How age-defying Chris Burke inspired Kilmarnock to Ayrshire derby win over Ayr United

It had been so long since Kilmarnock and Ayr United last met in a league fixture that the oldest player in the current Rugby Park squad was just nine years old at the time.

Liam Polworth (centre) celebrates after scoring Kilmarnock's opener in the 2-0 win over Ayr United. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Indeed, it was Chris Burke, now aged 37, who lit up the first Ayrshire derby outside of a cup competition since 1993 with a virtuoso performance in Killie's first match in the second tier since that same season.

The title favourites laid down an early marker in their bid for an instant return to the top flight with a dominant performance over their local rivals, inspired by their age-defying former Rangers and Scotland winger, who will cause Championship defenders sleepless nights based on this display.

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Burke's dazzling wing play down the right allied with strong hold-up work from towering centre-forward Innes Cameron caused the Honest Men all kinds of problems.

Tommy Wright's men forced 10 first half corners and the closest they came to an opener was from a whipped Burke delivery which was met by the head of Cameron forcing Charlie Albinson to save at full stretch.

The same duo combined again four minutes after the restart as Burke tormented his marker before crossing for Cameron to head wide for six yards when it looked easier to score.

It seemed only a matter of time before the home side made their superiority count and so it proved with the opener arriving on 55 minutes - and it was no surprise that Burke was at the heart of it.

The talismanic wide man drove infield and found the run of Blair Alston, who prodded the ball towards Liam Polworth for a composed finish from 10 yards.

Ayr boss David Hopkin brought on new signings Daire O'Connor from Cliftonville and Jonathan Afolabi, on loan from Celtic, in a bid to rescue the match and the fresh arrivals gave the away side an attacking spark they had lacked.

However, Killie remained in the ascendency and clinched the victory with five minutes left when referee Robertson pointed to the spot after ruling Jack Baird blocked an Alston strike with his arm, despite the ball appearing to hit the Ayr defender in the chest.

Cameron stepped up to convert from the spot to put the seal on an impressive performance from the 20-year-old front man.

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