Ladbrokes Premiership



by Frank Cassidy

A WONDER goal earned Celtic the three points at Rugby Park after a pulsating match in which Killie worked hard throughout.

In all areas of the pitch they had looked comfortable and seemed to be heading for a deserved point at the very least.

Then, with minutes remaining, Tom Rogic sent a shot from around 30 yards into the top corner, giving Jamie MacDonald no chance.

It left new Kilmarnock manager Lee Clark still seeking his first win and he said it was 'galling - if any team deserved to win it was us."

He added: "For us to not even be able to say we have earned a point and kept a clean sheet is really hard to take. We did not deserve to lose that game by any stretch of the imagination. I have been encouraged by the team but sometimes you have to hold your hands up when a world-class goal goes in.

"Everything we have done - our game-plan, shape when we didn't have the ball, stopping Celtic from creating opportunities - our players to a man were superb.

"I've experienced defeats in my time as a player, coach and manager but that is probably the hardest one I have ever had to take. Our standard of performance since I came through the door, with the exception of the Ross County game, has been high.

"We have played some tough games - Hearts, Aberdeen and Celtic and more than matched those three teams. There have been lots of areas of improvement in the team, but one area we have had no improvement in has been the luck stakes. We were in the ascendancy towards the end and creating chances but it was the only way he was going to beat our goalie. When he has been called upon, which wasn't many times today, he has done his job extremely well. We will bounce back and get back on to the training ground and improve the players even more."

Among several excellent performers for the home side was Kallum Higginbotham, who gave the visiting defence a torrid afternoon.

On the half-hour he had tried to chip a stranded Craig Gordon after the keeper had come out to block Kris Boyd, but put his effort over

Another goalscoring attempt from a tight angle in the second half was slightly misjudged.

Rogic's contender for goal of the season devastated Higginbotham and his team-mates.

He said: "That was a sore one to take. The boys have put in a great shift but it is a fantastic goal and there is nothing we can do about it. It is not performances we need, it is three points and we deserved at least a point today, if not more. Our final ball was a lot better towards the Celtic goal and we could have scored one or two ourselves.

"We have just got to take it on the chin but if we play like that in the last seven games we will be fine."

KILMARNOCK: MacDonald, O'Hara, Ashcroft, Balatoni, Hodson, Faubert, Dicker, McKenzie (Splaine 53), Boyd (Odadeyi 69), Higginbotham, Kiltie. Unused subs - Brennan (g/k), Westlake, Slater, McHattie, Frizzell.

STAR MAN - Higginbotham 3pts,

Faubert 2pts

MacDonald 1pt