Kilmarnock vs. St Johnstone – match report

by admin

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

KILMARNOCK missed a golden opportunity to close the gap to just six points on third place Hearts, as they failed to beat St Johnstone at Rugby Park yesterday.

The Ayrshire side had only been beaten once in their previous ten matches before facing eighth place Saints, as Hearts game away to Dundee United had been postponed because of a waterlogged pitch.

In a classic game of two-halves, Mixu Paatelainen’s men dominated the first 45 minutes as they passed the ball around with the grace and ease which has seen them gain many admirers this season.

Indeed straight from the off their positive play sent them rushing through on goal, however neither Liam Kelly or Conor Sammon could get on the end of Eremenko’s ball under pressure from the Saints’ defence.

Yesterday’s game could prove to be Sammon’s last for the side, as it has been confirmed that Kilmarnock have agreed at £600,000 fee with English Championship side, Scunthorpe.

The Republic of Ireland striker would have been pleased, then, to break the deadlock on 15 minutes with his 13th league goal of the season, after a foul on Liam Kelly half-way inside the St Johnstone half.

A free-kick orchestrated by Kilmarnock’s midfield maestro, Alexei Eremenko was slid in behind the St Johnstone defence to where Sammon had timed his run perfectly, and the Irishman slipped the ball under Peter Enckelman with his left-foot.

Kilmarnock have taken the lead on 15 occasions this season, going on to win nine of those matches.

They would have been confident of making that 10 as they strutted around a heavy pitch after taking the lead.

Eremenko and Mehdi Taouil were at the heart of everything for Paatelainen’s men, and St Johnstone were left chasing shadows.

Kilmarnock could have doubled their lead after 35 minutes as Eremenko showed great vision to see Garry Hay’s run and the petite wing-back was unlucky to see his header well saved by Enckelman.

Minutes later Sammon raced through on goal, after a fantastic through ball from Taouil left Duberry and Anderson stranded, but the Irishman’s effort was saved well.

As the half-time break approached, St Johnstone began to pressure and almost had an equaliser as a great through ball from Jody Morris put through Colin Samuel, whose half-volley was superbly touched over the crossbar by Cammy Bell in the Killie goal.

Into the second half and St Johnstone came out fighting.

As the wind and rain howled into the faces of the Kilmarnock team, so to did Derek McInnes’s men as they snarled and bit at the ankles of the Kilmarnock team.

Their renewed efforts were clearly working as the confidence and ease which saw Kilmarnock swagger through the first-half, turned to nerves and uncertainty as they resorted to humphing the ball forward from defence, instantly undoing the composure manager Paatelainen had spent months installing.

In amidst the Saints pressure though, Kilmarnock could have sealed the win, as twice Sammon should have added to his season’s tally.

However, Kilmarnock were made to pay for not taking their chances as a fantastic solo effort from Taylor evened the score.

The substitute controlled the ball well just inside Kilmarnock’s half, got his head down and raced towards goal before driving a low effort beyond Bell to level the match and earn St Johnstone a deserved point.

Fourth place Kilmarnock will face third place Hearts on Tuesday night at Rugby Park, whilst St Johnstone will hope to carry on their recent good form as they face St Mirren at McDiarmid Park on Saturday.

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