Saints narrowly defeated by Kilmarnock

Saints narrowly defeated by Kilmarnock

Europe remains so close yet so far for Saints after they lost to Kilmarnock in Paisley.

The only goal came in the first-half, good work from Marley Watkins setting up Kyle Vassell to smash home from close range.

Watkins and Robbie Deas were denied by Zach Hemming as the visitors looked to extend their lead after the break. Saints' best chance came when Conor McMenamin slid the ball round the Killie defence for Toyosi Olusanya and he thumped a fantastic shot that rattled the woodwork with goalie Will Dennis beaten. There was late pressure from the home side but Killie stood firm to secure fourth place in the cinch Premiership, while Saints remain five points clear of Dundee with each side having just two games to go.

Stephen Robinson named an unchanged starting eleven from the one that defeated Dundee last week.

On a glorious day in front of a packed crowd, the early excitement came when Hemming misjudged his kick out and the ball thumped off Vassell before flying back over the bar. Olusanya lashed one over at the other end before Scott Tanser's spectacular effort was kept out by Dennis, however it was irrelevant as the flag then went up for offside. Such was the temperature that ref Euan Anderson stopped play midway through the half for a water break.

A tame Mikael Mandron header was saved by Dennis before a mistake from Alex Gogic gave Watkins a sight of goal but he dragged his shot wide. Mark O'Hara's header looked to have sent Mandron through on goal but a fantastic tackle from Robbie Deas allowed Dennis to gather the loose ball. Watkins then found himself in plenty of space on the right and made full use of it to slide a ball across goal that the Saints defence couldn't stop getting to Vassell. The striker took a touch and it looked as if a home player would be able to block any shot only for him to then thump it into the roof of the net to put the visitors in front at the interval.

Caloan Boyd-Munce's optimistic shot was well wide as hostilities resumed after the break, Dennis reacting quickly to stop Stuart Findlay unintentionally heading McMenamin's cross into his own net. A bit of a stramash at a corner saw Tanser denied by Dennis and Gogic put the loose ball wide before Ryan Strain's burst down the right saw allowed him to put in an inviting cross that Olusanya volleyed wide.

Watkins had a great chance to put Killie out of sight when he pounced on an error from Gogic, however Hemming blocked the shot with his legs at the expense of a corner. The delivery was cleared back to Matty Kennedy and his cross was headed towards goal by Deas, Hemming producing a great save to tip it over. Watkins headed wide as Killie threatened again, Saints making a triple sub with Boyd-Munce, Strain and Tanser being replaced by James Scott, Lewis Jamieson and Keanu Baccus respectively.

Findlay continued to threaten his own goal, Dennis grabbing his sliced clearance, before Saints went desperately close to drawing level. McMenamin sent a wonderful ball down the left that curled in behind the Killie defence for Olusanya and his first time shot beat Dennis but not the bar, the ball rattling the woodwork before bouncing to safety. He had another chance at a late corner as the Killie defence stood firm to confirm fourth place in the league.

Full-Time: St Mirren 0-1 Kilmarnock

St Mirren: Hemming, Bolton (Taylor 83), Gogic, Fraser, Strain (Jamieson 67), O'Hara (c), Boyd-Munce (Baccus 67), Tanser (Scott 67), McMenamin, Mandron, Olusanya
Subs Not Used: Urminsky, Dunne, Brown, Bwomono, Mooney

Kilmarnock: Dennis, Ndaba, Mayo, Findlay, Deas, Kennedy, Watson, Donnelly, Armstrong (McKenzie 80), Vassell (Cameron 76), Watkins (Stewart 90)
Subs Not Used: O'Hara, Murray, Davies, Stewart, Polworth, Mackay-Steven, Van Veen

Referee: Euan Anderson
Assistant Referee: Gordon Crawford
Assistant Referee: Paul O'Neill
Fourth Official: Ross Hardie

Attendance: 7,645 

Match Report by Stuart Gillespie

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