Kilmarnock fall at final hurdle thanks to Harkins

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Dejected Kilmarnock skipper Garry Hay admits he had no idea his side were sneaking into the top six of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League until former team-mate Rory Boulding’s last-gasp winner for Dundee United.

Kilmarnock 1-2 Dundee

Kilmarnock - Boyd (74); Dundee - Harkins (6, 77)

Referee: I Brines

Attendance: 4,966

The Rugby Park side hosted United’s rivals Dundee knowing a victory would guarantee them a place in the upper half of the table. But another of Hay’s former Killie colleagues, Gary Harkins, scored twice and consigned the hosts to a 2-1 defeat.

However, with United and Aberdeen looking set for a stalemate and Hibs beaten by SPL leaders Celtic, Killie were all set to qualify for the top six on goal difference. Boulding’s late strike though was enough to see Jackie McNamara’s side pinch Kilmarnock’s slot in sixth-place. As if that was not bad enough, Hay revealed it was only after the final whistle that the news was broken to him that Kilmarnock lost out thanks to United’s 93rd-minute winner.

He explained: “It’s hard to have fallen at the last hurdle. We thought we needed the draw to clinch a top-six place but I’ve just heard we were sneaking in on goal difference before United scored.

“It’s ironic that we have been done in by two former team-mates. Scotland is a small fishbowl and that type of thing can happen.”

Harkins – who netted after just six minutes before adding a second just moments after Kris Boyd’s 73rd-minute equaliser – admitted he took satisfaction after saving his side from relegation at a ground where he spent most of his final few months watching from the stands.

Dundee would have been demoted to the Irn-Bru First Division after just a season in the top flight had they lost yesterday.

But Harkins proved Killie boss Kenny Shiels had been wrong to drop him before eventually sanctioning his January move to Dens Park with a deadly double. He said: “I enjoyed it to be honest but I feel for the Killie players. They have worked hard all season under difficult circumstances. I knew I was good enough to play at Rugby Park and I hope I proved that.

“You have situations in any job where you don’t get on with the boss but I moved club and got on with things. Maybe Kenny will go home and look at things differently. I went through a year and half of being brought off every week no matter how I was playing. But you couldn’t legislate for both myself and Rory coming back to the club and haunting them.”