First team

Match Report: Kilmarnock 0-1 Hearts

02 December 2023

Hearts made it four cinch Premiership victories in a row on Saturday with a 1-0 victory at Rugby Park.


Steven Naismith made two changes to the side that defeated St Johnstone last weekend. Yutaro Oda and Calem Nieuwenhof replaced Alex Lowry and Alan Forrest.


It had been a night of heavy snow across the country and despite a number of call-offs in the SPFL, the Rugby Park ground staff had done an excellent job in making sure the game was never really in any danger of being postponed.


It was the home side who started the brighter of the two teams with the returning Corrie Ndaba firing a couple of early efforts wide.


It took until the 15th minute for the men in maroon to fashion their first chance of the afternoon. Killie haven’t shipped many goals at home this season, and it’s easy to see why, as Liam Boyce, Lawrence Shankland and Oda all had goal-bound efforts blocked in quick succession.


The games between the sides this season have been tight, and it felt like the first goal may prove pivotal. It was the Jambos who managed to get it and there was no surprise to see the skipper at the heart of it.


After getting to the byline, Shankland's low cross took a deflection off Will Dennis in the Killie goal and trickled into the back of the net for a fortuitous opener.


Danny Armstrong has been one of Killie’s most creative outlets this season, and he should have been able to add another assist to his tally for the season, when pulling the ball back for the onrushing David Watson, but he slid the ball wide with the goal at his mercy.


The Jambos were dealt a blow on the half hour mark as Boyce was unable to continue, he was replaced by Toby Sibbick.


A key moment in the game arrived five minutes before the break. Yutaro Oda latched on to a ball in behind the Kilmarnock backline and after knocking the ball past Dennis, he was caught late by the Killie stopper.


Referee David Dickinson flashed a yellow card in the direction of Dennis, despite the original phase of play being flagged for offside and following a VAR check for serious foul play, 22 players remained on the pitch.


Half-time: Kilmarnock 0-1 Hearts


Into the second half and the game remained frantic with both sides struggling to find that moment of quality in the final third.


A smart dummy from Shankland almost paved the way for Hearts’ second, but Sibbick’s shot was blocked by a blue and white shirt.


The home side continued to fire balls into the Hearts box but the men in maroon were dealing with everything that was being thrown at them, as the game entered the final 15 minutes.


Not much changed as we entered those closing stages. The home side continue to huff and puff but to no success and one final save from Zander Clark in the final minute of stoppage time was enough to ensure all three points returned to the capital.


Kilmarnock: Dennis, Mayo, Findlay, Deas (Kennedy, 70), Ndaba, Armstrong, Watson (Dallas, 80), Donnelly, Lyons, Watkins, Vassell ©


Subs: O’Hara, Sanders, Davies, McKenzie, Polworth, Murray, Warnock, Kennedy, Dallas


Hearts: Clark, Kingsley, Baningime, Grant (Devlin, 64), Nieuwenhof (Denholm, 84), Shankland, Boyce (Sibbick, 30), Oda (Tagawa, 64), Rowles, Cochrane


Subs: McGovern, Haring, Devlin, Halliday, Forrest, Sibbick, Denholm, Tagawa, Lowry


Attendance 5,915