in #KillieStories August 27, 2017
Alan Cochrane @ Rugby Park
For one manager at the end, a draw felt like a victory, for the other, very much a defeat. With 20 minutes left, Kilmarnock were two goals ahead and should have taken the points, three minutes from the end the score was 2-2, and it was the visiting supporters who were baying for a winner. We are finding that first home win of the season difficult to obtain.
For Killie, the game couldn't have started better. Less than three minutes after the kick-off, Dom Thomas took a free kick from a narrow angle on the right, smacked the ball towards the near post, Louis Longridge tried to clear, it scuffed off his boot, beat Gary Woods, and the home side were a goal to the good. That start increased the confidence through the team, and for the rest of the first half, Kilmarnock looked likely to increase their lead.
Saris picked up a booking inside ten minutes for blocking Jordan Jones as the winger tried to get through on goal, a better pass from Stuart Findlay would have let Kris Boyd in, a Frizzell cross was only just out of the striker’s reach, and then a Boyd header beat the goalkeeper, but slipped past the outside of his right hand post. For the visitors Longridge did have a shot go over the bar, and Jamie MacDonald had a great save from the same player, diving to his right, but Kilmarnock were deserving of their one goal lead at the break.
The second half started with Killie even more in control. Jones did well on the left, but from his cross, Erwin's shot was blocked. A Thomas free kick beat Hamilton’s defensive wall but Gary Woods blocked the shot, and a Thomas- Frizzell- Smith move ended with the skipper shooting over. The home side’s second goal came in the 57th minute when Lee Erwin timed his run to perfection to stay onside, collected Frizzell’s through ball, and lobbed the advancing Hamilton keeper.
At two goals ahead and playing well, Kilmarnock should have been comfortable, but the opposite happened. Nerves seemed to set in, and Hamilton began to take advantage. A Crawford shot was easily dealt with, but it took two attempts to stop a MacKinnon free kick, and then a terrific last ditch tackle from Greg Taylor to foil Giannis Skondras. With less than 20 minutes of normal time remaining Hamilton deservedly pulled a goal back. A cross from the left wasn't cleared and this time Skondras was not to be denied, as he got on the end of McMann’s cross and volleyed the ball into the net. The visitors now smelled blood, and three minutes from the end got their equaliser. A free kick 25 yards out was taken quickly, Stevie Smith fouled Greg Docherty in the box, and Ali Crawford beat Jamie MacDonald from the penalty spot.
After the game, a stoney-faced Lee McCulloch expressed his disappointment. “At any game of football, anywhere in the world, if you go 2-0 up, you have to see the game out. It's game management. The positives? We got a point. Our home record has got to be addressed pretty quickly. When we went two goals ahead, for some reason there was a sense of nervousness. Until then, I thought we were comfortable. When you are two goals up your chest should come out, you should pass the ball a little quicker.”
Kilmarnock: MacDonald, Taylor, Smith, O’Donnell, Findlay, Thomas (McKenzie), Jones, Boyd (Erwin), Greer, Wilson, Frizzell
Hamilton: Woods, Skondras, McMann, Tomas, Imrie ( Gogic), Docherty, Crawford, Longridge (Cunningham), MacKinnon, Boyd (Templeton), Sarris
Referee: Andrew Dallas