There was a carnival atmosphere before the Rugby Park kick off as the home fans saluted their League Cup winning heroes. A very healthy Motherwell support resplendent in claret and amber joined in the tribute as Pascali showed off the trophy and the ‘Well players welcomed their hosts to the pitch before the mood changed as a minute’s silence marked the loss of Liam Kelly’s father.
Clancy and Hutchinson were restored to central defence but Carswell held on to his starting place. Killie kicked off facing the travelling fans and they earned a corner in the first minute. We got the passing going and had the better of the next fifteen minutes. Humphrey collected a couple of long diagonals and delivered telling crosses but there were no takers. There were few goalmouth thrills in the first half apart from set pieces and we had to wait until 37 minutes for a save to be made. It was Randolph who dealt comfortably with Van Tornhout’s long range effort.
The biggest shout from Motherwell fans came as they berated Crawford Allan for booking Hammell for some backchat. Just before the break Clancy had to be alert to block another shot from Van Tornhout as Killie finished the half on top.
The home team were forced to replace ‘keeper Bell at the break, he had collided with one of his team mates, and Letheren took station between the sticks. His team was one up within five minutes when Heffernan scored. Randolph did well to block his first attempt but the second eluded Hutchinson on the line with the ‘keeper grounded.
Randolph kept us in the game when he stood tall to win a one on one with Harkins and we were hanging on. Despite resasonable possess we had failed to make any real attempts on goal and suffered a second loss on the hour. Hutchinson failed to deal with a poor pass from Jennings and suddenly we were in trouble. It ended when Hateley threw his body down to stop a fierce shot and the referee took the view that he used his hands. Heffernan gave Randolph no chance with this low spot kick into the corner.
McCall went for broke with a triple substitution; Law, Ojamaa and Higdon had an early bath and McHugh, Daley and Murphy came on to salvage the game. But as the game moved into the end stage it should have been Kilmarnock who should have scored. They had a few gilt edged chances but frantic defending kept them out.
We trouped away with the sound of jubilant Killie fans in our ears – they deserved the celebration.