August 17, 2013
Buddies off and running
St Mirren claimed their first point of the Scottish Premiership season with a 1-1 draw against Kilmarnock at St Mirren Park.
Gary Harkins' first goal for St Mirren against his former club cancelled out Kris Boyd's opener to give Danny Lennon's men a point.
But it could have been all three after a foolish punch from Boyd reduced Kilmarnock to 10 men for the final half hour giving the initiative to the home side.
But despite some sustained pressure in the closing stages Saints failed to find the winner.
Saints started strongly and the Kilmarnock fans packed behind Craig Samson's goal were on their feet to acclaim a fabulous save from the goalkeeper after seven minutes when he got down low to his left to prevent his former team-mate Steven Thompson's downward header sneaking inside the post.
The hosts continued to attack with Conor Newton, in his second spell on loan from Newcastle United, had his firm drive for goal blocked by Darren Barr at the edge of the box.
A superb move from the Paisley men finished with Paul McGowan's pass curling just in front of the onrushing Kenny McLean with Samson looking helpless.
Little was seen from the new-look Kilmarnock side in the opening spell but after 13 minutes Boyd's headed flick created a chance for Paul Heffernan but his shot from the six-yard box was well blocked by David Cornell.
Kyle Jacobs was next to try and test the home keeper but his 20-yard drive took a deflection allowing Cornell to easily gather before Boyd could pounce on the loose ball.
After a furious start the pace of the game slowed down with goal-mouth opportunities rare.
Ten minutes from the break Harkins, facing his former club, curled in a cross which just evaded Thomson 10 yards in front of goal.
It was Kilmarnock who came closest to making the breakthrough two minutes from half-time.
Heffernan attempted to curl the ball beyond the goalkeeper from just outside the box but Cornell responded with a fine diving save to push the ball round his left hand post.
The visitors remained the more likely to open the scoring at the start of the second half.
And Rabiu Ibrahim, whose trickery had caused the home side problems in the first half, was at the heart of the action.
Firstly his neat footwork created space to set up Jacobs but his 20-yard drive was straight at the keeper.
A tremendous run and pass from Ibrahim after 48 minutes sent Sean Clohessy down the right wing.
His low cross into the six-yard box was perfect for Boyd to steer past the flat-footed Cornell for a quality finish.
Killie pressed for a killer second goal and Ibrahim teed up Irvine but his drive sailed over the bar.
Saints had appeals for a penalty waved aside after Jeroen Tesselaar eased Paul McGowan off the ball in front of goal.
The game took a dramatic twist on the hour mark when Kilmarnock were reduced to 10 men.
Jim Goodwin and Boyd challenged for a high ball but as the Saints defender turned to chase the ball the Kilmarnock striker inexplicably punched Goodwin in the back of the head - leaving referee John Beaton no option but to show him a red card.
Saints took only four minutes to capitalise. Teale's cross found the head of Thomson four yards in front of goal but somehow Samson scrambled the ball round the post.
The Ayrshire side failed to deal with Danny Grainger's corner and when the ball came to Harkins, with his back to goal, he swivelled before driving the ball down the middle for his first Saints' goal.
James Fowler replaced Ibrahim as Killie decided to hold on for a point as Saints sensed that a winner was on the cards.
Teale looked to have set up the winning goal when the former Scotland winger sped to the goal line but his cutback slipped past three Saints players inside the box.
Two minutes from time McGowan cut along the penalty box before curling a shot beyond Samson but agonisingly a couple of feet past the keeper's post.
Then in the final minute Harkins' cross was missed by McAusland two yards in front of goal as Saints passed up a great opportunity to claim their first win of the season.
|1 David Cornell||1 Craig Samson|
|6 Jim Goodwin||6 Darren Barr|
|3 Daniel Grainger||16 Sean Clohessy|
|4 Darren McGregor||2 Jeroen Tesselaar|
|14 Marc McAusland||23 Rory McKeown|
|21 Gary Teale||7 Barry Nicholson|
|10 Paul McGowan||20 Kyle Jacobs|
|11 Kenny Mclean||19 Rabiu Ibrahim|
|24 Conor Newton||5 Jackson Irvine|
|9 Steven Thompson||9 Kris Boyd|
|8 Gary Harkins||14 Paul Heffernan|
|30 Christopher Dilo||Antonio Reguero 12|
|22 Jason Naismith||James Fowler 4|
|18 Sean Kelly||Mark O'Hara 26|
|7 John McGinn||Gary Fisher 24|
|17 Thomas Reilly||Mark Stewart 22|
|20 Kealan Dillon||William Gross 11|
|Chris Johnston 10|
|Thomas Reilly for Kenny Mclean (75)||Mark Stewart for Paul Heffernan (63)|
|John McGinn for Daniel Grainger (82)||James Fowler for Rabiu Ibrahim (66)|
|Mark O'Hara for Barry Nicholson (69)|
|Jim Goodwin (86)|
|Kris Boyd (62)|
|· Squads: St Mirren | Kilmarnock|