Season 2009/10 review (2)
Updated Monday, 17th May 2010
No sooner had the new management team been renamed 'Jack and Victor' than they had to watch us lose the last game of the year at Tynecastle. We had lost five on the trot and the season was in danger of collapsing.
They inherited an unhappy squad. The rift between the players and Jim Gannon had many of them planning an escape at the first opportunity and the whole club need a lift. The winter snows offered a well timed break and in mid January we resumed with a game at Rugby Park. Three second half goals (O’Brienx2 and Jukiewicz) won the game and raised the spirits.
Hateley against the Accies
Two days later a lacklustre performance saw us knocked out of the Scottish Cup in Inverness. Many thought that the revival was to be short lived; how wrong we were! Craig and Archie placed more responsibility on the senior players and encouraged a more relaxed style. We were more direct and the players regained their self-belief.
The league form in 2010 started with this impressive run of form WWDWWDDWWWDW, that propelled us to fourth place, secured a top six finish and encouraged hope of a Europa League qualification. Along the way we put Aberdeen to the sword at Pittodrie with a 3-0 thumping, sneaked a win against the Accies with a Jutkiewicz toe poke and were frustrated when an outrageous decision robbed us of a win against Rangers. Ruddy kept his goal intact for over 500 minutes, helped with a solid back line of, Hateley, Craigan, Reynolds and Hammell.
Ruddy does some gardening while Killie defend a corner
The pitch had become a joke. The need to produce a frost free surface on demand tortured the young root system. It was destroyed by prolonged periods with the covers on top and the hot under soil heating from below. The result was a soft crumble that delivered acres of unfavourable comment and embarrassment. Fortunately, no games were postponed because of unplayable pitch and yet more remedial work was planned for the close season.
We developed a handy ability to score late winners and Hibs and St Johnstone were beaten by goals inside the last ten minutes. Jutkiewicz demonstrated why Everton had paid a seven figure sum for his services and Murphy went from strength to strength.
The fine unbeaten run lasted for twelve games. It ended at Tannadice with a 0-3 loss and we ended the third cycle with another two defeats. We had earned a finish with the big boys and looked like favourites for a European place. The season was declared a success.
The SPL dealt us a poor hand for the final five fixtures. Three aways and no money-making home game with one of the Old Firm set John Boyle off on a series of high profile interviews when he made clear his displeasure at the post-split arrangements.
Our only win in the run in was a sweet victory at Tynecastle. Saunders and Sutton did the business in the first half and all but sealed our European place. We finished with two remarkable draws. Hibs came to Fir Park for a high stakes game that had a cup tie atmosphere and cut price entry. The decent crowd witnessed a breathtaking 6-6 draw, a record SPL high score. Motherwell trailed 1-4 and 2-6 but fought back to grab a point in added time with a fantastic goal from Jutkiewicz. Another remarkable comeback was staged at Ibrox on the final day of the season. Two goals in the last three minutes cast a shadow on the champions’ celebrations and we left Govan with a 3-3 draw.
Jutkiewicz scores our last goal of 09/10 at Ibrox
The final reward for the campaign’s efforts came on cup final day when United’s win over Ross County converted our fifth place into a qualification for the Europa League
It was another good year to be a ‘Well fan.
Part 1 of the 2009/10 review is here.