Matchzone: Hibernian (H)
A resilient second half performance saw Kilmarnock fight back from two goals down to earn a point against Hibernian on Saturday 16th September.
New Hibs manager Nick Montgomery took charge of his team for the first time, with goals from Kyle Vassell and Joe Wright denying the capital side a win in East Ayrshire.
It took less than 15 seconds for the visitors to burst into life. Will Dennis was called upon to make a fine one-on-one block to deny Martin Boyle as the rapid winger broke through on goal after recovering possession from kick-off.
Following an early scare, the hosts found themselves behind after 8 minutes. A ball from a Hibs corner eventually found itself at the feet of Lewis Miller, who squeezed the ball home after taking a deflection off a combination of both Will Dennis and his near post (0-1).
Chasing a lead, Killie began to gain their own half-glimpses of goal. Matty Kennedy’s dangerous cross was the first action to call David Marshall into the game, forcing the former Scotland No.1 to claim the ball off the head of Kyle Vassell who was lurking in the six-yard box.
The away side continued to press forward in the opening half-hour. Elie Youan found the side-netting with a left footed strike towards the front post from a tight angle. Starting in the Premiership for the first time this season, Joe Wright made his presence known through an excellent double block on the edge of his penalty box – keeping the deficit at one for the time being. An ambitious Brad Lyons volley rose over the bar from 25 yards as Killie fired a reminder of their own attacking prowess.
Killie pressed for an equaliser in the 10 minutes that remained before half-time, initially through a Marley Watkins header which was plucked out of the air by David Marshall. The best chance of a leveller came through Danny Armstrong’s deadball attempt on the edge of the box, which was fired into the wall: Brad Lyons’ rebound strike was also fiercely blocked by the defence.
At the opposite end, a set-piece dirtied the gloves of Will Dennis. A well-planned corner routine was worked to the edge of the box, where Joe Newell struck an attempt that was comfortably gathered by the Killie No.1: his last action of the game. The ‘keeper departed on 44 minutes with a suspected broken toe and was replaced by Kieran O’Hara who made his Premiership debut.
The openings stages after the restart were broken up by a series of fouls as both sides ferociously contested possession in the midfield. Brad Lyons picked up a yellow for a late challenge, before a foul by Will Fish halted a threatening Killie attack and also earned him a place in the referee’s book.
Nick Mongomery appeared to be well on his way to a debut win when Hibs doubled their advantage with just over half an hour to play. Elie Youan picked up a throw-in and threaded a ball through to Dylan Vente who showed composure to slide the ball past Kieran O’Hara (0-2).
As frustration grew around Rugby Park, Killie pulled one back in a timely manner – less than three minutes after their opponents found the net. Brad Lyons stabbed a ball towards goal, forcing a save from the ‘keeper before Kyle Vassell smashed home the rebound from 10 yards (1-2).
A rejuvenated Kilmarnock pressed forward in search of an equaliser. Leading by example, Kyle Vassell again took authority by attempting a curling left-footed effort from distance, which narrowly evaded the left post of the Moffat Stand goal.
The reenergized home support drove their side towards goal in the final 20 minutes. Matty Kennedy’s 30-yard rocket was next to earn an applause from the Rugby Park faithful, having fizzed just over the bar.
Throwing bodies forward, Killie opened the door for an Adam Le Fondre left-footed shot which was deflected just past the far post. However, their gamble paid off with 10 minutes remaining.
On his return to action after a lengthy injury, Joe Wright fought past his man to meet Danny Armstrong’s in-swinging corner, which was glanced inside the far post to complete the comeback (2-2).
Despite the game looking all but over with half an hour remaining, Killie had chances to find a winner in the dying moments. Their best chance fell to Robbie Deas on the left side of the penalty box after a neat disguised pass from Matty Kennedy. The defender’s effort evaded the target, leaving his side settling for a hard-fought point.
Result: Kilmarnock 2-2 Hibernian
Kilmarnock lineup: Dennis, Mayo, Findlay, Wright, Deas, Armstrong (Murray 87), Lyons (Watson 66), Magennis, Kennedy, Watkins (Dallas 87), Vassell.
Hibernian lineup: Marshall, Miller, Fish, Bushiri, Stevenson (Obita 85), Boyle, Jeggo, Newell, Youan (Tavaresat 85), Vente (Campbell 66), Doidge (Le Fondre 45)
Speaking at full-time, Derek McInnes heaped praise on the spirit of his team. You can listen to the manager’s post-match analysis – HERE.
Check out the best shots, courtesy of club photographer Ross MacKenzie.