It was a disappointing day for Kilmarnock up in the Highlands, but if Angelo Alessio is taking positives from it, the performance of Wolves loanee Connor Johnson has to be one.
The defender was making only his second appearance in Kilmarnock colours. A centre-back pairing of Dario Del Fabro and Alex Bruce has been the regular option for Alessio, but against County, Johnson was selected.
It’ll be extremely harsh if he drops back out the side after this display. The Molineux man was solid and did his chances of earning those regular appearances he hasn’t had so far no harm.
Praise from Alessio
Throughout the game on all fronts, the centre-back was a rock. County had three recognised strikers on the park in Brian Graham, Ross Stewart and Billy McKay. Johnson did his part in nullifying them.
He had battles with all three in spells and did well in all of them. Johnson dominated things in the air and dribbles past him were largely unsuccessful due to his shrewd positioning and striking a tackle when the time was right.
Johnson will be pleased with his performance but he’ll rue the chance to make himself a Highland hero. With the game locked at 0-0, the ball fell to him just yards out from goal, but he was only able to turn his header over the bar.
Killie were punished for their missed opportunities in the dying moments of the match, with former striker Lee Erwin scoring to secure a 1-0 win for Ross County and a defeat for Johnson’s Killie, which on the basis of things, was slightly unfair on him.
It didn’t stop his manager praising him. Speaking after the game, Alessio said: “He played a good game. It’s not easy for him and think he has to improve as he is only young. His performance today though was good.”
Johnson left disappointed
Whilst his own performance was assured, Johnson was left reeling at full-time. It was a shame considering how much he’d put into the game as his adopted club left Dingwall empty handed.
As far as his own place in the team goes though, Alessio surely has something to think about going into next weekend’s home match with Motherwell. The decision to bring Bruce back in or reward Johnson will be a decision he has to make.
In the meantime, Johnson has been left to stew on the defeat. Speaking after the game, whilst pleased with getting minutes, Johnson admits the final goal hurt him.
“I thought we defended well through the game but to lose like that is devastating,” Johnson said. “Losing is frustrating but being in the game the whole way through then losing like that is even more frustrating. It felt a bit like basketball at times as the game was back and forth. We needed to test the goalkeeper more.
“I had a header that went over but we needed to do more. We lacked a little bit of luck on our side. So we just need to pick ourselves up and prepare for next Saturday.
“I’m just trying to play as many games as I can. I knew more about this one than the first one but it was good to play.”