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Marley Watkins effort enough as Kilmarnock edge narrow victory at St Mirren

By December 27, 2023No Comments

Kilmarnock strengthened their grip on fourth place in the cinch Premiership as Marley Watkins’ goal sealed a 1-0 win away to St Mirren.

The first-half strike helped extend Derek McInnes’ side’s recent good run of form to four wins and a draw from their last five games.

In contrast, St Mirren are in the midst of a slump that has seen them win just once in seven games, Stephen Robinson’s men a shadow of the side that started the season in sparkling form.

Robinson made two changes from Saints’ weekend defeat to Hearts. In came James Bolton and Toyosi Olusunya, replacing Thierry Small and Alex Greive.

For Kilmarnock there was just once change following their win over St Johnstone, with Matty Kennedy replacing Liam Polworth.

The hosts had the first real chance of the game as Richard Taylor fizzed in a long-range effort that Will Dennis did well to hold onto.

St Mirren had the ball in the net after 14 minutes when Jonah Ayunga bundled it in after Dennis had saved Olusunya’s effort only for it to be chalked out for offside.

Killie took a while to get going and from one promising attack, Danny Armstrong swept his shot well off target.

It was the visitors, though, who went in front after 25 minutes. Kennedy played in Watkins and he finished well past Zach Hemming.

The home side responded with a low driven effort from Ayunga but it lacked the pace to trouble Dennis.

Kilmarnock were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position when Taylor brought down Armstrong and was booked. But Kennedy’s effort struck the defensive wall and trickled out for a corner.

At the other end, Dennis did well to repel Scott Tanser’s volley from just outside the box as St Mirren tried to get back into the contest.

After all the heavy rain earlier in the day, the surface was unsurprisingly slippery and Alex Gogic picked up a booking after losing his footing and inadvertently brought down Brad Lyons.

Greg Kiltie had the first chance of note in the second half but his looped effort was easily gathered by Dennis.

Robinson turned to his bench to try to gain some fresh impetus, sending on Mika Mandron and Conor McMenamin.

The Northern Ireland international nearly made an instant impact but his flashing effort flew across the face of goal with no takers in the middle.

Dennis then pulled off a brilliant save to tip Bolton’s header over the crossbar as St Mirren belatedly began to exert some pressure.

That was matched at the other end by a stunning Zach Hemming save to push away Rory McKenzie’s goal-bound volley as Killie racked up a precious away win.