Lame Kilmarnock limp to Betfred Cup exit

Kilmarnock manager Lee Clark shouts for more pace from his players as they laboured to a disappointing draw against Albion Rovers at Rugby Park on Saturday. Picture: SNS Group

Kilmarnock manager Lee Clark shouts for more pace from his players as they laboured to a disappointing draw against Albion Rovers at Rugby Park on Saturday. Picture: SNS Group

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Lee Clark will be stressing the need for speed to his Kilmarnock squad ahead of their Ladbrokes Premiership opener against Motherwell on Saturday.

The Ayrshire side exited the Betfred Cup on Saturday with a lame goalless draw at home to Albion Rovers, the League 1 side earning an extra Group H point with a 5-3 penalty shoot-out win.

It’s simple – play the game quicker, with more speed both in our passing and in our movements off the ball

Lee Clark

The Killie boss recruited a whole team of young players in the summer, but seven points from a possible 12 against lower-league opposition in the section is an unconvincing start and, among other things, he is demanding more urgency.

“I was very, very disappointed,” said Clark, who last week denied a report that he was considering quitting.

“We showed a bit of urgency only in the last ten minutes and I don’t know why that is.

“We reiterated that to them at half-time and said we needed to do that more so why we’ve waited until then to do that I don’t know.

“We should have been doing that from the off and, certainly, from the first whistle of the second half because I’d just spoken to them about it.

“It’s not as though we didn’t have enough attacking players out there but did we make enough chances for those lads?

“We had pace to burn at the top end of the pitch with Souleymane Coulibaly, Josh Magennis and Jordan Jones, but I didn’t see us stretch them and the tempo was too slow, with and without the ball. We made Albion Rovers’ job a lot easier for them because the slower we played, the easier it was to play against us.

“There’s lots for us to work on and we know we have to improve, we know that but it’s not tactical – it’s just the basics.

“We need to have more guile and play the game quicker.

“It’s simple – play the game quicker, with more speed both in our passing and in our movements off the ball.

“This squad is honest, they’re good lads but we need to improve in a lot of areas.”

Ryan Wallace thought he had put Albion ahead in the first half when Kilmarnock goalkeeper Oliver Davies, on loan from Swansea City, fumbled for Wallace to knock the ball home but referee Bobby Madden ruled that Davies had been fouled.

Davies did better in the second half, though, when he turned a decent Mark Ferry strike past the post.

As Clark said, Kilmarnock did seem livelier in the last ten minutes of the game and Coulibaly’s back-flick was cleared off the line before Miles Addison headed wide from a Josh Magennis delivery.

Kilmarnock also had a penalty claim waved away after Rory McKenzie had gone down in the box.

However, Albion also had a late chance and Davies looked sharp in dealing with Gary Fisher’s strike.

Ross Stewart saved Magennis’ penalty in the shoot-out to put Albion in the driving seat for the extra point.

They didn’t let up, either, and Scott McBride slotted home the fifth and decisive penalty for the visitors.

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