NEW Kilmarnock manager Allan Johnston’s home managerial debut didn’t go entirely to plan as the SPFL Premiership side had to settle for a draw against their visitors from England’s third tier.
Kilmarnock: Heffernan (3, 89); Carlisle United: Beck (16, 52)
Johnston however, had to be happy with his side’s flying start to this, their first home pre-season game, after away wins at East Fife and Glentoran.
The home team forced the game’s first corner after only 30 seconds, then went ahead after three minutes. Good pressure on the Carlisle defenders by the home front men saw them unable to get the ball clear and when the ball was played into the visitors’ box, Paul Heffernan turned it past Mark Gillespie.
It was all-square after 16 minutes, Carlisle levelling with just about their first threatening attack. The impressive James Berrett did the spade work down the left, drawing almost the entire Killie defence to him as he cut inside.
His shot looked like going in, but unmarked centre-forward Mark Beck made certain from some six inches out. This strike lifted the visitors and a couple of minutes later it took a last-gasp tackle from new boy Darren Barr to deny Beck a second goal. Carlisle kept up the pressure, however, and in 22 minutes Brad Potts was put clean through, his shot beating Craig Samson but flashing past the keeper’s right-hand post.
Samson, on his home debut in this, his second Kilmarnock spell, kept his side in the game with a terrific flying save, to keep out a Liam Noble 20-yard free-kick, after Berrett was brought down just outside the home box in 35 minutes.
Then, in 42 minutes as Killie pushed for a half-time lead, it was opposite number Gillespie’s turn to shine, getting down at his left-hand post to turn away Rory McKenzie’s first-time shot from a Chris Johnston cut-back. From the resulting corner, Heffernan headed Rabiu Ibrahim’s dinked pass over the top.
In the final action of the first-half, Gillespie pushed away a low Gary Fisher cross from the left to keep the score-line all square at the break.
The English side made the better start to the second half and deservedly went in front in 52 minutes. It was a simple goal, with Patrick Brough, left free on the left, having plenty of time to pick-out Beck, whose movement got him into space to flash a powerful header past the despairing dive of Samson.
Kilmarnock moved the ball around well against a team somewhat closer to full match readiness, battled hard for an equaliser and were rewarded two minutes from time, when Heffernan turned inside the box to drive McKenzie’s headed knock-down past Gillespie from 12 yards.
Kilmarnock: Samson, Tesselaar, Fowler, Trialist (Peter Murphy) Barr, Clingan/O’hara (26), Heffernan, McKenzie, Ibrahim/Gross (Trialist) (58), Fisher, Johnston. Substitutes not used: Reguero, Trialist (JP McGovern), McKeown, Pooler.
Carlisle: Gillespie, Potts, James, Edwards, Livesey, Amoo, Noble, Beck, Gillies, Brough/Salmon (63), Berrett. Substitutes not used: Brass, Lynch, Kavanagh, Todd, Dempsey, Hammell.