Saturday 6th April
Ten-man Saints slipped to a 2-0 defeat to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park this afternoon.
Kilmarnock took control of the match early on as a header from Gary Dicker was deflected into his own net by Chris Kane on 17 minutes.
Killie then sealed the points just before half-time as they were awarded a penalty after Jason Kerr had handled the ball with Kris Boyd converting from the spot.
Looking to respond Saints made a triple substitution at half-time. However, the afternoon got even worse for Tommy Wright’s men on 68 minutes as Jason Kerr was sent off after picking up a second booking for a foul on Rory McKenzie to end any chance of a comeback.
Saints played their final Ladbrokes Premiership fixture before the post-split fixtures this afternoon as they made the trip to Ayrshire to take on third-placed Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. After Wednesday’s 2-0 derby win against Dundee Tommy Wright decided to start with the same team that inflicted a sixth consecutive defeat on the Dens Park side. Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke made three changes to the side that started Wednesday’s 0-0 draw at Hibernian as Conor McAleny, Jordan Jones and Aaron Tshibola made way for Kris Boyd, Chris Burke and Alan Power.
Kilmarnock got the match underway and they created the first chance of the game after 5 minutes as a Chris Burke cross from the right picked out Kris Boyd whose header clipped Zander Clark’s crossbar. Boyd came close again 3 minutes later as a Rory McKenzie corner from the right picked out the Killie captain who directed his header goal wards but Clark made a brilliant fingertip save to deny the former Scotland internationalist.
The early pressure from the hosts bared fruits after 17 minutes. Another McKenzie corner from the right picked out Gary Dicker whose header took a wicked deflection off Chris Kane to beat Clark to give Steve Clarke’s men the lead.
On 28 minutes Scott Tanser went on a good run forward before slipping the ball out wide to Callum Hendry. The young Saints striker then delivered a good cross into the Killie box picking out Matty Kennedy however, he couldn’t get his header on target.
Saints were starting to grow into the game and Clark sent a long ball up field on 39 minutes picking out Michael O’Halloran. The attacker did well to control it before setting up Kane who had a shot from distance that went narrowly wide.
However, Killie were still a threat and Clark made a great save on 42 minutes as he tipped a 30-yard effort from McKenzie over for a corner.
Kilmarnock doubled their advantage a minute later as they were awarded a penalty after a Burke cross from the right picked out Boyd whose header hit Jason Kerr’s hands and referee Bobby Madden pointed to the spot. Boyd stepped up and coolly sent Clark the wrong way to send the host in at the break with a two-goal advantage.
Saints made a triple substitution before the second half could get underway as Liam Gordon, Danny Swanson and Blair Alston came on for Scott Tanser, Michael O’Halloran and Callum Hendry.
4 minutes into the second half Saints were awarded a free kick after Greg Taylor fouled Matty Kennedy on the edge of the box. Liam Craig took the free kick and he cut the ball back to Swanson who had a shot at goal which was blocked before the Killie defence cleared their lines.
The home support thought they had scored a third goal on 58 minutes after Boyd had slotted the ball past Clark from close range following a pass from Dicker however, play was pulled back as the Killie striker had been in an offside position.
Saints were pushing for a way back into the game and on 63 minutes Alston had a shot from distance that was well held by Daniel Bachman in the home goal. Then shortly after a Swanson ball from the left picked out Callachan however, his effort was blocked by Kirk Broadfoot.
Saints though would suffer a setback as they were reduced to ten men on 68 minutes as Jason Kerr was sent off for a second bookable offence after he had fouled McKenzie just past the halfway line.
With a man advantage Killie went on to create several chances to further extend their lead in the closing stages. On 81 minutes McKenzie went on a mazy run forward before having a shot which was turned behind by Clark for a corner which was headed clear by Craig. Then shortly after the hosts hit Saints on the break however, substitute Mikael Ndjoli put his effort wide of the target.
The pressure from the home side continued and on 86 minutes Clark made another fine save this time denying Alan Power. Then deep into 2 minutes of added on time right-back Stephen O’Donnell let fly with an effort from the edge of the box that didn’t trouble Clark. Overall, a very disappointing afternoon from a Saints perspective.
Kilmarnock: Bachman, O’Donnell, Broadfoot, Findlay, Taylor, Power, Dicker, Mulumbu, McKenzie (Millen 90), Burke (Ndjoli 78), Boyd (Millar 70)
Unused Substitutes: MacDonald (GK), Bruce, Jones, Tshibola
Scorers: Kane (17 og), Boyd (43 pen)
Saints: Clark, Tanser (Gordon 45), Shaughnessy, Kerr, Foster, Kennedy, Craig, Callachan, O’Halloran (Swanson 45), Hendry (Alston 45), Kane
Unused Substitutes: Bell (GK), Davidson, Comrie, Goss
Booked: Hendry, Callachan, Kerr, Foster, Craig
Sent Off: Kerr
Referee: Bobby Madden
Attendance: 4,685 (158 Saints fans)
Match Report by Daryl Scott
Picture: Ross Callachan’s shot is blocked by Kirk Broadfoot
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