KILMARNOCK were the architects of their own downfall yesterday when a miss 15 minutes from time by the normally lethal Kris Boyd prevented Lee Clark from getting a first win under his stewardship.
At the same time the Ayrshire men saw Dundee United close to within five points at the bottom of the table with a game in hand as the Premiership relegation battle took a dramatic twist. Remarkably the result maintained Kilmarnock’s unbeaten run at the Maryhill ground for 14 years since an Alex Burns hat-trick back in November 2002 gave Thistle the points.
But that was furthest from the mind of Clark, who knew his side had scorned a glorious opportunity to leave with all three points. “We came here to win the game and I thought we did more than enough to do that,” he moaned.
“We hit the post, hit the bar, had one chalked off and missed good opportunities. We’ve tightened up defensively that’s for sure. Obviously to win games you need to score goals and we haven’t done that. I spoke to Kris and he said the call was a bit behind him. He has lived off proper striker’s goals. It’s not as if we weren’t making chances so I won’t be over critical of the players.
“It was a good opportunity to take all three points. Until we play Dundee United we can’t do anything about them. All we can do is look after our own results.”
With the stakes high for both protagonists, the game began at a frenetic pace and Kilmarnock were unfortunate not to edge in front after just four minutes. Former Real Madrid player Julien Faubert floated in a free-kick from the right which picked out Miles Addison, but the towering defender, signed just two days earlier, headed against the base of a post. The ball broke out to Greg Kiltie, lurking at the edge of the area, but he shot just over.
Thistle re-grouped and threatened after 11 minutes when Gary Miller’s cross from the right was poorly defended by Mark O’Hara, whose misplaced header landed perfectly for Ryan Edwards darting in at the back post, but he shot wildly over from a narrow angle.
Referee Don Robertson waved away penalty claims in 27 minutes when the Jags’ Miller fell under a challenge from Conrad Balatoni, with the Thistle player fortunate not to be yellow carded for going down a bit too easily.
Thistle continued to create the better openings and seconds from the break they came close when Sean Welsh pounced on a loose ball at the edge of the area, but his first-time effort was just wide of the mark.
Four minutes after the restart Killie had the ball in the net when Boyd tapped home after Rory McKenzie’s ten-yard volley came back off the crossbar, but it was ruled offside.
Thistle always looked the more inventive and in 56 minutes Steven Lawless produced a deft chip into the path of Callum Booth, whose angled drive was deflected over.
Killie fought tirelessly throughout and in 69 minutes McKenzie’s measured cross from the left fell for Boyd, only for goalkeeper Tomas Cerny to save well at the striker’s feet as he tried to turn.
The Ayrshire men couldn’t have got a better opportunity to grab all three points than in 75 minutes when substitute Josh Magennis drilled the ball across from the right for Boyd to somehow scoop the ball over from ten yards out. It was an awful effort.
Jags’ boss Alan Archibald said: “It was a disappointing performance. It was an ugly game and looked like an end-of-season scrap. It was the kind of game we might have lost earlier in the season but we’ve learned. We need to win both our games to make the top six.”
Partick Thistle 0