HAMILTON manager Alex Neil has spoken of his frustration after his side went down to an injury time Alexei Eremenko free-kick at Rugby Park.
The visitors dominated large parts of the game and missed several clear-cut chances, before a moment of slackness in midfield allowed Kilmarnock to mount the counter-attack that led to the award of a free-kick on the edge of the Hamilton box, and ultimately, the winning goal.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
It was a case of one side taking their late golden opportunity and one side missing theirs, as Darian MacKinnon blew a glorious chance with just ten minutes left to put Hamilton ahead.
“He should have scored,” Neil admitted, “but I also should have done better with one at the back post where I failed to hit the target. Dougie [Imrie’s] cut in on the left-hand side and should have done better with one and Stephen Hendrie’s had another chance as well, so the opportunities were there for us to get the first goal.
“Kilmarnock had one or two here or there but I thought over the piece we were the most threatening side, and to then throw it away was a sore one.”
To add to Neil’s frustration that his team had failed to take the numerous opportunities they had created, he also felt the winning goal was avoidable, and urged his young players to take heed of the harsh lesson dished out to them by the experienced Eremenko.
“I don’t think we had settled for the draw, but I think when the game’s getting to that stage, it’s the 93rd minute, I don’t think there was any team really pushing as if they were on top and as if they were going to go and get the goal,” Neil said. “[Kilmarnock] were doing the right things, just turning the ball up the pitch and making sure they seen the game out and didn’t concede. That’s what we should’ve been doing, but instead, we’re a bit young, we were messing about with the ball on the half-way line instead of just turning it forward and making sure we’re going down the road with a nil next to our name.
“Eventually you never know, you might nick something at the end, so that’s what we should have done. And it cost us, so it’s a lesson learned for the younger players in the squad. I’ve seen it so many times over my career and it really hurts me now more than ever.”
Kilmarnock manager Allan Johnston was visibly relieved to bring an end to a horrendous sequence of results that had seen his side without a win since October, and he pointed to some chances of their own Kilmarnock created, praising their character for not letting those lost opportunities get them down.
“[Rory] McKenzie was through and in a great position, Lee Miller was through and in a great position, and you’re just saying you’ve got to finish them off, you can’t afford to miss those chances,” Johnston said. “But credit to the lads, they stuck at it and it was a real team performance. They battled extremely hard. We’ve got to remember how that felt, to get back to winning ways.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS