Match Summary | Motherwell Reserves (H)
Kilmarnock remain second in the cinch SPFL Reserve League following a 1-1 draw against Motherwell at The BBSP Stadium, Rugby Park on Tuesday 18th April 2023.
The hosts fielded a strong starting XI featuring the returning Liam Polworth who got a valuable 75 minutes under his belt against an experienced Motherwell side captained by former Killie man Stephen O’Donnell.
Kerr McInroy kicked off the action at a sunny Rugby Park and it was the Killie midfielder who would have the first impact on the match. With just four minutes on the clock, the 22-year-old put his side ahead through a precision left-footed strike from the edge of the box, which arrowed into the bottom corner.
After the perfect start, Killie suffered a blow five minutes later when Ben Chrisene was unfortunately forced off the park through injury on his return to action after a lengthy period on the sidleines: young full-back Ethan Mersey was called upon to replace the Aston Villa loanee.
The home side’s misfortune continued when a powerful back-pass from Blair Alston clipped the arm of Zach Hemming, resulting in the visitors being awarded an indirect free-kick inside the box. The Killie ‘keeper quickly made amends as he rushed out to make a solid block six yards from goal, but his resistance would only last a matter of moments.
A cross fired into the Moffat Stand penalty box was met by Joe Efford who knocked in an equaliser at the back post with just under a quarter of an hour played.
A challenging spell continued for Paul Sheerin’s side who lost Fraser Murray to injury after 20 minutes, with U18s regular Aaron Quigg called into action sooner than he would have expected.
Quigg instantly got stuck-in and it was his cut-back which picked out Kerr McInroy whose 8-yard strike was blocked by the ‘Well defence, before Bobby Wales narrowly missed the post through a close-range rebound shot which was eventually adjudged offside.
A great recovery challenge from Killie captain Kirk McKnight halted a goalbound strike from Riku Danzaki a couple of minutes later as the game swung from end to end.
Aaron Quigg was again at the heart of play and worked Killie’s best effort on goal in the remaining 20 minutes of the half; his shot from the edge of the area took a hefty deflection towards the far bottom corner, drawing an impressive save from Kyle Aitkin who held the ball.
HALF-TIME: KILMARNOCK 1 – 1 MOTHERWELL
It was a quieter start to the second period as both sides moved the ball around without cutting through either opposition defence. Motherwell eventually thought that they had carved through the Killie back four when a neat pass was threaded to Stephen O’Donnell who strided into the box and forced a block from Zach Hemming, before the flag was raised for offside.
The away side continued to push forward for the next five-minute spell of the match, flashing a ball across the box which was well-cleared by Killie captain Kirk McKnight, before his No.1 was called upon to keep the score level with just over an hour to play. Harry Paton advanced into the box and leathered a half-volley towards the Chadwick Stand goal from 12 yards out, which drew a fine point-blank save from Zach Hemming who displayed fine reflexes to parry the ball away to safety.
The game continued to regain pace after the break and it was the Motherwell ‘keeper who was next to display his quality. Kirk McKnight took the chance to show his attacking ability by carrying possession into the final third and thundering a 25-yard shot towards goal, which was again well-held by the full-stretch Kyle Aitkin.
It wasn’t just the goalkeepers who were providing the impressive stops; Killie substitute Ethan Mersey made a fine sliding block to deny a dangerous looking shot as the hosts survived a three-on-two situation.
Killie controlled possession in the latter stages as Bobby Wales became more involved in link-up play with Kerr McInroy. It was the Killie goalscorer who looked most likely to find a winner: his 20-yard dead ball strike crashed against the crossbar as the game moved into the final 10 minutes.
The midfielder went even closer with five to play when he recovered possession deep inside the ‘Well half and fired towards goal from a wide angle, but Kyle Aitkin again got himself in front of the ball to preserve his side’s point.
Result: Kilmarnock 1-1 Motherwell
Kilmarnock starting XI: Hemming, Craig (Miller 75’), McKnight, Sanders, Chrisene (Mersey 10’), Murray (Quigg 20’), Alston, Polworth (Kennedy 75’), Lyons, McInroy, Wales
Remaining reserve fixtures:
02/05 – SPFL Reserve Cup Final: Dunfermline (H)
09/05 – SPFL Reserve League: Dundee United (H)