Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels admitted it was not a game for the purists but was delighted to see his side grab a late winner against St Mirren.
In troublesome conditions Danny Racchi’s sublime last-minute goal earned Shiels’ men a narrow win and saw them replace their opponents in seventh place in the SPL table.
The home side had to battle back from behind after Lee Mair opened the scoring after ten minutes. Paul Heffernan levelled before Racchi’s wonderful winner.
“All I can do is apologise to the fans who came to see entertaining football,” said Shiels.
“If you look at the effort and the desire from both sets of players out there you can see that it was their ambition to play good football but the game lacked quality.
“We had to resort to playing route-one football and that eventually earned us the winning goal, it was a fantastic finish from Danny.”
St Mirren manager Danny Lennon was frustrated by Racchi’s last-gasp intervention, especially after witnessing his team’s impressive opening to the match.
“There’s been a lot of talk about Kilmarnock playing the Rolls Royce passing game, but we started like a Ferrari today,” said Lennon. “We dominated the game for 30-plus minutes and created the much better chances. I have to give credit to Kenny Shiels and Jimmy Nichol though, they made a change quickly when they saw what was happening and they stifled us in the midfield by bringing Manuel Pascali in there.”
Lennon was also disappointed that his side were not awarded a penalty after having what he believed to be four decent claims all turned down by referee Bobby Madden.
“How the officials missed all four of them I don’t know,” Lennon said.
“There are certain big decisions that have gone against us this season and cost us dearly.
“Although we haven’t taken any points, I can take away another excellent display in very difficult conditions.”
St Mirren certainly made the brighter start and Kilmarnock goalkeeper Cammy Bell was forced into a good stop after only two minutes from Steven Thompson’s long-range drive.
The home side’s first chance fell to Heffernan who latched on to Alex Pursehouse’s through ball but Samson made a brave stop at the striker’s feet.
Marc McAusland came agonisingly close to giving the visitors the lead after eight minutes when he struck the bar after connecting with Graham Carey’s corner.
It was not long before they did grab the lead however, as Carey’s corner just a minute later was headed home by Mair despite the best efforts of Bell to keep the ball out.
After witnessing 30 minutes of toil from his side, Shiels replaced Pursehouse with Zdenek Kroca in an attempt to help his side force an equaliser. The change galvanised Kilmarnock, with firstly Dean Shiels forcing Samson to turn his shot past the post and then from the resulting corner Heffernan spun and struck a low shot into the bottom left corner.
With the game very much in the balance for the bulk of the second half and Lennon brought on Nigel Hasselbaink and Steven Thomson to replace Mooy and Carey.
The visitors were presented with a good opportunity to take the lead when Liam Kelly felled Hasselbaink at the edge of the box in the 68th minute. The striker took the free-kick himself but blazed the ball well over the bar.
Hasselbaink had another good chance 11 minutes later but failed to connect with Steven Thompson’s dangerous delivery.
Lennon made his final change of the afternoon when the tireless Thompson was replaced by Gary Teale.
St Mirren appeared to be finishing the match the stronger side with Teale causing problems with his direct style of play, but it was Kilmarnock who were to grab the winner with just a minute remaining as Racchi’s sublime chip over the head of Samson from just outside of the box proved decisive.