Ladbrokes SPFL



by Frank Cassidy

IN what was to be Gary Locke's last game in charge of Killie his side looked already doomed and bereft of confidence.

There was no hint of things to come as he faced the media after the match, having endured some fairly vicious criticism from the stands.

He accepted that this is part and parcel of being in charge of a struggling team and that it was up to the team to turn things around.

That will be with a new man in charge as Billy Davies, who has been without a club since leaving Nottingham Forest two years ago, emerged as a strong favourite.

Outgoing gaffer Locke said: "You are going to get criticism when you are in the league position that we are. "I am not going to shirk away from it. That's football, every manager gets stick when the team is not doing well. I would rather I got it instead of the players because there are a few of them lacking in confidence.

"It is difficult to play well when they are playing with a lack of confidence and the only way to do this is to dig in and working hard."

It could all have been so different as, after a first-half which was a non-event, Killie played better in the second half and created a few chances.

There was a big shout for a penalty in 56 minutes when Kris Boyd was bundled down inside the box.

"It looked like a penalty from where I was and if we had got it, and went it front, it could have been different for us," Locke said.

Then a good move involving Rory McKenzie, Greg Kiltie and Jamie Hamill ended with a Hamill header going just over.

Killie came agonisingly closer two minutes later when a free-kick just outside the box was laid off to Boyd, whose shot came crashing off the bar.

That proved to be a crucial miss, as Accies took the lead in 70 minutes from a Carlton Morris left header following a corner.

It should have been 2-0 with 10 minutes remaining when Gramoz Kurtaj had time and space to set up Alex D'Acol but the pass was inches in front of the striker. Ironically, the last chance of the match fell to Killie when subs Tope Obadeyi and Dale Carrick combined, but Carrick shot over.

While the away fans celebrated a significant win, the home side left the park to a chorus of boos and jeers.

They now travel to Ibrox to face SPFL Championship Leaders Rangers in a televised cup tie on Saturday.

Defender Conrad Balatoni said: "We have a big game coming up against in the Scottish Cup, which will take the focus away from the league. If we get a good result there, confidence will start returning to the players and hopefully we can carry that on to the remaining league fixtures.

"There are a lot of young players in the squad, and others who have never been in this situation before.

"When things aren't going so well fans get on your back, but it is part and parcel of football and you have to take it on the chin.

"Hopefully we can get out of this by showing a bit of determination and togetherness. At the end of the day it is down to us, as players, to get us out of this position."

He added that it is the responsibility of the more experienced players to help the younger members of the squad and restore their confidence.

KILMARNOCK - MacDonald; Syme, Ashcroft, Balatoni, McHattie (Carrick 81), Robinson, Slater (Hamill 22), McKenzie (Obadeyi 66), Kiltie, Boyd, Magennis.

Unused subs: Brennan (g/k), Findlay, Higginbotham, Frizzell


Kiltie-3pts, Boyd-2pts, Balatoni-1pt