Mark Gillespie caught up with Martin Canning and Scott McMann after Saturday’s game at Rugby Park –
You must have been proud with the way your side responded from being 2-0 down?
“Yes I am. I felt that in the first half we were probably the better team and we passed the ball really well first half and 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.”
Did you always feel that Killie had a wee bit of nervousness that you could play off?
“Yes, I thought we were playing well enough and creating opportunities. I think that Ioannis had a chance just before we scored, when he was clear through and the defender did well to get a block in. We believed that it would come and that we would get a chance, and to be fair his goal is a great goal, a great finish. Scott gets to the byeline and puts in a good ball, that’s wing back to wing back. Which is something I’ve been talking about more, getting our wing backs into the box and making an attacking threat. So, I was pleased with that then obviously we get the penalty as well. Overall, delighted with a point given the fact that we’re 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go.”
Do you think that you have a wee bit of momentum now that can carry you through the first part of the season?
“Yes, I think maybe if we hadn’t won the two previous games then we might not have got a point from this game, like you say, momentum is big in football as well and just now for us it’s good and we want to try and keep that going. We’ve got a difficult game next time out against Celtic, it should be a big, big ask given the way Celtic are performing. Like I say, we are just delighted with our start to the season. For us now to be six points clear of Kilmarnock going into this break, I think Partick Thistle lost today and Dundee play tomorrow. So, for us it’s a good start and if someone had said that to us four games ago, we would have been over the moon to take it. Its pleasing today for different aspects, obviously last week we got a lot of credit for playing really well and dominating the game. Today at 2-0 down we showed the opposite side, that we can dig deep as well when we have too. That was pleasing.”
Darian MacKinnon had a right go at Xavier Tomas after the second goal. Are you pleased to see that bit of dig from the side?
“Yes, it’s something that I actually highlighted in the video on Monday when I went through the Hibs game. There were times last season when we would lose important goals and we just kind of accepted it. Obviously, we lost the last goal to Hibs to win 3-1 and it was a meaningless goal if you like. But there were three or four of the boys having a real go at each other as they were disappointed to concede which I think you’ve got to be. With the boys being up I don’t think he was given the cover. I actually initially thought it was offside as well and have since seen it back and gone in and spoken to the referee and the linesman. I thought they made a good decision, he is on side inside his own half, which is what the assistant said at the time at real speed. I think that it was a good call.”
What did you think of the penalty decision?
“I think that it’s a penalty. I think that Greg got to the ball first, I don’t think that he meant to foul him, he tried to win the ball and obviously Greg managed to come from behind him and nicked the ball first,then he brings him down. Then Ali shows great composure by sticking it away.”
The manager was talking about the ‘fighting qualities’ of the squad, was that a point that you felt that you had to battle for?
“It is, and I’m delighted with the point. I think coming here we were looking to go and win the game, but given the circumstances and being two goals down, I’m delighted.”
Do you think that you’ve got a bit of momentum building now?
“It does. I think if we’d gone 2-0 down last season, heads go down a wee bit and then we don’t manage to come back and show our fighting spirit. I think this season we have a bit of dig about us to come back into the game and show that belief.”
Your thoughts on the penalty kick?
I thought it was a stone waller personally, it was similar to last week against Hibs actually. Greg just sort of got it under control and forced the defender to come out, but I’d have to see it again.”
Having made such a good start, do you think you’ve made a dent into any relegation fight?
“We’re only four games into the season so we can’t even begin to think of safety yet. We’ve obviously made a good start to the season but we know that it’s going to be difficult as there are a lot of good sides in the league this year.”
Darian was having a go at Xavier after that second goal, is that something that you’re encouraged to do?
“The gaffer says that all the time and likes to see us not accepting a mistake. Obviously not slaughtering someone, but to have a go at someone when they’ve done something wrong and make demands of them. We’ve set ourselves a standard this season and we’re looking to retain that. So, I think it’s good.”