November 10, 2012
Second half salvo
A fabulous second half from Kilmarnock saw them claim a comfortable home win over Ross County.
Two goals from Paul Heffernan, making his first start of the season after recovering from a dislocated shoulder, and a superb strike from Gary Harkins had the Rugby Park fans celebrating after two home defeats.
With Heffernan partnering Cillian Sheridan up front, it was a very attack-minded home line-up.
Within a minute Harkins, also returning to the starting XI, blasted the ball high over the crossbar from 16 yards.
He passed up a better chance 12 minutes later when Heffernan scampered down the right and his cross just eluded Sheridan, but Harkins' first touch was poor carrying the ball harmlessly wide.
Michael Fraser then came to the visitors' rescue with a fine double save.
Jeroen Tesselaar's cross fell kindly for Heffernan whose tame volley was parried by the keeper, who then reacted well to block the follow-up from Borja Perez.
Having withstood the early Killie storm and a torrential downpour, County settled into their tight passing game on a greasy pitch.
A terrific run and cross from Mark Fotheringham picked out Stuart Kettlewell but his header drifted just over the crossbar.
After 26 minutes the visitors passed up their best chance when Richard Brittain fed the ball wide to Rocco Quinn and his low cross set up Steven Ross but his fluffed shot eight yards in front of goal posed little threat for Cameron Bell.
Kilmarnock then came close to grabbing the lead.
An inswinging corner from Perez was touched on by Michael Nelson but as the ball looked to be sneaking inside the post Fraser, at full stretch, clawed the ball away.
The final chance of an open and entertaining first half fell County's way. A slip by Ryan O'Leary allowed Quinn a free run on goal but the former Killie man pulled his shot wide of the target to leave the sides level at the break.
Fraser was quickly into action at the start of the second half when the County goalkeeper dived to push Sheridan's 20-yard grounder past the post.
Although the Highlanders made a couple of substitutions bringing on Colin McMenamin and then Alex Cooper, it was the Rugby Park side that continued to dominate play and make the openings.
Twice within a couple of minutes Sheridan was the provider.
Firstly he set up Heffernan but once again his tame effort allowed Fraser to make a diving save.
When Sheridan then unselfishly laid the ball in front of Perez, the Spaniard had time to pick his spot but from 15 yards he screwed his shot embarrassingly wide of goal.
Kilmarnock's pressure was finally rewarded after 68 minutes when they took a deserved lead. And it was third time lucky for Heffernan who stooped to meet a Perez free-kick and head the ball beyond Fraser's despairing dive.
The home side made sure of the points after 77 minutes when Harkins collected the ball just outside the box before unleashing a glorious drive which sent the ball screeching into the top right-hand corner of the net.
A poor clearance from Fraser gave Manuel Pascali the chance for a third but his lob drifted wide of the open goal.
Kilmarnock were not to be denied, though, and six minutes from time Heffernan capped a great return from injury thumping an angled drive past the keeper to make to 3-0.
|1 Cameron Bell||1 Michael Fraser|
|4 James Fowler||4 Grant Munro|
|6 Michael Nelson||3 Marc Fitzpatrick|
|5 Ryan O'Leary||5 Scott Boyd|
|2 Jeroen Tesselaar||22 Michael Kovacevic|
|11 Gary Harkins||29 Mark Fotheringham|
|8 Liam Kelly||10 Richard Brittain|
|29 Manuel Pascali||24 Ross Stevens|
|14 Paul Heffernan||7 Stuart Kettlewell|
|12 Cillian Sheridan||11 Iain Vigurs|
|15 Borja Perez||12 Rocco Quinn|
|17 Kyle Letheren||Mark Brown 25|
|88 Mahamadou Sissoko||Ross Tokely 6|
|23 Rory McKeown||Archibald Macphee 23|
|38 Mark O'Hara||Alex Cooper 21|
|18 Lee Johnson||Colin McMenamin 9|
|10 James Dayton||Sam Morrow 17|
|24 Rory McKenzie||Gary Glen 20|
|Mark O'Hara for Manuel Pascali (85)||Colin McMenamin for Stuart Kettlewell (49)|
|Alex Cooper for Ross Stevens (55)|
|Gary Glen for Rocco Quinn (81)|
|Michael Nelson (84)||Colin McMenamin (85)|
|Michael Kovacevic (89)|
|· Squads: Kilmarnock | Ross County|