Derek McInnes speaks on synthetic pitches as Kilmarnock tenure begins with win

Derek McInnes is up and running on a synthetic surface again although he must still wait to take his bow on the Rugby Park pitch.
Derek McInnes' Kilmarnock tenure began with a 2-0 win over Queen of the South.Derek McInnes' Kilmarnock tenure began with a 2-0 win over Queen of the South.
Derek McInnes' Kilmarnock tenure began with a 2-0 win over Queen of the South.

The new Kilmarnock manager was indebted to goals from skipper Chris Stokes and striker Oli Shaw as his tenure got off to a winning start with a 2-0 win over Queen of the South at Palmerston Park.

It was yet another success on an artificial pitch for McInnes. He has not lost at Rugby Park since it was re-surfaced in 2014. It’s even possible to throw in his last six visits to Hamilton as Aberdeen manager, which brought four wins and two draws.

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Many wondered whether he made any stipulations about Kilmarnock’s much-criticised pitch before signing an 18-month contract last week. It seems he has no reason to demand a switch to grass.

Kilmarnock's Oli Shaw celebrates putting his team 2-0 up.Kilmarnock's Oli Shaw celebrates putting his team 2-0 up.
Kilmarnock's Oli Shaw celebrates putting his team 2-0 up.

“We’re a team that trains on astroturf and is kinda used to it,” he reflected after an enjoyable return to the game in Dumfries. “We just need to deal with it. We are in the Championship and with the Championship comes some extra challenges and we just have to make sure that whatever the surface we play on, we handle it. I respect the league and I respect the opponents. We are in this division because of us. It’s not because we shouldn’t be here. There is no criticism at all.

“The players are used to it. We are more than halfway through the season now so they are well used to it.

“There are different challenges to win a league and different things you need to overcome,” he added. “The most important thing for us is just to concentrate on our level of performance. You always have to try to adapt to the situation, whether it’s the pitch conditions or whatever. You need to find ways to win.”

Kilmarnock managed to do this on Saturday in Dumfries as McInnes made an instant impact. The visitors were always on top although it needed a debated penalty from Shaw – the push by Roberto Nditi on the former Hibs striker clearly occurred outside the box – to secure the points with 20 minutes left.

Chris Stokes opened the scoring for Kilmarnock.Chris Stokes opened the scoring for Kilmarnock.
Chris Stokes opened the scoring for Kilmarnock.

The Ayrshire side can now hit top place in the Championship as soon as Friday if they win against Partick Thistle at Firhill, one of six grass pitches in the Championship. Shaw, who struck his ninth goal of the season on Saturday, is hoping to move into double figures against Ian McCall's side after ending a six-game drought.

“Two goals, a clean sheet, three points,” said the 23-year-old. “I don’t think you can ask for much more than that. I thought we played well in large spells of the game and deserved the victory.

“Our main target is to win this league and get Kilmarnock back into the Premiership. We’ve had a good start, but it’s only a start, under the new manager and we’ll look to Friday now and hopefully get the points there as well.

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“I had gone a few games without a goal and then got one against Dunfermline that was wiped when the match was abandoned, so I’m happy to score again. "That’s what I want to do as a striker. To help the team and take away the three points makes it an all round good day.

“When you score goal it gives you that confidence to go and continue scoring and hopefully I can do that on Friday night.”

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