A second half comeback from St Johnstone stunned a high quality Kilmarnock side on this wet and windy day at McDiarmid Park. With a hard fought lead of two goals from Dean Hawkshaw and Dylan Pooler at half time without reply, Kilmarnock might have been forgiven for thinking the points were in the bag. However, a second half penalty goal from Liam Caddis and a brace from defender Jason Kerr respectively, gave Saints a much needed three points to put some distance between themselves and the visitors.
The quality of the match throughout, was high and was definitely not a reflection of the quality of the weather. The game was end to end play with neither team pausing for breath.
The game began with some excellent attacking play from both sides resulting in the defences of both teams being tested. But it was Kilmarnock who found the breakthrough with a well-placed ball over the St Johnstone midfield finding Hawkshaw, who kept his composure and managed to guide the ball over goalkeeper Jordan Millar and into the net. A fantastic finish early in the game, showing a sign of more to come.
The game did not calm down after Kilmarnock’s goal however, with attack and counterattack being the order of the day. Both teams were defending and moving the ball well in this contest when the rain started to fall. This change in weather did not translate to a change in the standard of play, both teams continued with the same hard work and ferocity spectators had come to expect.
Kilmarnock again found the net at the midpoint of the first half after an extended period of pressure from Killie. This time it was Dylan Pooler who guided the ball home with a calm finish across the face of goal and into the bottom left corner. The build up to the goal was fantastic, with Kilmarnock stringing together a multitude of passes in order to find a way around the stalwart St Johnstone defence.
This did not dampen the spirit of the Saints players however, and chances fell for both teams in the remainder of the half. St Johnstone were making great efforts to get the ball into a dangerous area with crosses being whipped in from Aaron Comrie and Paul Simpson on the wing. Despite these efforts the Kilmarnock defence retained its composure and indeed allowed their forward players the ability to almost grab a third through number nine Jack Whittaker if it was not for a high quality save from St Johnstone’s Millar.
Despite more efforts from both teams the score was left unchanged at the sound of the half-time whistle. The players on either side of this hotly contested fixture had every right to be proud of their first half performances but Kilmarnock just had an extra ruthlessness to their finishing.