Sanders 91), Taylor , Stokes, Alston , McGinn, Lyons, (Burke 68), McKenzie , F Murray, Shaw, Lafferty
Subs Not Used: Walker, Armstrong, Hodson, McGowan, Campbell, Glass, MacKay.
Killie were crowned champions of the Championship after beating Arbroath 2-1 at Rugby Park.
Derek McInnes and his side ended the fairy tale dream of Dick Campbell and co as the win sees them go five points clear with just one game remaining in the league.
The Ayrshire club are now back in the country's top flight after a year out following their relegation in the 2020/21 season.
McInnes signed a contract with Killie in January after taking over the hot-seat from Tommy Wright.
And he has given the loyal Killie fans their first piece of silverware since their 2011-12 League Cup win after just four months in charge.
There was an electric atmosphere inside Rugby Park before the match kicked off with the home support in loud voices to get their team pumped up for the match.
But the tide changed very quickly inside the stadium when James Craigen miss-hit the Lichties in front after just nine minutes. This turned out to be their only shot on target all night.
The opportunity came after a great counter-attack from the visitors broke through McInness' defence in a matter of seconds.
The ball fell to Craigen in the box and the midfielder just had to slot it in the far post from a few yards out.
It was then the Arbroath support that you could hear inside the ground once the goal went in and you could see the pressure building around the stadium.
You could start to sense the Killie fans had faith that they were going to clinch the title on the night but they needed two goals in the final 13 minutes to do so!
After a no-call on a Rory penalty shout and offside goal for Lafferty, it was Ash Taylor who lashed in the equaliser from super-sub Burke's corner with 87 mins on the clock.
Killie waited until the very end to give the supporters what they wanted as Blair Alston fired his side ahead on the 90th minute. A composed strike, after a fine move involving McGinn, Lafferty & Shaw.
There wasn't enough time for Arbroath to make their way back into the game as there was just five minutes of added time to save their miracle season.
But it wasn't to be and it was Kilmarnock who got the three points and clinched the Championship trophy with a match to spare.
The result prompted the Arbroath twitter admin to post a foul-mouthed response to the late goal.
The club tweeted a one-word reaction to the game after the final whistle.
The tweet wrote: "F**k".
Derek McInnes: "What a way to win it. It was no more than we deserved.
"I thought Arbroath were the better team in the first half. I thought we were too pumped up, too erratic, too excitable.
"The perseverance of the team was clear, the winning mentality of the team was brilliant and to score so late on was fantastic. I'm absolutely delighted for so many people but it shows what this place can be.
"We battered Arbroath second-half. We eventually got the second goal and it was no more than we deserved because of the chances we created. I thought we were outstanding second-half".
"I’m just happy for so many people. It’s not easy winning leagues and when you see the crowd turn up tonight, we were too anxious, too excitable in the first half.
"There was pressure on us tonight and the whole country outwith Kilmarnock seemed like they wanted Arbroath to win it and I get that, it’s a great story. They still might get there.
“But the best team wins the league and we are the best team, that’s a fact.
"We have had to do it the hard way.
"It would have been tough for us to go again and prepare for Raith Rovers. The boys sniffed it - we felt tonight was the night we had to do it.
"Our best opportunity was tonight. Normally you have to beat your closest competitors, you have to kill the chief. Arbroath have been the chiefs all season, they have been up there, terrific.
"When we came in Killie weren’t even looking convincing to be in the play-offs. But we have beaten Inverness here, Raith Rovers here and Partick here. All the teams round about us. It just left Arbroath and we needed to do it tonight. It was important we had this occasion. We’ve only ever won two titles and we’ve never won one at Rugby Park. It was important that the fans saw the teams delivering tonight. It was magic to see the place full. I think it was the biggest Killie support since the 90s. It shows what can be done here. We’ve a big summer ahead but these things can wait".
Killie CEO Billy Bowie perfectly summed up the occassion.... "There was nervousness throughout, but it was great when the winner went in. You could see the relief by our reaction to both goals. In fact, relief would be a mild way of describing it! I’ve never known a response like that at Rugby Park, from the fans as well as ourselves. Directors normally just applaud when we score during games, but we erupted like everyone else. Even when we were beating Celtic and Rangers here during Steve Clarke’s time in charge it wasn’t like this. There were 10,000 Kilmarnock fans in the ground. We’ve had bigger crowds before, but you need to go back to 1995 to find the last time we had more of our own supporters at a game here. It was fantastic. It shows what this club is capable of and it lets us know we can do more and go further as well. Have we pushed the boat out to come back up straight away? Absolutely and it would have been tough if we’d had to go through it all again next season. But we’re glad we’ve done it. We said we would and now we have. Other big clubs haven’t been able to get out of the Championship at the first attempt so we’ll put that down to experience".
Stephen McGinn: "It’s brilliant to have another medal. This one feels so different - at St Mirren, I was captain, it was my second spell and everyone knew what the place meant to me.
But it’s incredible the way we’ve done it here. When you dream of winning the title, it’s always with a last-minute goal, how good would that be? When we did, this place was absolutely rocking, it was unbelievable to be part of. I remember coming here at the height of the Stevie Clarke era and you could feel the force and togetherness, a real 12th man thing that gave his team a big home advantage. That was back on Friday and having the same backing next season would mean the world. The fans created something extra, they really drove us on".
Rory McKenzie: "It was quite emotional when I saw my brothers, Craig and Fraser, at the end. I was welling up and I was also lost for words. I saw Craig running on at the end and I kissed him so hard I burst his lip! I couldn’t stop thinking about what Saturday and Sunday would bring. Would I be sitting in the house in a darkened room or would I be having a party? In the second half I was just willing the ball in every time we got a corner. Gaston just kept pulling off save after save and I didnt think it was going to come. We have had loads of chances but he’s pulled off three or four top saves. You are starting to think it is not going to be your night. But, what a finish from Blair. If there is a way to win the league then that is surely it. To be fair to Arbroath â they played better football than us. To be honest they had played better football than us in the three games between us this season. But, in the last 45 minutes we showed what we are all about. We found the way to play against Arbroath and it shone through. It is easily the most satisfying moment of my time here. I was just lost for words and that has never happened before. You think you are going to win trophies at the start of your career, you think you are going to do amazing things. But, that is 11 years I have been in the first team and this is my first medal. We finished third a few seasons ago but you don’t get anything for finishing third. Then we got knocked out of Europe four weeks later so that left a sour taste. To have something to show for our efforts is incredible. Realistically this is the only league we could win and it feels amazing. Last year was a killer blow to everyone but we have bounced back."
Blair Alston: "Obviously when you go 1-0 down so early you know you’ve got time. We didn’t look like scoring in the first half, we never played how we can. But there’s something about this team at home under the manager, we have been brilliant. As soon as we scored the first we knew there was always going to be a chance to win it. We are delighted that we got there in the end, it’s the sort of thing you dream about the night before. We’ve been under pressure since the season started, everyone that plays us wants to take a scalp. It has been a difficult season for us, we didn’t play as well as we’d liked at times, but ultimately we believed the best team would win the league and we’ve done that".
Neil Doncaster, (SPFL chief executive): "I would like to warmly congratulate Kilmarnock's players, management team and directors on winning the cinch Championship in such dramatic fashion, It has been incredible to see the title decided in a top-of-the-table match between Kilmarnock and Arbroath at a packed Rugby Park. It has certainly been a hotly-contested title race between the two sides, with many twists and turns, but Kilmarnock are worthy champions. We look forward to welcoming Kilmarnock back to the cinch Premiership after the club's one year absence and wish Arbroath the best of luck for the rest of the season"
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