KILMARNOCK have apologised to fans for an abject start to the Ladbrokes Premiership season on and off the park.
Some supporters could not get into Rugby Park until 20 minutes after kick-off after being made to buy tickets before entering the turnstiles, and their problems did not end there.
The Killie fans, fuelled with optimism following the arrival of seven new players, saw their team routed 4-0 by Dundee. Greg Stewart and Rory Loy both hit doubles for the visitors to send them top of the table.
Killie boss Gary Locke will need to quickly find a blend among his new signings, who played like complete strangers on Saturday.
Locke said: “As well as they (Dundee)played, we played poorly and we certainly never saw that coming. There was no pressure on their flair players and they played very well.
“We were second best everywhere. We didn’t have enough movement, we didn’t have enough people wanting the ball. We can only apologise to the fans. It’s only one game but it was a disaster for us.
“We had harsh words after the game but the players are well aware of how badly they played. We have to get back in, make sure we work hard and make sure we respond in the right manner because we simply never turned up.”
The club followed Locke’s lead in saying sorry to supporters. A statement read: “Kilmarnock Football Club would like to sincerely apologise to any fan who experienced a delay in getting into today’s match. The club have already made an investigation into what caused some fans delays of up to 20 minutes into the game.
“A number of system errors were identified including problems with e-tickets and season ticket membership cards not scanning.”
Stewart felt his side could have subjected the home fans to further misery if they had been in more clinical mood.
Summer signing Kane Hemmings could have had a hat-trick to add to the doubles of Loy and SStewart.
Within four minutes, the Dundee debutant could have made the perfect start when Stewart sent him through the middle but the striker’s low shot was held by Kilmarnock goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald.
A minute later Hemmings tried his luck from the edge of the box but his shot was straight at the keeper.
Hemmings should then have put the visitors ahead on the half-hour mark. Stewart made for the byline before cutting the ball back to the former Rangers, Cowdenbeath and Barnsley man in the middle of the goal, but from eight yards he scooped his shot embarrassingly wide of the target.
His blushes were short-lived when Dundee finally opened the scoring three minutes later. This time Stewart cut in from the left side of the penalty box before curling a superb shot beyond the helpless MacDonald.
Loy, who arrived from Falkirk in the summer, soon lashed home Kevin Holt’s cross and nodded home Gary Harkins’ lob two minutes after the break before Stewart finished high into the net with 14 minutes left.
By comparison, Killie posed little threat, taking 15 minutes to earn their first corner, Scott Bain comfortably holding Kallum Higginbotham’s cross in front of huge Tayside support, who sarcastically celebrated their side’s first attempt at goal after 71 minutes, when Kris Boyd headed the ball weakly into Bain’s hands.
Stewart said: “We couldn’t have asked for a better start. But we might have scored more – but four is not bad and we would take that any day.”
The former Cowdenbeath player started just behind Hemmings and Loy but showed signs that he might surpass his impressive first season at Dens Par, which yielded 15 goals. “I have trained more this summer and put more pressure on myself but if I can match last season I will be delighted,” he added.
Kilmarnock: MacDonald; Westlake, Connolly, Findlay, Smith; Johnston (McKenzie 46), Hamill (O’Hara 46), Robinson, Higginbotham; Magennis (Carrick 46), Boyd. Subs not used: Samson, McCulloch, Ashcroft, Kiltie. Booked: O’Hara.
Dundee: Bain; McGinn, Konrad, Extabeguren, Holt; Ross, Thomson (McGowan 64), Harkins, Stewart; Loy, Hemmings. Subs not used: Mitchell, Irvine, Ferry, Meggatt, Roberts, Kerr.
Referee: Bobby Madden.