Matchzone: Airdrieonians Reserves (H)

A youthful Kilmarnock reserve side impressed in a commanding 6-0 win against Airdrieonians at The BBSP Stadium, Rugby Park on Tuesday 3rd October 2023.

Alan Archibald selected a core group of academy graduates including Aaron Brown and Steven Warnock for the SPFL Reserve League clash. Bobby Wales and Kian Leslie were also named in the starting lineup, remaining eligible for development squad matches despite being on loan at Alloa Athletic and Clyde respectively.

Airdrieonians fielded an equally young side populated by teenagers, who were guided by Darren Barr and Alan Gow in the away dugout.

Killie lined up in a rough 4-4-1-1 formation, anchored by a centre-back pairing of Jack Sanders and Ethan Brown. Ben Brannan and Tom Davies occupied the full-back positions, while Ethan Mersey and Aaron Quigg were handed the central midfield roles. Kian Leslie and Aaron Brown played on either wing, supporting a front two of Steven Warnock and Bobby Wales.

It was the visitors who were first to threaten, with less than a minute on the clock. A driven cross from the right wing was fired into the box and met by the toe of a retreating Ethan Brown. To the relief of his goalkeeper, the ball narrowly skipped past the post and nestled in the side-netting.

The first real shooting opportunity fell for the hosts after five minutes. Steven Warnock’s short corner exchange created an angle for a strike, which forced a save from Cade Melrose in the Moffat Stand goal.

Killie found a route past the Airdrieonians keeper after 8 minutes. Kian Leslie’s in-swinging cross from the right touchline was headed home by Aaron Brown as he crept in at the back post (1-0).

The hosts continued to combine well in the final third, with the attacking quartet of Kian Leslie, Aaron Brown, Steven Warnock and Bobby Wales linking well throughout neat passing moves.

Steven Warnock was next to carve an opportunity, firing a cross towards Ben Brannan who had ventured into the box from a full-back position. His header was nodded goalwards but comfortably caught by Cade Melrose. The aforementioned Warnock worked the keeper himself two minutes later, pouncing on a rebound and forcing a solid diving save from just inside the box.

The Ayrshire side doubled their advantage from the penalty spot after quarter of an hour. Aaron Brown was upended after being first to meet a half-cleared corner diverted to the far end of the penalty box. Steven Warnock stepped up and smashed into the keeper’s right corner (2-0).

Killie came close to a third after 20 minutes. A pinpoint cut-back from Aaron Brown picked out Bobby Wales whose well-struck attempt forced a point-blank save from the feet of Cade Melrose. Tom Davies’ 25-yard free-kick effort called the keeper into a full-stretch save minutes later, gathering the ball as it arrowed towards his bottom right corner.

Bobby Wales impressively created an opportunity of his own as the game moved past the 25-minute mark. The attacker accepted a pass by flicking the ball over his head – and an Airdrieonians defender – before firing a shot which was turned around the post by a fine one-handed save.

Killie dominated possession for the remainder of the half. Jack Sanders and Bobby Wales drew the keeper into solid blocks, while Steven Warnock fired narrowly over the crossbar from range, but it remained 2-0 at the break.

Kian Leslie was first to impress in the second period. The energetic winger skipped past his man and cut inside from the right touchline before crashing a 20-yard strike off the top of the crossbar.

Airdrieonians’ best chance of scoring came with 50 minutes played. Elliot Dunlop‘s cross from the East Stand wing was placed onto the head of Dylan Watt, but the attacker failed to make a strong enough connection to convert from 8 yards.

The visitors paid for the miss two minutes later when Killie put the game out of sight. Bobby Wales’ low ball evaded defensive bodies in the box and travelled towards the back stick, where it was met by Steven Warnock whose cool one-touch finish found the net (3-0).

Killie netted a fourth just before the hour mark. Steven Warnock’s corner was met by the head of Jack Sanders who forced a close-range save, before Ethan Brown slotted home the rebound (4-0).

Kieran O’Hara was called into a rare save with just under half an hour to play. Dylan Watt’s cross-come-shot was fired towards the front post, requiring the Republic of Ireland international to parry the ball away from his goal.

A fine solo drive from Ben Brannan almost resulted in Killie’s fifth. The right-back burst through the middle of the park, skipping past a couple of defenders before rising a shot narrowly over the bar from 18 yards.

The fifth came via a corner kick on the 77th minute. Steven Warnock was again the provider, with Ethan Brown rising highest to nod home his second of the game (5-0).

Killie’s sixth came in the dying moments. Relentless chasing from substitute Zander Craik saw the powerful attacker recover possession on the main stand touchline, before powering through on goal and slamming past the keeper (6-0).

Result: Kilmarnock 6-0 Airdrieonians

Kilmarnock lineup: O’Hara, Brannan (Miller 77), Davies, Brown, Sanders, Mersey (Smith 56), Leslie (Kennedy 67), Quigg, Wales (Craik 67), Warnock, Brown.

Airdrieonians lineup: Melrose, Edwards, Fellows, Cassidy, Gillespie, Trialist, Kavanagh, Watt, Dunlop, Brown, Spalding.