Match Summary | Livingston Reserves (H)
Kilmarnock jumped up to second spot in the cinch SPFL Reserve League following a 2-1 win against Livingston at The BBSP Stadium, Rugby Park on Tuesday 11th April 2023.
Paul Sheerin fielded a strong starting XI which featured the likes of Alan Power, Blair Alston, Kerr McInroy and Fraser Murray, while the experienced Sean Kelly and Scott Pitman started alongside Bruce Anderson for the visitors.
Steven Warnock kicked off proceedings, but it was the away side who were first to get a foothold on possession within the first five minutes. Early control almost paid off when a free-kick from the right touchline was swung deep into the box and glanced wide of the far post.
Killie’s first real chance of the game came a couple of minutes later when Fraser Murray’s corner was nodded into the six-yard box and enticed Steven Warnock into an overhead kick which crashed against the crossbar, before Jon Craig’s attempted rebound was smothered by Jack Hamilton.
The hosts then began to dictate play, with Steven Warnock starting to pull strings in the final third of the pitch. It was his cross towards Bobby Wales which nearly resulted in the opener, but the full-stretch Scotland youth international struggled to make a strong enough connection to send the ball goalward as he concluded a move which showed great promise for the young strike partnership.
Paul Sheerin’s men continued to press forward and Fraser Murray was next to carve an opportunity as he arrowed in a deep cross which was met by Kerr McInroy whose powerful half-volley rose narrowly over the top of the bar.
Killie honed in on the target but were once again denied by the woodwork as their captain, Kirk McKnight, sent a thunderous strike onto the ‘keeper’s near post before the ball rebounded over the face of the goal.
Bobby Wales thought he had beat the woodwork when he strided onto a through-ball and rounded Jack Hamilton to find the net, before the flag was raised for offside.
It was Bobby Wales’ persistence that resulted in the deadlock being broken with 26 minutes on the clock. The 17-year-old forward confidently carried the ball towards the edge of the box before neatly slotting into the bottom corner to place his name on the scoresheet.
Killie continued to dominate possession for the remainder of the half, which came and went without either goalkeeper being truly troubled.
HALF-TIME: KILMARNOCK 1-0 LIVINGSTON
Livingston came out of the changing room quickly in the second half and only took a couple of minutes to test Corey Armour after the restart. Dylan Bahamboula stung the hands of the Killie ‘keeper who parried away a powerful dead-ball strike from the outside corner of the penalty area.
Killie retaliated when an impressive burst of pace saw Kirk McKnight race down the right wing before picking out Blair Alston with a cutback. The experienced midfielder made a strong connection around 15 yards from goal and forced a solid block from the feet of Jack Hamilton after the shot took a deflection on its travels.
Alston came even closer to forcing Killie’s second goal just before the hour mark. McInroy’s free-kick was drilled towards Killie’s number 8 whose marker inadvertently deflected the cross onto the outside of his post.
The all-important second goal came with half an hour to play after Jack Sanders was upended inside the penalty area as he attempted to get on the end of Kerr McInroy’s cross. Kyle Hall pointed to the penalty spot and the composed Steven Warnock stepped up to calmly convert from 12 yards.
The Ayrshire side continued to push forward in search of the goal that would put the game out of sight. A neat exchange with Bobby Wales saw Fraser Murray create a shooting opportunity which drew the Livi ‘keeper into a strong one-handed save to turn away a firm left-footed strike.
Livingston put on pressure of their own as they hunted for a route back into the game, with Corey Armour called into action to maintain his side’s two-goal lead. The ‘keeper played his part when he spread himself to make an impressive block which denied Rudi Bryce after he broke through on goal in a one-on-one situation. Jay McFarlane-Letham also found the target for Livi in the closing stages, but his 20-yard effort was again claimed by the Killie stopper.
It took until stoppage time for the visitors to find a way past Corey Armour. Rudi Bryce’s well-placed strike into the bottom corner cut the deficit, before Killie saw out the remaining minutes to secure three points.
Next up for Kilmarnock reserves is a cinch SPFL Reserve League fixture at home to Motherwell on Tuesday 18th April 2023.
Result: Kilmarnock 2-1 Livingston
Kilmarnock starting XI: Armour, Craig (Miller 80’), Sanders, McKnight, Mersey (Smith (80’), Murray (Brown 65’), Power, Alston (Singh 85’), McInroy (Leslie 85’), Warnock, Wales