Match Summary | Motherwell Reserves (A)
Kilmarnock progressed to the semi-finals of the cinch Reserve League Cup as group winners following a 1-1 draw against Motherwell at K-Park Training Academy this afternoon.
Killie shaped up in a rough 4-4-2 formation, with Murray and Leslie occupying wings on either side of Chahal and McInroy in the middle of the park. Dorsett played 55 minutes on his return from injury, while Sanders and McInroy got 90 minutes under their belts in East Kilbride.
Following a sedate start to the match, the first action inside the Motherwell box came after 10 minutes when Warnock’s blocked effort fell to McInroy who poked the ball narrowly wide of the post, thanks to pressure from the Motherwell defence around 12 yards from goal. Kian Leslie also carved a shooting opportunity in the opening quarter of an hour, capitalising on a slip to recover the ball on the right wing before driving towards goal and firing a shot over the bar from just inside the box.
An experienced Motherwell side, featuring the likes of Stephen O’Donnell and Bevis Mugabi, began to stamp authority on possession for the remainder of the half, but without forcing a save from Armour in the Killie goal. The hosts thought that they had beaten the Killie ’keeper before Crankshaw’s fine strike into the top corner was ruled out by the offside flag after half an hour.
Shortly before the half-time whistle, Wales forced the best save of the match after striding onto a through-ball and striking a powerful effort from 20-yards; producing a full-stretched stop from Oxborough in the ‘Well goal who kept the score level at the break.
Clark and Mersey were introduced in place of Chahal and Craig at half-time, allowing Killie captain Watson to step into his natural position in the midfield. The visitors started brightly in the opening stages of the second period; getting feet on the ball and winning a couple of corners before McInroy worked the first shooting opportunity of the half, but without forcing a save.
Killie ramped up pressure after an hour, with Wales’ left-footed strike calling Oxborough back into action, before Murray forced another solid save from a shot towards the bottom corner moments later.
The ever-lively Warnock continued to make himself available in space, which nearly paid off when he collected the ball and drove at the home side’s defence before finding the side-netting with an attempt at goal. With 20 minutes to play, Warnock departed the pitch and was replaced by Brown: both players who are currently out on loan but remain available for selection in reserve matches while representing F.C Edinburgh and Stranraer respectively.
It was former Killie full-back O’Donnell who came closest to breaking the deadlock when his right-footed strike crashed against the crossbar on the 70-minute mark. The away team retaliated through McInroy whose long-distance strike was tipped over the bar as Killie also honed in on the target.
Kilmarnock’s number 11, Leslie, had been persistent on the right-wing all afternoon, and got his reward when a perfectly weighted cross picked out Murray who nodded in from close range to open the scoring after 79 minutes.
Paul Sheerin’s men had the game all but wrapped up until Motherwell’s Crankshaw stepped up and smashed a long-distance strike into the bottom corner moments before the full-time whistle.
The last-minute effort forced the game into penalties to determine the winners of a bonus point. Sanders and Watson converted from 12 yards – while McInroy and Murray both saw penalties saved – as the home team won 4-2. However, a point was enough to see Killie progress into the semi-final of the competition after finishing top of the table in the group stage.
Kilmarnock starting XI: Armour, Watson, Sanders, Dorsett (Ellis 55’), Craig (Clark 45’), Murray, Chahal (Mersey 45’), McInroy, Leslie, Warnock (Brown 70’), Wales