in #KillieStories August 5, 2017
Alan Cochrane @ Rugby Park
A terrific goal from Michael O’Halloran in the second last minute gave the visitors victory, after Kilmarnock had fought their way back into the game in the second half, with a crashing Kris Boyd free kick from over 30 yards. St Johnstone scored early and late.Their first goal came after nine minutes when David Wotherspoon was allowed to cruise through the Killie defence, wrong footed them all, and smacked the ball into the net, high to Jamie MacDonald’s left.
For the first 45 minutes, it was the men from Perth who were dominant, but without causing Jamie MacDonald too many problems. They looked sharper and hungrier, but Kilmarnock did a decent job of stifling them, although sometimes it was with a last line of defence. For Kilmarnock, Jones and Thomas both had shots go wide, Burke had a chance from a poor pass-back but could only find the goalkeeper, and Kris Boyd was struggling to make any impact as he ploughed a lone furrow at the front.
Dom Thomas caused the most problems with his direct running down the right, and both Davidson and Wotherspoon took yellow cards for the cause against the Killie wide man.
After the break, Kilmarnock simply upped their game. McKenzie had a shot go well over, but when Scougall also saw yellow for a pull back well outside the box, Kris Boyd punished the visitors with a ferocious free kick, which although Alan Mannus got a hand to, could not stop it raising the net, and the Killie faithful from their seats.
Lee Erwin had just come on for a tiring Chris Burke, and his partnership with Kris Boyd saw an immediate change in Killie’s striking effectiveness. Erwin and Thomas both had shots saved, and Mannus had a terrific save when he knocked a Kris Boyd shot from close range up onto the bar and away. At that point it did look that if either team was in the ascendancy it was Killie, but with two minutes left, Michael O’Halloran picked up a ball wide on the left, ran across the park beating four or five defenders, and shot past Jamie MacDonald to take the points to Perth.
For Tommy Wright, the O’Halloran winner was “an unbelievable goal - an incredible goal. Over the piece, I think we just about edged it. This will be a hard place for people to come this year, when you look at the squad, and Killie will be disappointed that they didn't get a second goal.”
Lee McCulloch was “Happy with the performance, disappointed with the result. There were enough positives in the game that I know we will be alright.”
Kilmarnock: MacDonald, Taylor, Broadfoot, Burke (Erwin), McKenzie, Boyd, Jones, Thomas (Power), Greer, Wilson, Frizzell
St Johnstone: Mannus, Alston, Shaughnesy, Anderson, Davidson, Wotherspoon (Craig), Paton, Foster, Scougail (O’Halloran), Easton, Cummings (Kane)
Referee: Steven McLean