Boyd quickest off the mark as revolving door slows to a halt
Old guard come to fore as Kilmarnock show signs of life in race against drop
THE STORY of Kilmarnock’s season has been the plethora of players who have gone in and out of the Rugby Park front door invariably leaving supporters guessing about who will be in the team on a weekly basis.
So it was perhaps very telling that it was the old guard who were largely responsible for a priceless and thoroughly deserved victory.
Kris Boyd, Stevie Smith, Gary Dicker and Rory MacKenzie were the stalwarts responsible for ending a winless run that had stretched to seven matches, even if it was Newcastle loanee Sean Longstaff who scored the winning goal.
Boyd made a bit of history by scoring the quickest Premiership goal – 10.4 seconds – but he knows the most important consequence of this victory is to follow it with another.
The veteran striker said: “It was one of those days when we answered a lot of questions.
“You need to stake a claim to stay in the team and a lot of the guys did that.
“It’s a great three points and it sets us up for Hamilton next week and we want another three points there. We’ve been in this position before and not kicked on but we need to build on this by getting the win at Hamilton.
“It was a day for Stevie Smith, Rory McKenzie, Gary Dicker, guys who don’t always get the credit they deserve. Their work-rate and passing was excellent.”
Boyd scored his first goal in four months straight from kick-off but Killie surprisingly collapsed and Ross County, playing with pace and panache, strolled into a 2-1 lead with goals from Christopher Routis and Alex Schalk.
They really should have ensured victory during their dominant spell, but they became sloppy and resilient Killie levelled through Dicker then won the game in the last minute through Longstaff.
Boyd said “I wasn’t aware it was a new record until I was speaking to the BBC afterwards and I don’t actually know what my previous fastest goal was.
“It was a great start for us but unfortunately we were shocking for the next 15 minutes and we lost two goals.
“But it’s to our credit we came back and overall we deserved our victory.”
Kilmarnock’s malaise early in the game coincided with a second difficult appearance for new signing Karleigh Osborne, who had to be substituted after 29 minutes before he was sent off.
Having been booked for a handball and culpable for County’s first goal he should have received a second yellow for a dangerous headed challenge on Ryan Dow. Lee Clark realised as much and took him off.
This followed an inauspicious debut the previous week in the Scottish Cup defeat by Hamilton, but Boyd believes he will recover and prove his worth.
He said: “Can he come back from this? He’s 28 years old. He’s not a kid, who is coming in for his debut.
“We’ve all been there, moving clubs and taking time to settle. It’s difficult to make a switch to a new type of football and he’s not played a lot of minutes lately. “It’s time to bed him in. We all want to play excellently every week but sometimes you need your teammates to bail you out. That was the case today but next week it might be the case that he bails us out.”
Another debutant, Kristoffer Ajer who arrived at the club last week on loan from Celtic made more of an impression with a number of slaloming runs out of defence a feature of his play.
The Kilmarnock assistant Lee McCulloch had nothing but praise for the 18-year-old Norwegian.
“He was different class, different class,” McCulloch said. “We’ve sort of changed the way we’re looking to play with him in the team.
“To work with him every day, he’s always chapping the door to do extra, to watch videos of the games, and always asking to do extra after training as well. He’s a fantastic player to work with.”
County captain Paul Quinn accepted that Kilmarnock deserved their win. He said: “We are hugely disappointed in how we let it slip through our fingers. We were in firm control of the game and could have and got a third or fourth goal but we were sloppy and loose in possession.
“We have to give Kilmarnock credit. They weathered the storm and put us under pressure in the second half and they deserved to make it 2-2.
“It was a disappointing end to the game. We were looking to go and win it but we lost it although I don’t think we can have any complaints about how the game panned out.”
SOMETHING LEFT IN THE TANK: Kris Boyd, pictured tangling with Ross County’s Jay McEveley, scored the fastest goal in Premiership history as Kilmarnock ended a winless run that had stretched to seven matches prior to Saturday’s result.