Post-match zone | Ross County (H)
Kilmarnock secured Premiership survival on the final day of the 2022/23 campaign following a 3-1 win against Ross County at a packed Rugby Park.
An 8000 strong home support turned out in force to back Derek McInnes’ side in the battle to avoid the play-offs.
Ahead of the match, the Killie manager predicted a shootout that would erupt into a frantic game of street football. That’s exactly what occurred in the opening five minutes.
Killie started the day in pole position, but it was the visitors who were first to accelerate into the final third. Sam Walker smothered an early ball into the box and Killie quickly shook off signs of nerves.
Danny Armstrong was first to retaliate by flashing a couple of balls across the Chadwick Stand goal. Killie continued to press forward in the opening half-hour, but just lacked that lethal final ball: it was coming.
Christian Doidge forced the first real stop of the match as he bulleted a header towards goal, only to be denied by the fingertips of Ross Laidlaw who done enough to tip his effort over the crossbar.
Breakthrough came 10 minutes before half-time. A Danny Armstrong corner was fired towards the front post and met by Brad Lyons who coolly flicked past the County ‘keeper (1-0).
County were still very much in the game and enjoyed a positive spell of possession before the half-time whistle. While Killie took a slender lead into the break, there was a job to be done in the second period.
The job was one big step closer to being completed a mere four minutes after the restart. In typical style, Danny Armstrong drove at the County defence from the right touchline before being fouled as he strided into the box. After initially awarding a free-kick, Kevin Clancy eventually pointed to the spot following a VAR check. It was Armstrong who stepped up to strike from the penalty spot, and there was only ever going to be one outcome (2-0).
County showed no signs of downing tools, with Ash Taylor and Luke Chambers making two vital clearances inside the box in the space of a few minutes.
County’s pressure would pay off as VAR again played its part. After a foul was identified inside the box, Yan Dhanda calmly stepped forward and struck into the top corner from 12 yards (2-1).
County pressed for an equaliser and Yan Dhanda came close to adding a second through a half-volley which flew over the bar towards the travelling support.
It was the on-form Kyle Vassell who inevitably sealed Killie’s Premiership survival. There was a period of pinball inside the box as two initial shots were blocked, before the Northern Ireland international looped a header into the top corner (3-1).
Backed by a bouncing Rugby Park, Killie saw out the final 10 minutes of the campaign in a fairly relaxed fashion.
Result: Kilmarnock 3-1 Ross County
Killie scorers: Lyons (36), Armstrong (49), Vassell (77)
Kilmarnock lineup: Walker, Mayo, Taylor, Stokes (Wright 70), Chambers, Armstrong (Watson 82), Lyons, Polworth (Alston 89), McKenzie, Vassell (Cameron 89), Doidge (Robinson 89).
Check out the image gallery below, thanks to club photographers Jeff Holmes & Ross MacKenzie: