Matchzone: Hearts (H)

Kilmarnock were overcome by a first half own goal suffered against Heart of Midlothian on Saturday 2nd December.

Following relentless work from the club’s ground staff, the snow was paved for just under 6000 supporters who braved the conditions to attend Derek McInnes 700th match as a manager.

The Killie boss made three changes to his side which earned a point in The Highlands the previous week, with Corrie Ndaba, Brad Lyons and Kyle Vassell returning to the starting lineup.

Both teams took quarter of an hour to warm up their engines, resulting in a slow but steady start. Will Dennis was required to deal with a couple of high balls thrown into his box in the opening stages.

Fresh from penning a contract extension earlier in the week, David Watson was at the heart of Killie’s first real attack. The 18-year-old latched onto a diagonal ball arrowed towards the left wing, before picking out a pass to Liam Donnelly whose snapshot rose over the target.

Returning to the squad after injury, Killie’s next two chances fell to full-back Corrie Ndaba who admitted post-match that he should have found the net at least once on the afternoon. A Danny Armstrong strike rebound to the Irishman whose first-time shot was lashed wide of the post from around 25 yards. His header also evaded the target moments later following back-to-back Killie corners.

In a match of few clear-cut chances, it was no surprise that an own goal separated the sides. Hearts were the beneficiaries when Lawrance Shankland’s driven cross was diverted into the net by Killie No.1 Will Dennis with 18 minutes played.

Killie’s best chance of an equaliser dropped at the feet of lively David Watson. The box-to-box midfielder strided onto Danny Armstrong’s cutback towards the middle of the penalty box, but his effort was clipped past Zander Clark’s right hand post.

At the Moffat Stand end, Liam Boyce missed a glaring opportunity to double his side’s advantage after a ball broke in his direction but was struck wide from the edge of the Killie box. The attacker then departed through injury after half an hour.

In bizarre fashion, it was Killie No.1 Will Dennis who was shown his team’s first booking. The Englishman picked up a yellow for a one-on-one challenge on Yutaro Oda, despite a flag being raised for offside prior to the tackle.

Danny Armstrong created Killie’s final chance of the half. In a reflection of the team’s overall performance, his cross was powerfully driven across the face of goal, but without any takers in the middle.

Killie started on the front foot after the break. A positive spell around the Hearts box concluded with a VAR check for a Killie penalty, before play was quickly moved on.

Approaching the hour mark, the hosts controlled periods of possession but remained in search of a clear-cut chance.

Hearts fired reminders of their own threat, forcing Stuart Findlay into a fine block which stopped Frankie Kent’s goalbound shot in its tracks.

A flurry of half-chances came Killie’s way in the final 10 minutes. Marley Watkins outpaced his marker to meet Lewis Mayo’s through-ball, before striking across the face of goal from a tight angle. A period of pinball also passed without a shot finding the target.

A superb save from Will Dennis kept the game in sight and provided the opportunity for the Killie keeper to join the attack for a couple of late corners. The second of which saw opposing No.1 Zander Clark make a solid low save from close-range in stoppage time to maintain his clean sheet.

Result: Kilmarnock 0-1 Heart of Midlothian

Kilmarnock lineup: Dennis, Mayo, Findlay, Deas (Kennedy 70), Ndaba, Armstrong, Watson (Dallas 80), Donnelly, Lyons, Watkins, Vassell.

Hearts lineup: Clark, Kent, Kingsley, Baningime, Grant (Devlin 64), Nieuwenhof, Shankland, Boyce (Sibbick 30), Oda (Tagawa 64), Rowles (Denholm 84), Cochrane.

Attendance: 5,915

Check out the match gallery, courtesy of Ross MacKenzie and Jeff Holmes.