Kilmarnock 0 - 0 Motherwell: Honours even in re-arranged tie

When a layer of fog so thick the Rugby Park surroundings resembled a John Carpenter film this past Wednesday night, fans of both Kilmarnock and Motherwell booed referee John Beaton as they did their bit to force the abandonment of a match where visibility had become a thing of the past. Had they known they were going to be treated to another 90 minutes of goalless football, they might have encouraged the official to finish the game there and then.

Kilmarnock's Stephen O'Donnell collapses to the ground as Richard Tait and Kirk Broadfoot exchange words. Pic: SNS/Alan Harvey
Kilmarnock's Stephen O'Donnell collapses to the ground as Richard Tait and Kirk Broadfoot exchange words. Pic: SNS/Alan Harvey

It fairness, today’s game was better than a contest where players contesting a high ball had no idea where it was going to drop, though to call it an entertaining spectacle would also be a bit of a stretch. There were moments, with Motherwell looking bright in the early going and Killie having a brief period of sustained pressure after the break, but overall there wasn’t enough quality in the attacking third for either side to claim all three points.

For Kilmarnock it extends a winless run to eight games, stretching back to that match in late January where they spoiled Jermain Defoe’s Rangers debut with a 2-1 victory. As for Motherwell, it was a good way to bounce back following last weekend’s 4-1 defeat at Celtic Park, a result which ended a six-game winning run in the league.

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“It may be a very good point for us, if we’re looking at the top six. It keeps the momentum going,” said Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson. “I thought we got our foot on the ball and passed it very well in the first half. They maybe cottoned on to our wide players a little bit, as they doubled up on them every time. They changed their team from Wednesday which I think is a compliment to how we played.”

Killie made two changes to the starting XI from the abandoned match. Eammon Brophy and Jordan Jones dropped to the bench in place of Rory McKenzie and Aaron Tshibola as manager Steve Clarke also switched his formation, going from a 4-4-2 to a 4-5-1.

The hosts could’ve been ahead inside three minutes. A good move down the left saw McKenzie slip in Conor McAleny. The on loan Fleetwood Town striker opted to poke his effort towards the far post, but it spun wide of goal.

Daniel Bachmann has cut an impressive figure in the Kilmarnock goal since vaulting over Jamie MacDonald in the pecking order earlier in the campaign, but he almost made a horrendous error moments later. Richard Tait’s overhead kick attempt was right at the Austrian, who somehow let the ball squirm between his legs. He’d managed to take the sting out of the shot just enough that he was able to claw the ball back before it rolled over the goal-line.

He displayed more competence when dealing with a Jake Hastie effort on 14 minutes, pushing it away from goal. He then did likewise with a Gboly Ariyibi shot from the edge of the area later in the half.

The away side looked the more threatening team throughout the half, even if Killie shaded possession. Alan Power has been excellent for the Rugby Park side this season, but most of his better work comes deeper in the midfield area. Asking him to be the most attacking player supporting McAleny was perhaps asking too much of his powers. Another typically dependable performer in blue and white, Chris Burke, did go close with a curling shot that didn’t miss the far post by a whole lot.

One positive of Killie’s change in system and personnel from Wednesday night was the play of McKenzie. Though operating in an unusual role on the left of the midfield, his energy in the final third was the only regular source of inspiration during the 75 minutes he was on the park. He almost grabbed the elusive opener on 67 minutes as he raced in out of nowhere to get a foot to Aaron Tshibola’s cross. It had Mark Gillespie beaten but came back off the crossbar.

From that point forward Killie were undeniably the team on top. Kirk Broadfoot had Gillespie at full stretch with a header from a Chris Burke corner. The keeper then pulled off a reflex one-handed save to deny Brophy shortly after the striker had come on as substitute. Brophy had another opportunity a couple of minutes later after flicking a bouncing ball over Tom Aldred. His finish lacked the same sort of precision as it drifted wide of goal.