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 Herald - Herald Sport - - SPFL PREMIERSHIP -

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.

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