Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
Saturday 30th January 2016
Kilmarnock 0 Hamilton Academical 1
In a match that was to prove hugely significant for both sides, Accies walked away with the spoils thanks to a Carlton Morris header in the 70th minute. Martin Canning’s men showed the greater character in a nervy match that lacked quality at times.And although Killie edged it strictly in terms of possession, Accies were the side that showed the endeavour in going forward.
This was our third successive away win at Rugby Park, and our 4th win there in our last five games at the famous old venue.
The game also had both goalkeepers as the captains.
Player / Manager Martin Canning, showed faith in his side that fought for the draw at NDP against Hearts, and naming only one change to his line up. Carlton Morris came into the side to replace Alex D’Acol. The manager also listed himself as a sub, with Garcia Tena starting a two game ban. Killie made three changes to the side that lost 5-1 to Dundee United. With McKenzie, Boyd and McHattie replacing Smith, Findlay and Higginbotham.
The first chance fell to Killie on five minutes, when the ball was chipped into the penalty area for Kris Boyd. The former Rangers striker held the ball and rolled it into the path of Kevin McHattie who shot wide of goal from eight yards. At the other end, Ali Crawford struck a corner kick to the back post, Ziggy Gordon ran in and struck over the cross bar.
Accies were then awarded a free kick 35 yards from goal, Crawford played a nicely worked and pre-planned one-two with Dougie Imrie. Crawford’s 22 yard shot took a deflection on its way to goal, before going wide. Accies were looking the better of the two sides when Imrie set up a shot for Crawford that eventually sailed high from 20 yards.
Carlton Morris broke at pace but was taken out of the game by Lee Ashcroft, the ball continued forward and was gathered by Ali Crawford. He ran in on the goal and dinked over the out rushing Jamie MacDonald, but his effort looked like it was palmed just wide of the post by the Killie keeper. However a goal kick was awarded, and Ashcroft picked up a yellow.
Magennis had a rare half chance when he received the ball wide on the right, but his international team mate Michael McGovern held his powerfully struck shot comfortably. Kurtaj made his way on goal from out on the left, he led the Killie defence on a merry dance before playing inside to Crawford. The ball was then laid back for MacKinnon to shoot over the cross bar from 25 yards.
Dougie Imrie showed a touch of class when receiving the ball from Gordon close to the corner flag. Skipping a sliding challenge, he delivered a perfectly weighted ball across the six yard line, unfortunately none of his team mates were in position to make it count. Then whilst Boyd was claiming for a penalty, Dougie Imrie went up field and curled a shot inches over the cross bar.
Jamie Hamill went close when he headed just over the cross bar from the corner of the six yard area. Killie were then awarded a free kick, 22 yards from goal. Kris Boyd ran up and clipped the top of the cross bar with his shot. Crawford made a run though the centre and knocked wide for Kurtaj, the German midfielder cut back inside then guided just wide of the Killie goal.
The deadlock was broken from an Ali Crawford corner kick. The ball was struck high into the near post area, Carlton Morris evaded his marker and headed toward goal from five yards, the ball took a slight deflection on its way, and Carlton grabbed his fourth of the season. Then from a ball played long, Kurtaj sent the ball skimming across the six yard box, but D’Acol’s athletic slide failed to connect.
Alex D’Acol showed a great piece of determination when he stole the ball from Ashcroft as he ushered out for a goal kick. He cut inside, evaded an Ashcroft challenge and rolled the ball toward Dougie Imrie. Unfortunately the ball was a touch behind the midfielder as he struck over the cross bar from ten yards. In the dying seconds, Carrick had a chance to equalize but struck well high from eight yards.
Martin Canning said “It was pleasing although the result is the most important thing, today we had to come down here and try and win a difficult match, so I’m delighted with the effort and the attitude shown in doing that. I thought performance wise we played well, and I think on another day with a little bit more composure, we could have scored another couple of goals as well.”
On the response shown since the Celtic Park match, Martin said “I’ve said all along, that was a disappointment for everyone, but the attitude and response from the boys has been great. They’ve kept two clean sheets on the back of that, and managed to get the goal today as well. Maybe towards the end we could have made it a little bit more comfortable for ourselves with a goal. I thought the defending, and attitude shown right across the back we were excellent, and across the middle, that gives you the platform to go and win the game.”
“We’ve had a couple of bad results obviously, with the Annan and Celtic results being so close to each other, it draws attention to it and we were going through a bad run at the time, but when you look at it now we’ve lost one in the last five. So in terms of form we’re competing in that group of teams that we expected to be in and around. It was always going to be a hard season, a battle with the five or six teams competing for position and were in there, and we’ll continue to fight hard and work for every point we can get.”
Accies keeper Michael McGovern said of the response shown by the team “It says everything about the character, we’ve got fighters in the dressing room and even when we face adversity we can come back and that’s what we needed to do after the Celtic game. We did that and are pleased with the way things are going, but still have a long way to go.
“It was a huge game for us today, probably our biggest this season if I’m being honest, and to come away from home and win is a great boost for us, but it doesn’t mean anything unless we can build on it. We’ve got Dundee United at home in two weeks time, and that will then become our biggest game. We’re really pleased with the way things have gone today and we’ll not get too carried away as we’ve got that game coming up, but we showed today that we have the players and the fight to get results, so it’s really pleasing.”
Goal hero Carlton Morris said of his goal “I’ve made the effort and made the run and got my head on it, so you’ll have to wrestle with me to get it off me. I’ve made my run across the front post and made contact with the ball and it was heading toward goal, then I missed what happened after that but the ball ended up in the net, so I’m claiming it.” And on the victory, “It’s more about the result than the goal, it was a must win game really and I think we always looked comfortable in the match, and felt comfortable during it, so it all went to plan.”
Killie: MacDonald, McKenzie (Obadeyi 67), Boyd, Ashcroft, Slater (Hamill 22), McHattie (Carrick 82), Kiltie, Syme, Balatoni, Magennis, Robinson. Subs Unused: Brennan, Findlay, Higginbotham, Frizzell.
Cautions: Balatoni, Hamill.
Accies: McGovern, Gordon, Kurakins, Devlin, Imrie, Crawford, Kurtaj (Docherty 90+1), Morris (D’Acol 80), MacKinnon, Lyon, Tagliapietra. Subs Unused: Martin, Canning, Gillespie, Brophy, Mandiangu.
Goal: Morris 70.
Cautions: Morris, MacKinnon.
Referee: Stephen Finnie Assistants: Alan Mulvanny & Graham McNeillie 4th official: Bobby Madden.