Kilmarnock put in a brilliant display in their first home game of the season to take a 1-1 draw from their match with Celtic.
The game got off to a nightmare start for Alex Dyer’s side as Ryan Christie beat Danny Rogers with a free-kick from around 35 yards out 11 minutes in, catching Rogers flat-footed. Nicke Kabamba won his side a penalty though with some neat play and Chris Burke dispatched the spot kick to get Killie level and earn them a deserved point.
Kilmarnock were heading into this game looking for an unlikely source of points. They had lost to Hibs at Eater Road last weekend and faced a Celtic side who looked in a menacing mood during their 5-1 win over Hamilton.
Christie’s free kick certainly indicated a tough afternoon for Dyer and his side. With no wall, he guided a free kick past Rogers as Celtic’s midfielder stood closer to the halfway line than the 18 yard box. It surprised the Kilmarnock keeper making his first start for the club and handed Celtic a dream opening.
Kabamba had been causing the Hoops problems prior to the goal and it was no surprise he was a main player in their leveler. His neat footwork and play was giving Christopher Jullien nightmares, the Frenchman eventually bringing Kabamba down in the box.
Veteran Burke stepped up to dispatch his second of the season and it handed Kilmarnock plenty of confidence. They matched what Celtic did, Kabamba again getting a good chance, hassling Jullien into a mistake before turning a dink just over the bar.
Kilmarnock got into half time well even with their opponents and their confidence seemed high. They were going to have to deal with Celtic having chances and most of the possession again in the second 45, but they coped well enough with that in the first.
The Ayrshire men were battling well in the opening stages of the second half, much like the first. Callum McGregor’s angled shot just over the bar though was a warning that Celtic could turn on the style at any moment.
In fairness to Dyer, his Killie side were limiting Celtic to speculative efforts from range. As the game wore on, it looked increasingly likely that one more goal would settle three points for either side.
There were no clear chances for either side in the late stages and Dyer’s men take a very welcome point from this match. Here are three things we learned.
Kabamba v Jullien
Killie started with just Kabamba through the middle against Celtic, putting him up against Jullien most of the time. This battle was intriguing and it appeared to be the Kilmarnock man who got the better of it.
Kabamba was hassling the Celtic man at every opportunity, forcing him into fouls and mistakes which handed Kilmarnock a goal and several opportunities. Kilmarnock’s frontman will be pleased with his afternoon’s work.
Make use of what you’ve got
Celtic dominated possession in Ayrshire but it was Kilmarnock who had most of the clear cut efforts at goal. Kilmarnock had just 30% possession but had registered the same amount of shots on target as their visitors from 11 less shots.
Whilst Kilmarnock didn’t see much of the size five Mitre, they were effective with it. Their big chance was converted and they troubled Celtic’s backline with the others.
Limiting the threat
Going into this game, the dangerman Kilmarnock had to stop was Odsonne Edouard. He’s proven to be destined for big things and his hat-trick last week against Hamilton showed how ruthless he is at Premiership level.
But Dyer’s tactics worked to nullify him. They put two men on him at times and when Edouard did get the ball, he was swarmed by blue and white shirts. The Ayrhsire men were able to force the French striker into a very quiet afternoon.