Matchzone: St Mirren (H)
Kilmarnock showed resilience to bounce back from midweek disappointment by earning a hard-fought 1-1 draw against St Mirren on Saturday 30th September.
A Brad Lyons header put the home side ahead before an own goal maintained the visitors’ unbeaten start to the cinch Premiership campaign.
Derek McInnes made two changes to the team that started against Hearts on Tuesday, with Corrie Ndaba and Innes Cameron called upon in place of Robbie Deas and David Watson. St Mirren named three former Killie players in their starting eleven as Zach Hemming, Mark O’Hara and Greg Kiltie returned to Rugby Park.
On an afternoon that featured only a handful of clear-cut opportunities, it was the midpoint of the first half that enticed the most action.
Following an evenly balanced opening 20 minutes, Killie penalty appeals were first to lift the home support off their seats when the arm of Marcus Fraser appeared to brush a ball inside the box. Referee Chris Graham was quick to wave away claims, before a VAR consultation put appeals to bed.
The home support were back on their feet after 20 minutes, in celebration of Brad Lyons’ second goal in as many games. The Northern Irishman rose highest to meet a loose ball which hung in the air, before sending a looping header over his former teammate Zach Hemming (1-0).
Killie continued to push forward and came a deflection away from doubling their advantage. In his trademark style, Matty Kennedy cut into the box from the left wing to create space for a shot, which was knocked narrowly over the crossbar. Subsequent back-to-back corners were eventually cleared by the Saints defence.
At the Moffat Stand end, St Mirren displayed an attacking threat which had earned their spot in the top two of the table prior to the match. Will Dennis rose highest to punch away a threatening cross, moments before the away side found a breakthrough.
Scott Tanser’s fizzed cross fell into the path of Kyle Magennis who couldn’t help diverting the ball goalwards while under pressure from the on-rushing St Mirren attack (1-1).
A standout performer for the hosts midweek, Kyle Magennis was forced off through injury after 33 minutes – replaced by David Watson.
Both sides shared spells of possession in the 10 minutes that remained before the break, but without troubling either keeper.
Killie started brightest in the second period. The ever-lively Danny Armstrong was quick to fire a driven cross over the face of goal, but without any takers in the middle. His first corner of the half was also swung into the box two minutes later, with the deadly finishing touch once again lacking.
Brad Lyons tested Zach Hemming 10 minutes after the restart, creating a pocket of space before sending a 20-yard effort into the arms of his former No.1.
A series of stoppages slowed the tempo as the game moved into the final third. Derek McInnes called on his bench to find a winner, with Liam Polworth & Andy Dallas given the nod.
Desperate for a late winner of their own, Killie lofted a number of crosses into the box in search of another breakthrough. A strong Saints defence limited clear glimpses of goal, forcing Matty Kennedy and Liam Polworth into ambitious attempts from distance – both of which rose over the bar.
Result: Kilmarnock 1-1 St Mirren
Kilmarnock lineup: Dennis, Mayo, Findlay, Wright, Ndaba, Armstrong, Lyons (Polworth 78), Magennis (Watson 33), Kennedy, Cameron (Dallas 67), Vassell.
St Mirren lineup: Hemming, Tanser, O’Hara, Mandron (Olusanya 74), McMenamin (Small 64), Kiltie (Greive 83), Gogic, Baccus, Dunne, Fraser, Strain.
Speaking at full-time, the manager reflected on a demanding three-game week. You can listen to the full interview – HERE.