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Killie 2-2 Accies, 26th August

Martin McConnell reports from Saturday’s draw at Kilmarnock

Thought to be only the second time we’ve come back from two down in a top flight fixture and avoid defeat (the last 3-3 at Dundee, December 1986)

Ladbrokes Premiership

Rugby Park, Kilmarnock

Saturday 26th August 2017 at 3pm.

Kilmarnock 2 Hamilton Academical 2

We go into the international break in 4th spot after deservedly coming back from two goals down, after denying Killie their first league win of the season with just three minutes left to play. The goals coming by way of a sensational 12-yard Ioannis Skondras volley and an Ali Crawford spot kick, to retain our impressive recent unbeaten run at Rugby Park.

Accies boss Martin Canning said afterwards, “I felt that in the first half we were probably the better team and we passed the ball really well and we found ourselves 1-0 down. That was disappointing. I said at half time that I thought that if we didn’t concede again, we could win the game. Obviously when it then goes to two your thinking that it’s going to be difficult, but the fighting spirit was great and they managed to dig in and get themselves a point.”

The game had barely started when Accies found themselves 1-0 down after a dangerous free kick from wide, was knocked over the line by Louis Longridge for an own goal. They were then lucky not to be two down after Kris Boyd shot wide from close range. Having survived that scare, they began to get their feet on the ball and dominated for the remaining twenty minutes of the half.

Hamilton then went two goals behind shortly before the hour after substitute Lee Erwin got onto the end of a long Frizzell ball forward and then lobbed Gary Woods. Accies got themselves back into the mix when Skondras volleyed home from a great McMann cross, and it got better when Ali Crawford slotted a spot kick home just minutes from the end.

With back to back wins behind his side, Accies boss Martin Canning made only one enforced change to his starting line-up, bringing in Louis Longridge for the injured Rakish Bingham. Killie also made just the one change, with Newcastle United loanee Stuart Findlay starting his second spell at the club in place of Rory McKenzie.

With the first attack of the match, Killie were awarded a free kick out on the wing after Kris Boyd went down easily under a challenge from Xavier Tomas. Dom Thomas then sent the ball dipping dangerously in at the near post, where the ball struck Longridge’s outstretched foot and straight into the back of his own net.

Accies hadn’t really threatened the home goal when Killie should have gone two up on 18 minutes. Thomas made a cautious run through the centre before slipping the ball through the back for Kris Boyd, who fortunately for Accies, struck the ball across goal and wide of the back post from six yards out!

Accies first real attempt came just after the half hour when Crawford won a challenge just inside the Killie half, Longridge picked up reins and made a mazy run inside before sending wide for Imrie to strike narrowly over from 22 yards. Longridge forced a great save from 12 yards then Darian MacKinnon struck over from 30 yards as Accies finished the half on top.

Killie had the opening chance of the second half, when Thomas struck a 20-yard free kick straight at Gary Woods, the awkward ball squirmed from his arms before Imrie cleared down field. Accies went further behind when Adam Frizzell lumped the ball forward, Erwin was first to the ball, and did well to keep his composure and lob Woods.

With Killie two goals to the good, Accies now made regular raids into home territory. Ali Crawford’s 30-yard free kick was saved but the keeper couldn’t hold and Tomas came within an inch of latching onto the rebound. Skondras then got onto a ball over the top, and only a last-second block by MacDonald took the sting off the shot and allowed the keeper to gather.

Accies weren’t finished and their perseverance finally paid out after Ioannis Skondras popped up to silence the Killie fans, after volleying the ball into the back of the net from 12 yards out. Scott McMann’s cross sat up perfectly for the Greek defender to smash home from the centre of the penalty area.

With time running out for the visitors, Ali Crawford slipped a quick free kick into the corner of the penalty area, when everyone was expecting a do or die effort hoisted into the box. Greg Docherty gave chase and just got a touch on the ball when a challenge came in from Smith. The assistant referee on the stand side immediately awarded a penalty and the referee then blew and pointed to the spot, where Crawford duly equalised from.

Killie: MacDonald, Taylor, Smith, O’Donnell, Findlay, Thomas (McKenzie 69), Jones, Boyd (Erwin 36), Greer, Wilson, Frizzell. Subs Unused: Bell, Waters, Hawkshaw, Burke, Brophy.

Goals: Longridge o.g. 3, Erwin 58.

Cautions: Wilson, Smith, Frizzell.

Accies: Woods, Skondras, McMann, Tomas, Imrie (c) (Gogic 68 ), Docherty, A Crawford, Longridge (Cunningham 76), MacKinnon, S Boyd (Templeton 56), Sarris. Subs Unused: Gillespie, Donati, Lyon, Jamieson.

Goals: Skondras 71, Crawford 87 pen.

Cautions: Sarris.

Referee: Andrew Dallas. Assistants: Willie Conquer & Daniel McFarlane. 4th Official: Gavin Duncan.

Attendance: 3706 (399 Accies).

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