in Match Reports August 26, 2016
Alan Cochrane @ Rugby Park
The standing ovation which Kilmarnock received was no more than they deserved, at the end of a match which had just about everything, and the players had put so much into it that they could hardly walk off the pitch at the final whistle.
Both teams could have had penalties and Killie had the first valid claim after only 7 minutes when Clint Hill threw his arms out in the box and blocked a Greg Kiltie shot, but referee Kevin Clancy couldn't have seen it so couldn't give it. For Rangers, Kenny Miller had an early shot from a narrow angle into the side netting, and Joe Garner, who had come on for the injured Joe Dodoo after 15 minutes, had a couple of volleys go over, but Kilmarnock were carving out the better chances.
Gary Dicker had a left foot volley go just the wrong side of Foderingham’s right hand post, as did Kris Boyd five minutes later, and Boyd also had a guided shot from a Taylor cross slide past the other post.
Just before the half hour though, the striker got his reward.
Kiltie made a good run up the left, passed inside, and Boyd made no mistake with his left foot to shoot Kilmarnock into the lead. Before the interval, which came after five minutes of additional time due to injuries and that Dodoo replacement, Tavernier smacked a shot way over the bar in an attempt to equalise, but at half time it was Kilmarnock 1, Rangers 0.
The second half continued at the same frantic pace as the first as Rangers tried to get back into the game. Kiltie beat Barton and back-heeled to Taylor, but his pass couldn't find the foraging Boyd, while ex-Killie Academy boy Barrie McKay was becoming a real threat for the visitors on the left wing.
Rangers’ equaliser however came from a world class free kick. A Dean Hawkshaw challenge 25 yards out gave James Tavernier the chance, and his inswinging free kick thundered into the net, despite Jamie MacDonald managing to get a touch on it as it scraped both bar and post, and drew Rangers level.
With half an hour left, things got tougher for Killie. Greg Taylor tackled Joey Barton late and high, and Mr Clancy had no option but to show an immediate red card. But this just made Kilmarnock work even harder.
Frizzell had a shot go over and Hawkshaw had an effort go wide, but a lot of the traffic was heading towards Jamie MacDonald’s goal. Tavernier had another free kick from the same area, tried to place it inside the other post, but MacDonald got across and turned it round the post for a corner. Before the end, the keeper had another good save when he touched a McKay shot from a narrow angle over the bar, and the game ended with honours even.
At the end, Lee Clark was fulsome in his praise. “"Pride in my team’s performance from first to last. They covered huge distances to execute our game plan for when we didn't have the ball. We made chances and scored a great goal. When you go down to 10 men against a great team like this it's just backs against the wall. Yet even with 10 men we created some half chances. I'm absolutely proud of every single player. I thought they were magnificent.”On the sending off. “It was a red card. Over exuberance from a committed player. He [Greg Taylor] has a great attitude, but needs to be a bit more composed at times. We just have to channel that. His determination is one of his assets, but it made it a hell of a lot more difficult for us, and it's hard enough at eleven versus eleven.”
For Rangers, Mark Warburton had said to his players who had come up in the summer, “"Scottish players have a work ethic that is unrivalled. They will run until they can't run another step.”
We saw that tonight.
Kilmarnock: MacDonald, Smith, Boyle (Coulibaly), Dicker, Boyd, Kiltie (Green), Frizzell,
(Adams), Burn, Taylor, Hendrie, Hawkshaw
Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, Kiernan, Wallace, Hill, Miller, Barton (Halliday), McKay, Dodoo, (Garner), Forrester, Rossiter (Kranjcar)
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Sandy Ferguson's match pictures.