Dismay on both sides but Boyd’s poignant celebration serves as reality check
THERE was no hiding the disappointment on the faces of the managers and players in both camps after this thrilling game at Rugby Park ended in deadlock, with both teams feeling they might have snatched the three points.
Indeed, either side could present a creditable case to support their claims. Partick Thistle were certainly the easier on the eye, playing some nice passing football on occasion, but the more direct style of Kilmarnock had them ahead twice on the day. As it was, four goals were shared and a point apiece was probably just about the right outcome. And however downhearted the players were as they trudged off the park, there was a visible reminder on the day that some things in life are actually far more important than football.
Kris Boyd, who was at the funeral of his younger brother Scott two days prior to the game, provided the most poignant moment as he opened the scoring with a trademark finish from inside the area and dedicated the goal to his sibling.
His teammate Rory MacKenzie paid tribute to Boyd: “He’s been so brave. It’s been a tough week for him. We were all at his brother’s funeral on Thursday as a team and he’s done really well to come through it and play as well as he has.
“We didn’t get off to a great start, but when you’ve got Boydy in your team you know he’s going to score. We scored against the run of play but then we settled into the game after that. It’s no surprise that he scored. His finishing is that good that you know he’s going to score most weeks.”
Thistle responded as Stevie Lawless got them back level before the break with a fine finish.
The lively David Amoo, who had Luke Hendrie on toast during the first half, crossed to the near post where Lawless took a touch to put Scott Boyd on his backside, and then a second to dink the ball across Jamie MacDonald and into the net.
The major talking point after the game was referee Andrew Dallas’s refusal to award a penalty to the visitors early in the second half as Chris Erskine slalomed through four challenges before slipping Lawless in on MacDonald.
Killie debutant Nathan Tyson slid in and looked to have fouled the midfielder, but the official was unmoved.
“I thought it was a stonewaller,” Erskine said. “I don’t think you’ll see a more stonewall penalty than that. “I don’t understand why Stevie would go down when the ball is right in front of him to shoot inside the box. I played the ball through and I can’t see how it wasn’t a penalty, that’s all I can say. “The referee never explained it to me, I don’t know if he said anything to Stevie or whoever. It was just pure disbelief that it wasn’t a penalty.” The salt was rubbed in Thistle’s wounds minutes later as Souleymane Coulibaly took advantage of slack marking to plant a wonderful header into Ryan Scully’s top corner from a deep Dean Hawkshaw cross and move the home side ahead again.
Seven minutes from time though, Liam Lindsay popped up in the box to prod the ball high into the net as Killie failed to clear a Chris Erskine free-kick and earn the visitors a point that was the very least that they deserved.
Their captain, Abdul Osman, wouldn’t see out the 90 minutes as he picked up two late bookings, both for fouls on MacKenzie, but his side almost claimed the win deep into injury time.