Match Report: Kilmarnock 2-2 Hearts

10 September 2022

Chris Stokes’ goal early in the second half put the hosts in front, before Kyle Lafferty doubled their lead. Stephen Humphrys pulled one back for the Jambos and when time looked to have run out, Nathaniel Atkinson vollyed home a sensational equaliser in injury time.

Robbie Neilson made four changes from midweek with Humphrys, Atkinson, Alan Forrest and Robert Snodgrass replacing Josh Ginnelly, Michael Smith, Jorge Grant and Lewis Neilson.

The boys in maroon should’ve taken an early lead when Forrest’s delightful ball forward sent Lawrence Shankland through on goal. He selflessly middled for the unmarked Barrie McKay, but he could only blaze over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

Killie went close with a chance of their own minutes later, when a well-worked ball into the box found Daniel Armstrong but he headed wide of Craig Gordon’s left-hand post.

A period of no real goalmouth action was broken in the 18th minute when Shankland got on the end of Snodgrass’ corner, but his header bounced down and up towards Zach Hemming, the goalkeeper plucked the ball from the air on his line.

The Jambos followed that up with another half chance soon after. McKay’s clever cross into the six-yard box found Humphrys, though he had to stoop to head on target and the ball flew straight at Hemming.

The hosts then passed up a good chance when they were gifted possession and Armstrong found Blair Alston unmarked in the box, but his shot lacked power and Gordon got down to smother.

Killie broke again moments later, with Ben Chrisene’s cross landing at Alan Power’s feet. His effort was on course to hit the target but Alex Cochrane made a crucial block to deflect it over the bar.

A set piece just after the half hour mark presented Snodgrass with a chance to open the scoring. His 25-yard free kick curled over the wall but Hemming pushed it up into the air and gathered at the second attempt.

A moment of magic from Jordan Jones nearly broke the deadlock with four minutes of the first half remaining. He darted forward before cutting inside and curling a right-foot shot from distance that flew narrowly wide of Gordon’s left-hand post.

Half time: Kilmarnock 0-0 Hearts

Less than two minutes into the restart, Kilmarnock took the lead. Jones’ corner caused a stramash inside the six-yard box, and Stokes stabbed the ball home despite the best efforts of Gordon to try and claw it off the line.

Killie could’ve doubled their lead on 54 minutes, when Lewis Mayo rose to meet a corner but he nodded narrowly wide.

Hearts then went straight up the park and went close with a chance of their own. Humphrys played a neat one-two with Orestis Kiomourtzoglou before bounding into the box and firing wide.

Disaster struck just before the hour mark when Kilmarnock doubled their lead. Andy Halliday passed back to Gordon, but the skipper slipped on the rain-soaked astro-turf, allowing Lafferty to nip in and poke the ball into an empty net.

Three minutes later the deficit was halved. Humphrys sprung the offside trap to latch on to a through ball before rounding Hemmings and finishing from an acute angle to get the Jambos back into the game.

Substitute Oli Shaw nearly made an instant impact for the hosts, running onto a long ball in behind the Hearts defence and shooting early, but Gordon came rushing off his line and made a smart block at the edge of the box.

Shankland went agonisingly close to equalising with thirteen minutes left on the clock. Atkinson was sent clear down the right and found the striker inside the box, he spun his man and fired low across the face of goal and narrowly past Hemming’s right-hand post.

Shankland was in the thick of it again soon after when McKay quickly broke and sent Humphrys into the box and he pulled it back for the no.9 but he could only blast well over the target from 18-yards.

It was looking like time was running out for an equaliser when, deep into injury time, Jorge Grant's free kick was headed clear but only as far as Atkinson 20-yards out, and he hammered home a stunning volley to ensure the Jam Tarts left Rugby Park with a point.

Kilmarnock: Hemming, Mayo, Taylor, Chrisene, Stokes (Wright, 78’), McKenzie (Lyons, 87’), Power, Armstrong, Jones (Doidge, 66’) Alston (Alebiosu, 87’), Lafferty (Shaw, 66’). Subs: Walker, McInroy, Cameron, Polworth.  

Hearts: Gordon, Kingsley, Kiomourtzoglou (Grant, 70’), Shankland, Atkinson, Halliday (Neilson, 87’), Forrest, McKay, Cochrane, Humphrys, Snodgrass. Subs: Stewart, Clark, Haring, Mackay-Steven, Sibbick, Henderson, C. Smith.

Referee: Matthew MacDermid