Two first half goals, each a bit unusual in their own right, were our undoing at Rugby Park on Saturday afternoon (31st March). Erwin in the fourth minute and O’Donnell with a long range deflected effort seconds before half time were the two goals.
We had four changes from Wednesday’s team at Perth with Ronan Hughes, Ross Jenkins, Lewis Ferguson and Antonio Rojano starting in place of the injured David Templeton, plus Darren Lyon, Rakish Bingham and Marios Ogkmpoe.
Martin McConnell reports from Rugby Park
Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
Saturday 31st March 2018 at 3pm.
Kilmarnock 2 Hamilton Academical 0
We lost for the second time in three days whilst still retaining 9th place, two points clear of Dundee (who subsequently picked up a point v Hearts on Sunday) and five above the drop zone. The Premiership’s form side Kilmarnock, made it four consecutive wins after Lee Erwin scored the opener in four minutes, with Stephen O’Donnell adding a second right before half time. A lead that was to hold until the final whistle.
It was a game in which Kilmarnock certainly deserved their win, they were the better side in open play and showed far more intent than a Hamilton side that was just about able to get the ball into the opposing penalty area in the first half. But for all their superiority, they relied heavily on attempts from outside the box, and let a poor Hamilton side knock on the door more than once in the second half. Which on another day, may have been taken.
A disappointed Martin Canning said afterwards, “It’s the mindset. Killie believe they are going to win every game that they play at the moment and that’s how it looked today. We wanted to win, they expected to. That belief somehow manages to pull you through games and get you results. I don’t think there was much between the teams. I don’t think they played any better than we did.
“We had chances in the second-half, but they got their goals and 2-0 was difficult to come back from against a team which believes they’re going to win.We had chances near the end. It’s a difficult one for me because it was 2-0 at half-time, we fought second-half and tried to get back into the game, but did we really believe we were going to get back into it? I don’t think we did – I don’t think there was enough belief.”
Accies made four changes to the side that was narrowly beaten 1-0 at McDiarmid Park on Wednesday night, with Ross Jenkins, Antonio Rojano, Ronan Hughes and Lewis Ferguson replacing Rakish Bingham, Darren Lyon, Marios Ogkmpoe and the injured David Templeton. Kilmarnock also made four changes to their starting line-up.
Ex Accies striker Eamonn Brophy created the opening effort when he volleyed high over the bar inside a couple of minutes. But the visitors went one better and took the lead a few minutes later when Erwin brought a dipping back post O’Donnell cross under control on the corner of the six-yard box, before skilfully turning to shoot low past Gary Woods.
Killie went close to adding another on twenty minutes when Darren McKenzie connected with a headed clearance to volley a yard high of goal from outside the box. In answer, the best Hamilton managed was to get the ball inside the Killie penalty area without testing the home defence. Brophy sent another high of the target eight minutes from half time.
Killie’s second came seconds before the half time whistle and was soul destroying and more than a little freakish to say the least. The ball was headed clear and fell right at the feet of O’Donnell, easily 30 plus yards from goal. The ball was knocked back into the penalty area, threaded its way through several bodies and Tomas’s outstretched leg before going in softly at the bottom corner.
The second half opened with Gary Woods comfortably saving a speculative O’Donnell strike from wide. Kris Boyd followed with an effort that almost put Kilmarnock further in front.The striker managed to get a touch on a looping header just outside the six-yard box, and but for a great reaction save from the Accies keeper, they’d have been three behind.
Between Kilmarnock half chances, Hamilton had good chances of their own to get back into the match. Antonio Rojano sent a header wide from an Imrie free kick, Georgios Sarris forced a last gasp save from MacDonald low at the bottom corner with his glancing header. Lewis Ferguson forced a save with a driven shot from 25 yards, then Mickel Miller, who did well after coming on, had a late chance to open his Accies account, instead sent the eight-yard shot way over the cross bar.
Killie: MacDonald, S Boyd, Findlay, O’Donnell, Taylor, Dicker, McKenzie, Power (Wilson 86), Brophy (Kiltie 80), Erwin, K Boyd (Jones 72). Subs Unused: Fasan, Mulumbu, Simpson, Burke.
Goals: Erwin 4, O’Donnell 44.
Accies: Woods, McMann (Miller 69), Jenkins (Ogkmpoe 55), Tomas, Imrie (c), MacKinnon, Rojano, Hughes (Lyon 77), Ferguson, Want, Sarris. Subs Unused: Bingham, Redmond, van der Weg, Fulton.
Cautions: Hughes, Imrie, Sarris, Rojano.
Referee: Alan Muir. Assistants: Sean Carr & Daniel MacFarlane. 4th Official: Mike Roncone.
Attendance: 4672 (304 Accies)