Comfortable win by the young team who totally dominated the game from about 10 minutes in until about 80 minutes, when b y that time the game had been won and we had put on the three 12 year olds* (*they are probably older than that, but they look like a puff of wind would blow them away, and their shorts make them all look like they have stepped out of a 1930's video). As what has become the norm we played 5-3-2 from the off.
It only took us 10 minutes or so to open the scoring after a fairly level start. Some nice interplay on the right led to a deep cross which Henderson latched onto at the back post, and after a weak attempt at a shot which rebounded kindly he slammed in a shot from about 8 yards. 1-0 up, and from then on we simply dominated but never really looked like scoring again in the first half. Some nice moves in the first half, with OHara and Shepherd the best on show, but also impressive were both wing backs who supported well. Shepherd should have done better early on when he was clean through but opted to shoot with his weaker left foot which was easily collected by the keeper.The defence in the first half were also very impressive with Peter Grant extremely vociferous and commanding of the two young centre back colleagues. It was noticeable that we looked totally commanding throughout at the back with Grant playing very well. He did look just a tad rusty a couple of times, but another game or two will undoubtedly see him back in his rightful place in the first team.
The second half was only a couple of minutes old when we had a chance with Grant heading over from close in. But the next goal wasn't long coming. An absolutely fantastic run by Finlayson down the right (after a beautiful wee back heel from O'Hara) in the 55th minute led to him bursting into the box, and whipping the ball across the goal to the waiting Shepherd who had the easiest of tap ins to make it 2-0. Within a couple of minutes it was 3-0, with great interplay between Shepherd and O'Hara saw Shepherd score with another easy but well taken goal. We were totally dominant now and Killie looked a bit shell shocked, and in the 67th minute Shepherd got his hat trick with the defenders standing off him allowing him to set himself up and blast a shot from about 10 yards past the helpless keeper to make it 4-0. A few minutes later (around the 70 min mark) we started making the substitutions with Grant the first to leave, followed shortly by Shepherd and then Henderson with about 10 mins to go. We then fell out the game allowing them back in with some very weak play by Munro allowing their winger to run riot, eventually leading to their no.7 scoring a real peach of a shot from just outside the box, the ball curling into the top corner giving McMinn no chance.
All in all a top class performance, with no real weaknesses in the starting line up. If I were being hyper critical I would say that there is too often a disconnect between the midfield and the front two - with there too often being big gaps between each segment of the team. We need to press more and be a bit more compact. Having Grant play just showed how one top class defender can influence the way the team played with him bellowing instructions both to his fellow defenders and the midfield. He was head and shoulders the best player on the park by some margin. Shepherd and O'Hara looked very very good with the former absolutely tireless and sharp in his work. I know we keep on about Austin being the next big player for us, but in the games I have seen Shepherd is our best forward in the development squad. The wee kids who came on are just that - kids, but a couple of them looked well short of playing even at this level with mistakes in even simple passing, lack of positional sense and zero pace/acceleration. Again that is being hyper-critical and I am sure games like this will hopefully help develop them further. We certainly need to record these games and the young players can be shown exactly where they are going wrong.
An excellent performance from the lads, with no real weaknesses from the starting 11. Best for us were Grant, Shepherd, O'Hara, Blues, Henderson, Langton, and Finlayson.
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