in Match Reports January 28, 2017
Alan Cochrane @ Rugby Park
A hugely important win for Kilmarnock was started by the quickest goal ever scored in the Scottish Premiership when Kris Boyd lobbed the ball over Scott Fox and put the home side ahead after only ten seconds. A good number of people weren't even in their seats and were asking their neighbours, “"what happened there?”. What happened was that the ball was pushed upfield, County tried to clear it, Gary Dicker headed the ball back between two defenders, Boyd went between them like a young gazelle (well, sort of), and coolly lobbed the onrushing Fox. Four games without scoring, then one before we had taken four breaths.
Despite that, for the next twenty minutes, Ross County dominated, and by the 12th minute, were 2-1 ahead. Their equaliser came when they sliced their way through the Killie defence, who never got a tackle in, and completed their attack with a square pass to Routis, who side-footed the ball past the helpless Freddie Woodman and into the net. With the defence still in tatters, Schalk headed them into the lead when the ball came back off the bar from a van der Weg attempt.
Karleigh Osbourne had picked up a yellow card after only five minutes, and was fortunate not to get another on the half hour with a very robust challenge, and the Killie management team swiftly replaced him with Iain Wilson before any more problems headed his way. For the second quarter of the game, Kilmarnock clawed their way back, and by half time, looked the more dominant side. Callum Roberts was very lively down the right hand side, Sean Longstaff worked a clever 1-2 with Rory McKenzie and was unlucky to see his shot blocked, and Celtic loanee Kristoffer Ajer had a couple of lovely runs out of defence, slaloming past defenders, and just failing to apply the coup de grace. The visitors remained ahead until the interval, but for the home support, hope was in the air.
That hope was not misplaced, because Kilmarnock ran the show in the second half. Luke Hendrie had a deep cross just miss the back post, Callum Roberts tried to bend a shot round a packed defence, only to see it go wide, and Rory McKenzie lashed a shot well over, before Kris Boyd saw a header come back off the bar, and then a shot deflected over, for yet another corner. The equaliser was only delayed however, and Gary Dicker was on hand to cap a magnificent display by scoring from a Jordan Jones cross, with 60 minutes gone. Ross County had a couple of chances when Liam Boyce headed over, and Michael Gardyne shot into the side netting from an acute angle, but it was Kilmarnock that always looked the more likely to win. They did keep the supporters waiting though. With the 90 minutes gone, and three minutes of injury time about to start, Jordan Jones, again, found Sean Longstaff in the clear, and he lashed the winner into the net. The home support was ecstatic.
After the game, Ross County manager, and ex-Killie favourite Jim McIntyre was generous in his praise, and said that the better team on the day had won. Kilmarnock assistant manager Lee McCulloch on the other hand, thought that that was the best Kilmarnock had played all season, especially in the second half. He also had a word for the supporters who have been brilliant all season, and were great again today.
Kilmarnock: Woodman, Smith, Osbourne (Wilson), McKenzie, Dicker, Boyd (Tyson), Longstaff, Ajmer, Taylor, Roberts (Jones), Hendrie
Ross County: Fox, Routis (Curran), Dow (Gardyne), Quinn, Chow, Schalk (O’Brien), Woods, Boyce, Fraser, McEveley, van deer Veg
Referee: Barry Cook