Kilmarnock extend 'far better' away form at St Mirren

5 months ago 119
Markley Watkins now has two goals in two games and is becoming a key figure up top for KilmarnockMarley Watkins now has two goals in two games and is becoming a key figure for Kilmarnock

Derek McInnes says Kilmarnock have "turned around" their away form after they held off St Mirren to consolidate fourth place in the Scottish Premiership.

The visitors started the better and a quick counter-attack put Marley Watkins through on goal, with the Welshmen finishing high into the net for what proved to be the winner.

Kilmarnock allowed their hosts to come back into it, failing to show a clinical touch and relying on Will Dennis to make a few good saves to hold on.

McInnes' side are now unbeaten in four games without conceding on the road, including two wins, and are only the second away team to triumph at the SMiSA Stadium this season.

"There's a trust with the support," McInnes told BBC Scotland. "It wasn't long ago that nobody looked forward to coming away from home. We've turned that around.

"Performances on the road this season have been far better. The last time we kept three clean sheets in a row was 2000.

"We're not looking at teams round about us. We just want to make sure we carry ourselves like a top-six team."

Kilmarnock have a four-point cushion in fourth, while St Mirren remain fifth, with only two wins in their last 10 games.

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Kilmarnock's upturn in away form combined with McInnes' incredible record over St Mirren - he had lost just one top-flight game to the Paisley side in 29 matches - might have worried the home fans.

The visitors started on the front foot, but it was St Mirren's Jonah Ayunga who had the ball in the net first, although the offside flag was up quickly as Toyosi Olusanya had gone too early in the build-up.

Then Kilmarnock struck. Countering from their own half, Kyle Vassell and Matty Kennedy combined to slip in Watkins, who finished well past former Kilmarnock goalkeeper Zach Hemming.

There was a chance for the visitors to double their lead when Armstrong nicked the ball from Richard Taylor and was brought down the edge of the box.

Kennedy curled the free-kick into the wall and it hit Scott Tanser's arm, but it was above the shirt sleeve. VAR was not interested.

The second half was far longer to kick into life, but both keepers had to make good saves to keep the score as it was. Dennis denied a James Bolton header, with Hemming parrying a stinging Rory McKenzie volley.

Kilmarnock were resolute at the back until the last, inviting pressure but surviving to pick up another clean sheet.

Player of the Match - Will Dennis (Kilmarnock)

The on-loan Bournemouth stopper has produced some enormous saves in recent weeks, and did so againThe on-loan Bournemouth stopper has produced some enormous saves in recent weeks, and did so again

Killie scale Paisley fortress as St Mirren's form continues to plummet - analysis

Kilmarnock's achievement should not be underestimated - only Rangers had left the SMiSA Stadium with all three points this season.

Similar to the weekend win over St Johnstone, McInnes' side started brightly. Brad Lyons was spraying the ball left and right, Danny Armstrong was his slippery self on the wing.

They had chances to make life more comfortable but allowed St Mirren to creep back into it. That's when they relied on Dennis and his defenders, who kept their fifth clean sheet in 10 games.

St Mirren look devoid of the confidence they showed early in the season, when they were able to dig deep and find good results from nowhere.

What they said

St Mirren manager Stephen Robinson: "I felt we deserved more than what we got out of the game. At the moment it's not happening for us results-wise. The performances have been decent but we've not been ruthless.

"They were ruthless, they got one chance they scored. We're just going through a spell where we're not scoring goals and that goes for the whole team."

Kilmarnock boss Derek McInnes: "When you get ahead sometimes you need to play against the clock and negate the opposition. We could have picked them off on the break a couple of times, but four away clean sheets in a row - you have to do a lot right to do that."

What's next?

St Mirren visit Aberdeen on Saturday while Kilmarnock host Dundee at the same time (15:00 GMT).

Line-ups

St Mirren

Formation 3-5-2

1Hemming2Bolton13GogicBooked at 59mins5TaylorBooked at 33mins22FraserSubstituted forMcMenaminat 64'minutes6O'Hara17BaccusBooked at 88mins11Kiltie3Tanser20OlusanyaSubstituted forMandronat 64'minutes7AyungaSubstituted forNahmaniat 75'minutes

Substitutes

8Flynn9Mandron10McMenamin15Boyd-Munce16Small18Dunne19Nahmani24Jamieson27Urminsky

Kilmarnock

Formation 4-4-2

1Dennis5Mayo6DeasBooked at 86mins17FindlayBooked at 74mins3Ndaba11ArmstrongSubstituted forWrightat 87'minutes8Lyons12Watson10KennedySubstituted forMcKenzieat 72'minutes23WatkinsSubstituted forDallasat 75'minutes9Vassell

Substitutes

4Wright7McKenzie14Sanders19Davies20O'Hara21Dallas25Warnock31Polworth39Mackay-Steven

Referee:Euan Anderson

Attendance:7,534

Live Text

Match ends, St. Mirren 0, Kilmarnock 1.

Second Half ends, St. Mirren 0, Kilmarnock 1.

Offside, St. Mirren. Greg Kiltie is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Keanu Baccus (St. Mirren) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Mikael Mandron.

Foul by Mikael Mandron (St. Mirren).

Rory McKenzie (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Greg Kiltie (St. Mirren) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Mikael Mandron.

Attempt missed. Corrie Ndaba (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Rory McKenzie following a set piece situation.

Attempt blocked. Rory McKenzie (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Keanu Baccus (St. Mirren) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Keanu Baccus (St. Mirren).

Rory McKenzie (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Substitution, Kilmarnock. Joe Wright replaces Daniel Armstrong because of an injury.

Robbie Deas (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Delay in match because of an injury Daniel Armstrong (Kilmarnock).

Mikael Mandron (St. Mirren) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Robbie Deas (Kilmarnock).

Attempt saved. Stav Nahmani (St. Mirren) header from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Conor McMenamin with a cross.

Attempt missed. Rory McKenzie (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from outside the box is too high following a corner.

Player of the match

MayoLewis Mayo

with an average of 8.03

St Mirren

Squad number1Player nameHemming

Squad number13Player nameGogic

Squad number3Player nameTanser

Squad number20Player nameOlusanya

Squad number7Player nameAyunga

Squad number17Player nameBaccus

Squad number6Player nameO'Hara

Squad number2Player nameBolton

Squad number5Player nameTaylor

Squad number11Player nameKiltie

Squad number22Player nameFraser

Squad number19Player nameNahmani

Squad number10Player nameMcMenamin

Squad number9Player nameMandron

Kilmarnock

Squad number5Player nameMayo

Squad number1Player nameDennis

Squad number23Player nameWatkins

Squad number6Player nameDeas

Squad number17Player nameFindlay

Squad number12Player nameWatson

Squad number10Player nameKennedy

Squad number11Player nameArmstrong

Squad number8Player nameLyons

Squad number7Player nameMcKenzie

Squad number3Player nameNdaba

Squad number9Player nameVassell

Squad number4Player nameWright

Squad number21Player nameDallas

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