Killie and the Caley Jags served up another game with a load of goals but unfortunately - like the last game between the sides - it was Killie who got the higher tally. Club Historian Ian Broadfoot supplies the official report from Rugby Park.
KILMARNOCK 3-2 ICT
|10th March 2007||Rugby Park, Kilmarnock|
|KILMARNOCK||3 (Di Giacamo 17, 27, Naismith 40)|
Team: Smith, Murray (Locke 79), Greer, Wright, Hay, Di Giacamo, Fowler, Johnston, Leven (Wales 85), Nish, Naismith
Subs: Koudou, Gibson, Quinn, O'Leary & Harpur
|INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE FC||2 (Paatelainen 10, Dods 47)|
Team: Fraser, Tokely, McCaffrey, Dods, Hastings, Wilson (Hart 76), Black (Sutherland 76), Duncan, Paatelainen, Bayne, McSwegan (McAllister 79)
Subs: Morgan, Rankin, Soane & Ridgers
With Celtic cemented at the top of the SPL this was the day that the top six was determined and the relegation spot assigned to Dunfermline.
Barring mathematical miracles Caley Thistle cannot now catch Kilmarnock and must be content with a lower-level but safe position. Dunfermline could only draw with St Mirren so will go down – again barring an extraordinary sequence of results.
At the start of the day, seventh placed ICT faced sixth placed Kilmarnock with six points between them. The visitors had Grant Munro suspended and Roy McBain still injured so Charlie Christie had to ring the changes.
"I thought we deserved to take something out of the game" said Charlie Christie. "In the second half I thought we pinned Kilmarnock back for the vast majority of it".
As expected Stuart McCaffrey came into central defence but there were surprises with first starts for Gary McSwegan and Markus Paatelainen. All three acquitted themselves well but it was the young Finn who particularly caught the eye as he grabbed his first goal for the club in the tenth minute. It was not to prove enough and by half time Killie held a 3-1 lead. This was pulled back to 3-2 but despite great efforts it stayed that way.
CIS Cup finalists Kilmarnock attracted a large crowd for this crunch game but it was the small knot of ICT supporters that celebrated first in ten minutes. Richard Hastings powered down the left wing, crossed into the centre and Markus Paatelainen’s looping header from 12 yards defeated Graeme Smith for 1-0.
The lead lasted just seven minutes when a Peter Leven long throw bounced high over the defence and Paul Di Giacomo touched it for 1-1. In 27 minutes Killie took the lead when Mike Fraser pushed away a Steven Naismith volley and Di Giacomo hit home the rebound via the bar. Five minutes from the break a Grant Murray cross was partly cleared, returned into the box by Di Giacomo and Naismith spectacularly sent an overhead kick low into the corner for 3-1 to the home side.
Half Time: 3-1
That could have been it but Caley Thistle came out fighting in the second half and took just three minutes to make it 3-2.
A McSwegan 30 yard shot was tipped over by Graeme Smith and Barry Wilson’s corner from the right was headed in by Darren Dods via a touch off a defender.
On the hour mark Dods had a chance but hooked wide of the post then Di Giacomo did the same at the other end. Paatelainen cleared a Gordon Greer header off the ICT line in 72 minutes then the visitors made two substitutions. Zander Sutherland replaced the booked Ian Black and Richie Hart came on for Barry Wilson. Rory McAllister, just named in the Scotland under 20 squad, replaced Gary McSwegan and Killie club captain Gary Locke took the field with Grant Murray departing.
Despite these moves a strong ICT finish came to nothing. A Paatelainen shot was saved by the foot of Graeme Smith, Ross Tokely hit over from 25 yards, a Richie Hart corner was headed on by Dods but cleared then another Hart corner went harmlessly for a goal kick. Alan Johnston shot wide at the other end in the closing seconds of the regulation 90 minutes. This took pressure off the Killie defence then there were three added minutes which stretched to four. A long Mike Fraser free kick was taken by Graeme Smith and time was nearly up.
After 94 minutes a Richard Hastings free kick was knocked on by Ross Tokely, cleared by the Killie defence and that was it.
Full Time: 3-2
Kilmarnock now go into next week’s CIS Cup final with a top six SPL finish assured and Caley Thistle remain seventh.