Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
26th September 2015.
Kilmarnock 1 Hamilton Academical 2
Both sides had come off the back of home league victories, Accies having edged the Lanarkshire derby 1-0 against Motherwell and Killie beating an inform St. Johnstone side 2-1 at Rugby Park, a team that had beaten Accies 4-1 at McDiarmid only two weeks previously. Killie, though, had played in midweek v Hearts in the cup.
The first half was a tight affair but Killie edged it and deserved to take the lead thanks to a Greg Kiltie strike. We then came out second half looking refreshed and played with a little bit more positivity, and soon managed to equalise through a great individual effort from Dougie Imrie and a well worked passage of play that ended with a tap in from Ali Crawford.
Accies had the first attempt on goal on the 8th minute after securing a throw in deep in Killie territory, the ball was played to Ali Crawford who then cut inside and struck a dipping shot from twenty yards that bounced akwardly in front of the diving figure of Jamie MacDonald, he was somehow able to readjust himself in mid-air and did well to get his outstretched arm to the ball and deny us the lead.
Kilmarnock soon struck back and had a great chance to take the lead when Tope Obadeyi won the ball in midfield, went past his man then played out wide to Greg Kiltie, the Killie winger came inside and headed straight toward the Accies goal, his twelve yard shot was well saved by Michael McGovern who took the wise decision to come out and block.
Kiltie was proving to be by far the most creative player for the home side, Obadeyi crossed in for Kiltie to strike from twenty yards but his attempt was blocked by Jesus Garcia Tena, the Killie players then claimed a hand had been used but referee Don Robertson automatically waved away their appeals.
Any disappointment from the Kilmarnock fans was soon forgotten when their side took the lead in the 33rd minute. Kallum Higginbotham made a strong run toward the Accies penalty area then touched to his left for Kiltie, the Kilmarnock ace, running into the box, then calmly struck home from twelve yards, 1-0.
As the game was approaching half time, Kilmarnock were looking increasingly dangerous on the break and almost stretched their lead when Kiltie crossed into the penalty area for Josh Maggenis, the Irish striker rose to head but his effort was comfortably held by McGovern.
On 42 minutes Accies had a pretty decent penalty shout when Dougie Imrie made a run then cut inside the Kilmarnock box, he looked to have been brought down by Kevin McHattie, Imrie then appealed to the referee but to his credit didn’t make a big deal of it.
After the break, Kilmarnock got the second half underway with a fantastic chance, Obadeyi made a storming run down the far touchline, cut inside along the bye line before cutting back for McHattie, his four yard shot was blocked by an Accies defender and narrowly crept past the post for a corner.
From the resulting corner Accies broke quickly down field, Ali Crawford released the ball over the Killie backline for Dougie Imrie charging down the left at pace, his touch looked to have taken him a little wide but his high angled shot from just inside the penalty area struck the underside of the crossbar and into the goal for the much deserved equaliser, 1-1. Imrie then had his second attempt on goal in as many minutes when his twenty yard shot flew wide of the Killie post.
Christian Nade came on for Carlton Morris on the 59th minute and made an immediate impact for Accies when he received the ball deep inside the Killie half, turned a player and came inside to the penalty area, he placed the ball past the keeper towards the back post and inches past for a goal kick. Accies then took the lead in the 63rd minute after Greg Docherty received the ball on the right side of the box from Ali Crawford and struck into the six yard box for Crawford to tuck away for an Accies lead, 2-1 us.
Almost immediately Killie broke up field and Higginbotham blasted a shot towards goal but McGovern saved well for a Killie corner. From the corner, the ball was headed down for Josh Magennis who with his back to goal swung his body round to send his eight yard strike just over the top of the crossbar.
Throughout the match, Killie had been dangerous on the counter attack and at 1-2 down this was certainly still the case when Killie won a free kick, just on the corner of the Accies penalty area. Higginbotham’s shot was well saved by McGovern, McHattie ran in a hit the ball back into the mix but it was cleared to safety.
Imrie broke on the goal once more but was brought down on the edge of the Killie penalty area by Lee Ashcroft who then received a yellow card for his efforts. The free kick was deflected out for an Accies corner kick, the corner was sent over to the far post, Ziggy Gordon rose and headed back across toward goal but Craig Slater managed to head clear off the Killie goal line.
Three minutes into time added on and Lee Ashcroft pulled on Dougie Imrie’s shirt and brought him to the floor, it was a certain goal scoring opportunity for Imrie and as such the referee had no problem showing Ashcroft a straight red card to go with the yellow he received 11 minutes earlier. With almost the last kick of the match, Ali Crawford struck his shot round the Killie wall and Jamie MacDonald made a decent diving save to deny the Accies midfielder.
It was a close game but the deserved win allowed us to jump Ross County and move into fourth place, level on 16 points with Hearts in third and gaining ground on all those above us.
Hamilton Academical manager Martin Canning said of his sides performance, “I thought the first half we weren’t probably at it as much as we’ve been all season, but I felt that in the second half we were excellent. I thought that we started the second half really well, the first 15/20 minutes we get our goals and then from there I felt we were comfortable seeing the game out. So overall, really pleasing and I think over the piece a deserved three points.”
Martin added, “We could have broken probably a little quicker and bit better, decision making probably, toward the end we could have got a couple more, but to be honest with you, it’s a hard place to come and win, so to come down here and take three points, I’m just delighted.”
And Martin on today’s goal scorers Dougie Imrie and Ali Crawford “I thought that when he goes through on his left foot he’s capable, to be fair, obviously with his goal last week and through the week in training, he has been flying with his finishing and he got himself in there I was hopeful he could hit the target. Obviously it’s a great strike and I think it goes in off the bar, and for us it’s the catalyst to go and win the game and Dougie’s such a big player in terms of the work that he puts in, and it’s great to see him now. That’s him two in two as well and obviously wee Ali with the quality he’s got, gets himself a tap in if you like as well, but you’ve got to get yourself in there to get it, so overall it’s just a really pleasing day.”
Match winner Ali Crawford said afterwards “A goal and an assist, I can’t complain, but we never played well first half we know that, the gaffer told us at half time and we came out second half and showed what we can do.”
On the first half performance, Ali said “I don’t think everyone was quite at it, maybe off five or ten per cent that we have showed the past couple of games but today we weren’t at it and it showed, they scored first half, they were better the first half. “We got a telling off at half time and we came out second half and it was miles better.” Ali went on “It was crucial not to lose one then not to lose two, three, so we kept ourselves in the game and went in only one down at half time which gave us a chance to come out second half and rectify our mistakes in the first half, which we did.”
Kilmarnock:MacDonald, Hamill (Robinson 65)(Splaine 74), Higginbotham, O’Hara, Obadeyi (Boyd 65), Ashcroft, Slater, McHattie, Kiltie, Balatoni, Magennis. Subs Unused: Ridgers, Smith, Syme, Frizzell.
Cautions:Ashcroft. Red: Ashcroft
Accies:McGovern, Gordon, Kurakins, Gillespie, Imrie, Crawford, Kurtaj, Morris (Nade 59), Docherty (Lyon 78), Garcia Tena, Tagliapietra. Subs Unused: Hill, D’Acol, Redmond, Sendles-White, Longridge.
Goals:Imrie 49, Crawford 63.
Cautions: Imrie, Kurakins.
Referee: Don Robertson Assistants: Stuart Stevenson & Andy Milne 4th Official: Alan Muir.