Kilmarnock finally ended their losing run of eight matches as they fought for a hard-earned 1-1 draw against Dundee United.
Killie were largely the better side over the 90 minutes and were perhaps unlucky not to come away with all three points at Rugby Park. Kyle Lafferty was first to test Benjamin Siegrist in the United goal. Making his first start since joining the club, the Northern Irishman pounced on a slack pass and launched a curling effort from well outside the area off the crossbar.
Killie would have been looking to build on the early chance, but their afternoon would take a turn for the worse shortly after. On the attack after Lafferty’s attempt cannoned off the bar, United swept forward and made their first notable attack of the afternoon count.
Adrian Sporle managed to squeeze a shot away from inside the Kilmarnock penalty area. The effort took a deflection on its way past Colin Doyle as United took the lead after 17 minutes of football.
As the first half came to a close, United were pleased to be heading down the tunnel a goal to the good. Mellon’s men had created little in the way of clear-cut chances but had the killer instinct to put one of them away. On the other hand, Ayrshire boss Tommy Wright would have been disappointed to be behind.
After the restart Kilmarnock came out with the same energy they ended the first with. A string of corners were cleared by United but one of them worked its way back out to Zech Medley. The Arsenal loanee lashed a shot at Siegrist’s goal but again the man between the sticks for United made a fine save to keep the away side in front.
It would take until the 64th minute for Kilmarnock to haul themselves level and it was Medley arriving at the back post that would find the equaliser. Substitute Chris Burke’s corner was knocked on, the defender getting past his man and tapping into the net from a couple of yards out.
With the minutes ticking away, neither side could find that all important second goal to run away with three points as both sides put all they had into finding it. Here are three things we learned.
Tommy needs to get it right and quickly
Kilmarnock have had positives to take from the games since Wright took over as manager from Alex Dyer but the results have yet to turn into much-needed wins, this their first point under the new boss.
Before kick-off the Ayrshire outfit were second bottom with only Hamilton Accies behind them on goal difference and with a game in hand. The league split just around the corner and Wright will need to see more improvement as his side battle relegation rivals.
Lafferty the spark
The Northern Irishman was a real shining light in the frontline for Killie. He has vastly improved the attacking options available Wright and against United he was probably the best player on the park for the Ayrshire side. He will surely score a few goals over the remainder of the season.
United’s top six push
With only a few games left before the league split, it looked to be heading to the wire between Dundee United, St Johnstone and St Mirren for who gets that last top six spot.
A United win certainly looked likely before a ball was kicked considering Killie’s form but Mellon’s side could not find a second goal and now look unlikely to make sixth, four points off that position with games against Celtic and Aberdeen coming prior to the split.
NTOF now offers a YouTube channel featuring exclusive interviews, post-match discussion, in-depth debate, and much more – LIKE and SUBSCRIBE and don’t miss any of our videos.