Derek McInnes: This feels like a Kilmarnock defeat - there were too many good Hearts players still on the pitch

Kilmarnock boss Derek McInnes admitted there was little his players could have done to deny Nathaniel Atkinson his late strike, but he was aggrieved that Hearts were in the position to claim anything from the game as a consequence following the teams’ 2-2 draw at Rugby Park.

The home side had been on the cusp of claiming their second win in a week when the Aussie full-back, popped up 20 yards from goal to lash home the equaliser and leave McInnes fuming.

“It feels like a defeat,” said the manager who had been hoping to replicate the Saturday wins of nearest rivals Dundee United and Ross County. “I'm more annoyed with the first goal because we didn't get to enjoy being 2-0 up.

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“Our approach was to win the game, we tried to make it a cup tie and the players put so much into it.

Derek McInnes tries to rally his Kilmarnock team.Derek McInnes tries to rally his Kilmarnock team.
Derek McInnes tries to rally his Kilmarnock team.

“When we got the second goal, I thought we had Hearts exactly where we wanted them. But there were still too many good players on the pitch for Hearts for us to knock off.

“The equaliser can happen, it's a right-back taking a ball out the air with his left foot and smashing it into the corner. It's an unbelievable strike. I've watched it back. Normally you can trace things back but there's nothing we could do differently other than not give away the free-kick in the first place. But the first goal was a copy and paste of the run Marley Watkins made against us at Pittodrie last week when Aberdeen got the soft penalty. That's the one I'm most annoyed about because it's a straight to ball and we should be seeing that off. That's the one that gave Hearts a way back in.

“At 2-0 up against a team struggling for a bit form, we should have been enjoying that moment.”

Having enjoyed victory over Hearts in the League Cup and well aware of the pressure mounting on the capital side after a difficult week, Killie came close to building on their midweek triumph over St Johnstone.

“Hearts had chances, we had chances. We took them on because we knew they were vulnerable defensively. They also have great attacking threats so it was about risk and reward and that risk almost paid off for us.”