Matchzone: Airdrieonians Reserves (A)

Kilmarnock commenced their defence of the SPFL Reserve Cup trophy by earning a 4-1 win against Airdrieonians at the Excelsior Stadium on Tuesday 17th October.

Doubles from Steven Warnock and Lewis Mackle secured the points for an impressive young Killie side in their opening group stage fixture.

Alan Archibald lined up his team in a familiar shape, with Lewis Mackle joining reserve regulars Ethan Mersey, Ruari Ellis and Ethan Brown in the back line. Reuben Cooper accompanied Aaron Quigg in the centre of midfield, while wingers Kian Leslie and Aaron Brown supported a front two of Bobby Wales and Steven Warnock.

Killie took the lead during their first trip into the Airdrieonians half, with a mere minute on the clock. Bobby Wales broke down the left wing before driving a cross over the face of goal towards his strike partner Steven Warnock, who poked the ball home inside the six-yard box (0-1).

Airdrieonians responded well despite an early setback, holding their fair share of possession in the first quarter of an hour, but it was the visitors who continued to appear the most lethal in attack.

Having found the net twice against Airdrieonians in the SPFL Reserve League clash a fortnight ago, centre-back Ethan Brown came close to increasing his impressive goal tally against The Diamonds. Killie’s captain for the afternoon rose highest to meet a Steven Warnock corner, glancing a header narrowly past the post and coming millimeters from doubling the advantage after 20 minutes.

It was another Steven Warnock cross which resulted in Killie’s second of the match. An in-swinging corner was met by Bobby Wales who saw his header saved on the line. Lewis Mackle was quickest to react, knocking in the rebound to double his team’s lead with just under 30 minutes played (0-2).

The hosts came close to halving the deficit five minutes before the break when Elliot Dunlop’s cross was fired over the breadth of the six-yard box, but without any willing takers in the middle. After firing a warning shot, Airdrieonians pulled one back moments later.

Dominic Kavanagh capitalised on hesitancy on the right side of the box by sneaking in between the defence and goalkeeper, prodding the ball past Killie’s trialist No.1 to cut the deficit going into the interval (1-2).

Killie started brightly in the second period, first showing ambition through Ethan Brown who sent a well-struck 30-yard effort narrowly over the bar. Bobby Wales found the target five minutes after the restart, cutting inside and forcing Cade Melrose to turn the ball around his left-hand post. The keeper’s resistance would be broken again after 56 minutes.

Bobby Wales caused the defence havoc when he broke to the edge of the Airdrieonians box. After holding off a couple of defenders, the ball broke towards Steven Warnock who claimed possession and calmly found the far bottom corner from just inside the penalty area (1-3).

Steven Warnock came close to his hat-trick on the hour mark when his 25-yard free-kick attempt was impressively clawed out of the top corner by Cade Melrose. Killie would find another route past the ‘keeper from the resulting corner.

Another Steven Warnock cross once again fell to Lewis Mackle, with the 17-year-old showing composure to bag his second of the game from close range (4-1).

Airdrieonians came a post width away from pulling one back after an end-to-end period of play. Nathan Brown broke towards goal, firing a shot from the edge of the area which beat the keeper and fizzed narrowly away from the far post.

Killie called on the fresh legs of Shaun Kennedy and Zander Craik for the final 20 minutes. It was the aforementioned Kennedy who was next to force a save from the Airdrieonians keeper. Swipes from two Killie players were blocked inside the box, before the midfielder’s close-range strike forced a save from the foot of Cade Melrose.

Both sides looked to the bench to inject energy in the final stage, with Daniel Devlin and Callum Logue also joining the action. The points headed back to Ayrshire after a composed last 10 minutes from the youngsters guided by Alan Archibald and Craig Clark.

Killie are scheduled to play Queen of the South at Palmerston Park in the second round of group stage matches.

Result: Airdrieonians 1-4 Kilmarnock

Airdrieonians lineup: Melrose, Rowley, Gillespie, Vatta, Cassidy, Thomson, Dunlop, Kavanagh, Brown, McFarlane, Spalding.

Kilmarnock lineup: Trialist, Mackle, Mersey, E.Brown, Ellis, Cooper (Logue 88), Leslie (Kennedy 70), Quigg, Wales (Craik 70), Warnock, A.Brown (Devlin 88).