ALL THESE years we in Scotland have spent yearning for a world-class finisher of, say, Henrik Larsson proportions, while maligning one who is about to eclipse him.
Ross County 1 (Kettlewell 33) Kilmarnock 2 (Johnston 7, Boyd 43)
It fell to a humble Kris Boyd to highlight the difference between his predatory skills and Larsson’s extraordinary and, undoubtedly more rounded talents.
But the hard figures read pleasantly for the recently-recalled Scotland striker. Boyd has now hit the same number of Scottish top-flight goals as Larsson did: 174.
Yesterday’s finish, fittingly, was a Larsson-esque work of art – a deftly-measured, instinctive lift over Ross County goalkeeper Mark Brown from the edge of the box.
It earned Killie their first away win of the season and hoisted them out of the relegation play-off spot, above yesterday’s hosts.
“It was one of my better ones and it’s a massive win for us,” Boyd admitted. “As for records, it is good to get goals but I don’t think I can be mentioned in the same breath as Henrik Larsson. He was a fantastic player. I’ve based my game on goals and in that regard I’m up there with him. But playing-wise, ability-wise I’m nowhere near him. I’ve got a knack of putting the ball in the net and I play to my strengths. Sometimes it doesn’t happen for you, but I keep coming back for more. Today I’m more disappointed with the easier ones I didn’t take.
“I don’t look too much at records and what might happen in the next few years. I look to next week against Dundee United.”
County started brightly before their recently familiar Achilles heel was exposed defensively. It was the ex-Rangers man Boyd who sent the ball across from the right but there was too much space granted to young scorer Chris Johnston.
County warmed to the task and impressed at times in their passing, while lacking a little in cutting edge. They were back in business after a wonderful move in 33 minutes. Melvin de Leeuw fed Graham Carey on the left flank and he flung it low towards the far side of the box where Mihael Kovacevic’s blast was parried by Craig Samson.
With Samson off-balance, in strode Stuart Kettlewell determinedly to smash the rebound home.It was the first time County had scored against Killie in six meetings but they weren’t to get their first victory.
From nowhere, County defender Branislav Micic met a chipped ball forward carelessly with his head to send the ball spinning to Boyd in space. From near the edge of the box, he sent a classy glided finish over the despairing Brown.
Boyd hit the woodwork a couple of times but there was no criticism from his manager, Allan Johnston.
“It was our first away win and there were a lot of outstanding performances there,” he said.
“[Boyd] has been playing like that. You can see he’s working a lot harder. People criticise his work-rate but he’s desperate for the team to do well. He’s a real inspiration to the younger players. It was an unbelievable finish, but that’s what he is capable of.”
A deflated County manager Derek Adams is still scratching his head over defensive errors. “Defensively, I thought we were poor today,” Adams admitted. “If you don’t defend right you’re not going to win games.
“We have worked on it, but we are making individual errors like today and it’s not good enough.
“It’s something that is puzzling a lot of them have played many games before and defended well.”
Ross County: Brown, Kovacevic, Boyd, Micic (Ross 65), Gordon, Klok (Mustafi 81), Kettlewell, Carey, Quinn, De Leeuw, Luckassen (Glen 65). Subs not used: Dingwall, Maatsen, Cooper, Fraser.
Kilmarnock: Samson, Clohessy, Irvine, Ashcroft, Tesselaar, Gabriel, Johnston, McKeown, Slater, Gardyne (McKenzie 78), Boyd (Muirhead 84). Subs not used: Silva, Nicholson, Clingan, Reguero, Ibrahim.
Ref: B Madden