SPFL Match 22 - January 2nd 2015 - Rugby Park
SPFL Match 22 - January 2nd 2015 - Rugby Park
No. of Shots
Shots on Target
Jamie MacDonald, Lee Ashcroft, Conrad Balatoni, Steven Smith , Craig Slater (Kris Boyd 74), Kevin McHattie, Adam Frizzell, Greg Kiltie, David Syme , Tope Obadeyi (Rory McKenzie 31), Josh Magennis.
Subs Not Used: Mark Ridgers, Ross Barbour, Stuart Findlay, Aaron Splaine, Dale Carrick.
David Shaw @ Rugby Park
Killie’s feeder side, Hearts, were first-footers to the Theatre of Pies on a day that many fans thought might be Gary Locke’s final match in charge. Hearts, sitting nicely in third place, were strong favourites to hammer a Killie side wilting faster than Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Mark O’Hara and Stuart Findlay were missing at the back for Killie, so Lee Ashcroft came in from the cold to partner Balatoni in the centre, whilst David Syme was next to be thrown to the lion’s den at right back. On paper it looked like another nightmare for Killie’s hard-core support to endure, but thankfully it didn’t quite turn out that way.
Killie’s home record has been abysmal all season, yet their away form hasn’t been too bad. With this in mind, Locke seemed to set his side up as the away side and was content to sit deep and let Hearts have the ball, whilst shutting down the opposition at every opportunity. Youngsters Adam Frizzell and Greg Kiltie, continually hounded the Hearts midfield and that allowed Josh Magennis and Tope Obadeyi to pick up loose balls and hit the Jamsters on the break. It was a tactic that had worked well against Celtic and it seemed to be working well here as Juanma and Nicholson often struggled to get into the game in the first half.
Indeed, the closest Hearts came in the first half-hour was when Juanma found himself clear in the box. Thankfully, Kevin McHattie’s sliding tackle was timed to perfection as the big Spaniard looked for a penalty – referee Alan Muir laughed in his face. At the other end, Magennis had a shot well saved by Alexander, before Obadeyi was forced off injured. His replacement, McKenzie, had an immediate impact when he stole the ball in the Hearts box before finding Magennis. The big striker slid the ball across the goal for Balatoni to score at the second attempt. Cue much excitement from the home fans as they sat back to enjoy the remaining two minutes of the half. It’s a pity that the home defence did the same as Nicholson finally found some joy on the left wing, turning Syme inside out before setting up Billy King in the box. McDonald brilliantly saved the youngster’s shot but as so often happens to a team at the bottom end of the table, the rebound fell at the feet of Gavin Reilly who equalised from five yards.
The second half began with Hearts much more purposeful and direct, no doubt due to a rollicking from Robbie Nielson at half time. Several corners were conceded by Killie as they desperately hung on. Alas, after 65 minutes the pressure paid off for Hearts as Prince Buaben brought out a good save from Jamie MacDonald. This time the rebound fell to Paterson twenty yards from goal. Bringing the ball down brilliantly, he then volleyed home via a slight deflection. Osman Sow then came on for King as Hearts looked to finish the game.
However, Killie battled back, with Balatoni missing a golden chance after heading over when it looked easier to score. Boyd then replaced Slater as Locke went route one in a hope of salvaging something from the game. Five minutes later and Killie’s persistence paid off when Magennis rose to head home a Smith corner.
Not content with a point, both teams went for it in the last ten minutes and it was Ashcroft who came closest to winning the game - his header rising over the bar from a free kick on the left. But it would finish 2-2 and for Killie it was another home match without a win. But to be fair, what Killie may have lacked in quality here, they sure made up for in sheer effort.
Best for Killie were Magennis, Slater, Balatoni and young Frizzell, but you couldn’t honestly say that any of the other players were below par today. Best for Hearts was Nicholson. Hearts may have a good player on their hands there if they can stop him trying to do a ‘Diving Dougie Imrie’ tribute act!
Finally, a big plus point today was the home crowd, who gave great encouragement to the team and even managed a song or two near the end. Give yourself a pat on the back if you were there today, you certainly helped your boys put in a shift. Incidentally, there were 1700 down from Edinburgh and you wouldn’t have known – hardly heard a peep from them all day. Let’s hope there is a good turnout next week at Perth – it could make a huge difference.
Happy New Year!
Gary Locke: "The budget is spent at the moment, I think I'm going to have to try and get a couple of players to maybe move on to bring people in. We're well aware of the financial situation at the club - we haven't got a lot of money. But I definitely do think we need to strengthen the squad, so we'll try our best to do so. We showed a lot of character to come back and it's a good way to start the year, But we've got to show that commitment and passion every week. We've shown the teams at the top of the league that we can match them and we've now got to do that against the teams round about us."
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