Matchzone: Dumbarton (H)
A young Kilmarnock B team bowed out of the SPFL Trust Trophy on penalties after a spirited performance against Scottish League Two side Dumbarton F.C. on Wednesday 16th August.
Alan Archibald selected a squad featuring 14 players with academy links, including Ruari Ellis, Aaron Quigg and Bobby Wales who were guided by the experience of Kieran O’Hara and Jack Sanders.
Ethan Brown, Jack Sanders and Ruari Ellis were given the task of anchoring the defence, with Tom Davies and Andrew Miller supporting in wing-back positions. Aaron Quigg and Ben Brannan connected the defence with an attacking trio of Aaron Brown, Steven Warnock and Bobby Wales.
It was the visitors who were handed the first glimpse of goal with less than two minutes on the clock. Matthew Shiels’ eyes lit up as a stray backpass hovered on the edge of the box, testing the concentration of Kieran O’Hara who was quick of his line to clear early danger.
Killie retaliated three minutes later when a neat flick from Bobby Wales played his fellow Scotland Youth international, Ben Brannan, through the defence, before a solid recovery challenge smothered the hosts’ first strike at goal.
The lively Bobby Wales would see a half-chance fall in his favour moments later. The 18-year-old attacker connected well with a cross fired into the box from the right touchline, but sent his first-time attempt rising over the bar.
It took quarter of an hour for Kieran O’Hara to produce the first real save of the game. Finlay Gray latched onto a ball dinked in from the right wing, forcing an excellent one-handed stop from the Killie ‘keeper who got down quickly to palm the ball away from his bottom left corner.
The pace and energy of Bobby Wales continued to provide Killie’s outlet at the Chadwick Stand end. Still searching for a breakthrough after 20 minutes, the youngster strided onto a through-ball and sent a left-footed strike past the far post from the corner of the penalty box.
Dumbarton rediscovered their attacking threat after 25 minutes. A straight shootout to recover possession saw Finlay Gray and Kieran O’Hara charge towards a ball on the right touchline. The Sons’ attacker won the race and rounded the keeper, but couldn’t find a teammate through his resulting cross, with the home side’s goal gaping.
A successful route past the goalkeeper would be found with five minutes remaining before half-time. Carlo Pignatiello claimed a ball diverted in his direction, before coolly slotting into Kieran O’Hara’s top left corner from just inside the penalty area (0-1).
The hosts could not have come closer to an equaliser as the referee drew breath for the half-time whistle. Steven Warnock recovered possession 20 yards from goal and fed Bobby Wales. His arrowed strike found the near post, before rebounding across the length of the line and escaping away from goal.
The visitors kicked off the second half, but it was the hosts who were first to get a grip on possession. Steven Warnock was quick to display revitalisation after the restart, forcing a comfortable save from 20 yards, before finding the side netting after meeting a deep cross to the back stick.
As Killie began to gain momentum, Dumbarton delivered a reminder of their own attacking capabilities. Ryan Wallace collected a loose ball in the midfield and created space for a powerful shot, which was strongly punched away from the top corner by Kieran O’Hara.
The equaliser came with 25 minutes remaining. A quick exchange with Aaron Brown created a shooting opportunity which was gladly taken by Bobby Wales. His shot from the edge of the box was too hot to handle for Harry Broun, who couldn’t keep the effort out despite making solid contact with the ball (1-1).
The Aaron Brown and Bobby Wales partnership came millimetres from putting Killie in front. Two minutes after finding his teammate for the equaliser, Brown once again picked out Wales through a driven cross which clipped the striker’s foot and slowly trundled towards goal before being cleared off the line.
After a quiet spell in front of goal, both sides would re-energise their attacks for the final 10 minutes. Kalvin Orsi clipped in a cross which found its way to James Hilton at the back post, but his half-volley whistled over the bar. At the Moffat Stand, Bobby Wales went close through a half-volley after a throw-in was launched in his direction.
A calm end to the game sparked into life on the Frank Beattie Stand touchline with 90 minutes on the clock. Ben Brannan’s foul instigated an over-the-top reaction from the visitors, with Alan Archibald stepping into defend the 16-year-old: Killie’s First-Team Coach subsequently picked up a red card for his troubles.
An even contest throughout, very few were surprised when the referee’s whistle indicated that penalties would settle the tie. It took 17 successful strikes before a save was made by Harry Broun, which sent Dumbarton into tomorrow’s Third Round draw.
Result: Kilmarnock 1-1 Dumbarton (8-9 on penalties)
Killie lineup: Kieran O’Hara, Andrew Miller, Thomas Davies, Ruari Ellis (Nathan Smith 53), Jack Sanders, Ethan Brown, Aaron Quigg (Zander Craik 75), Ben Brannan, Bobby Wales, Steven Warnock, Aaron Brown
Dumbarton lineup: Harry Broun, Aron Lynas, Gregg Wylde, Blair Malcolm, Mark Durnan, Kalvin Orsi, Ryan Wallace, Sean Crighton, Carlo Pignatiello, Finlay Gray, Matthew Shiels.